Best of 2022 NYC Kid Edition: Top Openings, Happenings, and Other Awesome Stuff We Loved

The Stranger Things Experience popped up in Brooklyn for a spell this spring and summer letting guests come face-t0-face with demogorgons. Photo by author
The Stranger Things Experience popped up in Brooklyn for a spell this spring and summer letting guests come face-t0-face with demogorgons. Photo by author

When it comes to kid-friendly fun, we might be biased in our thought that NYC has it all and in 2022 the city that never sleeps sprung back to life with tons of brand-new, family-friendly openings adding destinations and attractions begging for our attention. From a brand new kid-focused museum in the Bronx to destination-worthy, story-inspired pop-ups nearby and toddler-friendly stage shows, plus fun playgrounds, parks, and pop-ups, here are our picks for the best kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022.

We can't wait to see what 2023 has in store for all of us and hope you'll keep following us on Instagram, Facebook, and of course, by subscribing to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

New Kid-Friendly Openings in New York City in 2022

1. Camp Encanto – Flatiron

We're long-time fans of Camp, and when it transformed its Fifth Avenue flagship into Encanto's Casita this fall, we couldn't get enough. A roving band of performers serenades visitors with the movie's catchy soundtrack while you explore all the nooks and crannies of the enchanted house, searching behind the walls for Bruno, surrounding yourself in Isabella's flowery retreat, and more.

2. Bronx Children's Museum – South Bronx

A decade in the making, the Bronx Children's Museum scoots onto our list with an early December opening. It's a 12,000-square-foot ode to the Boogie Down with Bronx-inspired exhibits inspiring hands-on play and a love for the borough's diversity and culture. My daughter couldn't get enough of the 35-foot-long water table.

RELATED: Holiday Break in NYC: 35 Things To Do Between Christmas and New Year's Eve

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience
There's plenty of mystery and magic at the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience. Photo by Mommy Poppins

3. Harry Potter Forbidden Forest – Yorktown Heights

The Wizarding World brings this walk-through, pop-up experience to FDR State Park, which lets guests immerse themselves in the Forbidden Forest, where they encounter magical creatures like nifflers, and unicorns, and can summon a patronus or engage in a wand battle. Pose for a pic with the larger-than-life Hagrid, and top off your outing with a Butter Beer.

4. DiscOasis – Central Park

It was a retro summer with old-school roller skating popups at both Wollman Rink and Rockefeller Center, and we had a blast gliding around the giant disco balls deep into the night in Central Park. The live DJ kept the party going, and beyond the action on the rink, top-notch food and beverage service, oversized lawn games, and excellent people-watching made DiscOasis a highlight of our summer season.

RELATED: 100 Things To Do in NYC With Kids Before They Grow Up

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Flip Circus
Flip Circus turned heads all across the tri-state this spring. Photo by Mommy Poppins

5. Flip Circus – Multiple Locations

This traveling circus took the tri-state by storm from spring to summer, touring with its iconic red-and-white big top. We loved the variety and talent of the performers, plus the fact that the tent's size meant every viewer had a VIP experience.

6. Amaze Light Festival – Flushing, Queens

This sprawling light show has taken up residence in Queens giving New Yorkers another way to celebrate the season. Twinkling displays sprawl out in every direction and there are plenty of fun extras to enjoy here from a snow-free tubing hill to a train ride, live entertainment, and plenty of eats, treats, and shopping.

RELATED: Best Children's Museums in NYC for Families to Visit

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Museum of Broadway
Gawk at costumes and behind-the-scenes moments at the new Museum of Broadway. Photo by author

7. Museum of Broadway – Times Square

If you've got a treasured collection of old ticket stubs and Playbills, this new Times Square museum was meant for you. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Broadway, wandering through old set pieces, gawking at stunning costumes, and lifting the curtain on some of Broadway's biggest hits. This multi-story museum is best for tweens and teens who can appreciate the history and behind-the-scenes moments it frames.

