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Free things to do in New York City with kids this weekend

Warm up to no-cost events around town, like open houses, new exhibitions, author readings and other free things to do in New York City this weekend

Queens Museum opening-weekend family open house

Queens Museum opening-weekend family open house Photograph: Filip Wolak

It's finally the weekend! Sure, there are plenty of things to do in the city with a price tag, but why not capitalize on what's free? While you're waiting for the snow to melt off NYC's playgrounds and if your fingers are just too frozen to build another adorable snowman, use our list to plan your perfect afternoon with the kids.

RECOMMENDED: Best things to do with kids in NYC this weekend

Free events for kids this weekend

Central Park Conservancy Ice Festival

The Central Park Conservancy changes up it's wintry festival by throwing in a heart-warming twist this year. Families can celebrate Valentine's Day—as well as all things icy—during the 4th annual bash. Tots can watch in amazement as artists from Okamoto Studio transform more than 3,000 pounds of ice into a chilly replica of Milton Hebald's iconic Romeo and Juliet statue using electric chainsaws and chisels. They can also test their Central Park knowledge in a trivia contest, get snapped in a photo booth, bop along to a silent disco and snack on sweet treats. All ages.

  1. Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park 72nd St, at Fifth Ave
  2. Sat Feb 14
More info

Second Sundays for Families: The Year of the Goat

  • Free

The Year of the Goat is quickly approaching, and families are invited to celebrated with costumed folk dances, Lion Dance and traditional arts and crafts at the Queens Museum. Stop in from 1–4:30pm for drop-in workshops where kids can make their own Chinese zodiac animals, then check out the museum's exhibitions. Later, the New York Chinese Cultural Center presents a one-hour performance featuring professional artists (2–3pm), as well as a hands-on Chinese paper cutting workshop (3–4pm) as part of the 2015 Into the Boroughs: Lunar New Year Celebration series. All ages.

  1. Queens Museum Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, , enter at 111th St and 49th Ave
  2. Until Sun Feb 15
More info

Chocolate Central

Grand Central Terminal is transforming into a celebration of all things chocolate for National Chocolate Lovers month, complete with freebies, discounts and, of course, plenty of chocolate. Sample Li-Lac Chocolates on Tuesdays, try a limited-edition Truffle Cupcake or Cake from Magnolia Bakery, meet Jacques Torres and try samples on Feb 10, taste Murray's Cheese's newest Munchies chocolates and be sure to check out the event's Chocolate Central map to make sure you don't miss a thing!

  1. Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse 42nd St to 44th St, between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves
  2. Until Sat Feb 28
More info

HEARTBEAT Times Square

  • Free

Check out this year’s winning Times Square Valentine Heart Design by Venezuelan-born firm Stereotank. Kids will love exploring “HEARTBEAT,” a large urban drum that emits different heartbeat sounds and changes its rate as visitors approach. Families can interact with the drum by playing various percussion instruments and joining the base rhythm of the heartbeat. Find it in Father Duffy Square between 46th and 47th Sts. All ages.

  1. Times Square Broadway, between 42nd and 47th Sts
  2. Until Sun Mar 8
More info

A Closer Look for Kids

  • Free

This weekend activity gives youngsters a tour of MoMA’s permanent collections and temporary exhibits. Little ones are encouraged to voice their opinions about what they dig (Mom and Dad can, too). In February, they'll focus on lines in Connecting the Dots. Tickets will be distributed on the day of the program, beginning at 10am, at the information desk in the museum’s main lobby. Ages 5 to 10.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Sat Nov 7 - Sun Dec 13
More info

Sony Wonder Technology Lab 2015 Children's Screenings

Beat the winter chill with a kid-friendly movie screening at the totally amazing (and totally free) Sony Wonder Technology Lab. This February, the lineup includes offerings from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. (Team Umizoomi on Feb 7, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan on Feb 19 and Go, Diego, Go! The Great Panda Adventure on Feb 21) and Sesame Street (Elmo Loves You on Feb 14 and Dinosaurs on Feb 28). Reservations are required and screenings are approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, at 56th St
  2. Until Sat Sep 19
More info

Handmade History!

On the second and third Saturday of each month, you and your family can head to the Brooklyn Historical Society for a local–history–inspired craft project that will be fun and educational for everyone. On Valentine's Day, show your love for Brooklyn by using liquid watercolors to create a cityscape inspired by James Ryder Van Brunt's paintings. On Feb 21, go on a self-guided scavenger hunt, then create a collage. In March, invent a futuristic vehicle (March 14) and create your own Brooklyn map (March 21). Ages 5 to 10.

  1. Brooklyn Historical Society 128 Pierrepont St, at Clinton St
  2. Until Sat Apr 25
More info

Greenlight Saturday Storytime 2015

Kids' authors and illustrators (or staffers from Brooklyn's family-friendly Greenlight Bookstore) sit down with kids and their caregivers to read from their own picture books (or their favorites), be they classics or brand-new creations. Delve into the imagination with a reading of The Night Parade and crafttime with author Lily Roscoe (1/31), then kick off February with the latest installment of George O'Connor's graphic novel series, Ares (2/7), plus a cartooning demo. Next up is a reading of Just A Duck and Valentine's-themed crafttime with Brooklyn-based author Carin Bramsen (2/14), a story of yummy food in A Moose Boosh (2/21), and a Chinese New Year celebration with Michele Wong McSween, author of the Gorden & Li Li series (2/28). Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Sat Nov 7 - Sat Nov 21
More info

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: People in Art

Saturday and Sunday mornings in February, young gallery-goers get to explore how the human form is used in modern and contemporary art during the Tours for Fours program. Each month, kids can enjoy a new theme and discuss their discoveries with a MoMA educator. Grab tickets at the reception desk in the Lewish B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building (4 W 54th St). Age 4.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Until Sat Feb 28
More info

Grand Central Holiday Train Show

  • Free

While you’re exploring the New York Transit Museum, be sure to visit its vintage Lionel Metro-North, New York Central and subway trains displayed on a 34-foot long, two-level “O” gauge model train layout through February. Kids will love checking out a miniature Grand Central Terminal and seeing vintage Lionel ads from the 1930s.

  1. Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse 42nd St to 44th St, between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves
  2. Sun Feb 22
More info

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