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The best things to do in NYC with kids May 2020

Kickstart summer with our list of best things to do in NYC with kids May 2020

By Danielle Valente and Allie Early
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UPDATE: Events in NYC have been cancelled due to coronavirus. Some offerings on this list might be affected—if you're unsure, please call ahead to confirm.

Kickstart summer with our list of best things to do in NYC with kids May 2020!

With warmer temperatures come exciting outdoor activities for kids, fairs, festivals and other great stuff to explore in your neighborhood. It's also just about time to enjoy local water parks and splash parks, so start scoping out your favorite spots nearby.

RECOMMENDED: See our full NYC events calendar for kids

Looking for fun ideas for indoor activities for kids? You'll want to explore our favorite underrated museums and children's museums!

Things to do in NYC with kids May 2020

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Photograph: Courtesy; Lance Cpl. Martin Egnash/US Marine Corps

1. Memorial Day for kids in New York City

Things to do

Need a guide to Memorial Day for kids in NYC? Check out weekend happenings that honor those who have served our country. There are plenty of things to do—parades, barbecues, outdoor activities and trips to the best beaches for kids and water playgrounds for kids. We'll help ensure that your three days off are busy and meaningful with our go-to picks. 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

2. 2020 Astronomy Night Series

Things to do Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Hell's Kitchen

Come check out the cosmos right from the flight deck of NYC's beloved aircraft carrier. Beginning March 6, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Musuem will host its free, after-hours monthly star-gazing program. Not only will visitors have access to high-powered telescopes, but they'll be able to enjoy other fun activities like talks with scientists and crafts. Advanced registration is required. Please note that the  2020 debut event will not feature telescopes and stargazing on the flight deck. See the lineup below! Doors open at 7pm. Ages 10 and up.   March 6: BEYOND ME, a Musical and Scientific Work in Progress April 3: ORIGAMI…In Space! May 1: Water on Mars June 19: Moonquakes Oct 30: Deep Field – Views from the Hubble Telescope Nov 6: 40th Anniversary Voyager 1/Saturn Flyby

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Photograph: Courtesy Children's Museum of Manhattan

3. "Inside Art"

Museums Childhood Children's Museum of Manhattan, Upper West Side

This brand-new exhibit is bound to keep your children entertained for hours on end. Its name is quite literal, as little ones can crawl and climb life-size installations and sculptures. Ten renowned artists came together to make the impressive pieces, including a massive tabletop mystery puzzle, a “groundhog burrow” for humans and a spandex wall of tropical patterns to stretch and climb through. Ages 3–10. 

Photograph: Courtesy Craig Chesek

4. "The Nature of Color"

Museums Natural history American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side

What is color? How does it work? Why do diamonds look they way they do? Do some colors really make us sad? These and other heavy questions are addressed by "The Nature of Color," a new exhibition opening at the American Museum of Natural History. The family-friendly show features interactive exhibits that invite kids to play and experiment with the science of colors by way of an immersive color-changing room that responds to movement, a light lab, an interactive game show and more. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy CMOM

5. "Superpowered Metropolis"

Museums Childhood Children's Museum of Manhattan, Upper West Side

Ahead of its move in 2021, the Children's Museum of Manhattan will premiere a Gotham-inspired interactive exhibit this Valentine's Day. "Superpowered Metropolis" introduces patrons to Zip, Zap and Zoom, our urban pigeon mascots who are here to help little ones with brain-boosting activities. As children wander through a scaled-down version of the city, they'll tackle missions that ask them to solve problems, think before they act and examine things from fresh points of view. Ages 6 and under. 

Photograph: Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

6. "City/Game Basketball in New York"

Museums Sport Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem

If your kids love to shoot hoops, you won't want to miss "City/Game Basketball in New York," a new exhibit that explores the game as a whole and those in NYC who play it. Learn more about the game's MVPs, history and impact in our neighborhoods. All ages. 

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Guggenheim New York
Photograph: Courtesy Guggenheim New York

7. Little Guggs at the Guggenheim Museum

Kids Classes and workshops Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Upper East Side

Start 'em young! The Little Guggs series on select Wednesdays and Sundays lets your tiny one explore the galleries with a guide, then create a work of art in the museum's studio. Storytime and snacks are included! Online registration required. Ages 2-4.

