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Things to do with kids in NYC over Presidents' Day weekend

Celebrate commanders-in-chief of the past and present with our guide to fun things to do with kids over Presidents' Day weekend

Photograph: New-York Historical Society

Looking for something to do with the kids on Presidents' Day? We're helping to make that executive decision a little easier. Our agenda includes plenty of family-friendly things to do during Presidents' Day weekend. Whether you take in a concert, a historical happening or one of the best museum exhibits for kids, make it a Presidents' Day weekend for the history books.   


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Presidents' Day weekend events

"Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters"

  • Price band: 2/4

If Hurricane Sandy has taught New Yorkers anything, it's that no one is safe from the forces of nature. Though we often hear news of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis obliterating areas around the world, many were shocked that a place like NYC could be hit by such a massive storm. Now families can learn more about these natural disasters through an interactive exhibit that lets kids bone up on the geological causes, the risks to humans, coping in the aftermath and how to predict future destruction. Hands-on activities invite visitors to monitor earthquakes around the world in real time, manipulate an earthquake fault, generate a virtual volcano, stand at the center of a roaring tornado and check out an interactive map of NYC during the hurricane in 2012. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Mon Jul 6 - Sun Aug 9
More info

Engineering Week at NYSCI

The New York Hall of Science is holding an engineering fest every weekday of the midwinter break. On Civil Engineering Day (Feb 16, 11am–4pm), kids will use gumdrops and toothpicks to build a dome, craft a boat out of aluminum foil and construct a bridge with blocks and paper clips. On Feb 17 from 1 to 4pm, Richard Schweiger, creator of the new animated TV show Space Racers, will host screenings, workshops and a Q&A session about engineering in outer space. Kids will also get the chance to learn about nano–crystals (Feb 18, 1–4pm), wearable tech (Feb 19, 1:30–4pm) and motors (Feb 20, 1:30–4pm). Most of the programs are free, but some workshops require a small materials fee to participate. Ages 4 and up.

  1. New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th St, at 47th Ave, 11368
  2. Fri Feb 20
More info

Family Performance: English Sword Ale

Families will be on the edge of their seats watching this thrilling show in which performers wielding double-handled swords move in rhythm—to stately longsword dances or even rap numbers, accompanied by live folk music. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Museum 200 Eastern Pkwy, at Washington Ave
  2. Until Sun Feb 15
More info

Penny Jones & Co Puppet Show: More Mother Goose Tales featuring The Three Little Pigs

  • Price band: 2/4

This troupe has been delighting little audiences with their informal puppet shows since the 1970s. In this new production, Mother Goose's canine pal, Toby, returns with several funny and enchanting tales. Live music, games and participatory activities make this 45-minute show a great introduction to theatre for young children. Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Westbeth Theatre Center Music Hall 155 Bank St between West and Washington Sts
  2. Until Sun Feb 22
More info

"The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

MoMA takes viewers back to La Belle Époque in this survey of the graphic art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), surely one of the best-known and beloved names in art history. All of his iconic images are here, along with the landmarks of late-19th-century Parisian nightlife referenced therein. Bring the whole family and get transported to Paris. All ages.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Until Sun Mar 1
More info

Princess Particular

  • Price band: 2/4

The protagonist of this funny and insightful musical from The Secret Children's Theatre is a feisty princess who's accustomed to getting her way. When she decides to become a prima ballerina, her parents, King Loadsadough and Queen Patience, are in full support. To achieve her dream, the princess enlists the help of her pals. Princess Particular is one of three rotating children's musicals presented each Saturday at The Secret Theatre. All ages.

  1. Secret Theatre 44-02 23rd St, at 44th Rd
  2. Sat Jul 18 - Sat Dec 19
More info

Arty Facts

  • Price band: 1/4

Tots and their guardians are treated to a tour of the collections, with an emphasis on the use of color in art. A family activity and an art-making session round out the day. In November, discover Brooklyn arists around the museum to learn about the borough, then focus on the use of light in artwork through December. After the New Year, kids can mix it up by combining, tranforming and rearranging objects to make creative works. Please note that children younger than four or older than seven (yes, even siblings) are not permitted to join in. Ages 4 to 7.

