Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: February GoList

New York City Family Kids Events February 2016: Presidents Weekend, Winter Break

Get your calendars ready! Here are the top 15 things to do with kids in New York City this February, several of which are FREE.

Even though it's the shortest month, there are still plenty of awesome family activities in NYC. Our February GoList includes annual favorites such as Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade; the Intrepid's activity-filled Kids Week during public school midwinter break; and the city's biggest movie fest for families: the New York International Children's Film Festival. And, of course, there are some brand-new, exceptional-sounding shows, concerts, and other special experiences for kids of all ages. We made sure to highlight a range of options, whether you have toddlers, elementary schoolers, or tweens.

Given that the February school break is coming up, you might also want to check out our Camp Directory and Day Trip and Family Getaway Guide, including ski trips.

You can find more seasonal fun in our NYC Winter Activities Guide and our daily Event Calendar.

If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including address, time, and recommended ages. And remember: Cool things to do with kids in NYC often book up quickly, so buy your tickets ASAP, or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible.

Kids can learn about and interact with puppets of extinct creatures that once roamed the earth at Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live. Photo by C Waits/courtesy of Skirball Center.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live — Greenwich Village
Saturday, February 4-Sunday, February 5
Attention young dino lovers (and their parents): Head to the Skirball Center to meet an incredibly authentic-looking collection of prehistoric creatures, brought to life via realistic puppets and skilled puppeteers. Developed by Erth Visual & Physical of Sydney, Australia with expert advice from working paleontologists, this educational theatrical adventure gives audiences an in-depth look at these extinct creatures. VIP packages come with a pre-show meet and greet during which guests can actually touch the dinosaurs.

Science Fiction, Science Future — Corona
Saturday, February 4-Sunday, April 30
There was a time not too long ago when the communicators on Star Trek and the video chatting in Blade Runner seemed like the stuff of fantasy. Now we have cell phones and Skype. Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality, and this new installation at the New York Hall of Science highlights how sci-fi inspires and influences future breakthroughs. Families can check out a variety of hands-on stations featuring robots, holograms, augmented reality, and other cutting-edge wonders that may one day be part of our everyday lives. Included in museum admission

Chinatown Lunar New York Parade and Festival — Chinatown
Sunday, February 5
If you weren't able to attend the Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony on January 28, Chinatown's annual parade is another great way to celebrate the coming of 4715. While there are lots of ways to welcome the Year of the Rooster throughout February, including parades in Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Chinatown's annual shindig is the biggest of them all. More than a half-million spectators are expected to line the streets for the pan-Asian spectacle, which includes Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and even Hispanic floats and cultural performances. Arrive early—by noon at the latest—if you want to snag a good spot. It's a festive and loud affair that's way too crowded for strollers and probably a bit much for preschoolers. After you've seen your fill, head to Sara D. Roosevelt Park for an outdoor cultural festival. FREE

Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower — Upper West Side
Saturday, February 18
Catch popular family folkster Elizabeth Mitchell as she plays Symphony Space with her band, which includes her husband and daughter. She's well known for covering eclectic classics by Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, and The Velvet Underground, as well as her original tunes, all crooned in her soft, sweet soprano.

Washington's Birthday Ball — Upper East Side
Sunday, February 19
Celebrate the birthday of the original POTUS 19th-century style at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden. It's a lovely little historic building, and walking into it gives you the sense you've stepped back in time. To honor George's big day, there is period music and costumed dancers, and kids are encouraged to learn new steps and join in. A kid-friendly tour, family scavenger hunt, and refreshments are included. Reservations are recommended.

RELATED: Best Winter Events for NYC Preschoolers and Tots

Test your presidential knowledge at The Big Quiz. Photo by Flip Wolak/courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.

The Big Quiz Thing’s Presidents’ Day Family Trivia Spectacular — Upper West Side
Monday, February 20
Grown-up multimedia trivia extravaganza The Big Quiz Thing goes to the kids with a POTUS-themed family competition at the New-York Historical Society. Test your knowledge of past, present, and possible future presidents via questions, and video and audio puzzles—all in attendance get to play and vie for prizes. Although those with a cursory knowledge of our nation's leaders likely can figure out many of the queries, points are awarded for colorful answers so your kid's rep as class clown may come in handy. Afterward, stick around and explore the DiMenna Children's History Museum and other Historical Society exhibits.

Kids Week at NYC Parks — Citywide
Monday, February 20-Friday, February 24
NYC public school kids are off for midwinter break this week. While there are plenty of fun things to do inside, don't forget the great outdoors. Throughout the week, Urban Park Rangers lead enriching and educational programs like bird-watching, wildlife walks, reptile and raptor demos, knot tying, map and compass training, and more at nature centers in all five boroughs at no cost. Locations and activities vary so check the Parks Department's website or call your local center for additional details. FREE

Kids Week at the Intrepid — Midtown West
Monday, February 20-Saturday, February 25
Another fabulous way to keep kids occupied during midwinter break: the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's annual vacation celebration. This weeklong festival is designed just for kids, with hands-on activities exploring the theme of science and the art of games. This year's highlights include presentations by Mad Science, the Gazillion Bubble Show, and zoologist and naturalist Jarod Miller; readings by children's book authors; activities like the Rube Goldberg Speed Building Challenge; and talks and tours led by educators and scientists. Events are included with admission and you can snag 20% off with this coupon.

