New in NYC: 14 Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022

Soar over NYC landmarks with RiseNY. Photo courtesy of the RiseNY
Soar over NYC landmarks with RiseNY. Photo courtesy of the RiseNY
1/20/22 - By Jody Mercier

Despite nearly two years of pandemic parenting, I'm still a "glass-half-full" kind of gal. With that in mind, I went on the hunt for hope on the horizon, compiling this list of 14 family-friendly openings in NYC we can't wait for in 2022. Our list of new fun for New Yorkers includes everything from new parks and playgrounds to immersive experiences, museums, and more. Read on for our list and bookmark our Guide to News and Openings to keep track of all the fun things to do all year long.


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Stranger Things Experience – Location TBD

Anticipated opening: May 2022
Fans of the Netflix show have flocked to Times Square to check out the Stranger Things pop-up shop, but a blockbuster immersive experience is promised for late spring and tickets are already on sale. Purchasing one grants you entry into a perilous adventure complete with a made-for-the-experience exclusive storyline that will have visitors facing a gauntlet of obstacles in the Hawkins Lab and Upside Down—perhaps even having to face down a Demogorgon. When you've had your thrill, explore The Mix-Tape Area for photo-ops, snacks from Scoops Ahoy, and more themed fun.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure – Chelsea

Opens Saturday, April 9
Chelsea's Starrett Lehigh building serves as the backdrop for this overarching career retrospective of the well-known artist. Curated by the Basquiat's family, the exhibition promises 200 never-before-seen or rarely exhibited pieces from Basquiat, meant to illustrate the artist's contributions to art, the Black experience, pop culture, and more while offering a glimpse into his personal life and its influence on his work. Architect David Adjaye lends his creative hand in designing the exhibition space to honor the late artist.

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Italian American Museum Reopening Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022
The Italian American Museum is putting the finishing touches on a brand new building in the heart of Little Italy. Photo courtesy of the museum

Italian American Museum Reopening – Little Italy

Anticipated opening: Fall 2022
While this museum only celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021, it had already outgrown its original location, and construction was well underway on its new home. Situated at the corner of Mulberry and Grand streets in the heart of Little Italy, the new building has been topped off and should be ready for visitors this year. The new building increases exhibition space by about five times its original space, giving the museum plenty more room to live up to its mission of celebrating the culture and history of Italian Americans.

Museum of Broadway – Times Square

Anticipated opening: Summer 2022
Nestled in the heart of the Theater District is this new museum, which aims to provide visitors a look at the rich cultural history and transformative impact musical theater has had on NYC. Explore a timeline of memorable Broadway moments, meet the stars from on- and off-stage whose contributions changed the trajectory of the Great White Way, and go behind the curtains to see what it takes to mount a stage production night in and night out.

Let's Dress Up – Chelsea

Anticipated opening: TBD
We're big fans of this charming Upper East Side destination, where little boys and girls go to become royalty for a day with knight play dates and princess parties, so we're excited it's expanding and bringing its imaginative party-and-play spot to the teeming-with-families Chelsea neighborhood.

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 Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022
RiseNY takes visitors on a soaring journey over notable NYC landmarks like the Statue of Libert. Photo courtesy of RiseNY

RiseNY – Midtown West

Now open in previews
If you've ever wanted to soar over NYC landmarks, here's your chance (sans pricey helicopter tour sticker shock!). The centerpiece of this new Times Square attraction is a 46-seat "flying theater," which lifts guests 30 feet in the air, feet dangling, as they soar over some of NYC's most popular destinations. Projections coat the theater offering an immersive 180-degree view. Following your flight, you'll be invited into the attraction's more museum-like galleries for a look at pop-culture treasures in seven different themes: Finance, Skyline, TV/Radio, Fashion, Music, Broadway, and Film.

Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About a Terrible Monster – Times Square

Opens Saturday, June 4
Fans of Mo Willems (young and old!) will be excited to catch his "Terrible Monster" on stage at the charming New Victory Theater. A mash-up of live actors, 3D puppets, and digital projections combine to create this memorable show based on Willem's character. Chicago-based Manual Cinema is behind the production that is more friendly than frightful.

Beetlejuice – Times Square

Opens Friday, April 8
This musical adaptation of the Tim Burton classic was widely panned during its 2019 Broadway run, but a new generation of fans has breathed life into the ghoul and friends, thanks to developing a cult-like following on TikTok after it was announced Beetlejuice was being booted from its Broadway digs to make way for The Music Man in 2019. And so, despite long odds—and a pandemic—it opens at the Marquis Theater this spring, bringing with it, perhaps, a younger audience. One note: We'll recommend you save this show for teens and up.

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 The Cliffs Gowanus Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022
The Cliffs Gowanus is set to open as soon as the city gives the mega climbing venue the OK. Photo courtesy of the venue

The Cliffs – Gowanus

Anticipated opening: Early 2022
The Cliffs has been charting a course of expansion lately. On the heels of opening its stunning Harlem location last year, plans are in the works—we're told only final city approvals are standing in the way of opening—for a mega climbing destination in Gowanus. Once open, you'll find two floors of bouldering walls, rope-climbing routes, space for yoga classes, a full selection of cardio and gym equipment, saunas, plus a cool outdoor hangout space. Classes—including youth programs—plus community scholarships make the state-of-the-art facility accessible to all.

In America: An Anthology of Fashion – Upper East Side

Opens Saturday, May 7
It's been a year of spectacular fashion installations in NYC between the Brooklyn Museum's Christian Dior display and The Met's ode to the U-S-of-A. This upcoming spring exhibition builds on its current display and marries American history and fashion by painting a timeline of 200 years of dress and its role in shaping our identity. Find these installations not in The Costume Institute; instead, they'll be installed in the period rooms of the American Wing.

The Little Prince – Times Square

Opens Friday, March 4
Based on the classic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this stunning new Broadway production promises to shed new light on the well-known tale. With plenty of aerial stunts and circus artistry, plus stunning choreography, this production is an uplifting interpretation.

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Empire Adventure Park  Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022
Empire Adventure Park promises an action-packed outing if you're willing to travel. Rendering courtesy of the venue

Empire Adventure Park – Westbury, Long Island

Anticipated opening: Late 2022
OK, so it's not exactly NYC, but this indoor adventure park is promised to be so big it's worth a mention—and a drive. At 35,000-plus-square-feet, this indoor amusement park is set to open in the Samanea New York Mall where construction has just broken ground. Expect everything from trampolines and ninja warrior-style obstacle courses to rock-climbing, AR games, and more. It joins tenants like Dave & Busters and The Cheesecake Factory for a revamped, very suburban, retail-and-entertainment day trip destination.

Bushwick Inlet Park – Williamsburg

Anticipated opening: April 2022
The improvements to the Bushwick Inlet Park are multi-faceted and ongoing, but we're particularly excited about the springtime opening of the 50 Kent section, which promises an added 1.89 acres of green space, including a brand new sprayground for area kids. There will also be a new seating area and an overlook with stunning views of the city.

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+Pool Two Bridges Family-Friendly Openings We're Looking Forward to in 2022
A dream opening for 2022: The +Pool at Two Bridges. Rendering courtesy of Lexigon

+POOL – Two Bridges

Anticipated opening: TBD
OK, so this one might be a pipe dream for 2022, and developers are being pretty coy on the next steps, but we can't help share a little excitement for the project. The +POOL planned for the East River promises to give New Yorkers a clean way to swim in the East River, by filtering more than 600,000 gallons of river water every single day into a plus-sign-shaped floating pool—no chemicals necessary. If you're excited by the prospect of taking a dip in the East River—or just the idea of contributing to a cleaner local ecosystem, consider getting involved by making a donation or buying a pool tile to bring the project to life sooner than later.