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Indoor activities for kids in NYC

Exploring New York in inclement weather just got a whole lot easier—check out these awesome indoor activities for kids


When rainy days, Christmas blizzards or burning hot temperatures (summer, we miss you!) keep you cooped up inside and you've exhausted our list of the 50 best kids movies to watch as a family, your kids can get totally stir crazy. Beat boredom with these great indoor activities for kids around the city—trust us, painting a ceramic gecko or scaling a rock wall at Brooklyn Boulders is much better than the kids tearing up the house. 



RECOMMENDED: December events calendar for kids in NYC



Indoor activities for kids

Brooklyn Boulders

This Gowanus climbing gym is the largest in New York City, featuring more than 18,000 square feet of bouldering and climbing walls. Climbing classes for all skill levels, as well as yoga and pilates instruction, are also available. Learn the ropes through packages like BKB Adventures (9am–3:30pm), which includes five full-day sessons with unlimited climbing, outdoor recess and snacks ($539 per week). Bring the whole family to Weekend Family Hours (Sat, Sun 9–11am) to avoid peak-hour climbing traffic.

  1. 575 DeGraw St, (at Third Ave)
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Yogi Beans

  • Price band: 1/4

This UES Studio teaches kids about meditation, focus and breathing techniques while moving through various yoga poses. At Siblings Yoga (ages 3–9), kids quit bickering and learn about cooperation and communication through asanas, games, song and even foot massage. You can also try Family Yoga class, in which parents can practice with their little ones. If your baby is battling teething and thinks sleep is for losers, then you could probably use some downard-dog time yourself; new moms can take a Bye-Bye Bump class ($45 for drop-ins), while babysitters mind the children nearby. Ages 6 weeks to 16 years.

  1. 1018 Lexington Ave, second floor, (between 72nd and 73rd Sts)
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Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

If you don’t know where the BBG is, you’re hardly likely to stumble upon it. Just as it’s hidden from the city at large, the city is hidden from it once you set foot inside. 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. In the greenhouse, find the Aquatic House and Orchid Collection, Desert Pavilion, Warm Temperate Pavilion, Bonsai Museum and Tropical Pavilion.

  1. 990 Washington Ave, (at President St)
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American Museum of Natural History

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Home to the largest and arguably most fabulous collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, AMNH’s fourth-floor dino halls have been blowing kids' minds for decades. Roughly 80 percent of the bones on display were actually dug out of the ground; the rest are casts. The Hall of Human Origins boasts a fine display of your old cousins, the Neanderthals. The Hall of Biodiversity examines world ecosystems and environmental preservation, and a life-size, 100-foot-long model of a blue whale hangs from the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life. 

  1. Central Park West, (at 79th St), 10024
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Taste Buds

  • Price band: 2/4

Working in groups of ten, kids prepare foods like sweet potato fries, brownie bites, deep-dish pizza and gooey butter cookies. They'll also learn mixing and measuring techniques, kitchen etiquette and the proper way to use kitchen tools. A special session for children with autism is also offered (classes are limited to seven students and staff have been trained by Autism Friendly Spaces, LLC). Ages 2 and up.

  1. 109 W 27th St, tenth Floor, (at Sixth Ave)
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New York Botanical Garden

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Family programs educate kids (and adults) on our connection to nature, while the Edible Academy teaches children about gardening and healthy living through workshops, scavenger hunts and crafts in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Keep yourself busy inside with the Holiday Train Show in winter months, and explore the jungle-like Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to see rainforest, desert and aquatic plants year-round.

  1. Bronx River Pkwy, (at Fordham Rd), 10458
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The Field House at Chelsea Piers

  • Price band: 2/4

Check out the Field House at Chelsea Piers to burn off some energy! Drop-in activities include open basketball and soccer, batting cages, teen parkour, youth rock climbing and more. Click here to see pricing and hours.

  1. W 23rd St, (at the Hudson River)
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Sony Wonder Technology Lab

  • Free

Young techies can revel in this midtown spot's hands-on activity stations. One of our favorites is the Dance Motion Capture exhibit; kids stand in front of the camera and do their best booty shake and hand jive. Then, they choose an avatar and watch as the character performs their unique moves. Families can also catch a film on the cheap. Every Saturday, the education center's high-def theater hosts free screenings of classics and hits. With only 73 tickets available for each show, you'll want to call to reserve yours the Monday before the screening. By phone, call (212) 833-8100 and select option #3 or  e-mail at swtlprgmsrsvp@sonyusa.com. See the full schedule here.

