The best indoor activities for NYC kids

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

Photograph: Denis Finnin
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When NYC summers get too hot, cool off with fun indoor activities. There's certainly no shortage of entertainment for lil' Gothamites—trust us! 

As much as we enjoy trips to water playgrounds for kids, we're definitely not opposed to ducking inside. Thanks to super-cheap screenings of our favorite family moviesnew and upcoming exhibits and kid-friendly arcades, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to indoor activities for kids in NYC

We're not saying to ditch the SPF, but these indoor activities for kids certainly deserve a piece of real estate on your summer bucket list. After a pool or beach visit, the family is going to want to have other entertainment options. 

Be prepared for any weather this season and explore the 45 best indoor activities for kids! Good luck with the planning, Mom and Dad! 

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 Shutterstock
News, Movies

$1 summer movies

When the 90-degree weather becomes too overwhelming, duck into your local Regal Cinemas for the annual Summer Movie Express. Beginning July 2 in NYC, participating locations (Long Island City, Sheepshead Bay and Staten Island) will celebrate the season with a lovely offer: $1 kids' movies! Visitors will need to make their way to the theater on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am to participate in the cheap fun. (Films are either rated G or PG.) The 2019 lineup includes Despicable Me 3, Smallfoot, Secret Life of Pets, Trolls, Shrek 2 and plenty of other family movies.

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Photograph: Dan Hallman
News, City Life

New York Public Library's Summer Reading Challenge

Don your best astronaut outfit and launch your little readers into a universe of stories and adventure! Instead of the Milky way, let New York City’s libraries serve as a scene for exploration to avoid the dreaded “summer slide." New York Public Library’s annual Summer Reading Challenge, titled Blast Off! Discover a Universe of Stories, has officially taken off. Thanks to this seasonal program, youngsters can discover the best children's books on the Library’s lists. To prompt youngsters to awaken their inner literary passion, the Library has designed a fun and interactive guide that can be accessed online or at any of the kids' library branches. It features a “Read for the Stars” game board and a “Build Your Own Reading Rocket” for kids to assemble. There’s no doubt that readers’ curiosity of new books will transport them to new worlds, but if they need a little extra push, the Library will reward completed online activities with perks!

Photo Courtesy Cosmic Picture, Ltd.
Movies, Family and kids

'Superpower Dogs 3D'

icon-location-pin New York Hall of Science | Queens, NY, Queens
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The amazing life-saving dogs in this immersive 3D movie are like real-life PAW Patrol pups. Find out the remarkable stories of canines and their human companions who work hard everyday to rescue people in snowy avalanches and off the coasts of warm beaches. There's even a pair of Bloodhound brothers who are helping save endangered species in Africa. 45 minutes. All ages  

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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.

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! 

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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. 

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.

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Museums, Art and design

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

icon-location-pin Midtown West

NOTE: The MoMA will be closed from June 15–Oct 21, 2019 for renovations.

After a two-year redesign by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, MoMA reopened in 2004 with almost double the space to display some of the most impressive artworks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The Museum of Modern Art has a great deal of free family programming for all ages, so be sure to check out their monthly schedule.

Photograph: Courtesy Scott Frances for SPYSCAPE
Museums, Special interest

SPYSCAPE Spy School

icon-location-pin Spyscape, Midtown West
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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.   

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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.

Things to do, Exhibitions

Discovery Times Square

icon-location-pin 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).

Time Out says
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Photograph: Courtesy FXCollaborative
News, City Life

New Statue of Liberty Museum

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.

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse

icon-location-pin Midtown East

The 1913 Beaux Arts train station is the city’s most spectacular point of arrival. The station played an important role in the nation’s historic preservation movement, after a series of legal battles that culminated in the 1978 Supreme Court decision affirming NYC’s landmark laws. One notable oddity: the constellations on the Main Concourse ceiling are drawn in reverse, as if seen from heaven. (For more information on tours, call 212-697-1245.)

Time Out says
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Things to do

New York Public Library, Grand Central Branch

icon-location-pin Midtown East

Though the city's made up of five boroughs, it has just three public library systems. The largest—the NYPL—runs all libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. Hours at the branches vary wildly, but all have a dedicated section of children's books, and many a separate room for the use of kids up to fifth grade. Storytimes, craft and cultural projects, and poetry writing workshops are just some of the offerings on tap; check the website (nypl.org) for detailed information on each branch.

Shopping, Bookstores

Greenlight Bookstore

icon-location-pin Fort Greene

With numerous NYC stores shutting their doors, we couldn't be more thrilled to see this little indie-store-that-could still going strong. The locally owned haven for lit lovers boasts 300 square feet of picture books, chapter books, and YA selections for children and tweens, as well as an assortment of educational games and toys. Catch Friday singalongs and storytime on Sunday mornings.

Time Out says

More fun for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Bryant Park Corporation
Things to do, Literary events

Storytimes for kids in NYC

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
Things to do

Best yoga for kids in NYC

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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Things to do

The best laser tag in NYC

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.

Sports and fitness

Kids' fitness centers in NYC

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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Photograph: Sean Rosenthal
Things to do

The best kids' bowling alleys in NYC

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
Sports and fitness, Climbing

The best kids' rock climbing walls in NYC

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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