Uptown

Best Holiday Train Shows in NYC for Kids: Botanical Garden and Beyond

Trains are a way of life for most New Yorkers, but there's something particularly special about the little engines and cabooses that take center stage during the holiday season. The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train show is one of the best things to do with kids in New York City during the Christmas season, with electric model trains whizzing by more than 150 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries, leaves, and other botanical bits and pieces. My family and I make it a point to go every year—it's truly a quintessential New York holiday experience. There's a reason it's on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in NYC.

But the big NYBG display isn't the only holiday train show in town. Read on for more details on all the Christmas train shows the city has to offer this season (including the Botanical Garden's big spectacle). And for an extra special holiday treat, take the kids on a full-size Christmas train ride with these nearby Polar Express and Santa locomotives.

Best Family Shows in NYC for Christmas 2018 (That Aren't "The Nutcracker")

'Tis the season to get the gang all dressed up to see some holiday shows. While there are plenty of spectacles to splurge on, like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and all those beautiful Nutcrackers, if you've got young children you may not want to blow all of your bucks on theater tickets.

That's why our roundup of Christmas-season family theater includes a range of productions, from inexpensive, low-key offerings perfect for fidgety preschoolers, to extravaganzas that are worth the investment.

From live stage adaptations of classics such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to seasonal musicals based on popular picture books, to amazing circus feats and offbeat spectacles (like drag queen ballerinas and performing-arts activists), here are our top 18 holiday shows for NYC families.

Best High Tea Spots in NYC to Enjoy a Cup with Kids

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a memorable experience, afternoon tea—sometimes called high tea in New York City—can be a fun outing with kids. It's an especially great winter outing and particularly fitting during the holidays.

Several places serve high tea in New York City, with varying degrees of appropriateness for children. From the fancy Eloise Tea at the Plaza Hotel to the less frilly Russian Tea Room, there are teas—and goodies—for children of all ages and parents of all budgets. Here's our take on some of the best spots for afternoon tea with kids in NYC.

Billy Johnson Playground Reopens in Central Park After Renovation

The Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park has reopened after a months-long rehabilitation and reconstruction project, bringing with it not only the re-opening of the iconic, long, curving granite slide, but also a second granite slide that's accessible for smaller kids.

While the original slide helped land the playground on our list of 100 things to do with city kids before they grow up, the renovation adds a few new noteworthy features to one of our favorite playgrounds in Central Park.

New Trolls Experience in Midtown Is a Fun-Packed Party for Kids

What's rainbow-hued, covered with yards of soft, pettable fur, and sprinkled with just the right amount of sparkly glitter? The brand-new Trolls Experience in Midtown West.

While it's part kid-centric, photo-friendly wonderland, there's definitely more to this installation than other recent Instagram-friendly pop-ups like Candytopia, The Museum of Pizza, and others. (For starters, there's actually a coherent, kid-friendly story to help guide your visit—it doesn't feel like a random collection of rooms.) You and your family are invited to a magical, fun-filled world where energetic staff members excitedly await your arrival, and are ready to help you prep for Poppy's Best Day Ever Party.

Where to See the Nutcracker in NYC: 14 Family Shows in 2018

The Nutcracker ballet is a classic holiday experience for kids and parents, and NYC offers dozens of wonderful interpretations of this beautiful Christmas show.

While many children love the energy and drama of The Nutcracker—from the sweet Sugar Plum fairy visit to the frantic battle with the Rat King—it can be long for some. So we've rounded up more than a dozen variations of The Nutcracker playing this season in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, from the classic showing at Lincoln Center to just-for-kids versions. Many of our picks are abridged versions and inexpensive (or FREE) while still possessing the charm to keep kids wide-eyed.

30 Free Holiday Events for Families and Kids in NYC

With Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah all fast approaching, New York City is gearing up for a magical holiday season. There's something about the sheer delight and excitement in kids' faces that can make even dodging tourists and taxis fun. 

Some of the best family events in NYC happen in November and December: annual train displays, exciting holiday events, spectacular Nutcracker productions, and more. But FREE family fun is often the very best kind, especially with kids in tow. So we've rounded up 30 FREE Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah activities for the family to enjoy now through New Year's Eve. (Consider it our holiday gift to you!) For more of the best events of the holiday season in NYC, be sure to check out our Holiday Guide.

See Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation with Kids

Thanksgiving in New York City wouldn't be what it is without the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you're eager to take your kids to glimpse those giant balloons and don’t want to rise before dawn, visit the area near the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, to watch the giants come to life, including the brand-new balloons for 2018.

While the balloon inflation isn't crowd-free, it’s an only-in-New York event all its own—and a must-do holiday event for families. Read on for tips on when to go and where to eat dinner afterward. In need of more holiday inspiration? Visit our Thanksgiving Fun Guide.

10 Things to Do on Thanksgiving Day With NYC Kids

Other than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, is there really anything else to do in New York City on Thursday, November 22? You bet! We found fun ways to spend Thanksgiving Day in NYC with kids that don't involve eating turkey or watching giant balloons. Many of these events are FREE, and some of them occur only this year. Some, like the public art exhibit B. Wurtz: Kitchen Trees, are both free and here only in 2018.

Read on for our picks, from zoos to bowling alleys to movies, and even a super fun exhibit dedicated to Trolls. Got a car? Loads of events right outside New York City are open on Thanksgiving. See our guide to 10 picture-perfect holiday day-trips near NYC. In town for the whole holiday weekend? Here are 16 fun things to do in NYC over Thanksgiving break.

And finally, a very Happy Thanksgiving to your family from everyone at Mommy Poppins NYC. Here's to a festive holiday season.

For more events happening over Thanksgiving weekend, check out our Event Calendar and November GoList.

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