Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Free spring break activities for kids 2014

We rounded up the best gratis spring break activities for kids in NYC, including family programming at the Brooklyn Flea and outdoor fun to celebrate the season

  • Photograph: Antonio M. Rosario/Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Free hours at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • courtesy Prospect Heights Craft Fair

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Prospect Heights Craft Fair

  • Photograph: Joshua Bright

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Family Art Project: Drawing on Nature at Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Clouds by Olaf Breuning at Central Park

  • Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    MoMA Family Films: Otto the Rhino

  • Photograph: Ted Rips

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Karen Rips: "Altered Surfaces" show at the ArtQuilt Gallery

  • Photograph: courtesy Brooklyn Flea

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Family Flea Edutainment at P.S. 321

  • Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Pop-Up Audubon!

  • Photograph: Gavin Ashworth

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art" at the American Folk Art Museum

  • Photograph: Etienne Frossard

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Greenlight Saturday Story Time

  • Photograph: courtesy the Central Park Conservancy

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Ponds, Pipes & People: Water in Central Park" exhibit

  • Photograph: courtesy American Pa

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Grand Central Centennial Quilts"

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Sony Wonder Technology Lab

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Sony Wonder Technology Lab Screening: Sesame Street

  • courtesy Brooklyn Flea

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Brooklyn Flea

  • Photograph: Alison Lowenstein

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    History in Your Hands: Spring Sprouts at Lefferts House

  • Photograph: Gary Blaine

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!"

  • Photograph: Etienne Frossard

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Greenlight Baby Storytime

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Family Walk: Signs of Spring at Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "The ABC's of It: Why Children's Books Matter"

  • Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    powerHouse Arena Kids Readings 2014

  • Photograph: Luca Carrà

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Photograph: courtesy Queens Botanical Garden

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    Free hours at Queens Botanical Garden

  • Photograph: Andrew Kelly

    Free spring break activities for kids 2014

    "Humans Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering" at New York Hall of Science

Photograph: Antonio M. Rosario/Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Free spring break activities for kids 2014

Free hours at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden


After such a long, harsh winter, we couldn't be happier to see spring again! Take advantage of the kids' full week off school to enjoy the warmer temperatures with your clan, whether with an adventurous day trip outside of NYC or a slew of fun spring break activities for kids in the city.

RECOMMENDED: Spring break mini-camps, shows and museum programs

We've rounded up the very best ways to spend vacation time together without dropping a dime! Click through this article by date to track down gratis events for every day of spring break, including free film screenings under the stars at the Tribeca Film Festival Drive-In and outdoor events like Pop-Up Audubon that let kids get their hands dirty. If that's not enough to keep the little ones busy, check out our extensive lineup of 50 things to do this spring, or head to one of five family-friendly movies hitting theaters this season. Even April showers can't keep us down this year!

When is spring break?

April 12–22, 2014

Saturday, April 12–Sunday, April 13

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Enjoy free admission until noon on Saturdays in the beautiful gardens, hidden away from the bustle of the city. Wooded trails, rose gardens and a gem of a Japanese hill-and-pond garden await on the other side of the lovely new visitors’ center—a far more garden-worthy entrance than any other to date.

  1. 990 Washington Ave, (at President St)
More info

Prospect Heights Craft Fair

  • Free

Shop, munch and enjoy a wide range of activities for kids at this authentic crafts fair filled with stands of handmade treasures, from clothes to stationery, all made with love and care. For $5, kids can participate in drop-in activities like dance classes, yoga, storytelling and making crafts of their own. All proceeds from the fair go to arts programming at P.S. 9. All ages.

  1. P.S. 9 80 Underhill Ave, between Bergen St and St. Marks Ave
  2. Sat Apr 12
More info

Family Art Project: Drawing on Nature

  • Free

As part of Wave Hill's Target Free Weekend, kids can spend two days exploring nature and creating artwork inspired by their surroundings. Guest artist Linda Stillman guides tykes in a trying a staining technique, using dirt and flowers to add color to their drawings, which they'll then bring outside to become part of a winding line of art throughout the Wave Hill grounds. All ages.

  1. Wave Hill W 249th St, at Independence Ave, 10471
  2. Sun Apr 13
More info

Clouds

  • Free

Every spring, an installation takes up residence in the southeast corner of Central Park, and this year’s, by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, is among the most kid-friendly yet. Its six polished blue aluminum clouds, rendered as though a child had drawn them, seem to float in the sky thanks to steel supports. Their surreal presence will no doubt set the stage for a play-filled romp in the park.

