Welcome, spring! It’s finally time to start spending some time outdoors, so you’ll certainly want to browse our favorite things to do with kids in NYC this spring! Our roundup of the best spring events and spring activities for kids will have you out and about (without a doubt)!
Don’t miss Sakura Matsuri, a cherry blossom festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (and other sweet cherry blossom viewing spots around the city), and be sure to stop by you’re the best kids’ playgrounds in NYC while you’re at it! You’ll also be excited to know that Governors Island opens a whole month early this year (May 1), which means you have no excuse but to take an amazing weekend trip to picnic there.
Best things to do with kids in NYC this spring
Set in a lovely park overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters houses 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. (It was built less than 100 years ago, using material from five medieval French cloisters.) Be sure to check out the famous Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
For a look beyond the legends and spooky movie tropes, the American Museum of Natural History is presenting a scientific and historic approach to mummies. Learn how Ancient Egyptians and Peruvians preserved and honored their dead and why this choice of burial was made. New imaging technology used by researchers who respectfully study the remains will give visitors access to the latest findings about these ancient humans. All Ages.
Everyone's envious of your kid's summer camp NYC experience. This summer, there are so many options to choose from—all in exciting genres like sports, performing arts and S.T.E.M.! Whether your little one can't get enough of cool experiments in math and science , aspires to be head chef at one of the 50 best family restaurants in NYC or plans to pen the next Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, every family will find something truly cool to suit their brood. There are even camps at NYC landmarks like 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. Children frolic in the flowing pink-petals care-free and free-of-charge in city parks from Riverside Park to Central Park to Randall’s Island. The best examples of this Japanese import can be found at the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On April 29 and 30th brave the crowds for BBG’s annual cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri (admission fee applies). Not only will you see lush landscape covered with the blooms, but you can also take part in Japan-themed festivities including performances, costume contests and activities for visitors of all ages.
Time Square’s biggest (and newest) attraction has its soft opening on April 4. Contained within a sprawling 50,000 square feet is a magical, interactive world made up of mini-everything: Thousands of tiny cars, trains, and wagons whiz and toot through landscapes that include iconic buildings like the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace. Get your tickets now, before the word gets out about this imagination heaven (and read more here, if you're curious).
When it comes to choosing something fun to do this Easter, you don't have to put all your pastel-colored eggs in one basket. We've rounded up a list of the most festive Easter events and activities for families to make it a wonderful Easter for kids in NYC. Wear a fancy bonnet and join in the annual Easter parade, hit up craft workshops and cooking classes and make sure to track down an epic Easter egg hunt. NYC has so much holiday fun on offer, your youngsters won't even mind getting dressed up for the occasion.
When we think of NYC landmarks, we might first think of Lady Liberty or the Empire State Building—for kids, sweet playgrounds are as much (if not equally) a warm weather priority. We’ve rounded up our favorite 25 playgrounds and ranked them in order of excellence. When you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s also worth visiting our favorite New York pizza places, the 50 best family restaurants in NYC and some of the prettiest rooftop restaurants NYC has to offer—and don't forget about our favorite playgrounds with famous artwork in NYC.
We've kept you plenty busy with our list of 101 things to do with kids in NYC, fun indoor activities for kids and even events at our favorite book stores—but have you attended a story time with the kids yet this season? If you haven't (or if you just can't get enough of them like us), these are the ones you really need to see.
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 to alfresco storytimes to annual festivals for families, these public gardens are perfect, scenic spots for outings with the whole gang. Before you know it, the kids will be begging to start their own little gardens!
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. A few NYC zoos are even outfitted with petting zoos and critter-themed carousels to keep your gang entertained all day.
Central Park is by far the most iconic of New York City's green spaces—it's home to scenes from iconic films like Stuart Little and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York...plus it's totally massive. To make navigating a bit easier, we've rounded up the best things to do in Central Park, from visits to the Victorian Gardens to watching mini boats zip around in the Conservatory Water.
