The weather outside might be frightful, but fun snow day activities will make youngsters feel oh-so delightful.
When schools close and a storm rolls in, make the most out of winter activities for kids—sledding, sipping on hot chocolate and other epic seasonal outdoor activities. Hey, if Elsa is going to grace NYC with a few flurries, might as well embrace it!
As soon as the salt hits the ground, venture out to new exhibits at NYC museums or the coolest kids' playgrounds NYC has to offer. It's only right to indulge in a great day off (but call venues before making a visit—just in case).
We wish you and yours a happy snow day (fingers crossed for two, or more, in a row).
Best snow day activities
Home to the city's best sledding hills, Central Park offers the perfect wintertime oasis for those who are home from school when a blizzard swoops in. NYC's honorary backyard is also a great place to venture if your kids are looking for a little friendly competition with a snowball fight or would like to build their own Frosty or Olaf. Skating at Wollman Rink? It's on everyone's list when the cold arrives. It goes without saying that the largest green space in Manhattan is a wonderful place to catch gorgeous winter views, too.
It goes without saying that a list of snow day activities would be incomplete without a pitstop at the best sledding hills in NYC. We recommend making the rounds in Central Park (particularly Pilgrim Hill and Cedar Hill) for the quintessential NYC winter experience. Other sled-worthy spots across the five boroughs include Prospect Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Astoria Park and Clove Lakes Park.
There's no better time to wander through the Museum of Natural History's galleries than when the weather gets wicked. Head "underwater" and catch a glimpse of the famed blue whale, try to get the whole monstrous titanosaur in your photo, learn about the Willamette Meteorite and so much more at this beloved Upper West Side attraction.
Up the coziness factor into full effect with tasty treats. When snow falls, you're going to want to snag hot chocolate from City Bakery (that marshmallow fluff is irresistible, after all), The Chocolate Room, Dominique Ansel Bakery and other swoon-worthy spots that will make Willy Wonka jealous. Chances are you won't want spring to come after indulging in the best hot chocolate NYC has to offer.
After an epic snowball fight, your kiddos might be inclined to put their feet up for some quiet time. Let them get lost in a good book as the flurries fall. We can't resist a good mystery like the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, poems by Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss classics like The Cat in the Hat.
If the little ones can't feel their feet, don't rush to head to the nearest sledding hill. Stay in for a bit and watch their go-to flicks. Some of the best kids' movies to enjoy on a snow day are Frozen (for obvious reasons), The Goonies for those in search of an adventure, The Sandlot for kiddos who want to laugh and The Harry Potter series for junior wizards and muggles who would rather be at Hogwarts.
If you have little ones who are intimidated by the snow, opt for a fun indoor play space for kids. Imaginations run wild in this 4,500-square-foot spot, complete with interactive structures, a stardust tree fort, netted bridge and other adventurous things to do. Those who are 6 and under will have a ball at Twinkle Playspace.
There isn't a more iconic destination in New York City for literary lovers. Peruse the shelves for a new read, explore fun exhibits, marvel at the grand architecture and catch a glimpse of the original Winnie the Pooh when you stop for a visit at the New York Public Library!
This Brooklyn venue screens new indie releases and has a robust retro program that all film buffs will appreciate. Each individual theater has full-service meals, plus there is a lobby bar and a downstairs café that stays open late. Keep an eye out for kid-friendly film series that will make snow days alll the more cozy. Check out what's playing here.
After Olmsted and Vaux unveiled Central Park in 1859, they turned their attention south to create this bucolic Brooklyn destination. There’s plenty of room in Long Meadow and the Nethermead to have a family picnic on a patch of grass when spring weather kicks in...but it's a sledding spot when colder months make an appearance. Plus, LeFrak Center at Lakeside offers some of the best ice skating in NYC.
Snow days are wonderful excuses to hibernate and explore all possible artistic endeavors. If kids head to Bead on Bond in Gowanus, they can work on making their own accessories (bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and so on) to commemorate an exciting day off from school. Perhaps they'll use blue stones and deep hues to channel their inner snow gods and goddesses.
Waterfront parks might be a go-to for New Yorkers during the summer, but a snow storm serves up equally stunning views, too. Suit up in a cozy coat and enjoy a few snowballs, snowmen and snow angels in one of Queens' most breathtaking attractions.
For those little ones who would rather make the most out of indoor activities when the snow starts to fall, try experimenting in the kitchen. Who doesn't want to have something delicious to eat while staying cozy under a blanket? Check out what you can whip up here.
Bryant Park transforms each season into a literal Winter Village, complete with ice skating, a Christmas tree, local vendors and great food (did you try the chimney cake this year?). But even if the holidays pass and the snow comes down mid-January or February, you still need to venture to the park—New Yorkers judge the weather by the frozen fountain, and of course, you need to snap a few selfies when the water turns to ice.
Sometimes there aren't too many places to hide in the snow when kiddos are facing off against one another. All they need to do is take the fun indoors, and Area 53 is perfect venue. This newly-opened DUMBO space promises a healthy dose of compeition. Players can suit up for an adventure in a darkened, dual-level basement where they can try to claim victory.
When tots are off from school, let them enjoy the adventure that is the Chelsea Piers toddler gym. The name says it all: the sports complex's Little Athletes Exploration Center is designed exclusively for its littlest patrons. Its safe, open-play environment allows tots (and parents) to roam freely, and you won't have to worry about losing your little one in a few feet of snow.
Looping around the rink as the city transforms into a white blanket is something we're used to seeing in movies. Make it a reality by ice skating at our go-to rinks—Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, Wollman Rink, Rockefeller Center—when schools declare they're closed.
Don't your kids want to have a snowman sidekick? Surely every tot dreams of an Olaf of their own. Find a few extra buttons, a bright carrot and some cold-weather accessories and let kids' creativity shine through (and hopefully not melt).
Stay in and work up a sweat with a fun jam session or karaoke contest. If a snow day isn't the precise time you and your brood should belt out "Let It Go," we're not sure what is.
Kids will love this Brooklyn venue's ball pit, LEGO station, climbing wall and other adventurous features. If moms and dads think it sounds exhausting—fear not. Good Day Play Café is a win-win situation for the whole family. While littles run wild, parents can catch up and socialize in this playspace-café hybrid. What's better than that?
NYC is home to over 1,800 schools, and figuring out which have closings or delays can be frustrating. NYC public schools, luckily enough, offer several ways of keeping families informed about school closings. NYC radio and television stations also provide up-to-date info about delays for both public and private institutions in the city and the greater region.