Midwinter Break: 26 Fun Things To Do With NYC Kids
Time seems to both standing still and flying by, but for many families, the midwinter break is still a great time to slow down and create some special memories. The 2021 midwinter break kicks off for New York City public schools on Friday, February 12 (Lunar New Year) and continues through Sunday, February 21, giving kids ten full days of school-free playtime. To help you make the most of the February vacation, we've rounded up 26 things to do with kids across all five boroughs.
Remember, you can always search our Event Calendar for more midwinter break happenings. (Tip: Search for a specific date or with the word "break.")
Read on for over two dozen fun ideas. Be sure to click through the links for full details, including addresses, times, and prices.
Spend a day at the Intrepid Museum during its Kids Week. Photo courtesy of the museum
1. Burn off some energy at one of these indoor play space options in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at various places around the city. Photo by Janet Bloom
2. Celebrate the Year of the Ox. Lunar New Year kicks off the break this year on Friday, February 12, and though most of the live events have been postponed until later on in 2021, you can still catch many of the celebrations online.
See Yeti, Set, Snow! at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Photo courtesy of Justina Wong for the City Parks Foundation
Explore everything CMOM has to offer. Photo by Jody Mercier
4. Get out the winter wiggles (at no cost!) by exploring one of the city's public atriums and plazas. FREE
Use a laser cutter to create your designs at Skill Mill NYC. Photo courtesy of Skill Mill NYC
6. Celebrate the Year of the Ox in Queens during Lunar New Year at the Garden where guests can buy a lucky new year plant, pick up an activity kit to take home, and commune with nature. FREE
Watch interactive performances and learn about the Black visionaries at the Black Future Festival at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the venue
7. Reserve a weekend slot at the Brooklyn Children's Museum and choose from two types of tickets. Play Sessions allow families to explore the museum's main exhibits including World Brooklyn, Neighborhood Nature, Totally Tots, Collections Central and The Nest. ColorLab Sessions offer families the chance to work together on projects like print-making, collage, and sculpture.
A stroll through the gorgeous orchid display at NYBG is the perfect way to warm up on a brisk day. Photo by Jody Mercier
8. Head to Queens to visit Socrates Sculpture Park's newest installation, Monuments Now. Part 1 of this outdoor exhibit explores the role of monuments in our society and includes new commissions by renowned artists Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons. FREE
Hit the slopes at Camelback then hit Aquatopia for a relaxing apres-ski warm-up. Photo by Matt Nighswander
9. Gear up for some winter fun at these downhill destinations.
11. Lace-up your skates and enjoy the crisp winter air at one of NYC's outdoor ice skating rinks.
It's always 86 degrees at Aquatopia! Photo by Matt Nighswander
12. 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.
13. Explore the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where kids can roam around the Discovery Garden using their senses to investigate a whole host of plants species. FREE for children under 12..
Experience the wonder of 500 free-flying butterflies in a room full of lush, tropical plants at the Butterfly Conservatory at AMNH. Photo courtesy of the museum
15. Enjoy some inspiring outdoor art at the large-scale installation Reverberation at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Warm up afterwards with a hot cocoa at one of our favorite spots in Brooklyn–Jacques Torres.
16. Visit the New York Botanical Garden, where although the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden is temporarily closed, there are still plenty of areas where kids can run, discover, and explore nature.
17. Feeling blue? Stop by Artechouse's latest installation, Celestial (before it closes on February 21), where you'll find yourself transported to a world inspired by the color Classic Blue. The 40-minute journey guides visitors through the lofty gallery rooms of the Chelsea Market space with a stunning light show celebrating all things blue.
18. View some kid-friendly art at the Brooklyn Museum's newest exhibit, KAWS: WHAT PARTY. This retrospective of the popular Brooklyn-based artist, features more than one hundred colorful works including graffiti drawings, paintings and sculptures, and the larger-than-life installations of his popular COMPANION figures.
19. Take a trip to the Queens Museum. With plenty of open space for the kids to move around and no-cost admission, break week is a great time to cross this museum off your list. Check out the other NYC museum's offering FREE admission this winter break.
See the lovable Paddington in Paddington Gets in a Jam at DR2 Theatre. Photos courtesy of Rockefeller Productions
20. Park Slope's local theater Puppetworks presents the classic tale of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp adapted for audiences of all ages. The marionette performance is accompanied by music from Aram Khachaturian's "Gayane" ballet suite. Little ones will especially love the special effects including a disappearing castle, a flying carpet, and a magical genie in the lamp.
Sloomoo Institute offers gooey, glow-in-the-dark fun. Photo by Jody Mercier
21. Bring all the slime lovers you know to the Sloomoo Institute pop-up in Soho. Tickets are still available Thursdays-Sundays during the break and on President's Day–February 15, 2021.
22. Use your library card to snag a Culture Pass and you'll have lots of FREE options at your fingertips! This program for library cardholders at the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens library systems allows you to receive FREE admission at more than 50 city institutions. Reservation policies have changes substantially since COVID-19, so be sure to get the up-to-date details here.
23. Participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count by observing and recording the birds you spot wherever you are. Simply tally the number of individual birds of each species you see during your count period and then enter the numbers on the GBBC website.
Kids will throw themselves into the foam pit over and over again at Launch Trampoline Park. Photo by Rosalind Muggeridge
24. Get crafty at one of these 20 arts and crafts studios where you can try your hand at a variety of classes like drawing, textiles, slime making, origami, jewelry-making, and more.
25. Hit the slopes at one of these snowboarding parks that are within driving distance of the city.
26. 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? Expand your horizon and try to tackle something from 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.