February Go List: Best Things to Do with NYC Kids This Month
A few weeks ago, we shared our first-ever Go NYC List, a carefully curated roundup of the absolute best things to do with kids throughout the month, so families could plan ahead instead of scrambling to make an awesome event at the last minute. The response we got was truly amazing. Apparently a lot of our readers are very organized and enjoy filling up their calendars way in advance. Who knew?
For our February Go NYC List, we decided to make a few small changes. We're limiting our number of picks in order to really focus on experiences that sound exceptional. However, we will include links to a few runner-ups that almost made the cut, so you'll still have a wide variety of things to choose from for different interests and age ranges. Also, you'll be able to find important info like location and times in our individual event listings, so be sure to click through to see all the details.
Lastly, a gentle reminder: Really cool things to do with kids in NYC often get crowded, especially if they're free or general admission. Sometimes they even sell out or people get turned away at the door. So arrive early whenever possible to avoid disappointment and stress—we know you don't need anymore of that in your life.
And now, here are the best things to do with kids in New York City this February.
Canstruction – Battery Park City
Friday, February 1-Monday, February 11
Canstruction—an awesome annual exhibit of sculptures constructed from full cans of food—usually takes place around Thanksgiving but it was postponed last year due to Hurricane Sandy. Happily, it's finally going up on February 1. Twenty-five teams of architects, engineers, contractors and students designed the one-of-a-kind structures. My daughter and I have been twice and the works are always amazing to behold. Past displays have included an Angry Bird, an Etch a Sketch and Snoopy. Visitors are encouraged to bring cans of food, and once the exhibition is dismantled, everything will be donated to the nonprofit City Harvest. Since there's nothing interactive about this exhibit, it won't take too long to see (unless your kid is like mine and sketches every single one). Afterward, stroll the Battery Park City Esplanade for great views of the Hudson River, or head east to family-friendly Tribeca for food and other fun. FREE
BAMkids Film Festival – Fort Greene
Saturday, February 2-Sunday, February 3
The Brooklyn Academy of Music continues its family series with its 15th annual movie fest for kids. It's not as big or as famous as the New York International Children's Film Festival, which means it's less overwhelming. BAMkids features 75 titles from around the world and all of the screenings take place at BAM Rose Cinemas. In addition to shorts programs and a handful of full-length films, two awesome NYC-based acts will be performing live in BAMcafe upstairs: Brooklyn history rockers The Deedle Deedle Dees and local mom crooner Suzi Shelton with her band. Note: Tickets are on sale now and tend to sell out so buying in advance is recommended. $12 for adults, $9 for children under 13 per screening or performance
Citi Pond Winter Film Festival – Midtown West
Mondays, February 4, 11, 18 and 25
NYC's only free admission skating rink, Citi Pond at Bryant Park, brings its outdoor winter film fest back for a third year and Mommy Poppins is actually a media sponsor for 2013! We went in 2011 and had a really cool time—in both senses of the word. This year's offerings are very family-friendly: On February 4, fly away with Walt Disney's original 1953 animated movie Peter Pan. Don't forget to drop by the Mommy Poppins table to snag a voucher good for one hot chocolate at Citi Pond’s concession stand Ice Bites (good on February 4 only). The rest of the lineup includes the classic MGM tuner Singin' in the Rain on February 11, the murderous musical Chicago on February 18 and Grease on February 25. If you're worried it's just too darn cold, we've got tips on how to stay warm. FREE
The Mark of Zorro – Midtown West
Friday, February 8-Sunday, February 24
My daughter and I already have tickets to the opening night of this show at the New Victory Theater. It's by the Scottish theater company Visible Fictions, which mounted a two-man version of Jason and the Argonauts a few years back at the same theater. This time around, three multi-talented performers act out the adventures of the swashbuckling hero, using action, humor and lots of unexpected props. But we're even more excited about what's going on once the curtain comes down. After the performances on Fridays, February 8 and 15, audience members can check out TXT Marks the Spot, a post-show event that's equal parts digital game, scavenger hunt and interactive challenge. With a map and your smartphone, families are led on an activity-filled tour throughout the theater, with New Vic teaching artists daring you to do crazy things and answer questions along the way. My daughter and I tried it after a different show and while it's hard to describe, it's very entertaining, and free to ticket holders. $14-$38
Canceled due to the impending blizzard
Sinister Pop Family Day – Upper East Side
Sunday, February 9
The Whitney throws a family party in honor of its ongoing exhibition Sinister Pop, featuring work by Pop Art greats. Inspired by Andy Warhol's notion that everyone will enjoy "15-minutes of fame," children ages 5 to 12 can get their time in the spotlight by making art, singing karaoke, posing for the paparazzi and participating in interactive performances. $18 for adults, free for children under 19
Arty Gras – Hudson Square
Saturday, February 16
