NYC Winter Fun List: 40 Things To Do With Kids

No matter the temperature, the charming Sea Glass Carousel transports you to a magical underwater world, if only for a few minutes. Photo by the author
No matter the temperature, the charming Sea Glass Carousel transports you to a magical underwater world, if only for a few minutes. Photo by the author

Being cooped up in a tiny apartment with your kids hanging off the furniture (and you) is no way to spend the winter. We know it can be hard to put on all that winter gear, head out into the cold, and hit up one of the dozens of daily kid-friendly events happening in NYC, but we're here to help. To inspire winter fun, we've compiled a list of 40 awesome spots where kids can run, jump, bounce, learn, create, and get cultured.

Still not willing to open that door? Try one of these indoor craft projects at home as a family to keep those little hands busy or one of our indoor snow day boredom busters.

Of course, you can always find more fun, seasonal ideas in our Indoor Family Fun Guide or enjoy the great outdoors with the picks in our Winter Fun Guide.

Be sure to check with each venue for its COVID guidelines and requirements before heading out to any event, and read more about local public safety protocols here; some events are getting canceled or postponed at the last minute due to the latest COVID surge, so always confirm details before departing.

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1. Go Bowling

Try for a strike at one of NYC's numerous bowling alleys.

2. Hang Out a Toy Store

FAO Schwarz is a fun anytime destination to dance on the giant piano, take a socially distant selfie with a toy soldier, browse the aisles, and see a few amazing magic demos.

RELATED: 15 Awesome Kid-Friendly Openings in NYC in 2021

Spend winter afternoons climbing the walls at Brooklyn Boulders
Kids can climb the walls, literally, at Brooklyn Boulders two NYC outposts.

3. Climb Some Walls and Boulders

Give rock climbing a try at one of these rock-climbing gyms within city limits.

4. Let Kids Have Fun at a Play Cafe

Grab a cup of joe and let the kids run around at a play cafe.

Artechouse provides an escape from winter's chill
Artechouse transports visitors to a magical wonderland with its immersive art experience. Photo by author

5. Experience Immersive Art

Step into the immersive art experience at Artechouse in Chelsea, and then grab a snack in the heated outdoor dining section of Chelsea Market when you're done.

6. Indulge in a Sensory Experience

Head to Soho for a day of slimy fun at the Sloomoo Institute or visit the nearby Museum of Ice Cream and think warm, sticky, ice-cream melting thoughts.

RELATED: 20 Indoor Places to Play for Free

Sit around the fire at CAMP for some warm winter fun
Songs around a campfire are part of the cool CAMP experience. Photo by author

7. Go "Camping"

Check out the interactive CAMP Store in the Flatiron District or one of its other locations in Hudson Yards and Brooklyn's City Point. Creative kids can go crazy at Art CAMP at Columbus Circle. Not only can you score some cool gifts, but your kids will have tons of fun romping around the themed play spots.

8. Lose Yourself in Virtual Reality

Get your game on with teens and tweens at virtual reality wonderland VR World in Midtown Manhattan. Currently, only ages 9+ are admitted, and it's 21+ after 5pm.

9. Check Out a World-Class Museum

Explore the Museum of Modern Art and take in all its family-friendly perks and priceless works of art. The Met is always a crowd-pleaser and its new exhibit honoring Walt Disney is sure to impress little princesses.

Create origami and more at Playday in Cobble Hill
Creative hub Playday has opened a new Cobble Hill location, where it offers the same classes, camps, and programming as its first LIC location. Photo by Diana Kim

10. Visit an Art-centric Play Space

Head to Playday's newest location in Cobble Hill, where children can choose from a full roster of art classes, including weaving, still life drawing, and embroidery. Live in Queens? The creative hub is still humming along at its original spot in Long Island City.

11. Explore Grand Central

Wander around a relatively peaceful Grand Central and explore some of the family-friendly fun within.

RELATED: Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Edge offers an unobstructed city view
Edge offers a breathtaking, unobstructed view of the city from the Western Hemisphere's highest open-air observation deck. Photo by author

12. Take in the Views

Play tourist, and check out the incredible views from the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Edge at Hudson Yards, or SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

13. Build Legos

The Flatiron Lego Store is just a subway ride away and a new flagship Lego wonderland awaits at Rockefeller Center.

The Museum of Illusions.
The photo-ops at the Museum of Illusions will bend your mind. Photo by author

14. Enter the Amazing World of Illusions

Snap a quirky selfie and allow your eyes to be tricked at the mind-bending Museum of Illusions.

15. Learn More About New York City

Visit the charming Museum of the City of New York for an up-close look at its famed Stettheimer dollhouse and other family-friendly exhibitions.

16. Hit Some Balls

Get into shape for spring by honing your little slugger's swing at one of these batting cages. Be sure to book your session in advance.

