Take a "playcation" this winter with a visit to one of these kid-friendly stores around New York City. No need to spend a cent!
With options a varied as building Lego friends and exercising on the Wii Fit, the kids will be so exhausted by day's end, they might not even whine about leaving the Nintendo system behind (fingers crossed).
The Apple Store - Various locations
Visit the website for locations.
Check out Apple's latest products and play computer games from the comfort of cozy bean bag chairs. For a store filled with so many electronic devices, there is definitely a lot of shameless playing going on. While you're discovering your new favorite app, your little gamer can sample some educational apps, too. In addition to in-store games, Apple provides free hands-on workshops and youth programs for kids ages 8-12. They'll learn to compose songs, create photo albums and produce movies using iLife and iWork applications (and all for FREE).
Nintendo World - Midtown West
10 Rockefeller Plaza, 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues
It seems like every major store in Midtown has closed recently, and Nintendo World is doing the same, but thankfully it is shuttering only temporarily. The store will close from mid-January to mid-February 2016 for a major renovation and rebranding. Promising to return as Nintendo NY, the revamped store will house new WiiU and 3DS stations as well as a whopping 15-foot gaming screen. Be sure to check its site for upcoming (and of course, FREE) events.
Kidding Around - Chelsea
60 West 15th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues
You might not find your child’s favorite characters in this indie store, but there are unique treasures to be discovered throughout this Flatiron gem. This extremely kid-friendly toy store welcomes its tiniest customers to sample all the goods it has to offer. Featuring favorites such as electronic trains and planes, musical instruments and dress-up costumes, Kidding Around is a great place to let the kids explore and be creative with their imaginations. Note: There's a second location inside Grand Central Terminal.
M&M's World - Midtown West
1600 Broadway between 48th and 49th Streets
Kids and chocolate lovers alike won’t have an easy time leaving this store. There is M&M merchandise galore, a two-story wall of the colorful candies and a 21-foot Miss Green M&M Statue of Liberty. You can spend money quite quickly and easily here, but you can also wander around without feeling the pressure to purchase one single brown M&M (though kudos if you can resist). Stop to take some photos with M&M mascots Yellow and Red, Miss Green and the whole M&M gang. Plus, the staff is happy to let kids play and run around, so go ahead and let them unleash all that sugar energy before you get home.
Disney Store- Times Square
1540 Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets
We visited the Disney Store when it first opened and despite the intense merchandising, we were impressed. It's certainly cheaper than a trip to Orlando! If you've got a princess or Cars fan on your hands, you won't want to miss this one. Check out the giant castle on the second floor or visit the Imagination Theater for some hands-on fun. The store also hosts free events—check their website for further details.
The Lego Store – Rockefeller Center & Flatiron
620 Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
200 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
Though we raved about the Rockefeller Center location when it opened, it's more tourist destination than a neighborhood spot to linger. The much newer spot on 23rd Street seems built with local families in mind. While both locations have the popular Mini Master Builder Bar and a wall of bricks where you can find that long-ago lost piece, the Flatiron location also has a Lego Lounge, with seating surrounding a model of the Flatiron District and a number of Lego-themed books to curl up with on the cushy sofas. It's also much easier to navigate with a stroller.
Ikea – Red Hook
1 Beard Street at Halleck Street
Småland, Ikea's drop-off supervised play area in the lobby, has a ball pit and other kid-friendly attractions. The space is open to potty-trained children 37 to 54 inches tall, and parents can leave their kids for up to an hour while they shop.
For more fun in NYC this winter, check out our Winter Fun Guide and Indoor Activity Guide.
Photo Credit: Rob Brooks.
This post originally published in January 2012.