The best indoor activities for NYC kids

Stay warm with fun indoor activities for kids. Museums, arcades and classes will keep lil' New Yorkers busy this winter!

Advertising
Photograph: Denis Finnin

 

When the winter gets too brutal, take advantage of great indoor activities for kids! 

As much as we love making our way down the best sledding hills in NYC, sometimes we're not ready to brave those frigid temperatures. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC

If it's too daunting to look at the thermometer, stay inside! Thanks to a slew of art classes for kids, children's museums and family attractions, there are plenty of ways to keep busy (and warm) in the colder months. 

However, when you're ready to make the trek outdoors, be sure to check out our go-to picks for winter coats for kids

Indoor activities for kids

Jane's Carousel
Photograph: Shutterstock
News, City Life

Time Out Market New York

Prepare your taste buds: DUMBO's new, out-of-this-world food hall with spectacular views has been created by Time Out Group! Time Out Market New York, located at 55 Water St (within Empire Stores), is now open! The space boasts 21,000 square feet across two floors and includes three bars plus a scenic fifth floor outdoor roof deck. Say hello to views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Lower Manhattan skyline—and our favorite spot to grab a bite. Check out what's happening with our vendors, including Juliana's, Bessou, Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, Miss Ada, Jacob's Pickles, FELICE, DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections, Avocaderia and more. 

Photograph: Courtesy @flobacci on Instagram
News, City Life

The GIANT Room

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.” 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.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy CAMP Stores
News, Shopping & Style

CAMP's interactive experiences

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! 

Photograph: Courtesy Smorgasburg
News, Eating

Smorgasburg

The leaves are falling, the Jets are losing and the marathoners are marathoning: Fall is here, and it's time for Smorgasburg to head indoors until the spring. The food market has joined forces with the Brooklyn Flea to take over an unfinished space in 25 Kent, a new development in Williamsburg close to the Wythe Hotel. Think of it as a neo-souk with a million-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline. More than 15 food vendors will set up shop, including Destination Dumplings and Dough Donuts (this was brought to you by the letter D), which will make this a prime choice for families looking to get out of the house during the cooler months.

Advertising
Courtesy American Dream
News, City Life

American Dream Mall

"Mall" isn't necessarily an accurate way to describe American Dream.  Sure, the highly-anticipated Jersey attraction boasts hundreds of retail options, from Zara and H&M to Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., but the three-million-square-foot destination is definitely an entertainment hub that needs to be on your radar.  Check out all that awaits: Nickelodeon Universe (Opens Oct 25), DreamWorks Water Park (Opens Nov 27), Big SNOW Ski and Snowboard Park (Opens Dec 5) and more. 

Photograph: Courtesy Lola Star
Sports and fitness

Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink

icon-location-pin City Point, Downtown Brooklyn
icon-calendar

Prepare for a lively celebration! Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink will welcome the holiday season with its beloved roller disco events at City Point, and kids can get in the action! Lace up and enjoy. The schedule, which will run until Feb 15, 2020, is as follows:  Learn to Skate for Kids: Thursdays 5–5:45pm (7+) Holiday Themed Dress-up Skate Party for Families: Fridays 3–5pm (7+) Toddler Skate: Saturdays 10–11am (6 and under)  Learn to Skate for Kids: Saturdays 11–11:45am (7+) Santa Skate: Holiday Themed Dress-up Skate Party for Families: Saturdays noon–2pm (7+) Dazzle Disco Dress-up Skate Party for Families: Saturdays 2:30–5:30pm 

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Aviator Sports + Dillon Clancy
News, Sports & Fitness

Ice bumper cars at Aviator Sports

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 Paul Warchol
News, City Life

New Hunters Point Library

The Hunters Point Library that opened this week is a stunner, a $40 million public amenity so airy and tasteful it looks like it could be in the capital of a Scandinavian country. But here it is in the borough of Queens, rising from a former brownfield site on the Long Island City waterfront. As Alicia Keys put it, "Let's hear it for New York." What's so special about the building? The walls, for one. Designed by Steven Holl Architects, which has done major projects for Princeton and MIT, the library's walls carry the building's weight, opening up the interior to be a sculptural space free of columns. Those soaring stairs and cascading floors are made possible by clever engineering. The library is more than a pretty facade—it's some serious architecture.  Most importantly, it's a library with an amazing section for kids and some fantastic children's programs, including Toddler Times (Wednesdays at 10:30am), Saturday Pre-K Music and Play Times (10:30am), Wednesday Crafternoons (4–5pm) and Thursday STEAM Afternoons (4–5pm). You can find a calendar of activities online.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com
News, Weird & Wonderful