Russia! installation view
Photograph: David M. Heald/© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

8. Stroller Tours at the Guggenheim

Things to do Walks and tours Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Upper East Side

Wandering through galleries isn't always easy with a tot in tow, but the Guggenheim makes museum visits easier for new moms and dads—and even babies. On the second Tuesday of every month, a museum educator will lead Stroller Tours and take a group through current exhibits as little ones keep busy by playing with fun objects and trying out crafts. Whatever keeps them playing with the artwork! Online registration is required. Ages 24 months and younger. 

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midcentury buildings in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Second Sunday Family Tours at the Guggenheim Museum

Attractions Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Upper East Side

These interactive tours of the Guggenheim's galleries are geared for hands-on learning. These family-friendly events that take place the second Tuesday of every month will unlock young minds, and will make this iconic museum become as familiar as a favorite playground. Every tour is structured around a theme: Color Fields, Is It Art? and Off the Canvas, to name a few. Online registration is required. Ages 5 and up.

Photograph: Courtesy of the The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

10. British Airways Concorde at the Intrepid

Museums Military and maritime Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Hell's Kitchen

Catch a glimpse inside the cockpit of the fastest commercial aircraft to ever fly across the Atlantic (at an impressive 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds). At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, visitors are able to participate a new 20-minute experience of the British Airways Concorde, which provides insight into the plane's amazing technology. Please note visitors are required to climb stairs to board the Concorde. Ages 5 and up. 

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New York Historical Society. PBDW architect renovations
Photogrpah: Jonathan Wallen

11. Meet the Presidents at the New-York Historical Society

Museums History New-York Historical Society | Manhattan, NY, Upper West Side

A special permanent gallery at the New-York Historical Society dedicated to the country's Presidents includes a detailed recreation of the White House Oval Office: Here's your chance to even sit behind (a copy of) the Resolute Desk and pose for the cameras. All ages.

Photograph: Courtesy New York City Transit Museum

12. "Streetscapes & Subways: Photographs by Pierre P. and Granville W. Pullis"

Museums Transportation New York Transit Museum, Boerum Hill

Take a step back in time to the start of NYC's transit system with photos from Pierre P. and Granville W. Pullis. This new exhibit provides a glimpse of the turn of the 20th century, when construction just began for the subway system. All ages. 

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Photgraph: Courtesy Diana Mangaser

13. Family Hours at the Swiss Institute

Art Arts centers Swiss Institute, East Village

On the second Saturday of every month, the Swiss Institute holds Family Hours from 10am-11:30am and becomes a families-only scene. Never mind that it's really Family Ninety Minutes: you and yours have the run of the place during this time. Children are invited to take part in hands-on activities led by an artist, and you're free to wander the galleries of the recently-opened modernist jewel box of a building—the midcentury structure was renovated by Seldorf Architects. How nice to chat about art without the worry of disturbing your more grownup neighbors. Free. Ages 4-12.

The Lion King
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus

14. The Lion King

4 out of 5 stars
Theater Musicals
Open run

Director-designer Julie Taymor takes a reactionary Disney cartoon about the natural right of kings—in which the circle of life is putted against a queeny villain and his jive-talking ghetto pals—and transforms it into a gorgeous celebration of color and movement. The movie’s Elton John–Tim Rice score is expanded with African rhythm and music, and through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with an amazing menagerie of beasts; her audacious staging expands a simple cub into the pride of Broadway, not merely a fable of heredity but a celebration of heritage. Minskoff Theatre (Broadway). Music by Elton John. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Directed by Julie Taymor. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 40mins. One intermission.

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15. Aladdin

3 out of 5 stars
Theater Musicals
Open run

Aladdin. New Amsterdam Theatre (see Broadway). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Directed by Casey Nicholaw. With Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart, Courtney Reed. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission. Aladdin: In brief Disney unveils its latest cartoon-to-musical project: the tale of a boy, an uncorked spirit and an aerodynamic rug. Composer Alan Menken adds new tunes to the 1992 original soundtrack, and Chad Beguelin provides a fresh book. Reputed highlights include James Monroe Iglehart's bouncy Genie and the flying-carpet F/X. Aladdin: Theater review by Adam Feldman What do we wish for in a Disney musical? It is unrealistic to expect aesthetic triumph on par with The Lion King, but neither need we settle for blobs of empty action like Tarzan or The Little Mermaid. The latest in the toon-tuner line, Aladdin, falls between those poles; nearer in style (though inferior in stakes) to Disney’s first effort, Beauty and the Beast, the show is a tricked-out, tourist-family-friendly theme-park attraction, decorated this time in the billowing fabrics of orientalist Arabian fantasy. “It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home,” sings the genial Genie (a game, charismatic Iglehart) in the opening song, and that’s the tone of Aladdin as a whole: kid-Oriented. As in the 1992 film, the Genie steals the show from its eponymous “street rat” hero (Jacobs, white teeth and tan chest agleam). The musical’s high point i