  1. 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, (at 56th St)
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Color Me Mine Tribeca

  • Price band: 2/4

Learn how to make your own pottery—or just paint a pre-made piece—at this crafter's studio-cum-boutique chainlet. You'll find mugs, piggy banks and even dinosaurs to customize, all at varying prices.

  1. 116 Franklin St, (at West Broadway)
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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

After a two-year redesign by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, MoMA reopened in 2004 with almost double the space to display some of the most impressive artworks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The Museum of Modern Art has a great deal of free family programming for all ages, so be sure to check out their monthly schedule.

  1. 11 W 53rd St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves), 10019
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Discovery Times Square

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Discovery Channel is one of the sponsors of this large-scale exhibition center, which will offer limited-edition runs of exhibits from across the globe. The 60,000-square-foot space is housed in the former New York Times building, and includes a learning center, a space for special events and a café. Catch Marvel's AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. through New Year's Day, 2015 ($27, $19.50 for children).

  1. 226 W 44th St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves)
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Bowlmor Lanes

Opened in 2010, this NYC-themed bowling spot features seven funky lanes (only five are appropriate for kids, though). At the "Chinatown Lounge," young players can hit a giant gong when they bowl a spare or strike; there’s also a three-dimensional dragon that pops off the wall. The subway-styled room has cool graffiti art on the walls and seats that look like subway benches. Other kid-friendly lanes include Central Park, Art Deco and Pop New York. As with most bowling alleys, lightweight balls and bumpers are available for tykes. If you get hungry while bowling, order treats from chef David Burke’s menu (pigs in a blanket are a kid fave) and they’ll be delivered straight to your lane.

  1. 222 W 44th St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves), 10036
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New Victory Theater

  • Price band: 2/4

It just so happens that New York's oldest operating theater is home to the city's most innovative and exciting new productions for children. Families eagerly await each season's offerings, which include everything from reworkings of classic plays to dance, performance art and even break-dancing BMX bandits. Expert-led workshops after select shows ($17) educate kids on fun topics like puppetry, juggling and songwriting in the intimate and beautifully restored space. The New Victory often collaborates with Autism Friendly Spaces on special adaptations of its shows for children with ASD and sensory issues, ensuring all kids can enjoy the experience of live theater. Become a member of the New Victory Theater for discounts on tickets and workshops.

  1. 209 W 42nd St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves)
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Puppetworks

  • Price band: 1/4

At this low-tech playhouse, kids will gladly cast phones and gadgets aside to see amazing handmade puppets in action. Founder Nicolas Coppola adapts classic tales for his marionettes to perform in the cozy theater (kids sit on rugs at the front, parents are on benches at the back). Families will be swept away by the artful scenery, lively music and intricate puppets as they take on a life of their own, moving across the stage as if by magic.

  1. 338 Sixth Ave, (at 4th St)
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Greenlight Bookstore

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

With numerous NYC stores shutting their doors, we couldn't be more thrilled to see this little indie-store-that-could still going strong. The locally owned haven for lit lovers boasts 300 square feet of picture books, chapter books, and YA selections for children and tweens, as well as an assortment of educational games and toys. Catch Friday singalongs and storytime on Sunday mornings.

  1. 686 Fulton St, (at South Portland Ave)
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New York Public Library, Grand Central Branch

  • Free

Though the city's made up of five boroughs, it has just three public library systems. The largest—the NYPL—runs all libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. Hours at the branches vary wildly, but all have a dedicated section of children's books, and many a separate room for the use of kids up to fifth grade. Storytimes, craft and cultural projects, and poetry writing workshops are just some of the offerings on tap; check the website (nypl.org) for detailed information on each branch.

  1. 135 E 46th ST, (between Lexington and Third Aves)
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The Jewish Museum

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The Jewish Museum, housed in the 1908 Warburg Mansion, contains a fascinating collection of more than 28,000 works of art, artifacts and media installations. The two-floor permanent exhibition, “Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey,” examines how Judaism has survived and explores various Jewish identities throughout history. There is also a permanent exhibit specifically for children: The Café Weissman serves contemporary kosher fare.

  1. 1109 Fifth Ave, (at 92nd St), 10128
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Children's Museum of Manhattan

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This nearly 40,000-square-foot institution houses exhibits that make learning about culture, history and science a blast for kids ages six and under. Explore the benefits of good nutrition from "EatSleepPlay," a Dora the Explorer play area, and immersive exhibits that rotate in and out of the five-story space. CMOM also hosts classes and workshops—from Gross Biology for kids who love burps and germs, to the Music in Me!, a toddlers' program by Laurie Berkner—all designed with the latest child-development research in mind.

  1. 212 W 83rd St, (between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway), 10024
More info


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