Sloomoo Institute

 New Yorkers take their immersive experiences quite seriously, and this fall promises a slew of sensory-filled adventures.  After indulging in creamy goodness at the Museum of Ice Cream's new Soho flagship, head over for a creative afternoon at Sloomoo Institute. This 8,000 square-foot entertainment hub, also in Soho, opens Oct 2Sloomoo acts as an art exhibit and art class for kids, too. Visitors big and lil' will enter a black light cove with glow in the dark slime, let an EEG machine provide a sneak peek of your brain on slime and much more. For creative youngsters who love STEM project, this is one of the coolest fall activities for kids taking place this year.  Tickets are now on sale ($38) and include an 8-ounce custom slime and other fun trinkets. For those who take their sliming super seriously, visitors can participate in a Sloomoo photoshoot (for an additional $30) where slime pours down on eager participants a la 90's Nickelodeon days.

Museums, Science and technology

American Museum of Natural History

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

Home to the largest and arguably most fabulous collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, AMNH’s fourth-floor dino halls have been blowing kids' minds for decades. Roughly 80 percent of the bones on display were actually dug out of the ground; the rest are casts. The Hall of Human Origins boasts a fine display of your old cousins, the Neanderthals. The Hall of Biodiversity examines world ecosystems and environmental preservation, and a life-size, 100-foot-long model of a blue whale hangs from the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Gulliver's Gate
Attractions, Theme parks

Gulliver's Gate

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Explore a magical world of interactive miniatures at Times Square's lovable attraction, which contains almost 50,000 square feet of the world's most magnificent landmarks. Visitors can walk by the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Buckingham Palace—even the pyramids! Have tiny train, truck and car-lovers on your hands? Expect almost 1,000 trains, 12,000 wagons and a total of about 10,000 cars and trucks on display. The longest track is almost eight miles long! 

Museums, Childhood

Children's Museum of Manhattan

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

This nearly 40,000-square-foot institution houses exhibits that make learning about culture, history and science a blast for kids ages 6 and under. Explore the benefits of good nutrition from "EatSleepPlay," a Dora the Explorer play area, and immersive exhibits that rotate in and out of the five-story space. CMOM also hosts classes and workshops—from Gross Biology for kids who love burps and germs, to the Music in Me!, a toddlers' program by Laurie Berkner—all designed with the latest child-development research in mind.

Advertising
Credit: Michael J. Palma
Museums, Childhood

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

icon-location-pin Washington Heights

This children's museum celebrates imagination through art, storytelling and education. Kids can explore different exhibits like "The Pollen Catchers' Color Mixing Machine" a site-specific mural inspired by fables and folktales and "People, Places, and Things: Selections from The Studio Museum," a collection of art from the 1930s to 1980s that features portraits and landscapes from a group of artists who depicted everyday life in U.S. communities including Harlem. The museum hosts a variety of events for kids from story hours to art workshops.

Museums, Childhood

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

icon-location-pin Crown Heights

When it was founded in 1899, the BCM was the country’s first museum specifically made for children. Today it’s one of the most comprehensive, with a permanent collection of 30,000 objects, including musical instruments, masks, dolls and fossils. Kids have fun while learning (sneaky!) at interactive exhibits like “World Brooklyn,” a pint-size cityscape lined by faux stores where young’uns can weigh ingredients and knead pretend dough at the Mexican Bakery, or shop for cans of Indian ghee and Turkish candy at the International Grocery.

Advertising
Museums, Science and technology

Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Rather than being a place to learn math, the museum is a place to realize all the remarkable things math can be used to create. Its 30-plus interactive exhibits include the Wall of Fire, a laser "wall" that shows visitors that cross-sections aren't always what you think they are; Math Square, a Jumbotron on the floor that connects each person standing on it by the shortest path possible, changing the moment anyone moves; a design studio where participants create a 3-D design on a screen, for a chance to have it "printed" into an actual sculpture via a 3-D printer; and Enigma Café, a place where families can sit down at tables to work on digital puzzles.

Photograph: Courtesy Kenroy Lumsden
Museums, Special interest

Museum of Illusions

icon-location-pin West Village

As the saying goes, "You have to see it to believe it." The now-permanent Museum of Illusions offers 70+ exhibits in science, tech, mathematics and other fields that will have patrons doing a double take. This sensory-driven experience allows visitors to take a look at unusual works, try their hand at games and puzzles and get to the bottom of the opitical ollusions. All ages. 