8. Cliffs Gowanus – Gowanus, Brooklyn

The ever-expanding micro-chain of climbing gyms from The Cliffs opened a super-sized outpost in Gowanus in late spring. While the 45-foot-high climbing wall is eye-popping, there's plenty more to draw guests. Enjoy classes for kids and adults, plus summer camps and a full fitness room. We love the little kid climbing room and the fact you can host birthday parties here, too.

RELATED: Top Attractions in NYC: Best Things To See and Do With Kids

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Let's Dress Up
Princesses have a whole new place to play thanks to Let's Dress Up's second location. Photo courtesy of the venue

9. Let's Dress Up Chelsea – Chelsea

We always love to see local small businesses growing and this one is a fairytale in progress. The longtime Upper East Side play and party place debuted a Chelsea location this year giving tiny princes and princesses a whole new place to enjoy tea time, story time, dress up, and more.

10. Legoland New York's First Full Season – Goshen, New York

We waited long enough for Legoland's pandemic-delayed opening that it's worth celebrating for the second year in a row. The mega theme park ran a full season in 2022, and its on-site hotel extends the theme park fun well past bedtime. We loved celebrating all summer, fall, and into the winter with fun like its Red, White, and Boom fireworks celebration, Halloween's Brick-or-Treat festivities, and this season's Holiday Brictacktacular.

RELATED: Best Broadway Shows for Kids and Families

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Ice bumper cars at The Standard High Line
Hit the ice—bumper car style—at The Standard High Line. Photo courtesy of the venue

11. Ice Bumper Cars at The Standard High Line – Chelsea

After anticipating the annual arrival of the ice bumper cars at Bryant Park for years, we were so excited to hear about this season-long installation in the plaza outside The Standard High Line. You can catch a ride on the Bump! bumper cars through the end of March 2023.

12. New Playground Renovations – Mulitple Locations

New York parents know the importance of playgrounds and kids know the joy of exploring a brand-new romping spot. The NYC Parks Department was busy all year long debuting some big playground makeovers. A few newly renovated playgrounds we're crushing on include Ravenswood Playground in Long Island City, Queens; La Guardia Playground in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and Wakefield Playground in Wakefield, the Bronx.

RELATED: Best Observation Decks in NYC for Kids and Families

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Milk and Cookies Kids Spa
Little ones can get pampered at Milk and Cookies Kids Spa and Salon, which opened an expanded new space in Kips Bay. Photo by author 

13. Milk and Cookies Kids Spa and Salon – Kips Bay

We've loved the concept of this kids' spa since its 2015 opening, and were overjoyed to hear about its expansion this year! The sprawling new spa offers all the services we've come to expect, complete with a freshly baked cookie and cool glass of milk at your appointment's end, plus room to romp with a cool decked-out playroom, and a spectacular party space perfect for pampering your little one for their next milestone celebration!

14. RiseNY – Times Square

Go on a soaring ride high above New York City without the cost of one of those pricey helicopters at this new Times Square attraction. Before you enter the flying theater, tour NYC history through distinct galleries that tell the city's history through the lenses of finance, architecture, media, music, Broadway, and film.

RELATED: Kids Can Play for Free at These New York City Stores

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Toys R Us at Macy's
Hail a cab in the play space at the new Toys R Us outpost at Macy's. Photo by author

15. Toys R Us at Macy's – Midtown West

You might have seen Geoffrey and friends in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and their spectacular new float was a celebration of Toys R Us' return to retail with an outpost at Macy's flagship store. In addition to tons of toys, there are cool interactive places to sample toys, from digging in Kinetic Sand to rolling trains along a track or peeping at cool Lego models. There's also a small romping spot with a mini play space. Kids might have so much fun playing they'll forget about the gimmes...or at least parents can hope.

