35 Things To Do During a Spring Staycation With NYC Kids

A visit to the New York Botanical Garden's stunning Daffodil Hill is always a spring activity bucket list item in our book. Photo by Jody Mercier
A visit to the New York Botanical Garden's stunning Daffodil Hill is always a spring activity bucket list item in our book. Photo by Jody Mercier

Spring is in the air and spring break is on the horizon. If you're not planning a vacation to one of these family-friendly all-inclusive resorts and instead opting for a spring break staycation, we've pulled together a gold mine of things to do in NYC this spring for families looking to keep busy all season in the Big Apple.

From exhibitions and excursions to our favorite zoos, to everyday fun in our beautiful parks and playgrounds, we've found 35 must-do spring activities in NYC. Find even more seasonal fun in our Spring Fun Guide.

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1. Tour a Ship

Celebrate the return of the 1885 full-rigged ship Wavertree at the South Street Seaport.

2. Play Tourist

Finally visit the Statue of Liberty and the on-site museum. Although access to the crown is still closed, the pedestal has reopened and the grounds and surrounding views are stunning. Want a completely different Lady Liberty experience? Stop by the public art piece Reclining Liberty on display in Morningside Park through April. 

3. Little Zoo, Big Fun

Head to the Queens Zoo to enjoy the animals, aviary, petting zoo, farm, and more.

4. Grab a Treat

Find something delicious to nosh on at one of these 20 must-visit cafes, sweet shops, and iconic family-friendly restaurants in NYC.

RELATED: NYC's Best Playgrounds: 18 Spots Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Cherry Blossom and pond at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens nyc staycation
Explore the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and spy its famed cherry blossoms in bloom. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

5. Marvel at the Cherry Blossoms

See the bountiful blooms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or one of these other lush spots.

6. Pull Out the Bikes

Pedal down Manhattan's West Side bike path from Inwood to Battery Park City, or trek north along the Empire State Trail.

7. Ride the Ferry

Hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry then get off and explore the neighborhood.

8. Show the Kids a Farm in the City

Check out NYC's only working farm at the Queens County Farm Museum.

RELATED: Furry Friends, Camps, Classes, and More Await at The Art Farm

family walking at Wave Hill
Take a walk in nature at Wave Hill. Photo courtesy of Wave Hill

9. Head Uptown

The family-friendly enclave of Riverdale is perched on the Hudson River. While you're there, be sure to visit Wave Hill, a gorgeous 28-acre public garden and culture center with extensive programming for families.

10. Have an Alfresco Meal

Dine outdoors at one of these local restaurants with fun outdoor dining setups.

11. Do the Drive-In

Still haven't made it to a drive-in movie? The Skyline Drive-In is going strong on the Greenpoint waterfront—no car, no problem: There's outdoor seating, too.

12. Visit Chelsea Market

Check out the cool, family-friendly Chelsea Market. Visit Artechouse and its current show, Trust.

RELATED: 30 Fun Preschool and Toddler Event in NYC This Spring

coral tunnel at Sharks! at New York Aquarium.
Walk through the coral tunnel at the sharks' exhibit at the New York Aquarium. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher for WCS

13. See Some Sharks

Get face-to-face with sharks at the New York Aquarium's amazing exhibit. When you're done, stroll down the Coney Island boardwalk.

14. Head to the Battery

Visit the nature-inspired Battery Playscape, which features plenty of interactive play areas, a performance space, and loads of room for kids to get their wiggles out.

15. See Brooklyn's Back Yard

Explore all the family-friendly destinations Prospect Park has to offer.

16. Go for a Strike

Visit one of these family-friendly bowling alleys for NYC kids.

RELATED: 25 Spectacular Spring Day Trips Near NYC for Families

Riding the Wild Asia Monorail at the Bronx Zoo for a family-friendly spring activity in NYC
Climb aboard the Wild Asia Monorail to see the elephants at the Bronx Zoo. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher for WCS

17. Head to the Bronx

Get up close and personal with the residents of the Bronx Zoo, or explore the rest of Bronx Park.

18. Enjoy the Blooms

Head to the New York Botanical Garden to explore the lovely grounds. Pre-book tickets to the 2022 Orchid Show running through Sunday, May 1.

19. Romp in a Playground

Find a new-to-you playground or explore one of our favorite standbys.

20. Visit a Museum

Check out our Guide to Kid-Friendly Museums for our top picks and details on how to score FREE admission.

RELATED: Best Children's Museums for Families to Visit in New York City

Roosevelt Island Tram
Take a thrilling ride on the Roosevelt Island tram. Photo courtesy of NYCGo

21. Take the Tram

Explore a neighborhood with its own unique transportation: Take the tram to Roosevelt Island.

22. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Stroll across the mighty Brooklyn Bridge and then wind your way through Brooklyn Bridge Park, with its stunning vistas and multiple playgrounds. While you're there, be sure to check out the Pier 2 Uplands.

23. Trek to West Harlem

Head to Riverbank State Park where you'll find lots of recreational activities for kids and families and plenty of sports fields and courts.

24. Bad Weather Day?

Take cover from nasty weather with a trip to one of these indoor play spaces.

RELATED: 20 Indoor Places To Play for Free in NYC

City Island Nautical Museum
Pretend to set sail at the City Island Nautical Museum. Photo by Suzy Q

25. See City Island

Visit City Island for a taste of New England's shore towns without the travel.

26. Take a Hike

Walk the trails at Inwood Hill Park or explore an underrated NYC park.

27. Stray Off-the-Beaten-Path

Explore the hidden areas of Central Park.

28. Cool Off

Once the temperature soars—and the sprinklers spring to life—get yourself to the mega splash pad at the foot of the Unisphere.

29. Journey to Jersey

Board the ferry for Jersey and explore Liberty State Park before venturing to one of our favorite northern New Jersey museums: the Liberty Science Center.

RELATED: Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

indoor rock climbing at the cliffs of harlem
Go climbing at The Cliffs Harlem, or another local rock climbing gym. Photo by Jody Mercier

30. Climb the Walls

Go climbing at The Cliffs at Harlem, NYC's largest bouldering gym, or check out one of these other family-friendly rock-climbing spots.

31. Start Birdwatching

Head to the Central Park Ramble to see what kinds of feathered friends you can spot.

32. Check Out Little Island

If you haven't been yet, visit the floating park, Little Island, which features a 687-seat amphitheater, plenty of space to run around, and dazzling views of the city and the Hudson River.

33. Plan Your Escape

Visit one of NYC's many kid-friendly escape rooms where families can work together to solve complex puzzles.

34. See a Puppet Show

See Puppetworks' performances of Pinocchio: Carlo Collodi's 1883 Adventures of a Marionette or Hansel and Gretel.

35. Follow the Story

Bring your child's favorite literary characters and settings to life at one of our family-friendly NYC outings inspired by storybooks.

A version of this article was first published in April 2009, but it is updated annually.

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