NYC Winter Fun List: 40 Things To Do With Kids
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.
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.
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 transports visitors to a magical wonderland with its immersive art experience. Photo by author
5. Experience Immersive Art
6. Indulge in a Sensory Experience
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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.
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.
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
13. Build Legos
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
A tea party at Let's Dress Up is a perfect way to ward off winter's chill.
23. Play Dress-up
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.
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.
See NYC's leading lady without all the tourists. Photo by author
29. Play Tourist
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
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.
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
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