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25 Top Things to Do with NYC Preschoolers Before They Turn 5

New York City doesn't lack for awesome family events and institutions, from the many children's museums and zoos and gardens to only-here street and art fests. But as a mom of two children younger than 5, I'm always looking for fun activities that appeal to the city's youngest children. It's such a special window of time, and I want to create lasting memories—within budgetary reason, and manageable enough for kids who sometimes still need a nap and a sippy cup of milk.

So, inspired by our roundup of 100 things to do with kids in NYC before they grow up, we came up with a list of 25 things to do with toddlers and preschoolers around the city before they turn 5 and head to kindergarten. A few of our selections are well-known favorites with specific under-the-radar attractions for preschoolers, while others are more off the beaten path, but all are things we've enjoyed doing or aspire to try soon!

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.

NYC Winter Fun List: 50 Things to Do Indoors with Kids

Cooped up in a tiny apartment with your kids hanging off the furniture (and you) is no way to spend the winter. We know it can be hard to put on all that winter gear, head out into the cold, and hit up one of the million daily kid events happening in NYC, but we're here to help. 

To inspire you, we've compiled a list of 50 awesome drop-in spots in the five boroughs, where kids can run, jump, bounce, learn, create, and get cultured. Some are even FREE.

Still not willing to open that door? Try one of these indoor craft projects at home as a family to keep those little hands busy, or one of our 40 Indoor Snow Day Boredom Busters.

Of course, you can always find more winter fun ideas in our Indoor Family Fun Guide, or even sign up for a new class.

Best Sledding Hills Across NYC

The best thing about a snow day is, of course, sledding! Hit these neighborhood hills across New York City for some wintertime fun with the kids.

In compiling this list, we asked our readers, family, and Mommy Poppins writers and editors for their top recommendations for sledding hills across the five boroughs, but we're always looking for more suggestions. Feel free to chime in if your favorite isn't here.

Not sure if school is on or off? Read our post on how to know if snow has canceled class or not.

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.

30 Free Things to Do in NYC with Kids This January

The holiday festivities have fizzled, the bank account has been maxed out, and the winter weather has set in. But worry not: We have the low down on 30 awesome FREE events for New York City families happening throughout this January.

Though most of the holiday attractions are finishing up this month, January festivities celebrating the Three Kings and Martin Luther King, Jr. are just getting started. Several museums are offering free access, like Tours for Fours at MoMA, and there are great events for older kids like the Seventh Annual Black Comic Book Festival. Meanwhile, outdoor fun abounds at the annual Winter Jam

Looking for more FREE fun? Escape the cold with our guide to 20 indoor places where kids play for FREE. Know what else doesn't cost a thing? Signing up for our newsletters to get more posts like this delivered to your inbox!

Read on for 30 FREE activities for NYC kids and consult our NYC Event Calendar for a slew of alternative options. Find plenty more winter to-dos in our NYC Winter Guide for Families.

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.

Launch Opens in Queens with Trampolines, Ninja Obstacle Course, Games

With the cold weather officially here, most NYC parents are looking for a few good indoor play options. With the opening of Launch in Queens, another fun indoor attraction can be added to the list. Brand new as of November 2018, this trampoline park (and much more) boasts sparking clean attractions, super friendly staff, and lots of ways for kids of all ages to jump out their winter wiggles. Read on for the low down on everything this awesome space has to offer.

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