Lunar New Year Parade. Photo courtesy of Better Chinatown
Lunar New Year Parade. Photo courtesy of Better Chinatown

February School Break: 35 Fun Things to Do with NYC Kids

Time seems to be flying by, but for many families, the midwinter recess is a great time to slow things down and create some special memories. The 2019 midwinter break kicks off for New York City public schools on Saturday, February 16 and continues through Sunday, February 24, giving kids 9 full days of holiday playtime. To help you make the most of the February vacation, we've rounded up 35 things to do with kids across all five boroughs.

Lucky for us, NYC museums, ice rinks, parks, and other fun zones host a ton of special activities during the school break. Some of our picks take place on specific dates, others run the entire time, and many are completely FREE like the NYC Parks Kids' Week events.

The extra days off also make it a great time to book a couple of nights away as a family with these more budget-minded getaways, or to pile onto the train or into the car for a day trip to a top kid spot.

Remember you can always search our Event Calendar for more February break week happenings. (Tip: Search for a specific day or with the word "break.")

Read on for dozens of fun ideas. Be sure to click through the links for full details, including addresses, times, and prices.

Spend a day at the Intrepid Museum for Kids Week. Photo courtesy of the museum

1. Head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a slew of special Kids Week activities. This year's theme is Full STEAM Ahead featuring loads of super cool events like a meet-and-greet with Snoopy and Pop-Up Planetarium Shows. Be sure to visit our calendar listing for all the details.

2. Get outside and enjoy Kids Week activities with the Urban Park Rangers at nature centers across the city, including crafts, animal interactions, and outdoor tours. FREE

3. Burn off energy at a an indoor play space. We have roundups of all the options in Brooklyn, plus fun spots to romp in Manhattan and Queens.

Lunar New Year Parade. Photo courtesy of Better Chinatown

4. Take a trip to Chinatown to usher in the Year of the Pig with a Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on Sunday, February 17 at 1pm. There are plenty of other Lunar New Year happenings to check out over the course of the vacation, too. FREE

5. Or celebrate the city's diversity of Asian cultures with great eats and fun finds in NYC neighborhood like Chinatown, Sunset Park, Koreatown, Japantown, or Flushing, Queens. 

6. Catch Yeti, Set, Snow at Central Park's Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, or another puppet show.

Art, Artists & You is a new interactive experience aimed at encouraging children and their families to explore self-expression and identity through art-making. Photo courtesy of the museum

7. Visit the Art, Artists & You exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan where visitors are offered unique opportunities to watch, follow, collaborate with, and take inspiration from working contemporary artists in studio workspaces created especially for this exhibit.

8. Help your kids get their winter wiggles out inside and for FREE at one of NYC's indoor public atriums and plazas.

9. Too old for kiddie gyms? Go bowling, play pool as a family, or take a dip at an indoor pool with a day pass.

10. If you've never been (or haven't visited recently), head to the New York Hall of Science. February break at NYSCI marks the opening of the new exhibit Bionic Me where kids gets to try cool things like moving a ball with their mind, manipulating a robot arm, and using night vision to see in the dark.

Use a laser cutter to create your designs at Skill Mill NYC. Photo courtesy of Skill Mill NYC

11. You can also keep the creativity going with some drop-in fun at one of these eight maker spaces.

12. Head to the Queens Botanical Garden for one of their February Break Programs (from February 19-22), like the George Washington Carver Workshop and I Heart Worms

13. Forget dinner and then a movie; indulge in both at one of the theaters serving restaurant-quality meals with big-screen flicks like the new Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn.

Take a spin at the new Dreamland Roller Rink at Industry City. Photo by Siobhan Adcock

14. Skate up and roll on over to Industry City's newest addition: Dreamland Roller Rink. The new rink hosts family skate events on Saturdays

15. On President's Day, head to the New-York Historical Society to sip cocoa while visiting hands-on stations to learn about chocolate’s journey to the American colonies. Kids also get to sample chocolate ingredients and chat with President George Washington and the first First Lady Martha Washington.