  1. Brooklyn Museum 200 Eastern Pkwy, at Washington Ave
  2. Until Sun May 17
More info

Robot Swarm

Kids will marvel at the Museum of Mathematics' futuristic new exhibit, featuring more than 20 small, light-up robots. The 'bots zoom across the floor, interacting with museum-goers and communicating with each other thanks to high-tech motion control and positioning systems. Families can learn all about the exciting field of swarm technology in robotics and explore the mathematical rules that make the robots work. All ages.

  1. Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) 11 E 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Mon Jul 6 - Mon Dec 14
More info

Little Makers: Tie Dye Fab(ric)

  • Price band: 1/4

Kids go wild and tie dye fabric to create colorful swirls and groovy patterns. Ages 5 and up.

  1. New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th St, at 47th Ave, 11368
  2. Until Sun Feb 15
More info

Rubin Museum Family Sundays

  • Price band: 1/4

In honor of its 10th anniversary, the Rubin Museum of Art established new Family Sundays—a year-round, drop-in program inviting families to create art, explore the galleries on special tours and more. In February, families will examine the beauty and symbolism of lotus flowers, featured in various works of art in "The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide." Families can then make their own lotus flower mosaic using natural materials. Ages 3 and up.

  1. The Rubin Museum of Art 150 W 17th St, at Seventh Ave, 10011
  2. Until Sun Apr 26
More info

"The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter"

  • Critics choice

It's a balmy 80 degrees in the museum's 1,200-square-foot vivarium, which holds up to 500 tropical lepidoptera. The free-flying butterflies often land on the shoulders of visitors, allowing tykes to come into direct contact with the ethereal creatures. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Mon May 25
More info

Cambuyon

  • Price band: 2/4

See how the dancers and musicians of Cambuyon use everyday objects like wooden crates or recycled glass bottles (hint: It's not what you expect!). African, Irish, Spanish and American influences abound in this hour-long performance, which combines percussion, tap and hip-hop to create surprises at every turn. Ages 6 and up.

  1. New Victory Theater 209 W 42nd St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves
  2. Until Sun Feb 22
More info

Tattly Party at Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store

Wear your heart on your sleeve this Valentine's Day with some (temporary) ink from Park Slope gift emporium Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store. Nosh on sweet snacks and get a design-conscious, non-toxic temporary tattoo from Tattly. While you're there, pick up their Little Love Notes set, which includes everything you need for a kid–friendly Valentine's craft project—note cards, stickers and, of course, temporary tats. All ages.

  1. Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store 232 Fifth Ave, between Carroll and President Sts
  2. Sat Feb 14
More info

Everything About a Family (Almost)

  • Price band: 1/4

Audiences will love this unique musical with a script and music made almost entirely by kids. Watch the story of a little girl who doesn't feel like she belongs—She'll join another family reunion only to realize her own quirky family has been the one for her all along. All ages.

  1. TADA! Theater 15 W 28th St, between Fifth Ave and Broadway, second floor
  2. Until Sun Feb 15
More info

Grand Central Holiday Train Show

  • Free

While you’re exploring the New York Transit Museum, be sure to visit its vintage Lionel Metro-North, New York Central and subway trains displayed on a 34-foot long, two-level “O” gauge model train layout through February. Kids will love checking out a miniature Grand Central Terminal and seeing vintage Lionel ads from the 1930s.

  1. Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse 42nd St to 44th St, between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves
  2. Sun Feb 22
More info

Hot Chocolate Festival

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Heat-seeking chocoholic families flock to this annual festival, where City Bakery owner Maury Rubin serves a different flavor of his intoxicating cocoa every day during the month February. The café offers flavors like Sunken Treasure—an indulgent cup with submerged caramel coins and chocolate truffles—On a Peanut Butter Barge and Banana Peel, to name a few. Stop by any day of the week for the shop's delicious milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties and snag a freshly baked snack while you're at it.