Advertising
Museums, Art and design

Whitney Museum of American Art

icon-location-pin Meatpacking District

After nearly 50 years in its Marcel-Breur-designed building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, the Whitney Museum decamped in 2015 to a brand new home in Lower Manhattan's Meatpacking District, conceived by international starchitect Renzo Piano. Planted at the foot of the Highline along Ganesvoort Street, the new Whitney building boasts some 63, 000 square feet of both indoor and outdoor exhibition space. Founded in 1931 by sculptor and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt, the Whitney is dedicated to presenting the work of American artists. Its collection holds about 15,000 pieces by nearly 2,000 artists, including Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper (the museum holds his entire estate), Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe and Claes Oldenburg. Still, the museum’s reputation rests mainly on its temporary shows, particularly the exhibition everyone loves to hate, the Whitney Biennial. Held in even-numbered years, the Biennial remains the most prestigious (and controversial) assessment of contemporary art in America.

Photograph: Courtesy Scott Frances for SPYSCAPE
Museums, Special interest

SPYSCAPE Spy School

icon-location-pin Spyscape, Midtown West
icon-calendar

Think your kid has what it takes to crack the code? Thanks to SPYSCAPE's newly opened Spy School, you'll have a budding FBI agent on your hands. Students in middle school through college are invited to the afternoon program that allows them to make and break WWII codes in themed Encryption mission, detect lies in Deception booths and much more. “We’re thrilled by the success of SPYSCAPE in New York City, and delighted to be able to offer this experience for free to students,” Ian Oldaker, COO of SPYSCAPE New York said in a statement. “We have had a lot of requests for this kind of program and we’re excited about creating new educational offerings as we continue to grow.” Spy School is free with a valid student ID, but attendees t must be accompanied by a paid ticket holder. We'll catch you there...or will we? Middle school–college.   

Advertising
Museums, History

The Jewish Museum

icon-location-pin Central Park

The Jewish Museum, housed in the 1908 Warburg Mansion, contains a fascinating collection of more than 28,000 works of art, artifacts and media installations. The two-floor permanent exhibition, “Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey,” examines how Judaism has survived and explores various Jewish identities throughout history. There is also a permanent exhibit specifically for children: The Café Weissman serves contemporary kosher fare.

Photograph: Oliver Strand
News, Art

MoMA

When MoMA reopens to the public on Oct 21 after a $450 million expansion, it won't just be a larger and sleeker, it will offer updated and upgraded activities for kids and families. Here's a preview of what you'll find at the Museum of Modern Art, and how to get the most out of a family visit to one of the greatest museums in the world. If you have you have young children in tow, head straight to the Heyman Family Art Lab (all ages) on the first floor. The cheerful art studio overlooks the garden, and it has books and toys and a small play area in addition to activity stations stocked with amazing art supplies. After visiting the art lab, grab one of the newly reimagined family gallery guides that helps transform the museum into a playful and thought-provoking experience. New labels in the museum for children called For Kids not only identify art, they ask questions that will get your little gallery-goer chatting away.  Older kids (10 and up) will want to go to brand-new Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab on the second floor. This studio is geared for children, teens and adults, with more sophisticated art projects.

More fun for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Mini Galaxy Play Café
Sports and fitness, Gyms and fitness centers

The best indoor playgrounds for kids

Picture this: Your tot is ready for a day at the park when grey clouds roll in and lightening strikes. Fear not! The best indoor playgrounds for kids are here to save the day, and there are plenty within the five boroughs that deserve your attention.  A little rain won't ruin your kid's parade. These spaces are perfect for running, jumping, sliding and swinging, and options are endless—whether your child wants to play in ball pits or have fun in a music in dance class. Added bonus? Many cater to parents with designated café areas.  Which venue will you head to first?  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC We love NYC's best indoor playgrounds, but don't forget to pay a visit to these epic family attractions, delicious ice cream shops and underrated museums. 

Photograph: Courtesy RJ Lewis
Theater, Puppet shows

Best puppet theaters in NYC

The NYC theater scene is alive and well...but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone on stage has to be an actor. In fact, for the city's younger fan base, puppets are preferred, and thanks to these puppet theaters, we can't blame the kiddos. These NYC venues make perfect outings for families in search of a show with style. From classics to the avant garde, NYC puppet shows have a little bit of everything.  RECOMMENDED: Best indoor activities for kids Looking for more fun on stage? Check out these Broadway shows for kids, Off-Broadway shows for kids and finish up your show with a bite to eat at one of these fun restaurants. 

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy FunFuzion
Attractions, Arcades and amusements

Indoor amusement parks and fun zones near NYC

Practice your Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Street Fighter skills, try your hand at Skee-Ball or hop in some go-karts at these indoor amusement parks and fun zones near New York City. Some spots are specialized and focus on games while others offer a variety of fun attractions for all ages.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC Want even more family fun? Check out our top spots for laser tag, escape rooms for kids and the best mini golf NYC has to offer.

