With spring in the air and NYC public school spring break on the horizon, many parents may be dreaming of a far-flung destination. But bank accounts or scheduling constraints could mean local family outings are more palatable.
Luckily, we've pulled together a gold mine of activities for families looking to keep busy during spring break—or anytime in the Big Apple. The only fare we'll be paying is to the MTA, although even that hurts with the recent fare increases.
Looking for year-round fun things to do in the cty? Check out our 100 Things to Do with Kids in NYC, and of course, our always packed Event Calendar. Don't forget to peruse our NYC Museum Guide to learn about all the latest exhibits and children's museums, and wrap up your day with our guide to family-friendly city restaurants.
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1. Head to the Queens Zoo to enjoy the petting zoo, farm, nearby carousel, and more.
2. Create your own city scavenger hunt or embark on one with these creative companies.
3. Visit the Macy's Flower Show: Every spring, see beautiful blooms in the windows and throughout the first few floors of the megastore.
4. Ride the N or W subways for above-ground views of Brooklyn and Queens.
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Spring blooms at Wave Hill in the Bronx can't be beat. Photo by Joshua Bright/courtesy of the venue.
5. Head uptown to Riverdale and spend a day overlooking the Hudson River at Wave Hill, a gorgeous 28-acre public garden and culture center with extensive programming for families.
6. Journey to Floyd Bennett Field, an old airfield turned historic center with authentic aircraft on display in a 1950s "nose-hanger."
Climb the Statue of Liberty and cross one more iconic NYC spot off your family bucket list. Photo by Celso Flores via Flickr.
7. Finally visit the Statue of Liberty (just remember to reserve those crown tickets ahead).
8. Prep for the spring season by taking some swings at one of NYC's batting cages.
9. Find a new-to-you playground or explore one of our favorite standbys.
10. Pack a picnic and stroll through Prospect Park. There's always something great for families, from free movies to hikes and bird watching.
11. Get up close and personal with the residents of the Bronx Zoo, or explore the rest of Bronx Park.
12. Have a tourists-in-the-city day, complete with dirty-water hot dogs.
RELATED: 100 Things To Do with Kids in NYC
The Sky Portal at One World Observatory gives kids a new outlook on the city. Photo by Jody Mercier.
13. Brave the crowds and visit the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock. Been there, done that? Try the One World Observatory.
14. Head uptown to take in views of the Harlem River and the urban jungle from atop The High Bridge, which connects Upper Manhattan to the Bronx.
15. Ice skate year-round at Chelsea Piers' indoor rink.
Enjoy science demos and other special events at the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of the museum.
16. Plan a visit to the Liberty Science Center. From the nation's largest Imax Dome Theater to the iExplore toddler and preschool exhibit and the 12,800-square-foot interactive Skyscraper! exhibit and Infinity Climber, there is way too much here to explore in just one day.
17. Head to the Bronx or Queens to take in a major league ballgame or get a behind-the-scenes look at the stadiums.
18. Marvel at the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
19. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, get ice cream, and stop for pizza at Grimaldi's, or another of Dumbo's favorite eateries.
RELATED: Guide to Parks & Playgrounds in NYC
Visit the city's only aquarium for a look at turtles, sharks, rays, and more. Photo by Walkinggeek via Flickr.
20. Hit the New York Aquarium and walk down the Coney Island boardwalk.
21. Splurge on an indoor pool for a day.
22. Take a trek to Riverbank State Park, where you'll find lots of recreational activities for kids and families and plenty of sports fields and courts.
23. Stroll through Battery Park City, including Tom Otterness' Penny Park, and hit the Battery, where you can take a spin on the SeaGlass Carousel.
A FREE ride on the Staten Island Ferry is always a thrill for kids. Photo by Jody Mercier.
24. Ride the Staten Island Ferry and then get off and explore the neighborhood.
25. Bike down Manhattan's West Side bike path from Inwood to Battery Park City.
26. Go for a hike in Inwood Hill Park, or another underrated NYC park.
27. Check out all of the interactive installations at the Brooklyn Children's Museum or its newly opened play space off-shoot in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
28. Explore the hidden areas of Central Park.
29. Snuggle with the kittens at NYC's cat cafes.
30. Visit one of NYC's world-class museums for FREE.
31. Have dim sum in Flushing, then explore the rest of the neighborhood.
32. Gather food from farmers' markets and go on a picnic in your local park.
33. Bird watch in the Central Park Ramble. Don't forget to first get your kit from Belvedere Castle.
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FDR Memorial Park is a highlight of Roosevelt Island. Photo by dbjules via Flickr.
34. Take the tram to Roosevelt Island and spend the day exploring.
35. Visit City Island for a taste of New England's shore towns without the travel.
36. Warm up on chilly days at the indoor rain forest tropic zone at the Central Park Zoo.
37. Try the Tours for Fours at MoMA.
Experience sheep, hens, and other farm animals at the Queens County Farm Museum. Photo by Lily Kesselman/courtesy of the museum.
38. Check out NYC's only working farm at the Queens County Farm Museum.
39. Take a ride on a double-decker tour bus or movie tour bus to see some of the city's top filming sites.
40. Head to amenity-filled Brooklyn Bridge Park for a fun-filled day and breathtaking cityscape views.
Top image: A tram ride to Roosevelt Island is a simple spring-break pleasure. Photo via Shutterstock.
A version of this article was first published in April 2009, but it has since been updated.