16. Sesame Street the Musical – Midtown West

Jonathan Rockefeller's production team turned its attention to Sesame Street this year, bringing the iconic characters to the stage in this production. The song-filled performances were perfect for the preschool set, and we loved the mashup of familiar songs alongside new favorites composed by Broadway's best.

RELATED: NYC's Best Playgrounds: 21 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Changing Spaces
Jeppe Heins' dynamic water sculpture had us smiling and keeping cool all summer long. Photo by author

17. Changing Spaces – Rockefeller Center

Cure the cold December chill by looking back at this summertime pop-up. Part public art, part spectacular play fountain we had fun frolicking and people-watching at Jeppe Heins' Changing Spaces sculpture on the plaza at Rockefeller Center all summer long!

18. Stranger Things Experience – Brooklyn Navy Yard

Big kids flocked to the Hawkins Sleep Lab in this immersive experience, where you went from lab rat to the Upside Down with the help of movie-like special effects. Once the demogorgons were defeated, it was time to rock out in the Starcort Mall with snacks from Scoops Ahoy and plenty of show-inspired photo-ops.

RELATED: The Best Zoos and Aquariums in NYC

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Sesame Place in San Diego
Sesame Place debuted a brand new SoCal location in 2022. Photo courtesy of the park

More Cool Kid-Friendly Openings in 2022

19. Mommy Poppins Launched in San Francisco and Miami

Our little family grew this year as we added San Francisco and Miami to the world of Mommy Poppins. Our two new sites join NYC, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, DC, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Orlando, and Atlanta. Also expanding: the cool things you can do on our site. We recently redesigned our search pages with a cleaner, easier-to-use design and new functionality. You can now find camps and classes on your local calendar of events and even buy tickets directly from our website — if an event has a red "Book It" tag, you can purchase tickets immediately, with no added fees. Oh yeah, in our spare time, we also created a new Earth Kids Guide and newsletter. Since the environment is one of the most critical issues facing our children’s futures, we wanted to think and talk about new meaningful and fun activities to engage children and families with sustainability each month.

20. There's a Brand New Sesame Place – San Diego, California

One of our LA writers visited the park before it opened and got the inside story on what kids love about the country's newest theme park. There's a water park element to the place, too, which is open year-round, and it's definitely one of the best amusement parks in the US for kids under 5.

21. Dig World TX – Houston, Texas

This construction-themed adventure park opened this year near Houston. Here kids can operate the equipment instead of just watching: drive skid steers, dig dirt with excavators, and more. (Now Diggerland in NJ isn't the only construction-themed theme park!)

22. Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex – Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida

This new, 50,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction at Kennedy Space Center opened in March. It gives space fanatics of all ages first-hand views of modern-day spacecrafts such as a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Orion Crew vehicle. The main concourse features a 4D motion theater offering four different journeys. It's as close to outer space as you can get without paying for a ride on a tech billionaire's rocket.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Hotels in New York City with Perks for Kids

Kid-friendly openings in NYC in 2022: Star Wars Galactic Star Cruiser Experience
The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Experience is an out-of-this-world family hotel. Photo courtesy of Disney

23. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Experience – Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida

At this one-of-a-kind hotel experience, guests stay aboard a starship for a two-night adventure. The journey begins on a launchpad with a simulated blast off into space. The launch paddocks at the Halcyon starcruiser, where guests have their own passenger cabin complete with bunk beds and a galactic view. Young Jedis can get a sneak peek of the inner workings of the ship, encounter stormtroopers in the ship's atrium, wield a lightsaber, and navigate the ship with the crew's help. Cheap? No. An incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience? Yep.

24. The Dr. Seuss Experience – Traveling show

This traveling show is one our Houston editor caught when it was there, and she said it’s as if the books have come to life. The show moved to Colorado and will continue touring the US from there. The experience gives kids a chance to see, hear, feel, and experience their favorite settings from nine of Dr. Seuss’ stories as they go from room to room to interact with each installation.

Did we miss any of your favorite new openings? Let us know on Facebook!

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