Valentine's Day Activities for NYC Kids to Share the Love

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love—a theme that resonates with kids of all ages. So we’ve pulled together a list of the best Valentine’s Day events to hit up with the kids in tow. From V-Day crafts for toddlers to volunteering with teens, there are many ways to celebrate this oh-so-sweet time of year with the whole family—many of which are FREE!

Read on for the scoop on the best outings with kids in NYC this Valentine's Day. If something piques your interest, be sure to click through to the event listing for full details. For more fun happening this month, check out our February GoList, and remember, our Event Calendar is chock-full of activities and events happening everyday in New York City.

Say Hello to Zaniac, Manhattan's New After-School STEM Center

As TV's Grease Live might croon, “STEM is the word!” From the president to the mayor right down to the schools, everyone wants to get kids, especially girls and children of color, excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

And now New York City has one more STEM play and classes spot for kids. Zaniac, which has outlets around the country, including in Greenwich and Westport, Connecticut, recently opened its first STEM-focused, after-school and camp center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Hang with Animals at These Cozy Indoor Spots

Kids are innate animal lovers—we bet all parents go through that phase when they're convinced their child is going to grow up to be a veterinarian. But in wintertime when all living things in New York City seem to be hibernating, it's tough to indulge kids' craving for creatures beyond the ever-present subway rats. And who wants to pet one of those?! That's why we rounded up the best places to get up close and personal with animals in cozy, indoor environments. Here's where you can hang with cool cats, beautiful birds and butterflies, and even "adopt" a critter without ever having to take it home.

Review: Very Hungry Caterpillar Children's Show Soars in NYC

It’s never easy to successfully adapt a popular book for stage or film (the expectations!), nor to keep a theater full of toddlers and preschoolers engaged and seated for an hour. Yet the latest stage adaptation of Eric Carle’s beloved The Very Hungry Caterpillar, playing in NYC this winter, does all that and more.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, which opened January 30, retells four iconic Carle tales with 75 handcrafted large-scale puppets, four actors who double as puppeteers and narrators and subtle but lyrical music that readies the audience for the animal magic about to appear on stage. It’s earnest, colorful, artsy and will hold your kid in awe for 60 solid minutes.

10 Summer Music Day Camps for NYC Kids

Whether your child is drawn to Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Mozart, is an accomplished musician or just getting started, summer camp is a great way to explore the craft while having loads of fun and making new friends. We've lined up 10 of our favorite music day camps for New York City kids with an eye toward striking a good balance between theory, practice, musical styles and ability levels. A few of our picks offer multiple programs divided by age, others split things up by experience level and one even takes campers on a daily visit to a popular indoor climbing facility—sometimes even accomplished musicians need to work out the wiggles.

Don't forget to browse our Summer Camp Guide for additional options or use our Camp Directory to search for programs by interest, age and location. It's also worth noting that many camps offer financial aid, as well as discounts if you sign up early and for multiple weeks. 

Go Back to the Future of Tech with Silicon City Exhibit

While some tweens are hardwired to think in zeros and ones and are ready for advanced instruction in computer science, others are leery of the whole thing. I have one of each.

Luckily, both my enthusiastic coder and my reluctant techie found something to enjoy at the New-York Historical Society’s exhibit Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York, on view through April 17 where kids can see early computers, typewriters, phones and even try out classic video games like Space Invaders. Read on for what to expect from this uptown STEM art exhibit where drop-in coding classes are also on tap.

Winter Gardens: Get Out of the Cold at NYC's Indoor Plazas

If you feel like you've already exhausted your favorite NYC museum or indoor play space, why not try a nearby public atrium or garden? New York City is full of many semi-secret indoor public spaces, as well as not-so-secret gardens that are perfect for staving off cabin fever this winter with an antsy kid.

Bonus: The atriums are FREE to wander into and many offer seating, snacks, Wi-Fi and art. The gardens are so steamy that we practically feel as if we booked that tropical getaway after all. This is why we love New York, right?

Kid Movies: BAMkids, NY International and More Film Fests

Rediscover the magic of the movies with several upcoming children's film festivals landing in New York City this winter and continuing into spring. In the cold of winter, going to the movies is tempting, but the big-budget family film options? Not so much. They're expensive (especially 3D releases), and winter is the traditional dumping ground for duds.

Luckily, we have BAMkids Film Festival and New York International Children's Film Festival that showcase international and offbeat shorts and features, while Film Forum Jr. screens cool classics every Sunday morning. Each offers dozens of picks for preschoolers on up to tweens. Plus, ticket prices can be less costly—most are less than $15 per person. Oh, and we have a discount code to share with you!

Here are the details on these festivals, as well as theaters known to offer regular indie kid flicks like the Film Forum and even two spots—one in Brooklyn, another in Manhattan—serving up brunch, cocktails and kid movies. Don't forget to check out our post about where to see free and cheap kids' movies, too.

Chinese Lunar New Year Parades and Free Celebrations in NYC

The Lunar New Year is one of our favorite winter celebrations in New York City, and we're particularly excited for 2016's family activities.

Often referred to as the Chinese New Year, although many Asian nations celebrate it, the holiday is taking place two weeks earlier than last year, on Monday, February 8, 2016, and NYC public schools are closed for the holiday for the very first time. It's also the Year of the Monkey, the ultimate kid animal! We can't think of a better reason to mark this school and cultural holiday with a full family celebration.

So read on for the best Lunar New Year parades, family dance parties, museum events, crafts and more for NYC kids. 

Commemorating the Lunar New Year is also great time to enjoy Asian food and learn about Asian culture. And with celebrations and parades in almost every borough, it's also an opportunity to go out and explore a new-to-you neighborhood like Flushing in Queens or Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Top 10 Benefits of the IDNYC Card for Families

It's no secret that living in New York City and raising kids here isn't cheap. So one of my favorite finds of the last year is the IDNYCprogram, which, among other things, offers FREE and reduced memberships at 40 cultural institutions across the city.

According to the mayor's office, more than 160,000 total memberships were handed out to residents last year when the program kicked off. Well, here's more good news for New Yorkers as 2016 begins: The IDNYC program won't be a one-year wonder.

The city added additional cultural institutions to the program at the end of last year, too. But the IDNYC card offers more than cultural benefits: Families can take advantage of discounts on prescription drugs, fitness centers, movies and sporting events. It even acts as a public library card and can help you open an account at a bank or credit union.

I spent the last year, with three kids in tow, running around to each of these spots to claim our free memberships, and now I'm happy to share my secrets. Read on for the top 10 reasons to sign up for your FREE card, including discounted admission to some of the city's best children's museums and zoos.


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