If a toy could create an ice cream flavor, what would it be? Would it have a vanilla base, and crumbles of vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies? What about a chocolate fudge swirl? Even more, what if the ice cream is made from oat milk, so that it's rich and luscious and has all the flavor of dairy but can be devoured by everybody, including kiddos with lactose issues? Photograph: Courtesy Andrea Massaad Say hello to FAO Schwirl, a limited-release holiday ice cream from the iconic toy store FAO Schwarz and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. Talk about a dream team: The collab matches one of the best toy stores in NYC with one of the best ice cream shops in NYC for kids. Who knew an ice cream excursion could be one of the best indoor activities for NYC kids this winter? The flavor is an homage to New York City, a black-and-white cookie on a cone. Or in a cup. (Cones are better.) It's bound to be a hit, but hold your hobbyhorses—the ice cream will appear in Van Leeuwen scoop shops from Nov 20 to Jan 19 (or until they run out). Our advice? Set a calendar alert on your phone now! Bonus: You get an FAO Schwarz mystery-value gift card with the purchase of every FAO Schwirl at anyVan Leeuwen location. It's a little like Willa Wonka's golden ticket, only everybody wins. Sign up to receive great Time Out New York Kids deals in your inbox each day.
A brand-new SpongeBob SquarePants balloon will make its debut in the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year (Nov 28 from 9am–noon). The world's most famous porifera (and one of our favorite cartoons for kids) will be joined by his pet snail Gary, and the dynamic duo will measure 44 feet tall and 36 feet wide. As Crocodile Dundee might say, "That's not a sponge—that's a sponge." Rendering: Courtesy Nickelodeon Too anxious to wait until the big day? If you go to the Thanksgiving parade balloon inflation on Nov 27, you can be one of the first to lay eyes on the two Bikini Bottom residents. That's just part of the fun detailed in our complete guide to Thanksgiving for kids and families in NYC. This will be the 15th appearance of SpongeBob Squarepants in the parade. In fact, the original made history in 2004 when it was the first square ballon ever to be allowed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That Spongebob—always disrupting the parade balloon space. The two will be joined by a float featuring a 22-foot tall puppy named Blue, the star of Blues, Clues & You, a new remake that premiered Nov 11. Blue will be accompanied by the life-sized Joshua Dela Cruz, the show's host and a real person. Rendering: Courtesy Nickelodeon While the Annual Thanksgiving parade might take over Manhattan on the big day itself, check out these other activities for kids and families taking place on Thanksgiving weekend. Sign up to receive great Time Out New York Kids d
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in NYC. Pumpkin spice is being replaced with cinnamon, ice skating rinks are opening for the season and your favorite toy stores are getting a festive makeover. We won't judge if you've already begun rocking out to Christmas songs for kids, either. Speaking of which, the American Girl Store fittingly unveiled its star-studded holiday window on Nov 8 as carolers and Ciara kicked off the grand celebration. The star-studded affair also includes the shop's winter wonderland, which is adorned with 350 Swarovski crystal strands. Considering the NYC flagship is located in Rockefeller Center, we're not surprised that the Christmas celebration is decadent and a-doll-able. Have a look at the merry display! Photograph: Danielle Valente Photograph: Danielle Valente Photograph: Danielle Valente Photograph: Danielle Valente Make sure to catch the windows before Dec 31! A trip to Rockefeller Center wouldn't be the same without a glimpse! Plus, the store is hold super-special Christmas events for kids! American Girl at Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular ($120, various dates) Cirque du Soleil's 'Twas the Night Before' with American Girl ($120, various dates) Holiday Doll Hair Salon Spectacular ($28, various dates) Santa Brunch ($30, various dates) Holiday Tea ($28, various dates) Skating at Bryant Park with American Girl ($86, various dates) Make sure to visit americangirl.com to book your spot
