Chelsea

Indoor Play Spots for NYC Toddlers with Weekend Hours

Indoor play spots are an essential resource for NYC families with young children (and limited square feet) as temperatures begin a steady decline into winter. Unfortunately, so many of the city's indoor play spots are limited to weekday hours. That's great for caregivers Monday through Friday, but mom and dad are left out in the cold, scrambling to fill up those chilly fall, rainy spring or snowy winter weekends with their preschoolers in other ways.

Luckily, we've uncovered over two dozen fantastic play spaces that get it, and are keeping weekend, drop-in play hours for kids, no membership required. All include playthings sized just right for the little ones, including for babies in many instances. They are stroller-friendly and equipped with changing stations, making them no-fuss options for the toddler squad.

Where to Find Free Classes for Kids at NYC Stores and Public Spaces

We'll just say it: Raising a kid is expensive. Weekend classes, summer camp, after-school care, and dance and music lessons can add up. A 2018 study by Sun Trust Bank found that a majority of parents spend at least $1,000 a year per child on extracurricular activities. And let’s face it New Yorkers, we’re most likely paying much more than that.

That’s why we’ve rounded up more than a dozen FREE classes that run year-round in NYC to lighten the financial load. All the classes listed here are free within free-to-access stores and public places, but there are also plenty of free and low-cost activities inside of NYC museums and gardens that have monthly memberships. Don't forget that your IDNYC card will give you free or discounted access to many cultural institutions.

Check out our Free in NYC Guide for more budget-friendly family fun.

Manhattan's Best Drop-in Play Spaces and Kids' Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space, where everything seems new and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family.

While the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has plenty of creative kid spaces. Some of these dozen awesome spots profiled below allow families to drop in, while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment.

For even more wallet-friendly play spaces citywide, see our roundup of budget-friendly play spots. And if you've got a child under the age of 5 to entertain, you might also check out our roundup of a dozen indoor play spaces perfect for the pint-sized set.

Awesome Classes to Try Now for NYC Tots to Teens

Produce an indie film, create a graphic novel, perfect your backhand, or code your own video game. NYC offers amazing options when it comes to kids classes. Even babies and preschoolers can take terrific art, music and swimming classes. Our New York City Classes Guide and Directory list so many options, the hardest part might be finding time to try them all. To get you started, we're sharing a few of our favorite partners to consider signing up for now. 

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer FREE or reduced admission on certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk that no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss out on! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or FREE admission days at all of your favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

As always, you can check our Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. Try our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC. Also, don't forget to put your library card to work for free admission at many of these same places!

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at popular kid-centric destinations. These places keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

18 Best New NYC Family Destinations That Opened in 2018

City kids are a lucky bunch. The past year saw a huge crop of new kid-friendly destinations popping up throughout the five boroughs. From a major new exhibit at the New York Aquarium to overhauled and brand new playgrounds and even a whole park, plus indoor places to shop, romp, and create, cool new exhibits, exhibitions, and a brand new museum, our kids have got it made. We're just lucky they let us come along for the ride!

Read on on for our top 18 new kid-friendly destinations in New York City that opened in 2018. If you've already conquered these, see what other adventures await on our list of 100 kid-friendly things to do in NYC before your kids grow up.

Best Toy Stores in NYC: 14 Family Favorites and Destination Toy Shops

Whether your toy shopping trip is a winter day activity, a pre-birthday party stop, a bit of Santa research, or a special family outing, NYC's toy store options do not disappoint. From painstakingly curated indie experiences to unforgettable big-brand toy extravaganzas, we’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite go-to toy stores across New York City, where you’re sure to find the perfect item for your little one or the winning gift for a birthday party

12 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market, an enormous food hall and marketplace located in the former factory that was the birthplace of the Oreo cookie, has a little something for everyone, from fancy chocolates to grilled cheese. The building’s unique architecture and convenient location near the High Line make it a popular NYC shopping and eating spot. But one of the best things about shopping at Chelsea Market is that you don’t have to worry about anyone leaving with an empty stomach. Even the pickiest eaters can find something they love among the bakeries, pizza shops, and burger joints inside.

If want to introduce your kids to a variety of delicious foods from around the world—or you're just looking for an indoor activity (that's not another indoor play zone or museum), there is enough here for a fun afternoon or morning outing. Pro tip: It's best to avoid lunchtime when it is really crowded, or better yet try a weekend morning when the place is a ghost town. Here's what to taste, see, and do at Chelsea Market with kids.

Santa Claus Brunches, Teas, and Cruises for NYC Kids

A picture with Santa can be thrilling for a little kid. But if your child wants a heartier visit with the big red guy, a tasty breakfast, brunch, or tea with Santa might be in order.

We've found nine spots in New York City where families can enjoy a special holiday meal with Old St. Nick. These range from inexpensive pancake brunches hosted by local organizations to lavish spreads at Rockefeller Center and the Plaza Hotel. You can even hop on a cruise with Santa.

All require advance reservations and sell out quickly. Whichever one you choose, bring your camera—and your appetite—and for more seasonal family fun check out our Holiday Guide.

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