Thanks to our list of things to do in spring, families will find the perfect seasonal outing for their crew—and then some! Now that the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to feel warmer, why not stroll through a NYC park, explore a new playground or simply enjoy being outside without feeling as though someone got into a tiff with Elsa? It's time to stop and smell the roses, but don't get overwhelmed. Let our list of things to do in spring with kids be your guide. Enjoy your adventures!
Best things to do with kids in NYC this spring
Set in a lovely park overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters are home to the Met’s Medieval art and architecture collections. A path winds through the peaceful grounds to a castle that seems to have survived from the Middle Ages (though it was actually built less than 100 years ago). Be sure to check out the famous Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
Take in views on the Brooklyn waterfront
The whole family will find something to love at Waterfront Barge Museum in Red Hook. While learning about the borough’s history, you’ll also have the option to attend performances, events and of course, take spectacular photos from one of NYC’s most Instagram-friendly locations. 290 Conover St, Brooklyn (718-624-4719, waterfrontmuseum.org).
Everyone is envious of your kid's NYC summer camp experience. This year, there are plenty of options to choose from—sports, performing arts and so much more. Don’t forget to check out what programming is offered at popular landmarks such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Of all the fresh blooms that arrive with spring, few are more beautiful—or short-lived—than cherry blossoms. You can spot the best examples of this Japanese import at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden—which celebrates the flowers and culture with the Sakura Matsuri Festival—as well as Central Park, the New York Botanical Garden and Randall’s Island. 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn (718-623-7200, bbg.org)
This magical, interactive world in Times Square includes thousands of tiny cars, trains and wagons that whiz and toot through landscapes such as the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace. You can explore over 25 cities and five continents (miniature versions, anyway) without even leaving NYC.
Dine al fresco
While you’re exploring all that NYC parks have to offer, why not take the family for an outdoor meal? Bring some of your favorite picnic foods, find a cozy spot and enjoy your dinner in nature.
Once we put away our winter coats for the season, little ones can’t wait to spend their time outside. We’ve rounded up our favorite 25 playgrounds that you need to visit once the weather cooperates. While you and the family are playground hopping, make sure to check out our favorites with famous artwork.
NYC has an amazing selection of museums for those big and small. There are plenty of kid-friendly exhibits, classes and events that’ll keep your little ones busy. Stop by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Brooklyn’s Children Museum or take a trip out east to the Long Island Children’s Museum.
Is there anything better than getting lost in a good story? Head to your neighborhood’s independent bookstore to see what type of events are available for little ones. If you’re looking to make story time a regular weekend event for your kiddos, Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, among others, is a great venue to explore.
Give city kids a chance to get their hands dirty and explore local green spaces at these fabulous children's gardens in NYC. Offering outdoor activities ranging from gardening workshops, alfresco storytimes and annual festivals for families, these public gardens are perfect, scenic spots for outings with your whole gang.
Thanks to the fantastic zoos in NYC, most of which are backed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, families have the opportunity to see animals from across the globe without ever leaving the city. From the massive Bronx Zoo (one of the biggest in North America) to the petite Central Park Zoo, these family attractions invite kids to learn about numerous species through storytimes, art activities and hands-on interactions with nature.
Explore NYC parks
Who doesn’t love a picnic in the park? Once the sun starts shining, take your family outside for a taste of nature smack dab in the middle of the busiest city in the world. New York City parks in every borough not only provide places to relax and take in the nice weather, but they offer a wide variety of classes and events. See what’s on the schedule at your neighborhood park.
If your little ones love to play with their hands, you’re not going to want to miss taking a trip to Discovery Center Westchester’s April exhibit LEGO NINJAGO: Master of the 4th Dimension. The 2,300-square-foot interactive play area will feature a scavenger hunt, building activities and much more. Don’t wait! It’s only open from April 13–15!
Give your youngsters a dose of fresh air and introduce them to a variety of exciting East Coast cities this spring. These destinations, each just a short drive or train ride from the city, are bursting with family-friendly activities, making them the perfect spots for spring day trips from NYC.
Not everything in NYC costs an arm and a leg. Have a look at our roundup of the city’s best free classes for kids and see what activity suits your mini-me. Thanks to venues such as the New York Public Library and New York City Parks, your kids can have a wonderful experience at no cost.
Where are you eating today? These awesome family restaurants will cure any cravings, whether you’re digging the best mac n’ cheese or just need a good slice of pizza. Even better, your kids will feel 100 percent at home. From mouth-watering New American family restaurants to the best Italian family restaurants in NYC, these picks will satisfy both sophisticated and petite palates.
NYC is one of the hottest fashion hubs in the world, so it’s only right to explore the best kids clothing stores. Now that the nice weather is upon us, you’re going to want to see what spring items are available for purchase. Your little shopaholic will love a day out hitting these spots!
In our opinion, the Big Apple’s a big playground—and it’s not just for the kids. Grab a slice of New York pizza and take your little ones (actually, your tweens and teens will probably be in, too) for a game of Pac-Man, Skee-Ball or even Street Fighter II at these cool arcades in NYC. And no, you can’t take your kids to Barcade (save that for date night)!
Broadway is perhaps more family-friendly than ever before, thanks to a dazzling adaptation of Frozen. Meanwhile, the larger-than-life puppets and theatrics of The Lion King are just as jaw-dropping wonderful now as they were over 20 years ago. Other kid favorites like Wicked and Aladdin will wow young theater lovers with stellar musical numbers, out-of-this-world costumes and amazing choreography.
Whether you're looking to unload gently-used items to save space in your apartment or if you’re looking to fill your kids' closet with goodies, these kids’ consignment and thrift stores in NYC require a visit. Be sure to rock your new look (or have fun with your new pocket money) while you're checking out the cool events in our NYC events calendar.