16. Or warm up at one of our favorite hot cocoa spots in BrooklynQueens, or Manhattan

17. Head to the Museum of the City of New York for the gleefully grimy exhibit Germ City. On February 18, the family program Garbage, Garbage Everywhere! explores the exhibit and teaches kids about the cycle of creation, use, disposal of garbage in the city. 

A stroll through this gorgeous orchid display at NYBG is the perfect way to warm up on a brisk day. Photo courtesy of NYCGo

18. Spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful grounds of the New York Botanical Garden. In the Discovery Center, kids can explore the wonder of winter plants and animals that call the garden home, craft a bud necklace, count rings on a tree trunk, and create a field journal to fill with discoveries as you explore all that the natural, cultural gem has to offer. 

19. Hit a nearby slope for some downhill or cross-country skiing.

20. Take the kids on a snow tubing day trip—it's much easier than skiing. If the fresh powder flies in the city, check out one of our favorite sledding hills.

21. Twirl on the ice at one of NYC's outdoor ice skating rinks.

Fed up with an endless routine of duties and lessons, princess Maria escapes to the dark, dark woods full of friendly monsters. Photo courtesy of BAM

22. See some spectacular kids flicks at the New York International Children's Film Festival, which opens Friday, February 22.

23. Fish out your bathing suit and head to an indoor water park. There are plenty well-suited for a day trip, such as the massive one at Kalahari Resorts, or you can plan a multi-day adventure to Rocking Horse Ranch in the Hudson Valley, Aquatopia at Camelback Mountain, or Split Rock Resort.

24. Explore the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during their February Break Discovery Days from February 18-21, where kids use their senses to investigate plants and objects and find out how plants survive in environments ranging from deserts to rainforests. FREE for kids of all ages.

25. Go underground for Day-Off-From-School programs from Tuesday, February 19-Friday, February 22 at the New York Transit Museum, where kids can design their own crazy subway line and learn about public transportation through handling materials, including some very cool maps from transit history.

The Discovery Room offers families, and especially children ages 5-12, an interactive gateway to the wonders of the Museum. Photo by Jody Mercier

26. If you haven't visited the American Museum of Natural History lately, winter break is the perfect time to warm up in the Butterfly Conservatory or check out the Inside You exhibit.

27. Enjoy some inspiring public art with Kathy Ruttenberg's In Dreams Awake on the Broadway malls (the tree-lined greenway between 64th and 157th Streets), or Arlene Shechet: Full Steam Ahead in Madison Square Park. FREE

28. Check out the StoryTime Read-to-Skate Program at the ice rink in Bryant Park on Saturday, February 16 and 23. Read books with Cali Co Cat and snag a free books, while supplies last.

29. Forget cat cafes, introduce your kid to man's best friend at Frolic on the Upper East Side.

Bring the kids to Odd Day Rain, a futuristic rock musical set in the world 2211. Photo courtesy of the production

30. Catch a kid-friendly stage performance of one of our favorite Broadway shows or catch Tada's production, Odd Day Rain. For younger children, The Snowy Day (on February 20), Cinderella at Puppetworks, and Sesame Street Live are also playing this break.

Color Factory. Photo by Janet Bloom

31. Catch the vibrant art pop up The Color Factory before it closes at the end of February. 

32. If you have a library card, you have lots of FREE options! Culture Pass, a program for library card holders at the New York, Brooklyn and Queens library systems allows you to receive free admission at over 40 city institutions. Get all the details here.

33. Commune with nature at the Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House during Presidents Week in Prospect Park. Meet the resident animals, tour the grounds, and help with the Great Backyard Bird Count. FREE

Kids will throw themselves into the foam pit over and over again at Launch Trampoline Park. Photo by Rosalind Muggeridge

34. Kids still have energy to burn? Hit the new Launch Trampoline Park in Queens, or one of the city's bounce houses.

35. Cross something off your bucket list: Print out a copy of our 100 Things to Do With Kids Before They Grow Up and get going. Done all of those already? See if you've been to the best new family attractions that opened in 2018, or expand the borders and try our 100 Things to Do in New York State Before Kids Grow Up.

A version of this story was published in 2018; it is updated annually.