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 may mean local family outings are more palatable.
Luckily for us, we asked readers to share things they’ve always wanted to do in the city and compiled them into this list of 40 ideas for a Big Apple staycation. We've pulled together a gold mine of activities for families looking to keep busy during spring break—or anytime. The only fare we'll be buying is from the MTA!
Looking for year-round fun things to do in NYC? Check out our 100 Things to Do with Kids in NYC, and of course, our always packed daily 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 and carousel and more.
2. Create your own city scavenger hunt.
3. Visit the Macy's Flower Show: Every spring, you can see beautiful blooms in the windows and throughout the first few floors of the megastore.
4. Ride the N and Q subways for the above-ground views of Brooklyn and Queens.
RELATED: 25 Spring Day Trip Ideas for NYC Families
Spring blooms at the Bronx's Wave Hill 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 that has authentic aircraft on display in a 1950s "nose-hanger."
Climb the Statue of Liberty to 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 tickets ahead).
8. Check out the Asia Society Family Day events.
9. Visit Victorian Gardens in Central Park. This amusement park takes over Wollman Rink from Memorial Day weekend until just after Labor Day every year.
10. Pack a picnic and stroll through Prospect Park. There's always something great for families, from free movies to hikes to bird-watching.
11. Get up close and personal with the residents of the Bronx Zoo like giraffes and brand-new tiger cubs.
12. Have a tourists-in-the-city day, complete with dirty water 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. Been there, done that? Try the One World Observatory.
14. Head uptown to take in the 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.
Science demos and other special events are always taking place 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 exploratorium to permanent installations, like the 12,800-square-foot interactive Skyscraper! exhibit, 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 ball game or get a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium.
18. Marvel at the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
19. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, get ice cream and stop for pizza at Grimaldi's.
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 a hotel with an indoor pool for one 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 ride on the FREE Staten Island Ferry is always a thrill. 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.
27. Check out all of the interactive installations at the Brooklyn Children's Museum.
28. Explore the hidden areas of Central Park.
29. Head to Belmont Park to take in some horse races and enjoy family-friendly fun.
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. Go on a picnic in your local park after gathering all the food from farmers' markets.
33. Bird-watch in the Central Park Ramble. Don't forget to get your bird-watching kit from Belvedere Castle first.
Check out the FDR Memorial Park on Roosevelt Island. Photo by dbjules via Flickr.
34. Take the tram to Roosevelt Island and spend the day exploring.
35. Visit NYC's surrounding islands like Staten Island, Governors Island, City Island and Ellis Island, for a trip through history.
36. Warm up on chilly days at the indoor rainforest tropic zone at the Central Park Zoo.
37. Try the Tours for Fours at MoMA.
See the 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 the amenity-field Brooklyn Bridge Park for a fun-filled day and breathtaking cityscape views.
Top image: Take the tram to Roosevelt Island. Photo via Shutterstock.
This post was originally published in April 2009.