New Year's Day 2018 with NYC Kids: Things to Do as a Family

What's open New Year's Day | January 1, 2018 in NYC?

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 2018 by taking advantage of all the great places open on New Year's Day in the Big Apple?

We came up with seven resolutions for families and then found activities to fulfill each one—all at places open on January 1, 2018, 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, or in our 25 Free Things to Do in NYC with Kids on Winter Break

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
The Museum of the Moving Image offers plenty of entertainment for movie buffs and an onsite theater where The Lego Batman Movie plays on January 1 and is complimented by a hands-on workshop. While you're there, take in its spectacular Jim Henson Exhibition. Another option: Stroll along The High Line and then wander through The Whitney Museum of American Art, which offers free daily tours on New Year's Day. The Cooper Hewitt is always a good if offbeat bet for hands-on art with the kids, including its Immersion Room and Process Lab. MoMath and the always-free National Museum of the American Indian are 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 all ages trampoline fun, or try another bounce house like Superstar Family Fun Center in Queens or Kids 'N Shape. 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 (but their ropes course came down earlier this year). 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 on snow day (or any cold day) boredom busters, 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. At the New-York Historical Society, adults and older kids can view the new exhibit Hotbed, a history of the suffrage movement in the West Village. The New-York Historical Society is also hosting special family events today, including a story and craft hour and a scavenger hunt in its DiMenna Children's History Museum, where you can also see the holiday train display. Or visit any one of the many train displays around the city (check hours for each before going). The "Come Calling" celebration at the Merchant House Museum features tours, a raffle, and readings about New Year's Day celebrations in New York in the 1830s. The butterflies will be flitting about at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where there's loads going on for New Year's Day: see the stunning origami tree, take in the new Our Senses: An Immersive Experience exhibition or the AMNH's new Inside You exhibit, or attend a screening of Earthflight. Catch Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs before it closes January 7, 2018, or see the AMNH's long-running but relatively new dinosaur exhibits like the Titanosaur, or Dino Fossils Never Previously on View.


Join or just watch the Polar Bears take to the frigid Atlantic waters. Photo by Tom McGann/courtesy of event 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. Up on Roosevelt Island, for more NYC-only fun, check out the cool, STEM-and-cuisine-combined coolness at Sue's Holiday SpecTECHular. On the Lower East Side, see a crazy collection of over 150 different menorahs. In Dumbo, 99 Plymouth hosts a model of the New York skyline made entirely from recycled materials. All around town, Ai Weiwei's once-in-a-lifetime installations via the Public Art Fund remain on view until February 11, 2018.

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! Better yet, check out the new National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey or Gulliver's Gate, both in the Times Square area, and both open for New Year's Day.


A fearless woman goes on a quest to save her friend from a frozen world devoid of feelings in The Snow Queen. Photo courtesy of the New Ohio Theater

Resolution: See more kid-friendly theater
Many Broadway shows have performances today; at press time, tickets remained for family favorites Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The School of Rock.  Younger kids will enjoy Blessed Unrest's rendition of The Snow Queen, and sophisticated kids of any age will dig the Metropolitan Opera House's Hansel and Gretel. There's a also a showcase of five of the city's best magicians at the Magic at Coney New Year's Day Matinee: Plunge into 2018! If it doesn't sell out, the Gazillion Bubble Show has a performance down for January 1 at 7pm.

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 full afternoon of FREE family programming, from crafts to animal encounters. New for 2018, Madison Square Park hosts Erwin Redl's cool new Whiteout installation, and down at the Seaport you can see the new, outdoor LED Sea of Light installation.

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 (check ahead on the Aquarium; it closes some exhibits while undergoing renovations) 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: Sue's Tech Kitchen offers a STEM-inspired adventure for the whole family and engages kids in the family dining process. Photo courtesy of Sue's Tech Kitchen