50 things to do in New York City with kids: Fall 2012
Our must-read guide to the season's best things to do in New York City with kids—festivals, shows, museum exhibits and more—is here.
Fri Sep 7 2012
Open House New York
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Jean-Michel Othoniel's "My Way" at the Brooklyn Museum
Photograph: Talisman Brolin
NYBG Adventure Garden- Edible Garden
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
NY Comic Con
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castell
"Harry Potter: The Exhibition"
Photograph: Wendy Connett
Museum of Natural History
Elf on Broadway
Photograph: Carucha Meuse
Dia de los Muertos
Photograph: Central Park Conservancy
Central Park's Dana Discovery Center
Open House New York
Tour amazing sites during Open House New York
At this annual event, institutions around the city open their doors for free tours and programs. Kids can choose from a variety of offerings, including art workshops at the Children's Museum of the Arts, a family festival at the Center for Architecture, an origami class at Japan Society, a treasure hunt at the Park Avenue Armory and building tours at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. R.S.V.P. required; reservations available through ohny.org beginning Sept 27. Sat Oct 6 and Sun Oct 7; various times. Free. All ages.
Meet a sculptor at the Brooklyn Museum
Budding artists and their families are invited to the Brooklyn Museum for the Young Artists Open House, where they can meet artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, the artist whose stunning retrospective is currently on view at the museum; explore a mummy maze; and try out a studio program or Arty Facts class. Members get a family tour of the exhibit by Othoniel himself at 11:15am, space permitting, so consider joining. (R.S.V.P. is required for the tour only.) Sat Sept 29 11am–4pm. Brooklyn Museum. Free with museum admission.
Explore an edible garden at the New York Botanical Garden
The NYBG is hosting a daylong festival exploring Mario Batali's Kitchen Gardens, a special set of beds designed by the famous chef, in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Families can take a tour of the gardens, solving Mario's Menu Mystery along the way; decorate a harvest bag for Greenmarket shopping; make a chef's hat; sit in on cooking demos by NYBG staff (at the Whole Foods Market Family Garden Kitchen; 11am, 1, 3pm) and sample vendor snacks. For an additional $5, visitors can also join Batali himself for a special cooking demonstration. Sun Sept 23 10am–5pm. New York Botanical Garden. $25, students and seniors $22, children under 13 $10 (includes All Garden pass).
Geek out at Comic Con Kids' Day
The top names in comics, film, anime, gaming and toys come together each year for this four-day pop-culture fan fest, but there's only one day dedicated specifically to younger guests, offering activities like drawing classes, live-action storytelling and no shortage of photo ops. Sun Oct 14 10am–6pm. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. $35–$45, children under 12 free.
Travel to Hogwarts and beyond at "Harry Potter: The Exhibition"
After a successful run at Discovery Times Square last spring, "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" is returning to the midtown space. Fans of J.K. Rowling's fantasy series can step into the magical world to view displays inspired by the film sets, plus more than 200 models, costumes and props from the movies. The exhibit, which will be updated to included artifacts from the final HP film (a Deathly Hallows display case, a silicon model of Voldemort's snake), will also sport holiday decor. Opens in November. Discovery Times Square. $19.50–$25.
Celebrate Teddy Roosevelt's birthday
Families are invited to celebrate the reopening of the newly restored, two-story Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and Gallery, a tribute to the man who led the nation in its earliest—and perhaps most important—conservation efforts. Kids will especially love checking out the Hall of North American Mammals (part of Memorial, along with the Rotunda), which has undergone a major overhaul as well, and we're guessing there will be quite a few other kid-friendly offerings on tap though we've not yet heard what they are. The day commemorates what would have been Roosevelt's 154th birthday, so take the chance to introduce your kids to one of the most colorful presidents in the nation's history. Sat Oct 27 10am–5:45pm. American Museum of Natural History. Free with suggested museum admission
Kick-start the Christmas season with Elf
If your kids were too young to enjoy the 2003 Will Ferrell film Elf, then introduce them to the comedy when it returns to Broadway this November. The story follows Buddy, an orphaned babe who's raised at the North Pole by the big man in red after he crawls into Santa's bag one Christmas Eve. The real winter wonderland, though, is that of New York City—which you'll see as Buddy galavants around town as an adult, making stops at Central Park and Rockefeller Center. Fri Nov 9–Sun Jan 6; various times. Al Hirschfeld Theatre. $49–160.
Attend a Day of the Dead fiesta at El Museo del Barrio
On Super Sbado the museum opens its doors for a day of free programming, including concerts, exhibition tours and workshops. Families can check out the ambitious new exhibition "Caribbean: Crossroads of the World," an exploration of the Caribbean's diversity and cultural history, then take part in the 3,000-year-old Mexican tradition of Da de los Muertos. Celebrate the far-from-morbid holiday with the Calaveras Callejeras procession through Central Park, skull face painting, pan de muerto and champurrado tastings, and more. Sat Oct 20 11am–6pm. El Museo del Barrio. Free.
Go for an urban hike in Central Park
Awaiting families at the Discovery Center are tours of the center's new Woodlands exhibit, plus discovery kits they can take out to the nearby North Woods to explore the forested spot's fauna and flora. Activities are ongoing, with gallery tours starting every 30 minutes. Sat Oct 20 11am–2pm. Central Park, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Free.
Take in a production at the New Victory Theater
We can't wait for the New Vic's new season to start—the theater company produces some of the most professional (and inventive) children's shows in the city. On tap this year: Urban, an acrobatic spectacular featuring young circus performers from Colombia (Fri Oct 12–Sun Oct 21); Ring A Ding Ding, a participatory show catered to preschoolers about a lost dog (Wed Oct 17—Sun Nov 11); and Mojo. a patchwork of puppetry, illusion, dance and live music. Season begins Fri Oct 12. New Victory Theater. Prices vary.
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