  1. City Bakery 3 W 18th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10003
  2. Until Sat Feb 28
More info

Great Backyard Bird Count

  • Price band: 1/4

Half walk, half scavenger hunt, this 17th annual event brings children and adults together to tally up the red-tailed hawks, robins and pheasants that call the garden home. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main St, at Dahlia Ave
  2. Mon Feb 16
More info

Nature Playtime

  • Price band: 1/4

Tots can get their zoo fix at free family workshops on Sundays at the Prospect Park Zoo. Learn about animals and nature through art projects, insect observation and snow play in the winter months, all led by zoo educators and trained teen Discovery Guides. Participants will receive a nature play activity guide to Prospect Park highlighting areas like the Zucker Natural Exploration Area for further adventures. Ages 2–7.

  1. Prospect Park Zoo 450 Flatbush Ave, at Empire Blvd
  2. Until Sun Apr 26
More info

NYC Audubon Winter EcoCruise: Winter Seals and Waterbirds of NY Harbor

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Keep an eye out for loons, sandpipers and geese during this trip aboard the New York Water Taxi's eco-friendly vessel. You’ll pass the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge through parts of New York Harbor and circle Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, which are popular sunning spots for seals. The tour will be narrated by a NYC Audubon naturalist, and seal behavior researchers will be on board to answer questions. Guests are encouraged to bundle up for the occasion, but free tea and hot cocoa will be served to help reduce the chill factor. Reservations required; tours limited to 90 people. Tours depart from Pier 16. All ages.

  1. South Street Seaport, Pier 16 Fulton St, at South St
  2. Until Sun Mar 8
More info

Time Travel Through History

  • Price band: 2/4

Need to get the kids out of the house over winter break? During vacation weeks, the New York Historical Society offers a weekly camp to occupy kids from cabin fever. Kids will get to explore the historical society and time travel through history. During the December vacation week, the theme is the Holiday Express and kids will get to play a game of eye-spy amongst the holiday train exhibit. The camp offers scavenger hunts, story time, and arts and crafts every day of the session so kids will have something different to look forward to everyday. Ages 4 and up.

  1. New York Historical Society New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, at Richard Gilder Way (77h Street), 10024
  2. Sun Feb 22
More info

Washington's Birthday Ball

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Families can celebrate the birth of our nation’s first president at a 19th-century-style ball. Come learn and perform traditional country dances, indulge in birthday refreshments and tour the museum through a presidential-themed scavenger hunt. Reservations recommended. All ages.

  1. Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden 421 E 61st St, between First and York Aves
  2. Until Sun Feb 15
More info

Pixelated: Sum of Its Pieces

Explore perception in the digital world at the Children's Museum of the Arts' new spring exhibition. "Pixelated: Sum of Its Pieces" is composed of works by various emerging and mid-career artists, including Omar Chacon, Christian Faur, Al Souza and Devorah Sperber. The works on view consider the intersection between art and technology; while some have been created using computers, others are handmade. Kids can let their imaginations guide them as they examine various pieces of art from different distances and viewpoints. Among the exhibit are paintings made with wax and bubble wrap, sculpture constructed with found objects and digital installations.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Until Sun May 3
More info

Puppetworks presents The Sleeping Beauty

  • Price band: 1/4

The classic Charles Perrault story is told using Nicolas Coppola's gorgeous hand-carved marionettes and music from Tchaikovsky's immortal ballet score. The puppets, including a wicked fairy and a princess, cursed to sleep for 100 years, will frolic across the stage, designed to reflect the French medieval period. Ages 4 and up.

  1. Puppetworks 338 Sixth Ave, at 4th St
  2. Until Sun Mar 29
More info

Make it: Stop Motion Animation

  • Price band: 1/4

The whole month of February is dedicated to stop-motion animation in NYSCI's Maker Space. With free or open source software, little Spielbergs can bone up o cool techniques and put together their own short flick. Ages 6 and up.

  1. New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th St, at 47th Ave, 11368
  2. Sun Feb 22
More info

The Red Balloon Screening and Animation Adventure Family Workshop

  • Price band: 1/4

Head to the Museum of the Moving Image during midwinter recess for daily 1pm screenings of Albert Lamorisse's classic French short, about a little boy who follows a stray balloon. At 2:15pm each day, older kids have the opportunity to create animation inspired by the film and set against backdrops that resemble their own NYC neighborhoods in a creative workshop. Screening ages 4 and up, workshop ages 6 and up.

  1. Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35th Ave, at 37th St, 11106
  2. Until Sat Feb 21
More info


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