Yeah, yeah, we know—too many sweets will rot your teeth. But once in a while, a treat is in order, and these New York candy shops deliver. From throwback classics to new favorites from around the world, these candy stores for NYC kids are enough to send your kiddos on a sugar high. We can think of at least 21 reasons NYC kids are the best, and that certainly warrants a sweet surprise.
Thinking about adopting a family pet? Now’s the time! Having a dog or cat helps your little ones learn responsibility and compassion, and there are plenty of awesome organizations around New York that would love to connect you with your new furry best friend (and their rescues with a new forever home). New York’s shelters have kittens and pups of every shape and size, and they’ll do their best to connect you with a pet that suits your family’s lifestyle. Here’s where to look, New Yorkers!
If your kiddos are itching to get active, sign them up for a sports class. You might be in NYC, but that doesn’t mean the athletic options are compromised. There’s everything you can imagine—from basketball, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and everything in between. There are plenty of ways to keep them moving.
We called in the expertise of six awesome family restaurants in NYC to help us make dinnertime exciting for you and the kids. Here are six easy comfort food recipes for the little ones. With just a few small tweaks, matching adult versions of each dish will please the older crowd at the table.
Explore the depths of the ocean without actually leaving NYC. Beginning Mar 12, the American Museum of Natural History will showcase its new exhibit, Unseen Oceans, which allows little ones to learn about great white sharks’ travel patterns and meet underwater creatures at the virtual submersible theater.
Should this year’s whacky weather leads to an early heat wave, have no fear: Ice cream is here. Whether your kiddos love unique, crunchy flavors filled with unexpected goodies or just a perfectly creamy sweet version of a classic, the city’s best ice cream shops for kids will bring full stomachs and happy smiles.
Try your hand in the kitchen and make a batch of edible cookie dough that you and your kids will love. There are a variety of DIY classes at DŌ, so have a look at the calendar and pencil one in! This will make for a fantastic snack when your crew is piled up on the couch watching a new Disney movie.
Coney Island is most well-known for being home to some top-notch amusement parks, but there's plenty more family-friendly entertainment to be found near the expansive boardwalk. In addition to squeal-inducing carnival rides, kids can also enjoy a day sprawled on one of our favorite NYC beaches, chow down on Nathan's Famous hotdogs and even catch a baseball game. With so much to do, we think Coney Island deserves a few summer day trips with the whole gang in tow.
Go for a bike ride
The perfect way to explore NYC parks is to do so on bike. Grab the whole family and take a stroll down one of your local park’s bike trails—you’ll be sure to get in a little family time and workout—plus you’ll take in great scenes of the city while do so. Don’t forget the helmets!
As much as we love Central Park and the Museum of Natural History, we can’t limit ourselves. NYC’s five boroughs have a lot for us to explore as a family–from museums, parks and so much more. Walk off the beaten path and explore these underrated attractions in NYC—you and the kids will be glad you did.
Go to the ballet
The ballet isn’t reserved for the winter and there are plenty of productions other than The Nutcracker. Expose your little ones to a springtime performance that’ll make them fall in love.
NYC’s outdoor spaces need a little TLC. After you sign your kiddos up for a cool class or fun camp, research ways they can volunteer at their favorite outdoor venue.
Ready for some friendly competition? At New York’s mini golf spots, you can practice your form while taking in fun sights. Intergalactic-minded players should try New York Hall of Science’s Rocket Park, where each hole is themed around space travel and the planets, while families looking for great views should try the 18-holes on Pier 25 where you’re surrounded by the Hudson River and the downtown skyline. Late in the season, try Governors Island for Figment’s annual putt-putt course where each hole is a different piece of art. Fore!
Even the most energetic kids will meet their match at these trampoline park hotspots for families! They’ll bounce to their heart’s desire on trampolines big and small, even getting in on age-specific playtimes and glow-in-the-dark games. Plus, if you haven’t considered a trampoline park as a spot for your kid’s upcoming birthday party, you definitely should—most have plenty of space for large groups!
Don’t let April showers or a cold May day get in the way of your fun! At these indoor amusement parks, you get all the thrills without the chills. Just an hour outside the city by car are amazing fun centers like Kidz Village, where children can run their own little town or zoom around in pedal cars. Active kids will love FunTime America, where they can play laser tag and challenge each other on the ninja obstacle course. Meanwhile, kiddie rides abound at FunFuzion and FunPlex East Hanover.
New York’s biggest block party hits town once more, offering free access to seven museums (from the Met to the Guggenheim) along a car-free mile sprinkled with music, art and entertainment. Kids can color up the sidewalk with chalk, get their faces painted and enjoy performances by clowns, magicians and more. The festival runs along Fifth Avenue between 82nd St and 105th St.
These exciting famers' markets in NYC are pretty spectacular. You get get everything needed for a farm-fresh meal, including eggs and dairy, fruits, veggies, even freshly-caught fish! Farmers' markets in NYC are the best way to get your greens—your kiddos can even meet real farmers! Insider tip: A visit to Park Slope's market puts you right near Old Stone House, JJ Byrne Playground (it has water cannons!), amazing bagels and more, so make an afternoon of it with the little ones!
There's no shortage of fun things to do with kids in NYC, but we want your family to experience the very best that this city has to offer! We compiled a list of 101 essential activities to make sure you don't miss a thing, including must-see family attractions like the Brooklyn Bridge, beloved NYC museums like the Museum of Natural History and the best family restaurants, from Dizzy's to Katz's Deli. Going on adventures like these will make it even more apparent that NYC is the best place to raise a family. Happy exploring!