40 Best Things To Do this Winter in NYC 2023: Our Winter Fun List

The inaugural Hall des Lumières exhibition is a multi-sensory celebration.
The inaugural Hall des Lumières exhibition is a multi-sensory celebration.

When it comes to the best things to do this winter in NYC one thing is certain: Being cooped up in a tiny apartment with your kids hanging off the furniture (and you) is no way to spend the season. 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 this list of 40 awesome things to do. Our picks include 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 tackle one of our indoor snow day boredom busters. Of course, you can find more fun, seasonal ideas in our Indoor Family Fun Guide or enjoy the great outdoors with the picks in our Winter Fun Guide.

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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: 20 Indoor Places to Play for FREE

Things to do this winter in NYC: Rock climbing
Kids can climb the walls at Brooklyn Boulders or another indoor rock climbing or bouldering gym in NYC.

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.

5. 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 the Whitney is perfect for older kids.

RELATED: No-Car Skiing Day Trips: NYC-Area Ski Trips Without a Car

Things to do this winter in NYC: Artechouse
Artechouse transports visitors to a magical wonderland with its immersive art experiences. Photo courtesy Artechouse

6. Experience Immersive Art

Step into the immersive art experience at Artechouse in Chelsea or visit the colorful Hall des Lumières in Lower Manhattan.

7. 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.

8. Go "Camping"

Check out the interactive CAMP Store in the Flatiron District or one of its other locations in Hudson Yards, Brooklyn's City Point, and at Columbus Circle.

9. Lose Yourself in Virtual Reality

Get your game on with teens and tweens at virtual reality wonderland VR World in Midtown Manhattan or one of these other virtual reality destinations.

RELATED: Best Hot Chocolate Spots Around Manhattan

Things to do this winter in NYC: Playday in Cobble Hill
Creative hub Playday has Cobble Hill and LIC locations. Photo by Diana Kim

10. Visit an Art-centric Play Space

Head to Playday's 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.

12. Skate and Play

Brooklyn's bustling Industry City is always fun, but we're hosting a skate-and-play session every Thursday all winter long where $20 nabs you rental skates, plus unlimited time on the rink and in the game room all evening long.

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

Things to do in NYC this winter: Summit One Vanderbilt's observation deck
Summit One Vanderbilt's observation deck in NYC brings stunning skyline views inside. Photo by Diana Kim

13. Take in the Views

Play tourist, and check out the best observation decks in NYC. Choose views from the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Edge at Hudson Yards, or Summit One Vanderbilt.

14. Build Legos

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

15. 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: 17 Family-Friendly Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in NYC: Igloo Dining and More

Things to do in NYC this winter: Museum of Illusions
The photo-ops at the Museum of Illusions will bend your mind. Photo by author

16. Enter the Amazing World of Illusions

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

17. Learn More About New York City

Visit the charming Museum of the City of New York for an array of family-friendly exhibitions.

18. 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

Things to do in NYC this winter: Powerhouse@IC
Powerhouse@IC has a well-stocked, diverse children's section. Photo by Diana Kim

19. Hang Out at a Bookstore

Browse the shelves at one of our favorite bookstores, Powerhouse Books in Industry City.

20. Visit a Children's Museum

Enjoy an afternoon at the Brooklyn Children's Museum and check out ArtRink. Been there, done that? Head to the Boogie Down to see the brand-new Bronx Children's Museum.

21. Explore AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History never disappoints.

RELATED: 25 Winter Day Trips near NYC for Families

Things to do this winter in NYC: Sea Life Aquarium
Go under the sea at the Sea Life Aquarium at American Dream Mall. Photo by the author

22. Spend a Day at the Mall

Indulge in some over-the-top suburban fun at the action-packed 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.

23. 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.

24. Jump Around on a Trampoline

Have kids beat the winter doldrums by jumping and playing at indoor trampoline parks.

RELATED: Best of January: MLK Day and More Top Things To Do in NYC with Kids

Things to do this winter in NYC: Let's Dress Up
A tea party at Let's Dress Up is a perfect way to ward off winter's chill. Photo by the author

25. Play Dress-up

Book an afternoon of princess play fun at Let's Dress Up which has locations on the Upper East Side and in Chelsea.

26. Visit the Brooklyn Museum

Reacquaint yourself with the galleries at the Brooklyn Museum.

27. Be a Ninja for a Day

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

RELATED: Cross-Country Skiing Near NYC: Where to Hit the Trails with Kids

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

28. Go Sledding

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

29. Glide on Ice Skates

Take a twirl on an outdoor skating rink.

30. Explore Nature

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

RELATED: Skiing, Snowboarding, and Winter Sports Guide

Things to do in NYC this winter: Statue of Liberty
See NYC's leading lady without all the tourists. Photo by author

31. Play Tourist

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

32. Take a Day Trip to See Art

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

33. 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.

RELATED: Go for the Gold: 16 Olympic-Inspired Venues in NYC Where Kids Can Train

Things to do in NYC this winter: Ski at Mount Peter
Mount Peter, in the heart of the Hudson Valley, is a great place for beginning skiers.

34. Hit the Slopes

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

36. Go Snow Tubing

If skiing is too technical for you, try snow tubing.

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.

RELATED: 14 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways Near NYC for Families

Things to do in NYC this winter: 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 the Governors Island Winter Village

There's a ton of stuff to do at the 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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