An amusement park staple is getting a wintry makeover. If your little ones can't find their balance while ice skating in NYC, why not give ice bumper cars a try? They're making a Kings County debut, and deserve prime-time real estate on your winter bucket list. Venture to Aviator Sports, the gracious host of Big Bounce America, for the super-cool experience. Taking a cue from the Winter Village at Bryant Park, one of Brooklyn's most popular family attractions will offer families (with kids ages 7 and up) a chance to enjoy a 15-minute session for $13 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Time to channel those Coney Island summer days, but with a few cold-weather modifications! Photograph: Courtesy Aviator Sports + Dillon Clancy Photograph: Courtesy Aviator Sports + Dillon Clancy Before your bumper-car outing, here are a few things to note: Sessions run on Fridays from 7:30–10:30pm, Saturdays from 2–5pm and 7:30–10:30pm and Sundays from 1–5pm. Aviator Sports states that there are 3 sessions per hour. Riders must be at least 7 years old, 36 inches tall and under 300 pounds. Flat-toed shoes are required (no ice skates). A parent or guardian's signature is required for riders who are under 18. Call 718-758-7549 to learn how to add this experience onto birthday parties for kids. To learn more about the experience, visit aviatorsports.com. Make sure to check out all of our go-to winter activities for kids and families, too! Sign up to receive grea
If your littles have begun drafting a holiday wishlist, now is the time to pay a visit to one of the most popular New York toy store locales. Beginning today, CAMP will transform into a winter wonderland. With the help of eko, the shop's Toy Lab CAMP theme will boast a variety of interactive features that emanate major North Pole vibes. Akin to channeling the role of elves, little shoppers will make their way into the "fun-o-vator," select a toy-testing job (funfluencer, awesomeness agent and play pioneer) and receive a lanyard that they'll get hole-punched as they test each item. It sounds like Santa's workshop has a bit of competition from CAMP! Plus, youngsters and their families will be able to enjoy immersive experiences that make for some of the best indoor activities this winter. Take a gander at the store's new theme and its awesome offerings. Racetrack and ball pit On your mark...get set...go! Micro and CAMP set up an adorable racetrack for scootin' kiddos. Plus, there's a slide and ball pit at the center of the track (and counselors will be on hand to watch your speed demons). Photograph: Danielle Valente Game Room Take a break from the screen and enjoy old-school board games in this super-cozy play sanctuary. Photograph: Danielle Valente Surprise Room Feeling festive yet? The Surprise Room, which features cool accessories like disco balls, also leads to Santa's workshop, where families can search for gifts and enjoy a sampling of Christmas
Get your little Elsas, Annas and Kristoffs ready: Alamo Drafhouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn has some special plans for Frozen II's debut on Saturday, Nov 23. Time to book some of those super-comfy chairs so you and your crew can watch one of the best Disney princess movies out there. The upscale theater is already selling tickets for early-morning Family Party screenings that start with Frozen II-themed crafts and other activities before the movie starts. The best part? Costumes are encouraged. You don't need to wake up early to have your Frozen II fun. Go to a screening and you can add on a DIY snowman cookie kit: A tray with a sugar cookie snowman, frosting, sprinkles and other decorations will be delivered right to your seat. Photograph: Heather Leah Kennedy The Alamo menu will have two special additions, a Snow Queen Shake for the kids, and a Blue Magic Frozen Margarita for their deserving parents and caregivers. Plus, limited-edition Frozen II sketchbooks and juice glasses from Mondo are available while supplies last. After all, a family that sips Frozen II drinks together—and checks out the top 50 movies to watch as a family together—stays together. Don't forget to stop by the Disney and Frozen II holiday window display at Saks! The grand reveal, which includes a performance from Idina Menzel (the voice of Elsa), will take place on Nov 25. Disney’s Frozen 2 Enchanted Forest Experience at Saks ($5) will run on the store's ninth floor from Nov 26–Dec 24.