Mardi Gras may not be a kid-friendly fete but the Children's Museum of the Arts' Arty Gras certainly is. Part of the spot's Around the World series, this annual festival features lots of holiday-inspired but G-rated hands-on activities. Kids can create masks, noisemakers and colorful costumes, march around the museum to the beat of a live jazz band, and chow down on New Orleans-style snacks. And if they get drunk on all the excitement, they can always get their ya-yas out in the Ball Pond. Especially fun for younger kids. Free with admission: $11
MAD Family Fun Day – Midtown West
Saturday, February 16
I have an embarrassing confession to make: My daughter and I have never been to the Museum of Arts and Design. However, I have always heard great things and I'm hoping that we'll finally get there this time, since this family day sounds pretty awesome. Inspired by the spot's current exhibition, The Art of Scent—which features works that smell, literally—kids can create their own fragrance from scratch with the help of pros. And yes they will get a sample of their signature scent to take home. There will be tours of the exhibit, too. $30 per family
Kids Week at the Intrepid – Midtown West
Friday, February 16-Sunday, February 24
Even though midwinter break was shortened due to Hurricane Sandy, the Intrepid is still hosting nine days of special activities for families, so you may want to play hooky. The lineup is so jam-packed we can't even begin to list everything here. Highlights include interactive activities hosted by Sesame Street Live and Harry Potter: The Exhibition; roaming magicians and acrobats from the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; characters from Scooby Doo Live, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark and Star Wars; performances by the Story Pirates, Gazillion Bubble Show and Stomp; sports activities sponsored by the New York Liberty and the New York Rangers; and much, much more. The schedule is different every day, so be sure to check the website to see what's going on before you visit. Almost all of the activities are free with admission: In advance: $22 for adults, $17 for children ages 7-17 and $10 for ages 3-6; at the door: $2 more per person. But click here to download a coupon for buy-one-get-one-free admission during Kids' Week.
Chinatown Lunar New York Parade and Festival – Chinatown
Sunday, February 17
There are lots of Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the month all over the city, including parades in Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. But the biggest shindig of them all is in Manhattan's Chinatown. Half a million spectators are expected to line the streets for the colorful pan-Asian parade, which includes Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Malaysian and even Hispanic floats and cultural performances. This year the organizers hope to set a new world record for the largest group of Gangnam Style dancers! Arrive early—by noon at the latest—if you want to snag a good spot. It's a very festive and very loud affair that's way too crowded for strollers, so it's probably a bit much for the preschool set. After you've seen your fill, head to Sara D. Roosevelt Park at Canal and Forsyth Streets for an outdoor cultural festival, which begins at noon. If you want to finish the day with dim sum, check out our roundup of family-friendly Chinatown restaurants, which, as you can imagine, will be pretty busy. Be prepared to wait. FREE
Washington's Birthday Ball – Upper East Side
Sunday, February 17
Celebrate the birthday of the first U.S. President 19th-century style at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden. It's a lovely little historic building and walking into it really gives you the sense that you've stepped back in time. In honor of George's big day, there will be period music and costumed dancers, and kids will be encouraged to learn new steps and join in. A kid-friendly tour and refreshments are included. Reservations recommended. $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12
Engineering Day – Corona
Monday, February 18
Queens' New York Hall of Science is full of cool interactive attractions on any day. But on Presidents Day, kids can enjoy special engineering-based activities like building domes out of toothpicks, creating boats from aluminum foil, designing paper bridges and block skyscrapers, and working with the endlessly imaginative ZOOB pieces. Free with admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children 2-17
Here are a handful of events that didn't quite make our Go List but are still worth considering for your February calendar.
Grab a cup of exotic flavored hot cocoa at City Bakery's annual Hot Chocolate Festival, which continues every day in February
Make a bird puppet with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus author/illustrator Mo Willems at the MoMA Design Store on Saturday, February 2
Create traditional Chinese arts and crafts at the Children Museum of the Arts' Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday, February 2-Sunday, February 3
Celebrate sassy kid sleuth Harriet the Spy at Symphony Space on Sunday, February 3
Catch the musical Bunnicula, based on the beloved book series by Deborah & James Howe, which premieres at DR2 Theatre on Saturday, February 9
Hit legendary downtown performance space La MaMa for its first-ever kids' theater workshop on Saturday, February 9
Put on your favorite costume and hit the 92nd Street Y for its annual Purim Carnival on Sunday, February 24
And remember to check our Event Calendar, as we're always adding new listings.
- Free Winter Film Festival in Bryant Park
- This Week: February Go NYC List, Chinese New Year Celebrations, Best Winter Exhibits for Kids
- This Week: NYC Winter Break Day Trips and Camps, Best Family Theater Shows, Focus on Fort Greene Clinton Hill
- Chinese New Year for NYC Kids: Celebrate Lunar New Year with Free Parades and Festivals