25 Things to Do With NYC Kids Over Holiday Break
Ever since my son started school, there just isn't enough free time for us to enjoy all of the great things New York City has to offer during the holiday season. That's why we love holiday break. We never leave town! Instead, we fill our schedule with awesome museum outings, live stage shows, special meals and magical holiday experiences that we didn't get a chance to enjoy while we were rushing around doing all our gift shopping. Call me crazy, but we even brave the crowds at popular tourist attractions like the New York Botanic Garden's Holiday Train Show, the Rockefeller Center tree and the department store holiday windows.
So here's our gift to you to make the season even more festive: A list of the top 25 things to do with kids in New York City over holiday break, which runs from Saturday, December 21 through Wednesday, January 1. Some of our picks only take place on specific dates, others run the entire time and all are great ways to celebrate the season with your family. Be sure to click the links for all the details, including address and times. And don't forget to download our FREE Mommy Poppins Kids on the Go app before heading out on your holiday adventures so you can find the best family destinations wherever you happen to be in NYC.
- See Santa at Macy's or elsewhere before he rides away in his sleigh on Christmas Eve
- Go Christmas caroling on Christmas Eve in Washington Square Park or other downtown green spaces. FREE
- Celebrate with the Jews on Christmas: The Jewish Museum, the Museum at Eldridge Street, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Children's Museum are all open on the holiday and throwing festive parties
- Watch little electric trains go whizzing by NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark and leaves at the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show
- Or catch the more modest but still festive Holiday Train Show at the New York Transit Museum gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal. FREE
- Marvel at stunning department store holiday windows and other awesome seasonal sights in Midtown Manhattan. FREE
- Or hit the outer boroughs to check out over-the-top holiday light displays like all the decked out houses in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. FREE
- Turn that holiday day trip into a night trip to the 'burbs to see even more spectacular holiday lights on Long Island, in New Jersey and Westchester. FREE
- Pose for a photo in front of a giant Christmas tree—Rockefeller Center isn't the only one. You can find lovely large trees in Bryant Park and the South Street Seaport, plus a flotilla of illuminated firs on the Harlem Meer. FREE
- Head to Queens' New York Hall of Science to ReMake the Holidays with a host of hands-on projects and activities
- Hit The Grinch's Holiday Workshop at the Children's Museum of Manhattan to hang with the grumpy green guy and make seasonal crafts
- Catch cool animated family flicks from around the globe (including classics by Hayao Miyazaki) at the IFC Center's fest An Animated World: Celebrating Five Years of GKids Classics
- Or see one of the big Hollywood holiday releases like Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks and Walking with Dinosaurs
- Head to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens to play video games in its brand-new interactive exhibit Indie Essentials and catch screenings of Jim Henson's beloved TV special Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas
- Celebrate Kwanzaa at the American Museum of Natural History's 35th annual festival on Saturday, December 28
- Splurge on holiday high culture at Lincoln Center with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and the Metropolitan Opera's family-friendly version of The Magic Flute
- Or catch a less highfalutin holiday spectacle like A Christmas Story: The Musical or the Radio City Christmas Spectacular—we're actually giving away a family four-pack to the Radio City show and you can save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
- Run away and see the circus: There are four circus shows in town for the holidays. We already saw and loved the Big Apple Circus: Luminocity and Mother Africa at the New Victory Theater, and we have high hopes for Cirque Éloize: Cirkopolis at the Skirball Center (click here to save 35% on tickets) and Holiday Circus with guest star Grandma the Clown in Brighton Beach (save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar).
- Indulge in a fancy afternoon tea at the Russian Tea Room, the Plaza or another high-end eatery
- Catch Hiccup Help, a brand-new sketch comedy show from the always awesome Paper Bag Players, at three local libraries. FREE
- Gawk at gingerbread houses: There are FREE displays at La Parker Meridien and the James A Farley Post Office as well as a massive Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science
- Hit the brand-new ice rinks in Prospect Park or one of NYC's other outdoor skating spots
- Head to the Bronx Zoo for more freezing fun at its annual ice carving week, which includes a playground made from ice
- Ring in the New Year with a boom without spending a buck with no-cost fireworks in Prospect Park and Central Park. FREE
- And on New Year's Day, well, how many activities haven't you done on this list? If you're finished, you can always start on our list of 100 things to do with kids in NYC—most of the suggestions are good year-round
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