If you're searching for ways to keep your creative kiddos engaged, take a trip to Chelsea. The neighborhood just welcomed The GIANT Room, an innovation space for tiny New Yorkers with big dreams. Now operating at 550 W 28th St, the venue set up roots just in time for the colder months (when parents desperately need recs for indoor activities for kids). "It’s kids’ ideas that are GIANT," says Dr. Azi Jamalian, Founder and CEO of The GIANT Room. "We simply give them the space, mentorship and all sorts of tools and equipment they need to bring those ideas into reality.” Photograph: Courtesy @yokohamayuko on Instagram The hub is geared toward visitors ages 3–12 who are curious about STEAM studies and art classes for kids. Arguably one of the main draws to the space is the "Blank Canvas," where participants help piece together a new monthly exhibit for The GIANT Room's gallery. Currently, little Picassos and their families are tasked with creating an interactive Dream Land this November. Plus, exciting workshops, including "Storytelling, Animation and Character Design" and "Design and Fabrication," are also available. There are options to participate in after-school sessions ($50/session), open studios ($25) and day camps ($200). “Technology is being integrated into every aspect of our lives, from the way we communicate, teach, learn, to even find partners in our lives,” says Dr. Jessica Mezei, co-founder of The GIANT Room. “We help kids and their families to get
A Goldfish Swim School is set to open mid-January in a former warehouse at 620 Degraw St in Gowanus. Haven't heard of Goldfish? That's understandable—this will be the first NYC outpost of the franchise that will have more than 100 locations nationwide by the end of the year. Here's why we think it's going to be one of the best indoor swimming pools in NYC for families. The water at Goldfish is always heated to a tropical 90˚ This makes splashing around in the pool seem like bath time. No need to convince the kids to jump into a cold pool because "it'll warm up"—they'll get right in. The pools are geared toward children Goldfish is only for swimmers between the ages of four months and 12 years, and the rooms are bright and cheerful. Just like all of the best swimming pools for kids in NYC, these pools are scaled to the needs of young swimmers—your kids won't need to share a multipurpose lap pool with adults and teenagers. Photograph: Courtesy Goldfish Swim School In fact, the only adults and teenagers present are instructors and caregivers. This is a place for kids, which you see in the play-based instruction, the water toys, the easy-turn shower handles that puts your little one in control of rinsing off. There's no need to do that parent-in-the-shower shuffle, where you take off your shoes and socks and try to turn on the water and stay dry, but it never works. Instruction is personalized Most swim classes are capped at four swimmers per instructor, which is k
One of our favorite kids' museums is expanding its learning opportunities. The New York City Department of Education just announced that construction will begin on a 306-seat STEAM focused Pre-K center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, in conjunction with the New York Hall of Science. Benefits of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) approach, including increased critical thinking skills and group problem-solving skills, will certainly pique parents' interests. “The entire staff at NYSCI—educators, researchers, Explainers—is thrilled to be partnering with DOE to develop a science-themed Pre-K program based on our Design-Make-Play methodology and implement it at a dedicated school on our Corona campus,” said Margaret Honey, president and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. “This unique collaboration leverages the strengths of both organizations to develop the next generation of STEM leaders among the youngest students." The debut center, which is slated for a 2021 opening, is the trailblazer of this new type of educational effort. Attendees and their families will have access to one of the most beloved family attractions in Queens, as the museum plans to provide specialized coaching for teachers and programs for children. The facility itself will feature 17 classrooms, an outdoor playground, two exercise rooms and a community room. Additionally, the DOE is aiming to make learning accessible for everyone with this center, especially NYC's youngest. Re
New Yorkers certainly love the spooky season, but they're ready to turn their attention toward Christmas the second Halloween ends. For those who are anxious to explore the city's best Christmas events for kids and families, we have some exciting news: Not only is the popular NYC Winter Lantern Festival returning after a successful debut in 2018, but it will hold a pop-up event before the grand display kicks off at Snug Harbor in Staten Island on Nov 20. From now until Nov 16, you don't even have to go over the Verrazano to see the beautiful luminous displays. Make your way toward Liberty Park (155 Cedar Street in Manhattan) for a sneak peek at what's to come when the main show gets underway. Snap photos with 12 lanterns of zodiac animals from the Lunar Calendar, including a dog, pig and snake, all of whom have special characteristics according to their month. Consider it an astrology lesson mixed in with holiday fun! (Plus, it's free.) Be sure to also check out our go-to winter activities for kids while you're planning cold-weather fun for the whole family! Might we suggest attending them with a cup of the tastiest hot chocolate in NYC? Tickets are $15-23 for NYC Winter Lantern Festival's main event, which will take place at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden from Nov 20–Jan 20. See you there! Sign up to receive great Time Out New York Kids deals in your inbox each day.