While spring break may already seem like a distant memory, spring in New York City is just getting started. The temperatures have warmed up, the flowers are blooming and it's looking like we can finally put away those winter jackets for good (fingers crossed!). The city is also abuzz with annual spring festivals (our favorites include Spring Kids Fest, Sakura Matsuri and the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair), highly-anticipated concerts for families and other seasonal things to do with kids like fishing in Central Park and eating ice cream on the High Line. To help you plan your time between now and Memorial Day (the unofficial start of summer), we've put together an essential list of 50 things to do with kids this season. Happy spring!
Things to do with kids in the spring
Time Out Kids and Madison Square Park Conservancy join forces to host an afternoon of free family fun, featuring face painting, arts and crafts, games and live entertainment. Performers have yet to be confirmed but are guaranteed to impress; Joanie Leeds, the Deedle Deedle Dees, the Amazing Max and the Rockdoves have all graced our stage in the past. Keep an eye out for the full schedule in the coming weeks! All ages.
In a sure sign that summer's on the way, the rides at Luna Park at Coney Island open for another season of rollicking good times. (The area suffered innumerable damage due to Hurricane Sandy last fall and reopened earlier this spring.) In addition to the dozens of rides and games at Luna, don't miss the Scream Zone, a separate section which houses four new rides for brave (and big enough!) kids: two coasters, a spinning disc called the Zenobio, and the Human Sling Shot. Plus, a full service restaurant, the Cyclone Café offers sushi rolls as an alternative to the usual hot dog/candy apple/ice cream.
The museum's iconic big blue whale got some company this spring with "Whales: Giants of the Deep," which comes to New York courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Visitors will experience a re-creation of a dive alongside sperm whales hunting for giant squid; listen to whale song; crawl through a life-size replica of a blue whale heart; and learn about the biology and behavior of whales and other marine mammals. Artifacts on view include an authentic 58-foot-long sperm whale skeleton; items that chronicle the relationshiop between humans and whales, including a New Bedford whaling log; and objects made from whale bones, such as weaponry and jewelry.
Field Station: Dinosaurs, which opens for its second season on Friday, April 5, features 31 life-sized dinosaurs in total, built with sensors and facial-recognition technology that makes them move as visitors draw near. Daring kids will get a thrill from hearing a 15 foot tall T.rex roar in response to their excited shouts, but there are also activities geared towards the younger set. New this year: Families can watch the prehistoric creatures come to life on the big screen in Dinosaurs Alive 3D, catch two new live shows (Dino Whodunit and Dragons to Dinosaurs) in the spot's amphitheater and sing along to dinosaur-themed tunes during the dinosaur dance party. Ages 3 to 11.
Not since Billy Elliot has an English musical import been so hyped. And, sort of like that blockbuster, Matilda centers on a young person trying to find freedom and self-expression in the world of oppressive adults. We look forward to hearing Tim Minchin’s score for this family-friendly tale of a telekinetic schoolgirl, based on the Roald Dahl children's book. Ages 4 and up.
The New York Hall of Science playground’s myriad niches let kids discover for themselves the laws of the natural world—a.k.a. physics—in a way that enchants them. An elaborate Archimedes screw connected to a water table, two plastic slides with a drop that mimics that of a roller coaster, a precariously wobbly, wood-slatted bridge that conjures the quintessential jungle movie scene, and a giant working seesaw are just some of the ways in which this spot sparks and satisfies kids’ curiosity in equal measure. Ages 5 and up.
Join French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc as he presents “The Orchid Show,” now in its 11th year. Get lost in the stunning display of blooms and exotic plants, and don't forget to make a pit stop by the Shop in the Garden for your very own orchid to take home! This year, garden trees torn down by Hurricane Sandy are incorporated into the design. All ages.
The gargantuan street fair, hosted by the iconic film fest, offers tons of thrills for city kids. Nestled between tried-and-true fare like snacks and face painting are some ultra-cool activity stations, including a video game hacking workshop from the Museum of the Moving Image and The Gazillion Bubble Garden, with wands of all shapes and sizes for everyone to use. Storytellers, puppeteers, and cast members from Broadway and Off Broadway shows perform on the festival's main stage throughout the day. As kids move from activity to activity, they can create a "VIP Pass" by stamping a booklet provided to them; at the end of the day, if your pass is filled, you get a special prize. All ages.
Making Books Sing is teaming up with well-known children's musician Laurie Berkner turn turn the book Wanda's Monster into an original musical. Five-year-old Wanda is convinced there's a scary monster in her closet, but Granny convinces her he's actually a kind (but shy) monster. The musical will feature all-new songs by Berkner, as well as her hit, "Monster Boogie." All ages.
Kids take to the park for skateboarding clinics and ’60s and ’70s street games like stick ball, double-dutch and lemon-twist hula-hooping. Less athletically-inclined youngsters can groove to tunes compliments of Radio Disney and catch a performance by the Dance Theater of Harlem. Ages 5 and up.