16 Things to Do Thanksgiving Weekend with NYC Kids

Museums, Shows, Holiday Must-Dos Top Our List of 16 Thanksgiving Weekend Outings
Get a Trolls makeover and make a new friend at the new pop-up Trolls: The Experience. Photo courtesy of Dreamworks

The Thanksgiving holiday break is nearly here, and while Thursday is likely filled with giant helium-filled balloons and hearty portions, you've got three more days to entertain the kids after everyone's stuffed.

Whether you're entertaining out-of-towners, or enjoying a family staycation, we've got you covered. From only-in-NY experiences to fun holiday happenings and a slew of kid-friendly shows, we've rounded up 16 fun ways to spend some quality time with your family over the long weekend.


Step into the sweet Candytopia pop-up, where lots of candy is on the menu. 

Only-In-NYC Experiences

Check Out a Cool Pop-up:
From the candy-centric Candytopia to the immersive and interactive Trolls Experience and the pop-culture filled Mickey: The True Original Exhibition, step off the city streets into a totally different experience. Note: Advance tickets are required for each experience, so plan in advance and book now!

See the Sharks
The New York Aquarium debuted its new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibition last summer. If you never made it to the (very crowded) beachfront experience, you can bet the crowds will be a little lighter during the holiday weekend.

Visit the New FAO
With a grand opening set for November 16, FAO Schwarz's new 20,000-square-foot-store (and giant piano!) returns just in time for the holiday rush. Its location at 30 Rock means there will be plenty of holiday foot traffic, especially once the tree goes up, so visit it this weekend before the crowds get too thick.

RELATED: 15 Must-Do Holiday Events for NYC Kids


Enter the fascinating world of illusions at the Museum of Illusions

Check Out an Interactive New Museum...
A couple notable additions to the city's museum scene are completely immersive and interactive. In Chelsea, you'll find the mind-bending Museum of Illusions, which is full of funky optical illusions and fun photo opps. At Midtown's Spyscape older tweens and teens can learn about the history of intelligence agencies and spies worldwide and test their luck in a laser maze, too.


Harry Potter fans won't want to miss History of Magic at the New-York Historical Society.

...Or See a New Exhibit in an Old Standby
The New-York Historical Society is the place to be for Harry Potter fans, while oceanographers-in-the-making will appreciate Unseen Oceans at the American Museum of Natural History. We're also super excited for A City for Corduroy at the kid-friendly Museum of the City of New York. The Corduroy exhibit opens just in time for the holiday weekend on Wednesday, November 21.

Play Tourist

Visit the Statue of Liberty
Whether or not you've got family in town, this is still a worthy outing. While the crowds are focused on Midtown shopping hot spots, head way downtown and hop a ferry to visit Lady Liberty. The lines will be shorter, the crowds lighter, and the views just as stunning.


See the city from a new perspective, a double-decker bus. 

Book a Tour
Whether you go by boat or double-decker bus, you just might learn something new on a tour of your hometown. My family has done both, and the double-decker bus was easily one of my family's summer highlights.

See the Skyline
When is the last time you took in the view of the city from one of its famous observation decks? The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and One World Observatory are all worth a holiday splurge. Maybe you can even snap an only-in-NY holiday card-worthy family photo.

RELATED: Tips for Visiting Macy's Santaland Like a Pro


Visit Santa and wander through Santaland at Macy's. 

Kick Off the Holiday Season

Holiday Windows Walk
Our annual holiday windows walk is one of our favorite holiday happenings. The best part: It doesn't cost a thing. Start at 59th Street and work your way down to Macy's, where you can visit Santa and get your requests in early.


Dyker Heights is a destination spot for the over-the-top decorated houses and Christmas cheer.

See the Dyker Lights
There's nothing quite like the spectacle that takes over the neighborhood of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn each holiday season. Block after block is decorated with over-the-top twinkling lights. It's a must-see marvel for city families.

Support a Small Business
Skip the big-box stores and direct some of your holiday spending to your favorite local business. Park Slope marks the occasion with a holiday tree lighting and plenty of neighborhood cheer. Other options: Check out the booths at the holiday pop-up shops in Bryant Park's Winter Village and at Grand Central; many are owned by local artisans.

See the Trains
The beloved train show at the New York Botanical Garden will be up and running, as will the smaller, no-cost display at Grand Central.

See a Kid-Friendly Show

Big Apple Circus
Back from the brink of bankruptcy, the Big Apple Circus embarks on its 41st season with a female ringmaster, Stephanie Monseu, directing the action. See the menagerie of animals, flying trapeze acts, amazing juggling and more classic circus fun. Best for ages 2+.

Sleepover
TADA! Youth Theater presents this show by kids, for kids, with a very relatable kid-centric story, profiling a group of girls who have their sleepover crashed by a group of boys. All ages, though those who have attended sleepovers will follow the storyline best.

RELATED: Where to See The Nutcracker in NYC


New Victory Theater for Velocity, a high-octane, tap-filled demonstration of Irish dance. Photo courtesy of the theater

Velocity
Head to the New Victory Theater for this high-octane, tap-filled demonstration of Irish dance. Marrying traditional step with a rocking Celtic band and DJ, the performance brings this art form into the new century. Best for ages 8+.

Yeti, Set, Snow
The adorable and toddler-friendly Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre debuts this new show just in time for the holiday season. Follow the adventures of Widget and Twig, who meet a snow-hating yeti named Pascetti. Through friendship and a music-and-game filled adventure, Pascetti learns to love the winter weather. Best for ages 3-9.

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