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

16. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

5 out of 5 stars
Theater Drama Lyric Theatre, Midtown West
Open run

Theater review by Adam Feldman  The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic. Set two decades after the final chapters of J.K. Rowling’s world-shaking kid-lit heptalogy, the two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. Richly elaborated by director John Tiffany, the show looks like a million bucks (or, in this case, a reported $68 million); the Lyric Theatre has been transfigured from top to bottom to immerse us in the narrative. It works: The experience is transporting. Jack Thorne’s play, based on a story he wrote with Rowling and Tiffany, extends the Potter narrative while remaining true to its core concerns. Love and friendship and kindness are its central values, but they don’t come easily: They are bound up in guilt, loneliness and fear. Harry (Jamie Parker) is weighted with trauma dating back to his childhood, which hinders his ability to communicate with his troubled middle son, Albus (Sam Clemmett); it doesn’t help that Albus’s only friend is the bookish outcast Scorpius Malfoy (the exceptional Anthony Boyle), son of Harry’s erstwhile enemy, Draco (Alex Price). Despite the best intentions of Harry’s solid wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller), and his friends Hermione (Noma Dumezweni) and Ron (Paul Thornley), things turn dark very fast. Set designer Christine Jones and lighting designer Neil Austin keep much of the stage shroude

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Dear Evan Hansen
Photograph: Joan Marcus

17. Dear Evan Hansen

5 out of 5 stars
Theater Musicals
Open run

In this captivating original musical, actual teenager Andrew Barth Feldman now plays the title role of a high school student thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide. (Jordan Fisher takes over the role on January 28.) Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives. Read the full review.

Come From Away
Photograph: Matthew Murphy

18. Come from Away

4 out of 5 stars
Theater Musicals Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Midtown West
Open run

One of the more unlikely musicals on Broadway this season, Come from Away is the tense but humane story of an airport in Gander, Newfoundland, where 38 planes and more than 6,000 passengers were forced to land on September 11, 2001. The book, music and lyrics are by the Canadian team Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Read the full review.

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Mean Girls
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus

19. Mean Girls

4 out of 5 stars
Theater Musicals
Open run

Theater review by Adam Feldman  Teenage girls rule in the tart but sweet new Broadway musical Mean Girls. But their system of high-school government is far from a democracy: It’s a reign of terror, angst and mall fashions, where popularity is arrogated and then ruthlessly enforced. Having spent her childhood being home-schooled in Kenya, nature and math enthusiast Cady (Erika Henningsen) is initially confused by the rigid caste system of her new school in Chicago. She tries to be nice, but the ruthlessness of American teenage culture brings out Cady’s predatory instincts. She reverts to the mean. A canny crossbreed of Heathers and Hairspray, the musical has been adapted by Tina Fey from her own 2004 cult movie, and updated to reflect the new realities of smartphones and social media. Fey is one of the sharpest comic writers in America, and the show remains, in some sense, her vehicle: an auto de Fey, burning with bookish anger at the limits young women place on each other and themselves. (Her film role as a pushy calculus teacher is amusingly evoked by Kerry Butler, who also plays the other adult women.) But this version of Mean Girls is not just a copy of the original. The most famous lines from the screenplay are here, but Casey Nicholaw’s energetic staging wisely breezes past them; the newer jokes get bigger laughs, while the score—by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin—successfully builds on Fey’s knowingly corrective tone. (“This is modern feminism talkin’,” sings a high-

Photograph: Courtesy Joshua Bright

20. Wave Hill's Family Art Project

Things to do Classes and workshops Wave Hill, The Bronx

Every weekend, Wave Hill hosts an art workshop class catered to toddlers and families. Using the seasons, holidays and—of course— Riverdale's gorgeous grounds as a muse, the morning workshop tackles a variety of DIY projects. From painting and planting to coloring and sculpting, this offering is perfect for the creative kiddos in your crew. On Saturdays, arrive before noon to score free access to the venue. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

21. Drop-In Nature Exploration at the New York Botanical Garden

Things to do Games and hobbies New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx

The Everett Children’s Adventure Garden offers guided activities every day. Your little horticulturist can climb boulders for a better view of the landscape, navigate Beth’s Maze and see the lily pads at the Habitat Hub. Come back each season to the 12-acre garden and check out new programs featuring hands-on activities and take-home projects. All ages.

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