RELATED: 25 Exercise Games and Activities to Get Kids Moving

Cozy up with a new book this winter at Powerhouse@IC
Powerhouse@IC has a well-stocked, diverse children's section. Photo by Diana Kim

17. Hang Out at a Bookstore

Browse the shelves at Powerhouse Books' newest location.

18. Visit a Children's Museum

Enjoy an afternoon at the Brooklyn Children's Museum and check out ArtRink, its brand new rooftop ice skating rink.

Strike a pose in front of an AMNH exhibit this winter
The American Museum of Natural History is full of permanent exhibits and limited-time exhibitions to entertain you time and again this winter.

19. Explore AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History never disappoints. Be sure to catch special exhibitions including its brand new ode to Sharks and the seasonal Butterfly Conservatory.

20. Go for a Spin

Hop on one of NYC's beautiful, spinning carousels. Many are open year-round and nestled in some of our favorite parks.

RELATED: Winter Day Trips Near NYC: 15 Ideas For Family Fun

Go under the sea at the Sea Life Aquarium at American Dream Mall. Photo by the author

20. Spend a Day at the Mall

Indulge in some over-the-top suburban fun at American Dream Mall. Ride the rides at Nickelodeon Universe or the waves at DreamWorks Animation Water Park. You can also hit the links with the Angry Birds, explore the Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center, or, you know, just shop in a super-sized candy store or two-story Toys R Us.

22. Be a Spy For a Day

Plan a secret mission to the Spyscape Museum where young special-ops can try their hand at interactive challenges, learn all about true spy stories, and engage with high-tech interactives.

RELATED: Awesome Things To Do in NYC in January 2022 in With Kids

Don a princess frock and drink some tea to warm up at Let's Dress Up this winter
A tea party at Let's Dress Up is a perfect way to ward off winter's chill.

23. Play Dress-up

Book an afternoon of princess play fun at Let's Dress Up on the family-friendly Upper East Side.

24. Visit the Brooklyn Museum

Reacquaint yourself with the galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, then grab a snack from the newly installed high-tech vending machines.

25. Be a Ninja for a Day

Head to the New York Ninja Academy in Midtown, where kids can run, jump, and kick to their heart's content.

Sledding is a perfect winter fun activity
Hit the local sledding hill for hours of fun when the flakes fly. Photo by author

26. Go Sledding

Suit up and slide down one of the city's best sledding hills.

27. Glide on Ice Skates

Take a twirl on an outdoor skating rink.

28. Appreciate Nature on a Hike

Trek through Bronx gem Van Cortlandt Park to hike some of the prettiest trails in or out of the city.

RELATED: Skiing, Snowboarding, and Winter Sports Guide

Bundle up for a winter visit to the Statue of Liberty
See NYC's leading lady without all the tourists. Photo by author

29. Play Tourist

Hop aboard the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty Museum.

30. Take a Day Trip to See Art

Plan an outdoor art day trip to explore larger-than-life sculptures and breathe some fresh air.

31. Take the Family to a Broadway Show

There are quite a few family-friendly shows on Broadway. Make it a full-day adventure by exploring Times Square.

Enjoy an alfresco meal at Industry City's outdoor, heated, dining tent this winter
Industry City has plenty of room for outdoor dining, plus ice skating, quirky art, and much more.

32. Explore Industry City

Visit Brooklyn's bustling Industry City, with the city's largest outdoor heated seating area, tasty dining options, and lots of fun outdoor spaces to explore.

33. Hit the Slopes

Make your plans now to hit the slopes at local-ish ski areas.

34. Or Snow Tubing

Is skiing too technical for you? Try snow tubing.

RELATED: 11 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways Near NYC for Families

Eat with a view of the Empire State Building at 230 Fifth this winter
The rooftop at 230 Fifth is a stunning spot for an alfresco meal.

35. Experience Creative Outdoor Dining

Book a table to dine in a cabin, igloo, yurt, or space pod, and support a local restaurant in the process.

36. Take a Hike

Plan a day trip to explore the trails in Westchester's Minnewaska State Park or New Jersey's High Point State Park.

Governors Island Winter Village
Take a spin on the ice at the Governors Island Winter Village. Photo by Danielle Wilson

37. Spend a Day at Governors Island Winter Village

There's a ton of stuff to at Governors Island Winter Village, including a 5,000-square-foot skat­ing rink, sea­son­al activ­i­ties, fes­tive win­ter lights, games, and food and drinks along­side warm­ing fire pits.

38. Book a Staycation

Have a holiday at one of these family-friendly hotels without even leaving New York.

39. Or Hop On a Train For a Daycation

Explore one of these nearby towns or attractions, even without a car.

40. Spend the Day Outside

See how many of these 40 outdoor winter activities you can conquer.

This post, originally published in January 2010, is updated annually. Unless noted, photos courtesy of their respective venues

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