One reason we live in New York City (and pay crazy rents, take packed subways, and research early education options as if we're going for a Ph.D.) is to take advantage of all the cultural experiences it offers year-round. If one of your New Year's resolutions is to do more fun things with your kids, why not kick off 2017 by taking advantage of all the great places open on New Year's Day in this incredible city?
We came up with seven resolutions for families and then found activities to fulfill each one—all at places open on January 1, 2017, in NYC. You can find more seasonal fun, including little kid and big kid ways to celebrate New Year's Eve, in our Holiday Guide. All of us at Mommy Poppins wish you and your families a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.
Enjoy the eye-catching and interactive exhibits at the Cooper Hewitt Museum.
Resolution: Visit a museum you've never been to before
While many NYC families have heard of Queens' New York Hall of Science, many also haven't been there. It's open on New Year's Day and is just a 40-minute subway ride from Midtown Manhattan. In addition to a host of permanent hands-on installations for all ages, check out its massive seasonal GingerBread Lane display before it comes down. You can also enjoy hands on fun in the onsite maker space, and take part in a tinkering workshop. The best news: Admission is FREE from 10am-11am. Keeping it in that borough: The Museum of the Moving Image offers plenty of entertainment for movie buffs and an onsite theater where Kubo and the Two Strings plays today and is complimented by a hands-on workshop. Another option: Stroll along The High Line and then wander through The Whitney Museum of American Art. The Cooper Hewitt is always a good if offbeat bet for hands-on art with the kids, including its Immersion Room and Process Lab, and MoMath is open today, too.
Resolution: Find more ways to play together as a family
You're never too old to fill your day with play. Weather permitting, check out one of the city's best parks. If it's too cold, take your play indoors. Staten Island's Fly High offers trampoline fun. Bigger kids might appreciate an afternoon of video games at Dave & Buster's or bowling—and more—at Chelsea Piers' Bowlmor Lanes, which also houses a laser tag arena and ropes course. Brooklyn Bowl is also hosting a family-friendly day at the lanes. Of course, you don't need to leave home to play as a family. For inspiration, check out our posts about ways to play while doing chores, fun exercise games, and easy science experiments, to try with kids.
Resolution: Explore more cool kid-friendly exhibits
New Year's Day is also a great time to get to know your hometown. The New-York Historical Society's Battle of Brooklyn exhibit will take you back to the Revolutionary War era. The museum is also hosting special family events today, including a story and craft hour and a scavenger hunt. While you're there, visit the onsite DiMenna Children's History Museum and see the holiday train display. The Merchant House Museum, a rowhouse built in the 1830s opens it doors for tours, today, too. The butterflies will be flitting about at the American Museum of Natural History, where you can also see the stunning origami tree, and take in the new ¡Cuba! exhibition. Or enjoy the final day of Hanukkah with a related children's art festival at the Jewish Children's Museum.
Join or just watch the Polar Bears take to the frigid Atlantic waters. Photo by Tom McGann/courtesy of the organizers.
Resolution: Enjoy quirky, only-in-NYC fun
We rave about offbeat NYC experiences, and one of our favorites is the annual Polar Bear Club New Year's Day Swim in Coney Island. The members of this organization are a bit, well, enthusiastic, but they're not naked, and since the swim is open to the public, you're welcome to join them in the ocean. As always, these cold-water enthusiasts are "freezin' for a reason," raising money for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses. Stick around for the post-swim dance party on the boardwalk if you can brave the cold.
Resolution: Actually visit those tourists spots you've never been to
When is the last time you enjoyed the view at the top of the Empire State Building or went to the Top of the Rock, or One World Observatory? How about the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, where you can sneak some education into the new year and help your kids earn Junior Ranger badges. Check out all of these iconic New York City attractions on New Year's Day, along with Times Square tourist spots Madame Tussauds—where you can play Ghostbusters—and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Resolution: See more kid-friendly theater
Many Broadway shows have performances today, including family favorite Matilda, which plays its final show (limited tickets remained when we published). Younger kids will enjoy an adventure to Pip's Island, which closes its limited run January 8. Other options: The Illusionists - Turn of the Century, iLuminate, and Magic at Coney, a magicians variety show.
Resolution: Spend more time outside
While the rest of the city sleeps it off, take a quiet stroll through one of NYC's lovely green spaces. They're all open on New Year's Day, including Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Van Cortlandt Park, and the High Line. Prospect Park also hosts a morning birding tour and a full afternoon of FREE family programming, from crafts to animal encounters.
Stroll down Fifth Avenue to see the stunning department store holiday windows before they're gone, as well as the Rockefeller Tree. The Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium are all open on January 1 (the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos are closed for the holiday). The Holiday Train Show continues at the New York Botanical Garden. You can also go ice skating—most outdoor rinks are open on the holiday (weather permitting), including those in Bryant Park, Central Park, Riverbank State Park, Brookfield Place, and Prospect Park. If you don't mind spending as much time waiting as skating, the Rink at Rockefeller Center is also open.
Top photo: Penguins get ready for a dip at Coney Island's New Year Day Swim. Photo by Shira Kronzon.