Photograph: Courtesy Coco Key/ The Hotel ML
Things to do, Play spaces

Best indoor water parks New York families need to visit

Don't be intimidated by the foot of snow on the ground or the plummeting temperatures. When you visit indoor water parks New York families love, you'll enjoy a little taste of summer, even in December.  Take advantage of wild slides, have a ball on the water playgrounds or float away on the lazy rivers at these venues. Even those winter weekend getaways at our favorite family resorts will let you take advantage of the fun that comes along with warm weather. You'll get the best of both seasons.  RECOMMENDED: The best family vacations from NYC What are you waiting for? If you have kids who are part fish, book your trip ASAP. Don't forget to explore our favorite all-inclusive family resorts, too. Happy travels!

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Hudson's House of Play
Things to do

Best kids' play areas in NYC that families will love

Let your littles release that pent-up energy at NYC's best kids' play areas! They'll have a ball, quite literally, thanks to ball pits, swings and other epic jungle gym features. There's no telling what they'll choose first.  From City Treehouse to Playgarden, our favorite play spaces provide a welcoming atmosphere for young'uns to grow, learn and meet new friends. What could be better? RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC Rain or shine, these spots are always a good go-to with the family. After you've explored the best kids' play areas the five boroughs have to offer, make sure you visit these fun family attractions—book your adventure here—museums for kids and family restaurants.

Photograph: Courtesy Escape the Room
Things to do

The best escape rooms for kids in NYC

These fantastic escape rooms for kids offer themed challenges that no kid—even your teens—can resist! New York's biggest new family entertainment trend lets you, your kids (and their friends, if you're brave enough to invite even more adventurers) strategize to escape from a thief's house, help a space ship make its way home and even basically pretend to be Indian Jones right here in the city. While some escape rooms are better suited for an older crowd, these picks are perfect for visitors of most ages. Read on for our recommendations! RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids Looking for even more family fun? Check out these other local family attractions, children's museums and laser tag NYC arenas.

Advertising
funtopia.jpg
Photograph: Funtopia USA
Things to do

The best kid-friendly arcades in NYC

Looking for the best arcades in NYC? We've got you covered. These kid-friendly arcades are perfect for families with kids in tow! Many of the picks on our list also have accompanying activities, like spots to eat, bowl, play a game of laser tag and other cool stuff—the perfect place to visit when it's cold, rainy or you just don't feel like playing outside. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC For even more indoor fun with your kids, explore our favorite indoor playgrounds for kids, indoor amusement parks for kids and trampoline park spots too.  

Photograph: Courtesy Disney Enterprises Inc.
Things to do

The 50 best kids’ movies to watch as a family

Lil’ film buffs rejoice! Our epic list of the very best kids' movies will keep your whole movie-lovin' crew enchanted for as many hours as you have bags of popcorn. You'll find everything from classic animated flicks like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid as well as live-action kids' movies like The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Goonies and Annie on our list. We understand that our guide to the best kids' movies of all time may have missed some of your favorites—how could we possibly list them all!?—but the competition was fierce, and each of the picks we've recommended are sure to please kids of all ages. You're welcome to weigh in below in the comments section to let us know what other films you think deserve a spot on our list (or give us a "Heck yeah!" if you've used and love it. For even more family movies to enjoy at home, explore our guides to the best family movies on Netflix, the best '90s movies for kids, our favorite Disney movies on Netflix and—of course—our guide to the best family comedy movies.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Kevin Winzeler / Sky Zone
Things to do, Play spaces

Trampoline park spots where NYC kids will jump for joy

Playgrounds and splash parks are nice, but sometimes kiddies are in search of an extra dose of excitement. If your brood is looking to unleash some pent-up energy, these trampoline park spots around NYC definitely require a visit.  Not only will your youngsters be able to bounce until their hearts' content, but they can try their hand at indoor dodge ball, test their strength and balance on the climbing walls or cannon ball into large blocks of foam—clearly awesome ways to spend an afternoon.  Even better? If you have an impending celebration, these venues act as some of the best kids' birthday party places in town.  Don't forget to bring a pair of socks! RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC If you're looking for more playdate ideas, visit these indoor playgrounds, stop by one of these exciting family attractions or peruse our list of 101 things to do with kids in NYC. 

Times Square
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock
Theater

Best plays for kids of all ages in NYC

Grab a Playbill, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show! NYC's best plays for kids promise a fun night out for the whole family.  There's a lot to love about the Broadway scene right now—wizzards and muggles will do anything for a sneak peek at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and "grool" fans of Cadie and the Plastics will love Mean Girls more than Regina loves being Queen Bee.  Plus, there are fantastic Off-Broadway and puppet show selections if you're looking for something a bit different. Chances are, you're going to want to explore all the options possible (and we can't blame you)! After you've caught up on the best plays for kids in New York (and got your tickets here), make sure to grab a post-theater dinner at one of these fun restaurants, explore some of the best family attractions the city has to offer and finish your adventures by watching the best family movies on Netflix.  

Show more
Advertising