The Butterfly Conservatory at the AMNH. Photo by Misael Barragon for AMNH
The Butterfly Conservatory at the AMNH. Photo by Misael Barragon for AMNH

Winter Fun for NYC Toddlers That Beats Another Barnes & Noble Visit

Once the holiday season starts to fade and winter sets in, it's hard not to find yourself in a rut with your little one. We've constructed this list of 25 things to do with your toddler around New York City that will keep those blizzard blues away, from warm and toasty indoor activities to get-up-and-moving outdoor frolics. Eight of the suggestions are FREE activities.

Everything included below is just the speed and time commitment for the toddler set—and won't have you dreading another trip wandering around the children's section of B&N, restocking the books as your little one pulls them down one after another!

Check out our Guide To Winter Events and Activities for NYC Kids for more ideas, or peruse our daily Event Calendar.

1. Enjoy a nosh while your tot explores one of these NYC play cafes.

2. Chase away snowy day boredom with this DIY indoor obstacle course. FREE

3. Warm up in the butterfly conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History. 

4. Catch a FREE storytime in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens. FREE

Paint, build, craft or collage at the twice-monthly series MOCACREATES. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Chinese in America

5. Get crafty at MOCACREATES in Chinatown.

6. Don’t want to leave the house? Check out DIY crafts at home instead. FREE

RELATED: Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

Miss Piggy is always a favorite at the Museum of the Moving Image. Photo courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image

7. Introduce your tot to Kermit and Miss Piggy at the Museum of the Moving Image.

8. Or fill up on popcorn and take in a Cry Baby Matinee.

9. Explore the indoor, hot and humid conservatories of one of NYC’s Botanical Gardens.

Toddlers can stack and experiment to their hearts' content at the New York Hall of Science. Photo courtesy of the NYSCI

10. Nerd-up at the NY Hall of Science with plenty of hands-on experiments, or romp around at its Preschool Place, designed for kids 6 and under.

Introduce your little one to theater by taking in a performance of Yeti, Set, Snow! Photo courtesy of Justina Wong for City Parks Foundation

11. Explore “The Theea-ta” with some tot-friendly shows like Yeti, Set, Snow! at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.

12. Don’t fear the snow. Put on those hats and gloves and head to the mini hills for some sledding. You can catch your tot at the bottom and they'll be thrilled! FREE

Play in the snow! Photo by Sydney Ng

13. Not near a hill? Don’t despair. Snowmen and snow angels aim to please right outside your front door. FREE

14.  Seek haven after a day in snow with some warm hot chocolate.

15. Spend the entire day in a children’s museum in Manhattan, Staten Island, or Brooklyn.

16. Sign up for mommy (and daddy) and me swim lessons at an indoor heated pool.

17. Or if your tot is an animal lover, visit a zoo where plenty of indoor animals thrive, including colorful birds, lizards, and small mammals. 

RELATED: 5 NYC Day Trip Itineraries Perfect for Preschoolers

Grab a snack and hang at one of NYC's many public (and FREE) indoor atriums. Photo by Sydney Ng

18. Have a seat and rest your legs at a free and public NYC atrium. FREE

19. Enjoy FREE admission while they still qualify at all of these museums and other NYC attractions. FREE

20. Set up a play date and crack into our Easy Craft Guide for Kids. FREE

21. Support local bookstores with your wallet by visiting a mom-and-pop bookshop. FREE

22. Take in some fresh air: Romp through the open-year-round Queens County Farm.

23. Of course, you can always spend the morning at one of NYC's many awesome indoor play spaces.

24. Or shake away the sillies at a local bounce house, many of which host toddler specific hours.

25. Make it an adventure by getting off the island. See all that New York has to offer by exploring a borough you haven’t before – Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

26. Get up-close and personal with the sharks at the New York Aquarium.

The Color Factory will amaze kids. Photo by Janet Bloom

27. Spend a day at the Color Factory exploring room after room of brilliant, hands-on displays. Get your tickets in advance, they aren't available at the door! 

28. Head to Brooklyn for a day at the NYC Transit Museum exploring the history of our amazing subway system.

29. FDNY fans? See old fashioned fire pumps, trucks and all kinds of relics at the New York City Fire Museum.

30. Enjoy FREE playtime at these mega toy stores.

31. For a store that takes free play to a whole new level, explore the interactive and engaging play space and activities at the new CAMP store in Flatiron.

32. Take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway to see the city from a new angle.

33. Go treasure hunting at Brooklyn Flea, located indoors at the Atlantic Center in Brooklyn during the winter months.

34. Speaking of treasure, head to Shipwrecked Mini Golf in Red Hook to play a few pirate-themed holes (indoors, of course!)

Check out the Hygge Tent at Industry City. Photo by Janet Bloom

35. Slurp noodles, play arcade games, and run around in the open spaces at Industry City in Sunset Park.

A version of this article was published in 2017; it has since been updated. Louise Finnell contributed additional reporting.