The elephants are back at the circus, but in a much more humane way. Producers of magic show The Illusionists have teamed up with the puppeteers from War Horse to present Circus 1903, a turn of the century show that features lifelike puppets in place of live animals. After the closing of the Ringling Bros. production, families will enjoy the circus at Madison Square Garden once again with Circus 1903’s herd of elephant puppets strutting around the ring alongside acrobats, musicians, and entertainers from around the globe. All ages.
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. Make the most of the kids' time off school during their spring break or plan a quick weekend outing away from the hustle and bustle to explore awesome museum exhibits for kids, check out unique fairs and festivals and enjoy the great outdoors—NYC will still be here when you get back!
Believe it or not, there are plenty of things to do in New York City that don't require opening your wallet. When the weather permits, you can check out one of the best NYC parks, or, if you're looking for indoor activities for kids, consider visiting one of many amazing NYC museums and cultural institutions. Several kid-friendly museums are always gratis (or pay-what-you-wish), and tons more offer special free museum days.
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, you won't find any uptight brunchers or lunchers here; your kids will feel 100% 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.
This season, keep busy with the best outdoor activities for kids and the best summer activities for kids...oh, and did we mention it's totally a great time for the best laser tag NYC has to offer? These epic arenas have fog, black lights, caves and even zombies (eek!) for top-notch fun with friends. Most even make great kids' birthday party places and offer delicious New York pizza!
With so many awesome NYC parks and playgrounds to run around in, city kids walk through more pairs of shoes than most. To make sure little ones get the most mileage out of their kicks, parents rely on high-quality local shops that stock sturdy and comfortable kids shoes. These kids' shoe stores have NYC families covered, whether you're looking for a cozy pair for a first-time walker, athletic sneakers for active youngsters or sweet ballet flats for a special occasion.
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 evenStreet Fighter II at these cool arcades in NYC. And no, you can’t take your kids to Barcade…save that for date night!
Let your kids enjoy some screen-time guilt-free with BAMKids' selection of excellent kid-friendly films that everyone in the whole family can appreciate. On April 9th see the story of a pig who marches (and herds sheep) to the beat of his own drum with Babe or go on April 23 for Studio Ghibli's phenomenal animated adaptation of The Borrowers, The Secret World of Arrietty. If you're family wants to see what's new in film come to the Best of BAMKids festival on May 7th and see the "Bammie" Award-winner for best short film. Screenings take place on Sundays. Ages 2 and up.
Broadway is perhaps brighter, flashier or more family-friendly than ever before. This spring sees the debut of two much-anticipated shows: a dazzling adaptation of Anastasia for the stage and Willy Wonka’s world of pure imagination in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Meanwhile, the larger-than-life puppets and theatrics of The Lion King are just as jaw-dropping wonderful now as they were 20 years ago in 1997. Other kid favorites like Wicked, Aladdin, and Cats will also still wow young theater lovers with stellar musical numbers, out-of-this-world costumes and amazing choreography.
These kids consignment and thrift stores in NYC have beautiful duds that are just as nice as our favorite kids' clothing stores and kids' shoe stores—plus, you're getting them cheap! Whether you're looking to unload gently used items to save space in your teeny apartment or are looking to fill your kids' closet with goodies, here are the stores you need to visit. Kids consignment is the best! 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...sugar is the enemy and too many sweets will rot your teeth. But once in a while, a treat is in order, and these New York candy shops really deliver. From throwback classics to new favorites from around the world, the selection at these candy stores for NYC kids is enough to send you on a sugar high. We can think of at least 21 reasons NYC kids are the best—and we think that warrants a sweet surprise.
Thinking about adopting a family pet this summer? 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). Whether you’re in a brownstone or a studio, 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!