Please Bring Balloons — Midtown West
Tuesday, February 21-Sunday, March 5
New York City Children's Theater debuts a new show inspired by Lindsay Ward’s picture book of the same name, about a little girl who helps a carousel animal realize his dream of flying. Due to its whimsical story and half-hour run time, this interactive, multisensory experience is ideal for first-time theatergoers.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Out of This World — Fort Greene
Thursday, February 23-Friday, March 3
After 146 colorful as well as controversial years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has decided to pack it in. So this is literally your last chance to run away and see this circus as its prophetically titled final tour, Out of This World, stops at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. If you had qualms about its elephants, the performing pachyderms retired last year. But you can still come to marvel at awe-inspiring aerialists, acrobats, daredevils, and, of course, clowns.

RELATED: 50 Winter Activities and Events for Brooklyn Kids

See gorgeous flicks from all around the world at the NYICFF. A still image from Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess: Four Enchanting Tales, France.

New York International Children's Film Festival — Manhattan
Friday, February 24-Sunday, March 19
Held at multiple Manhattan venues, this annual fest features more than 100 kids' flicks from around the globe. If any of the screenings in the extensive lineup tickle your fancy, don't delay! Tickets went on sale Wednesday, January 25 and many popular programs sell out quickly. There are options for all ages, including shorts and dubbed foreign films. There are often pre- or post-show Q&As with the filmmakers and other special events, and everyone gets voting ballots to help select the festival winners. Save $2 per ticket by using the code 17MOPO.

The Gustafer Yellowgold Show — Upper West Side
Saturday, February 25
Singer, songwriter, artist, dad, and Grammy nominee Morgan Taylor hits Symphony Space along with his band and Gustafer, his little yellow animated alter ego from the sun. We've been raving about his shows for years: They're equal parts concert and cartoon, as Gustafer's animated adventures are accompanied by groovy, Beatles-like tunes. It's perfect for preschoolers.

Ear, Nose, and Tail — Park Slope
Saturday, February 25-Sunday, February 26
A play about a pup with an identity crisis at the Old Stone House. Brooklyn-based Spellbound Theatre specializes in shows for very young audiences, eschewing dialog for potent visuals crafted by shadow puppetry, animation, and projection, as the canine transforms into whatever he wants. Tots, who are constantly in the midst of changing, will undoubtedly relate.

RELATED: Best Indoor Plays Spaces, Playground, and Kiddie Gyms

Exp.Inst.Rain by Balam Soto is an experimental, touch-based instrument that creates different sounds and projections. Photo courtesy of BAM.

Teknopolis 2017 — Fort Greene
Saturday, February 25-Sunday, March 12
Get ready to enter a high-tech wonderland as BAMkids hosts a cutting-edge, two-floor digital playground. Technology and the arts fuse to create a variety of immersive and interactive installations such as virtual reality adventures, motion capture stations, and digital environments you manipulate with your body. Tickets are sold in 90-minute slots.

Rock and Roll Playhouse: STEVENSTEVEN — Williamsburg
Sunday, February 26
Nostalgia for parents that kids should love! Weekly kindie concert series Rock and Roll Playhouse at Brooklyn Bowl throws a record release party for STEVENSTEVEN, featuring Steven Drozd from the legendary Flaming Lips and Steven Burns, the original host of Blues Clues. That's a mash-up you never expected, right? Their all-ages album, Foreverywhere, has psychedelic-sounding story songs like Unicorn and Princess Rainbow, the first in a trilogy of tunes about a unicorn who falls in love with a guitar-shredding princess. That totally sounds like what we'd expect from this group.

Honorable Mentions

NYC always has so many incredible things going on that it's difficult to choose. Here are 14 more cool events that are worth considering for your February calendar. Be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can get our weekend picks delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.

Grab a cup of exotic flavored hot cocoa at City Bakery's annual Hot Chocolate Festival, which takes place daily in February. (Details are still in the works)

Rise with the sun to find out whether Staten Island Chuck predicts an early spring on Groundhog Day, Thursday, February 2, at the Staten Island Zoo. FREE

Learn how rain, sun, sleet, snow, and other weather phenomena impact our environment at the Children's Museum of the Arts new exhibit Weather or Not, That is the Question, which opens on Wednesday, February 2.

Contribute your voice to an upcoming exhibit at The Rubin by uttering your best Om at the Om Lab.

Marvel at our city's inked past at the opening weekend of the New-York Historical Society's Tattooed New York on Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 5.

Catch the Disney classic Fantastia and then enjoy a related art-making activity in conjunction with the Whitney's exhibit Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 on Saturday, February 4.

Put on your dancing shoes and hit the Bronx Museum of the Arts to Get Down in the Boogie Down with It's Showtime NYC on Friday, February 10. FREE

Cuddle up with adorable doggies at the annual AKC Meet the Breeds, part of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on Saturday, February 11.

Catch the percussive Coyote's Dance, a Native American-influenced tale from Treehouse Shakers on Saturday, February 11.

Sing along to NYC-themed preschooler hits like Taxi at David Weinstone & the Music for Aardvarks Band concert at the Jewish Museum on Sunday, February 12.

Stop and smell (and see!) the gorgeous flowers at the opening weekend of New York Botanical Garden's The Orchid Show: Thailand on Saturday, February 18-Sunday, February 19.

Enjoy no-cost admission and special nature activities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during its February Break Discovery Days, Monday, February 20-Thursday, February 23. FREE

Check out the other February break activities at NYC museums, including the Black History Month programming and more at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and the weeklong Engineering Week at NYSCI. Included in the museums' admission fees.