Despite NYC's long list of great indoor play options, sometimes kids want to do more than just run and jump around. An art project is a great way to spend a winter or spring afternoon, when the usual roster of play spaces, kiddie gyms and museums is feeling a bit tired. Get busy at a local drop-in art studio to pass some indoor time. Kids can get their hands dirty doing pottery, painting, collage and more.
For drop-in art studios and kids' craft spots, Queens is a worthy rival to Brooklyn and Manhattan. From museums with regular family art programs to places to paint plaster to FREE workshops at the Queens Library, here are nine spots where kids of all ages can flex their creative muscles.
Michaels – Queens
Multiple locations. Visit the website for a complete list of locations and schedule.
Don't overlook national crafts mecca Michaels! All three Queens locations (in Woodside, Fresh Meadows and Rego Park) host frequent one-off classes for kids on the weekends. Projects are inexpensive, costing just $2, plus the cost of supplies. Activities include activities like painting rocks, making slime and decorating picture frames, and even Rainbow Loom meet-ups. Classes are broken down by age group, for kids 3 and up and kids 6 and up. Advance registration is required for some offerings so check the website for details and participating locations.
RELATED: 30 Best Things to Do With Toddlers and Preschoolers in Queens
Unleash your inner artist at a party at Mud Genius.
Mud Genius – Bayside
212-91 26th Ave
Candle making, painting on canvas, screen printing, or decorating your own pottery are all options for drop-in artists at neighborhood fave Mud Genius. They also offer story time, as well as a warm and inclusive environment for artists of all ages and backgrounds. Check their website for details on upcoming events—this is a must-visit for little crafting enthusiasts!
The Noguchi Museum – Long Island City
9-01 33rd Road at Vernon Boulevard
One of Long Island City's most famous culture spots, the Noguchi hosts family programs on select weekends. For $10 for a family of four (which includes museum admission), children ages 2 to 11 can enjoy hands-on art projects led by museum educators. On the first Sunday of every month, families can explore the galleries and then create art inspired by what they see in the Open Studio. In addition to drop-in opportunities, the museum also offers Art for Tots, which is geared toward kids ages 2 to 4. The program helps parents introduce their preschoolers to Noguchi's work through age-appropriate art projects, while Art for Families does the same for school-age kids. Both of these require prior registration, so check the website for details on signing up.
Oliloli Art Studio – Forest Hills
103-23 Metropolitan Avenue at 71st Drive
Even though this bright studio is located in Forest Hills far from my Sunnyside home, my kids and I frequently make the trip here because it's such an inspirational place. Drop-in pottery painting is a great family activity for kids of all ages. There is no studio fee, just pay per project (many of the ceramic projects are in the $20 - $28 range). No need to make a reservation if you are with a group smaller than 8 people. All projects must be started an hour before closing time. Open studio is available from 12-6pm daily, and on Saturdays they stay open until 8pm. Private parties are also available!
Plaster Party Place – Forest Hills
96-09 Metropolitan Avenue between Selfridge Street and 69th Avenue
Well known for its kids' birthday parties, this spot also welcomes drop-in visitors. Choose from a wide selection of ready-to-paint plaster crafts, from figurines to toys to tableware. Although the hours are listed on the website, it's best to call before you pop by since the spot does close for private parties.
Queens Library – Queens
Multiple locations. Visit the website for a complete list of branches and schedule.
Your local library is also a great place for drop-in crafts and other creative activities, though using the Queens Library online calendar can be a bit tricky. Go to queenslibrary.org, click on Events, and then choose Kids or Teens. To filter the event results, type crafts in the Keyword box on the left side of the page. You'll find lots of options at branches across the borough! Best of all, all of these events are FREE.
Queens Museum – Corona
New York City Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The museum hosts the same great family art programs as in years past. Every Sunday from 1 to 5pm, children ages 5 to 12 and their adult companions can enjoy Drop-in Family Art Workshops that are free with admission. Teaching artists and youth assistants from the Queens Teen Program work with families on fun projects like puppet making, building monsters, and designing city blocks. Children with special needs are welcome.
Socrates Sculpture Park – Long Island City
32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway
From May through September, this lovely outdoor art spot hosts FREE Saturday morning art workshops for kids. Activities include kite making, crafting marionettes, and print making. No registration is necessary, just show up and get ready to create!
RELATED: Best Indoor Play Spaces in Queens
Friends get crafty and have fun at A Sprinkle of Fun.
A Sprinkle of Fun – Glendale
79-05 Myrtle Avenue between 79th Street and 79th Place
More plaster craft painting fun, with lots of different items to decorate. The drop-in hours are listed on the website but calling ahead is a must since it often closes for private events. Tuesday afternoon special: From noon to 4pm buy one plaster piece and get one free.
For additional art ideas, check out our crafts posts or find more indoor fun in our Inside Activity Guide.
Photos courtesy of the studios
A version of this post was published in 2014; it has been updated. Louise Finnell contributed additional reporting.