You don’t have to be Harry Potter to the magic feats displayed at these shows happening in New York this spring. Miles Thorn, a world-class magician who was born and raised in Astoria, is taking up residency in Times Square’s Elektra theater where he’ll boggle minds with his large-scale illusions (ages 6 and up). For kids who want to know how the seemingly impossible is very much possible, then go to That Physics Show where demonstrator David Maiullo uses kid-friendly experiments wow audiences. For an afternoon made up of a variety of close-up magicians, illusionists, escape artists and other performers check out Coney Island Museum’s Magic at Coney.
Let’s face a fact: New York living rarely leaves enough space for kids to have their own bedrooms, let alone large designated play areas. That’s why the city’s best play spaces are so necessary on rainy and chilly days. Here babies, toddlers and tots can explore their surroundings, climb, slide and roll without running into furniture. Make new friends in special music, movement and gymnastics classes or in an age-appropriate playgroup. By the time you get home from this adventure, some quiet activities will be much appreciated.
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 and, with just a few small tweaks, matching adult versions of each recipe that'll please you, too.
With so many people bustling around NYC at all times, it's easy to forget that our city is just a small piece in a larger environment. This high-tech exhibition in the Great Hall lets families better understand our impact on Earth's delicate systems, teaching kids how to keep things balanced through individual and collective actions. Visitors interact with animated creatures, plants, trees and other objects on seven giant screens. Each displays a different environment—desert, mountain valley, plains, reservoir, jungle wetlands and a digital waterfall, towering above at 38 feet tall. As families move from one environment to the next they'll explore how the spaces are connected by shared resources and weather patterns and how actions like creating dams, growing plants, and cutting trees impact the larger environment. All ages.
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. Families searching for the perfect cone or cup of the good stuff should trying making their own ice cream at CoolMess.
Reading with your little ones doesn't have to wait until bedtime! There are so many amazing book stores in NYC with shelves of carefully curated books for kids to devour. Besides being a great place to build your family's library, these shops offer lots of free things to do with kids, including storytimes and sing-a-longs. Story time events like Greenlight Saturday Storytime wrangle some incredible local authors and illustrators for guests appearances, which might even inspire your youngster to pen a tale of their own.
While many New Yorkers might only count pigeons and rats among their “wildlife” sightings on any given day, that doesn’t mean the Big Apple isn’t part of a bigger, beautiful, complex ecosystem. On April 22nd, Earth Day, head to Union Square for the annual festivities where the whole family can learn how recycling and clean energy helps the world and the creatures (including humans) who call Earth home. Bigger kids might enjoy River Bank Park’s offerings, which include hands-on ways to help conserve the park. Have a little activist on your hands? At least one climate change rally is scheduled for that day.
Grab a blanket and some snacks and enjoy family-friendly classic films under the stars. Every summer New Yorkers flock to their favorite parks for free screenings and fresh air. The season kicks off on May 28 with the 2016 blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in Field 81 of Randalls Park. Then come back for a sing-along to Aladdin. Both movies were picked to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie series—the former takes place in 1992 and the other hit theaters the same year.
Every year Lincoln Center celebrates longer, sunny days and the fresh blooms with their annual Spring Fling for kids. Families descend upon the plazas at in Lincoln Center for a free full day of programming, which includes storytellers, short films presented by the Film Society and special performances by the world-renowned musical artists that call LC home, Hands-on activities like crafts and games also allow little artists to get in on the fun. All ages.
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.
In the eight minutes it takes to journey (for free!) from Battery Park or Brooklyn to the 172-acre former military base, families are transported to a world a million metaphorical miles away from the bustling city, where lush green lawns are dotted with quaint Victorian homes, giant outdoor sculptures beg to be climbed on, car alarms are replaced by jangling bicycles, and there’s always a quirky festival going on. With a full roster of free kids’ activities, including craft workshops courtesy of the Children's Museum of the Arts, prime picnicking at Picnic Point and an artist-designed mini golf course each summer as part of the FIGMENT Festival, you can save your cash for the gourmet food trucks and ice-cream stands like Brooklyn Soda Works, Blue Marble Ice Cream and El Paso Taco. As of summer 2014, the island stays open seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. See art installations at Liggett Terrace, run wild on the 14-acre Play Lawn, and explore Hammock Grove's 50 hammocks. Look forward to Slide Hill, a 38-foor slope with four toboggan runs, coming in 2015—we’ll be first on line for that ferry.
