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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!

By Danielle Valente and Allie Early
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UPDATE: Events, venues, shops and restaurants in NYC have been cancelled due to coronavirus. Some offerings here might be affected—if you're unsure, please call to confirm. 

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

Time Out Market New York

News City Life

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

The GIANT Room

News City Life

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy CAMP Stores

CAMP's interactive experiences

News Shopping & Style

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

Smorgasburg

News Eating

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.

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Courtesy American Dream

American Dream Mall

News City Life

"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 Aviator Sports + Dillon Clancy

Ice bumper cars at Aviator Sports

News Sports & Fitness

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! 

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Photograph: Courtesy Paul Warchol

New Hunters Point Library

News City Life

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

Sloomoo Institute

News Weird & Wonderful

 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.

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American Museum of Natural History

Museums Science and technology 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Gulliver's Gate

Gulliver's Gate

Attractions Theme parks 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! 

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Children's Museum of Manhattan

Museums Childhood 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.

Credit: Michael J. Palma

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

Museums Childhood 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.

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Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Museums Childhood 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.

MoMATH
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)

Museums Science and technology 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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Kenroy Lumsden

Museum of Illusions

Museums Special interest 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. 

Whitney Museum of American Art

Museums Art and design 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.

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The Jewish Museum

Museums History 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

MoMA

News Art

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.

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Discovery Times Square

4 out of 5 stars
Things to do Exhibitions Midtown West

The Discovery Channel is one of the sponsors of this large-scale exhibition center, which will offer limited-edition runs of exhibits from across the globe. The 60,000-square-foot space is housed in the former New York Times building, and includes a learning center, a space for special events and a café. In "Ocean Odyssey," you'll enjoy virtual interaction with sea lions, rays, dolphins and see virtual humpback whales, great white sharks and Humboldt squids. You'll experience photo-real animation, huge projection screens, immersive sound and an area where guests can engage with interactive technology (photo areas, touch screens, holograms and games involving ocean conservation and research).

Photograph: Courtesy FXCollaborative

New Statue of Liberty Museum

News City Life

You and your crew will want to hop on a ferry to pay Lady Liberty a visit—so start planning those day trips now. A new museum debuted on the landmark's grounds in May 2019, making one of the most iconic symbols of the American spirit better than ever. Due to security concerns, the accessibility currently limits 80 percent of visitors to enter the pedestal and check out the museum. The new Statue of Liberty Museum is looking to make changes so all patrons are treated to a welcoming, educational experience. And trust us, you'll need to put this on your list of new and upcoming exhibits to explore. There are three components to check out: an immersive theater that provides a glimpse into Lady Liberty's history and ideals; an engagement gallery where visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look of how Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi built the Statue and the inspirational gallery, arguably the most exciting facet of the grounds, as it allows you to get up close and personal with the original torch.

More fun for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Bryant Park Corporation

Storytimes for kids in NYC

Things to do Literary events

When it comes to literary events, NYC is an open book. From talks and signings to sales and festivals, the city appreciates the power of a good story—and so do its littlest residents. These storytimes for children introduce them to new books and authors while socializing with other children in their age group. If you're looking to turn your youngster into a mini bookworm (or perhaps even a writer down the road) these storytimes in NYC need a spot on your list.   RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC Looking for more ways to enjoy NYC with your family? Have a look at our roundup of the best things to do in spring or visit these museums for kids. Want to grow your bookshelf? Peruse our roundup of the best books for kids.  

Photograph: Shutterstock

Best yoga for kids in NYC

Things to do

Looking for the best yoga for kids in NYC in 2017? You've come to the right place. Thanks to these unique studios around the city, your tykes, kids, tweens and teens can partake in yoga classes that cater to their needs. Find the best fit for you and your children below, and in case you were feeling a little left out, you'll be happy to know that most studios also offer Mommy/Daddy & Me classes as well. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC Check out our ranked list of the best yoga for kids in NYC and sign up for an awesome class today (you may even want to check out our favorite prenatal yoga classes, fun kids' fitness activities and other kids' yoga classes in our Mommy and Me classes roundup. Now go get your child's pose on!

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The best laser tag in NYC

Things to do

In need of some friendly competition? Your little ones will love a round (or 20) of laser tag in NYC. Grab a group, find dark-colored clothes and may the best team win. What better way to spend a Saturday than with laser tag NYC style? RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids If you’re searching for more fun after your outing, check out these kid-friendly restaurants with play areas, make a stop at one of these kids’ playgrounds or have a bite at one of these fun restaurants.

Kids' fitness centers in NYC

Sports and fitness

Forget P.E. class. Families, it's time to adventure out to these amazing fitness and sports centers. They'll keep your kids in shape—and having a totally awesome time—with the opportunity for you to jump in on the fun or just let little ones do their thing. Check out our favorite picks below, and don't miss favorites like Chelsea Piers, 92Y and Brooklyn Boulders. RECOMMENDED: 60 things to do with kids in NYC this winter

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75.ft.bowlmor09.jpg
Photograph: Sean Rosenthal

The best kids' bowling alleys in NYC

Things to do

Have you taking your kids bowling lately? Try these family-friendly bowling alleys on for size! Some venues around the city cater more to adults, so it's important to do your research ahead of time to find a spot that's best for you and your crew. Many of the kid-friendly bowling alleys on our list offer promotions during certain hours and other convenient amenities for kids—and some even offer a bar for the adults who may want to have a beer while their kids pummel the bumpers. Can we get an amen? RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC If you're looking for additional fun beyond our favorite bowling for kids, we'd whole-heartedly recommend the neighborhood's best indoor playgrounds, play spaces and local escape rooms for kids.

Brooklyn Boulders
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders

The best kids' rock climbing walls in NYC

Sports and fitness Climbing

NYC's epic kids' rock climbing walls are here to shake things up when the littles are in search of a challenge.  As much as the best kids' playgrounds make for a fun afternoon, sometimes we need to raise the stakes (literally in this case). Venues like The Cliffs at LIC and Brooklyn Boulders provide adventurous, safe opportunities for kids to climb and tackle a new experience (glance through our kids' fitness classes for more athletic activities). How could you say no? Tell your tykes to step away from the monkey bars, dry up after a visit to their favorite water playgrounds and get ready to soar at these stellar attractions. See you at the top!  Be sure to book other fun activities with your family—there's plenty to choose from. 

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