NYC Winter Fun List: 50 Things to Do Indoors with Kids
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 million daily kid events happening in NYC, but we're here to help.
To inspire you, we've compiled a list of 50 awesome drop-in spots in the five boroughs, where kids can run, jump, bounce, learn, create, and get cultured. Some are even FREE.
2. Try for a strike at one of NYC's numerous bowling alleys.
Tag meets hide-and-seek in this high-energy game. Photo courtesy of Bowlmor
5. Pay for a day pass to an indoor swimming pool.
Take a spin on the ice at the new Pier 17 ice rink. Photo by Janet Bloom
7. Settle in for no-cost storytimes at NYC's best indie bookstores. FREE
8. Now that the tourists have abandoned Midtown, take a turn on the giant piano at the brand new FAO Schwarz.
9. Get creative at the Children's Museum of the Arts.
Take a peek deep into the kelp forest to play with the sea lions. Photo by Sara Marentette-Nighswander
11. Immerse yourself in a virtual ocean at National Geographic's Ocean Odyssey.
13. Head to Times Square's mini world Gulliver's Gate to see a tiny version of NYC and other famous sites worldwide.
Transform into a sweet Troll at the Trolls Experience. Photo by Jody Mercier
14. Tag along with Poppy for her "Best Day Ever Party," at the coloful, contagiously happy Trolls Experience.
15. Pretend it's summer with a day trip to an indoor water park.
VRBar has a wide range of games for various ages. Photo by Anna Fader
20. Don't forget the library! The Children's Center at 42nd Street, the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Prospect Heights, and the Children’s Library Discovery Center in Jamaica, Queens, are all destinations that offer attractions beyond books. If you've been there and read that, consider a trip to the 53rd Street Library, which is ultra kid-friendly despite its Midtown location. Another fun option: Register in advance for Free Art Fridays at the Williamsburg Library.
21. Go underground to check out vintage trains and buses at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights.
22. Expand your culinary horizons with a trip to one of NYC's best indoor food courts.
23. Catch a flick (and nosh on dinner!) at the long awaited Nitehawk Cinema in Park Slope.
Drop into Brooklyn Strategist for an open gaming session. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Strategist
24. Drop into an open play session at board game mecca Brooklyn Strategist. If you're hungry for competition and a meal, try the Morningside Heights spot Hex & Co., which serves kid-friendly eats and even adults-only drinks. Queens families might prefer board game haven Good Games NYC (which replaced the former Geekery HQ) in Astoria.
25. Head to Grand Central sometime when you're not dashing for a train and explore all the family-friendly fun within.
26. Dine out at one of these restaurants when kids eat for FREE.
27. Snap a quirky selfie and allow your eyes to be tricked at the mind-bending Museum of Illusions.
Songs around a campfire are part of the cool CAMP experience. Photo by Jody Mercier
29. Check out the new, interactive CAMP Store in the Flatiron District. Not only can you score some cool gifts, but your kids will have tons of fun romping around the summer-camp inspired spot.
Make a light saber at NYSCI. Photo courtesy of the museum
34. The Flatiron Lego Store is just a subway ride away and offers regularly scheduled building sessions. FREE ... if you can convince your kids to leave empty-handed.
35. Explore the irresistible pop-up The Color Factory in Soho, now extended through the end of February.
36. Take advantage of FREE visiting hours at your favorite museum or a new-to-you culture spot.
37. Put those new year diets on pause to indulge in an outrageous dessert at one of these NYC eateries.
Watch deliciousness being prepared at the Nutella Cafe. Photo by Jody Mercier
38. Speaking of which ... try out the chocolatey hazelnutty deliciousness on offer at the new Nutella Cafe.
39. Play tourist! Check out the incredible views from the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building. You're only outside for a few minutes. For a completely climate-controlled view, visit One World Observatory.
40. Bask in the balmy temperatures at one of our favorite indoor public spaces. FREE
Connect with the ball at The Baseball Center. Photo by Jody Mercier
41. Get into shape for spring by honing your little slugger's swing at one of these nine batting cages.
42. Learn the art of paper folding at Taro's Origami Studio in Park Slope.
A City for Corduroy: Don Freeman's New York is an engaging, colorful outing for little ones. Photo by Janet Bloom
45. Visit the Museum of the City of New York for its newly opened ode to the lovable storybook character Corduroy.
46. Go all-out foodie, as the kids indulge their senses at the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg.
47. Enjoy some drop-in maker fun at one of these NYC maker spaces.
48. Grab your wands and head to the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit before it disapparates at the end of January.
49. Splurge on a mani at the Upper East Side's Milk & Cookies Spa, designed just for kids.
50. Hit the trampolines at Staten Island's Fly High indoor bounce haven. If you're driving, a new Sky Zone trampoline park, in New Rochelle, is about the same distance (40 minutes) if you're in Manhattan, or closer, if you're in the Bronx.
This post, originally published in January 2010, is updated annually.