Free & Cheap Indoor Movies for NYC Kids
During the winter, families try to pack their free time with stimulating activities to keep out the stir-crazy. Museums, shows and, of course, movies are always a good bet. But before you go into hock taking the kids to your local cineplex, did you know that you can catch family movies for FREE (or on the cheap) throughout the year? Here are six great places where you can see no-cost or inexpensive flicks, making your "free" days a little freer.
The Moxie Spot – Brooklyn Heights
81 Atlantic Avenue near Hicks Street
One of our favorite places to play and eat, this family-friendly restaurant hosts frequent events for kids including a weekly Family Film Night on Fridays at 6:15pm. Catch a couple of shorts followed by a family feature, like The Muppets Take Manhattan, Mulan or Winnie the Pooh. Although the screenings are free, families are encouraged to buy dinner.
Museum of Modern Art – Midtown West
11 West 53rd Street Fifth and Sixth Avenues
On select Saturdays in fall and winter at MoMA, families can enjoy kid-friendly screenings (usually a themed collection of shorts), followed by a discussion with a museum educator. The screenings are free and include admission to the museum for up to two adults and three kids. All programs have a suggested age range. Complimentary tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the show beginning at 10am so you have to be an early bird to snag them.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab – Midtown East
550 Madison Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets
We're longtime fans of this no-cost, interactive museum. In addition to all of its cool technological attractions, Sony Wonder has an awesome HD theater, which screens Sony features new and old like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as episodes of Sesame Street, Dora and other preschooler favorites. Screenings are free, but the theater only has 73 seats, so it's best to make a reservation the Monday before the film you want to see by calling 212-833-8100 and pressing 3. Visit the website for the up-to-date schedule.
Another great place to find free movies is your local library. Lots of branches show a variety of films for children and toddlers. Check the online calendars of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library to see what's being shown.
Museum of the Moving Image – Astoria
36-01 35 Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
Most screenings are free with admission: $12 for adults, $9 for students, $6 children ages 3-12
This Queens institution underwent a massive renovation in 2011, and one of its additions was a state-of-the-art, 267-seat theater. Although not all of the screenings are for families, many are kid-friendly. Visit the website for the schedule. Note: Some screenings cost extra, but most are free with admission.
AMC Theatres – Citywide
Did you know you can pay under ten bucks (price varies by neighborhood) for screenings that start before noon at all NYC AMC Theatres year-round? Well it's true. We covered this and other deals in our Free and Cheap Summer Movies post. 3D and IMAX cost extra.
Also, see our post about Family Film Festivals and Movie Series, which includes info on Film Forum Jr. ($7.50 a ticket) and other low-cost movie series for children.
Find out about lots of other great indoor places in our Inside Activity Guide.
This post was originally published in January 2010.