Spring Break in NYC: 50 Fun Things to Do with Kids

Best Spring Recess Children Activities and Events in New York City April 2016

If you plan to stick around New York City for a family staycation this spring break (Monday, April 25 to Friday, April 29), we have 50-plus ideas on how to stay busy with a packed week of kiddie fun. 

From interactive exhibits and hands-on museum programs, to cool circus and family theater shows, to parks, playgrounds and indoor play spaces, there's no shortage of spring break activities for NYC kids in 2016. Some of our picks only take place on specific dates, others run the entire time but all are engaging ways to get out there and celebrate the season

If you're thinking of heading out of town for a last-minute vacation, you can find plenty of worthy far-flung destinations via our travel reviews of Caribbean resorts, walkable European cities and plenty of family hotels and cities right here in the U.S. Or check our just published 25 Spring Day Trip Ideas for NYC families for a shorter and less expensive getaway. Working? Consider a spring break weeklong or day mini camp, covering all manner of interests from STEM and fashion to gymnastics and swim.

(Be sure to click the links for all the details, including address and time.)

1. Give rock climbing a try—NYC has several kid-friendly indoor rock climbing centers with drop-in hours.

2. Enjoy one of the daily spring break activities for kids at MoMA, including a building session with Feltro, magnetic felt tiles (see top photo).

3. Stop in at Prospect Park's Audubon Center where kids can create a nature journal, go on a nature walk and meet some of the center's animal residents. FREE

Laugh your way through Bello Mania, a fun circus act at New Victory Theater. Photo by John Powers/courtesy the theater.

4. Enjoy an intimate performance by America's most famous clown by taking in Bello Mania at the New Victory Theater.

5. Marvel at the over-the-top spectacle of UniverSoul Circus in Queens.

6. Circus too overwhelming for your preschooler? Catch a modern interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood with the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre's revival of Little Red's Hood.

7. Play a family game of laser tag at Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City or one of these fun spots.

8. Hang out with Charlie Brown at the Museum of the Moving Image, which is showing The Peanuts Movie in 3D, followed by a comic workshop.

9. Although the beach is off-limits until Memorial Day, Coney Island's Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel kiddie park are both open for the season with special spring break hours.

10. Those rides too intense for your tot? Then hit Queens' mini-amusement park Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel.

RELATED: Best Children's Theater in NYC This Spring

The SeaGlass Carousel makes a stunning destination in any season. Nighttime visits are magnificent, too. Photo by Raven Snook.

13. Prefer a quick spin to spending the whole day at a park? Visit one of the city's 13 carousels. My personal favorite: the newly-opened SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park.

14. Or glide around the rink on roller skates as many of the city's outdoor roller rinks open for the season this month.

15. Visit the Cooper Hewitt design museum to explore the exhibits with its high-tech pen.

16. Or try out NYC's latest maker space, Geek Forest, which also has spring break mini camps on tap.

17. Hit the Bronx's bucolic Wave Hill for art making and nature walks during Arbor Week.

18. Or scour the city to see where the cherry blossoms are blooming. FREE

RELATED: April GoList: Best Things To Do with Kids in NYC This Month

Cherry blossoms and cosplay dress-up combine for a fun Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn. Photo by Laura Ligon/courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

19. For an impressive display of blossoms and Japanese culture, visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during its Sakura Matsuri 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival.

20. Celebrate The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems at the just opened New-York Historical Society exhibit. Visit the DiMenna Children's History Museum while you're there.

21. Spend a spring break weekend checking out one of the many popular festivals that take place in NYC this April.

22. Head to the Children's Museum of the Arts to work on a collaborative mini city or a variety of other art workshops.

23. Discover the marvels underground at the Lowline Lab where more than 3,000 plants thrive in a subterranean environment.

24. Take a hike before the heat of summer sets in. The nearby Hudson Valley offers some perfect treks for families.

RELATED: 25 Ways NYC Kids Can Get Their Hands Dirty This Spring

Enjoy crafts at the always interactive Transit Museum filled with old-school trains and buses. Photo courtesy of the museum.

25. Explore electricity, mosaic making and maps at the interactive New York Transit Museum's special spring break programing.

26. Get your hands dirty in the Lefferts Historic House's outdoor garden by planting some seeds to take home. 

27. Play mini-golf or study puppet-making at the New York Hall of Science.

28. Check out the timely America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far exhibit and the myriad of special programming going on all week.

29. If April showers dampen the mood, head to the newly-remodeled Nintendo NYC for some free gaming fun.

30. Since you're saving money by staying home this break, consider springing for one of these splurge-worthy, only-in-NY experiences.

31. Burn off crazy kid energy at drop-in play spaces in ManhattanQueens and Brooklyn.

32. Take in a free family movie at St. Paul's Chapel's Family Movie Nights, which shows Spider-Man on April 29. Bonus: It's FREE, including snacks!

Hang out with James Bond (or six of them!) at Madame Tussauds. Photo courtesy of the venue.

33. Play tourist, or spy, at Madame Tussauds, which welcomes a traveling exhibition of six 007 figures. (We'll let you in on a top-secret, money-saving tip: Stroll up to the attraction staff on 42nd Street or throughout Times Square and ask for a poker chip; show it at the window and you'll receive 50 percent off your admission.)

34. Get in touch with your inner paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, where you can check out the titanosaur or the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit, both new.

35. Visit the brand-new Met Breuer, which showcases art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Bonus: Admission grants you same-day access to The Met or The Cloisters, and like both those sites, admission is by suggested donation and kids under age 12 are always FREE.

36. Spend your Wednesday enjoying some Bronx nature for FREE or low-cost. The New York Botanical Garden offers a FREE grounds pass while the Bronx Zoo is always pay-what-you wish on hump day.

37. Whip up a creamy treat at DIY-ice cream parlor Cool Mess or create some chocolatey confections at Voila Chocolat.

38. Visit the Brooklyn Children's Museum's new Our City exhibit to see what part of your neighborhood is represented. Stick around to Celebrate Earth Week.

39. Spend a nerdy day in Japantown snacking, shopping and entertaining even the hardest-to-please tweens. Or check out another new-to-you neighborhood with our Kids' Neighborhood Guides.

40. Never been to the Staten Island Children's Museum? Visit on Monday for FREE when the culture spot stays open until 6pm for an extra hour of fun, or check out the spring break activities like a cooking workshop and seed planting. 

41. Head to the High Line for a spring walk, one of our favorite places to check out spring blooms.

42. Day trip it to a New Jersey farm to see baby animals.

View the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum for a new outlook on NYC. Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr.

43. Try to find your home on the massive Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum.

44. Head to the Players Theatre for a special matinee performance of Beauty and the Beast on Tuesday and family art workshop.

45. Putt a hole-in-one at Shipwrecked Miniature Golf. We've heard this new spot will open in time for spring break, but check its Facebook page to confirm.

46. Plan a visit to the Guggenheim and take in A Year With Children, which opens April 22 and was created by NYC public school students.

47. Children too old for kiddie gyms? Go bowling or play pool.

48. Get wet at a nearby indoor water park. My 10-year-old highly recommends Sahara Sam's in New Jersey.

49. Ride a square-wheeled trike and enjoy other interactive fun at the Museum of Mathematics.

50. Work your way down our 100 Things to Do with Kids in NYC Before They Grow Up list, or create your own family bucket list.

As always, there are even more options in our jam-packed Event Calendar and our Spring Fun Guide.

This post, originally published in April 2010, is updated annually.

Create, build, and play with felt at the Feltro Workshop at MoMa. Photo by Si Hoang/courtesy of Feltro.