  1. Doris C. Freedman Plaza Fifth Ave, at 60th St
  2. Until Sat Aug 23
More info

MoMA Family Films: Otto the Rhino

  • Free

Settle in for this Danish animated feature centered around Topper, whose extravagant tales about his seafaring father lend him the title of classroom liar. But when he stumbles across a magical pencil that brings his imaginations to life, he ends up creating an enormous rhinoceros that changes everything. Tickets will be distributed at the reception desk of the Education and Research Building on the day of the event only, and are first-come, first-serve. All ages.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Until Sat Apr 12
More info

"Altered Surfaces"

  • Free

Karen Rips manipulates fibers to create her own fabric with a variety of surface design elements in her collection on display at The ArtQuilt Gallery. All ages.

  1. The Art Quilt Gallery 133 W 25th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Until Sat Apr 19
More info

Family Flea Edutainment at P.S. 321

  • Free

The Brooklyn Flea at P.S. 321 welcomes special kids' programming, bringing family-friendly fun to the Park Slope market. Catch demonstrations, workshops and performances each weekend, beginning with creative book-making with 826NYC (Apr 5–6, May 3-4 and June 6–7); playful songs with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (Apr 12–13) and demos from Carmelo the Science Fellow (Apr 19) that will make the kids geek out! In June, return for ProjectArt's portrait workshop and exhibition (June 7); a glass-sculpting class hosted by UrbanGlass (June 14–15) and dynamic dancing with the Mark Morris Dance Center (June 21), allowing little ones to try their toes at Samba and hip-hop steps. More events TBD. All ages.

  1. P.S. 321 180 Seventh Avenue, between 1st and 2nd Sts
  2. Until Sat Jun 21
More info

Pop-Up Audubon!

  • Free

Prospect Park Audubon Center staff will lead discussions and explorations of the wildlife in Prospect Park, starting with bird-watching (on Saturdays only), followed by a prowl through the pond. Meet at the orange tent at the Prospect Park Fair. All ages.

  1. Prospect Park Audubon Center enter at Ocean Ave, and Lincoln Rd
  2. Sat Aug 30 - Sun Sep 28
More info

"Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The latest in a growing crop of city museums to exhibit fashion garments as art, the American Folk Art Museum showcases the works of 13 contemporary designers. Not sure what this has to do with folk art? Here's the catch: In a Project Runway–style prompt, each designer or design team was asked to use one or more pieces in the museum's gallery as inspiration for their garment. Tattoo patterns, quilts, wood carvings and even a weathervane are among the artifacts used by the artists. Ages 7 and up.

  1. American Folk Art Museum 2 Lincoln Sq, Columbus Ave, at 66th St
  2. Until Wed Apr 23
More info

Greenlight Saturday Storytime 2014

  • Free

Kids' authors and illustrators (or staffers from Brooklyn's family-friendly Greenlight Bookstore) sit down with kids and their caregivers to read from their own picture books (or their favorites), be they classics or brand-new creations. Listen as Hannah Buchsbaum and Laura DiSienna present Hippos Can't Swim and Chickens Don't Fly (Mar 22) and catch a Chinese language workshop from ChineseCUBES (Mar 29). Next month, celebrate whales with wonderful picture books, fun facts and enormous whale drawings (Apr 5); join in on a colorful carnation craft and book signing with Amanda Kingloff, author of Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun (Apr 12); learn about Basant, a spring kite festival in Northern India and Pakistan through Christiane Kromer's picture book King For a Day before watching a demo in Fort Greene Park (Apr 19); and finally, join author-illlustrator Sergio Rozzier as he presents Bear and Bee Too Busy, the sequel to his popular picture book (Apr 26). Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Sat Aug 30
More info

"Ponds, Pipes, and People: Water in Central Park"

Water has played a big part in the design and maintenance of Central Park. Learn all about the Park's biodiversity and the underground system that allows it to live and grow in this new exhibit. All ages.

  1. Central Park, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center enter at E 110th St and Fifth Ave
  2. Fri Aug 29 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"Grand Central Centennial Quilts"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Bring the family to view the intricate commemorative quilts designed in honor of Grand Central Terminal's Centennial in 2013 while they hang on display in the iconic concourse. Judged by American Patchwork & Quilting and The City Quilter, the beautiful quilts evoke each artist's connection to the historic New York landmark.

  1. New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex Grand Central Terminal, E 42nd St, between Lexington and Vanderbilt Aves
  2. Until Sun Jul 6
More info

Sony Wonder Technology Lab Screening: Sesame Street

  • Free

In Sony’s Sesame Street offering, "Being Brave," Elmo and Grover learn how to deal with scary thunderstorms and other frightening things (Apr 12). In another screening, watch “Elmo’s Rainbow and Other Springtime Stories,” in which the characters set out to recreate a rainbow they spotted on Sesame Street (Apr 19). Reservations recommended. Ages 6 and under.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, at 56th St
  2. Until Sat Apr 19
More info

Brooklyn Flea

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s that time of year! The Brooklyn Flea comes back outside in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays when the weather warms up. We're still waiting on details for this year's flea, but you'll be able to browse (and eat!) 'til your heart's content. All ages.