If Central Park has always been your family's go-to of the NYC parks, we suggest that you and the kids explore beyond the borders of Manhattan. Across the river lies Prospect Park, a sprawling expanse of green where the sky is unimpeded by skyscrapers. Aside from it's beauty, this place is packed with outdoor activities and plenty of family fun to keep your crew entertained all day long, whether visiting animals at the Prospect Park Zoo, getting in touch with nature at the Audubon Center or catching a concert at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
Little ones love new creative projects (and making a mess), so we thought it best to round up the coolest art classes for kids! After all, whether they're the next great painter to hang in the Museum of Modern Art or just messing around, art is simply good for the soul. When they're done with their masterpieces and just can't sit still another minute, be sure to check out NYC's coolest indoor activities and NYC play spaces to burn off some energy! RECOMMENDED: 60 things to do with kids in NYC this winter
Come get colorful at Holi Hai, the traditional Indian Festival of Colors. Wear white and purchase colored powder from stalls. Then have fun throwing the colored powder onto one another and getting messy! The powders represent happiness, love and the freedom to live vibrantly. Celebrate Indian traditions through bright colors, music, dance, food and festivities. Visit the website to register for free. All ages.
Hands down the best thing to do as a family on a summer Sunday night, Water Taxi's Audubon naturalist–led, 90-minute eco-cruise takes seafarers to one of three locales this summer: the Brother Islands, at the mouth of Long Island Sound (June 22, July 20, Aug 3 and Aug 17); Hoffman and Swinburne islands, off the coast of Staten Island (June 15, June 29, July 13 and July 27); and Jamaica Bay (June 8, July 6 and Aug 10). You'll learn amazing things about the NYC ecosystem and see with your own eyes the kind of wildlife sanctuary a city can be. All ages.
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!
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.
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 kids can run their own little town or zoom around in pedal cars or, more active kids might love FunTime America where they can play laser tag and challenge each other on the ninja obstacle course. Meanwhile kiddie rides are a plenty at FunFuzion and FunPlex East Hanover.
Edaville USA in South Carver, MA made a splash with the opening of Thomas Land this month! Little ones and their families can explore an 11.5–acre Thomas-scape complete with Knapford Station, Tidmouth Sheds and cool characters like Harold the Helicopter, Cranky the Crane, Firefighting Flynn and, of course, Thomas. If you haven’t been able to visit just yet, check out our Thomas Land slideshow to see some of the cool rides and attractions on offer. For other cool day trips, visit our list of the best family vacations from NYC!
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. Many different exhibitions will be on hand like “Stettheimer Dollhouse” at the Museum of the City of New York, a spectacular 12-room dollhouse featuring handcrafted Gilded Age furniture and decorations, or Guggenheim’s “Jackson Pollack: Exploring Alchemy” exhibit. The festival runs along Fifth Avenue between 82nd St and 105th St. All ages.
The annual science bonanza returns for its tenth year, this time highlighting the contributions of women and award-winning science teachers. Taking place in performing arts centers, museums and parks in all five boroughs, this giant fest offers both free and ticketed activities for the whole family. Visit worldsciencefestival.com to learn about the plethora of performances, debates, discussions and interactive demos the fest has in store this year. All ages.
Whip up some of these easy-to-make breakfast ideas for kids to kick off your day in style! Foodie bloggers come up with some pretty cool stuff, including breakfast "sushi," breakfast "sundaes" and more to make a healthy breakfast for kids (or healthy-ish, at least) more appealing.
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!