  1. East River State Park 90 Kent Ave, at North 8th St
  2. Sat Aug 30 - Sun Nov 23
More info

History in Your Hands: Spring Sprouts

During the month of April, curious kids can try their hand at rotating and sifting compost to help enrich soil in the potato plot. Afterward, they can craft a small pot out of newspaper and plant a seed in it to take home. All ages.

  1. Lefferts Historic House Museum Ocean Ave, at Empire Blvd
  2. Sun Apr 20
More info

"Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

On the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four arriving stateside, the Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Grammy Museum showcase memorabilia, recordings, videos and photos of the mop-topped musicians, and the Beatlemania that followed them. It's the perfect way to introduce kids to everybody's favorite band. Ages 5 and up.

  1. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 65th St
  2. Until Sat May 10
More info

Greenlight Baby Storytime 2014

  • Free

Children's performers—including songstresses Miss Nina, Jesse Goldman and Acopladitos—entertain babies and toddlers with stories, music and interactive play on Sunday mornings. Ages 6 weeks to 3 years.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Sun Aug 31
More info

Family Walk: Signs of Spring

  • Free

Scour Wave Hill's garden for signs of spring: early sprouting flowers, buzzing bees, chirping birds and more on this guided walk led by naturalist Gabriel Willow. Ages 6 and up.

  1. Wave Hill W 249th St, at Independence Ave, 10471
  2. Sat Apr 12
More info

"The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter"

  • Free

The main branch of the NYPL is playing host to an exhibit that celebrates the rich history of children's literature. Curated by scholar Leonard Marcus, the show in Gottesman Hall draws together more than 200 items from the NYPL collection, from medieval European manuscripts and Hans Christian Andersen works to original drawings for The Wizard of Oz, a collage paper sample by Eric Carle and banned children's books from around the world. All ages.

  1. New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Fifth Ave, at 42nd St, 10036
  2. Fri Aug 29 - Sun Sep 7
More info

powerHouse Arena Kids Readings 2014

  • Free

Follow along with best-selling author and illustrator Steve Light as he introduces a young audience to his new counting book Have You Seen My Dragon? Come along on the book's journey through the city, searching for a small boy's dragon in parks, taxis and other locations across town. Reservations suggested to rsvp@powerhousearena.com. Ages 4 and under.

  1. The powerHouse Arena 37 Main St, at Water St
  2. Sun Apr 13
More info

"Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe"

  • Price band: 1/4

Get in for a free viewing on Saturday evenings from 5:45–7:45pm when admission is pay-what-you-wish. On the heels of the Guggenheim's show about the Japanese postwar collective Gutai last spring comes another nationally focused exhibition, this time on the Italian-based movement of Futurism. Families can take in more than 300 works made between 1909 and 1944, from advertising and fashion to ceramics, film, painting and sculpture, which will be presented chronologically. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Aug 29 - Mon Sep 1
More info

Queens Botanical Garden

  • Price band: 1/4

Take advantage of free admission from 4–6pm on Sundays! The serene space consists of 25 gardens where yoga is allowed but biking and blading are strictly forbidden. Let your kids use their olfactory sense on the Fragrance Walk; the essential oils of the shrubs and flowers there are particularly strong. Make a stop at the Bee Garden, whose plants attract those hardworking, colonizing insects.

  1. 43-50 Main St, (at Dahlia Ave)
More info

"Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering"

  • Price band: 1/4

Check out this incredible exhibit free of cost from 10–11am on Sundays. Engineering may sound like a boring field, which is just what this kid-friendly exhibition sets out to dispel with examples of how people have use various technologies to enable people to do something better, easier—or just plain do it at all. Among the highlights: a hands-free computer mouse, controlled by subtle movements of the head and a limb that can be controlled by a person's thoughts. A particularly fun activity for kids is the Caring for Your Pet station, where they can create a tool with which a wheelchair user can pick up his or her pet's bowl. Ages 4 and up.

  1. New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th St, at 47th Ave, 11368
  2. Until Sun May 4
More info


Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields

Events for kids by date

Americangirl.com for Events!

  1. "The ABC of It: Why...

    The main branch of the NYPL is playing host to an ...

  2. Aladdin

    Charming street urchin Aladdin brings his exotic w...

  3. "Alice's...

    Curious kids can journey into Lewis Carroll's whim...

49 more events »