The best things to do with kids in NYC this week

The best things to do with kids in NYC this week including festivals, museum exhibits and other great events
Photograph: Courtesy Che Chorley
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There are so many fantastic things to do with kids in NYC this week! Christmas is well on its way, so we'll be enjoying as many Christmas events for kids as possible—as well as movie marathons of the best kids' Christmas movies on Netflix. We're also looking forward to the best kids' movies on Netflix in January 2019 (just announced) when those finally arrive (the lineup includes fam favorites like The Incredibles 2, The Mummy, Happy Feet and The Addams Family!).

Need more things to do? We have you covered. Stop in for a good book at our favorite book stores in NYC for kids, as well as the city's best kids' museums and—if you're still on the hunt for a great gift—toy stores in NYC.

Best things to do with kids in NYC Dec 17–21

Things to do

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

icon-location-pin Rockefeller Center | Manhattan, NY, Midtown West
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Christmas in NYC is incomplete without a trip to Rockefeller Center. Admire the gorgeous, larger-than-life tree—complete with thousands of LED lights and a giant Swarovski crystal star—while snapping festive photos with your family. Nothing compares to this fantastic holiday display, so return after the tree lighting ceremony (Nov 28 at 8pm) to admire the views before 2019 swoops in. All ages.

Things to do, Ice skating

Breakfast with Santa at Rock Center Cafe or the Sea Grill

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Flanked by glittery angel sculptures and New York’s famously giant Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the backdrop to this merry holiday breakfast with Santa. At this festive breakfast for families, you'll meet Santa and his elves (and if your kid is on the nice list, you might even get a little gift, too). The Sea Grill experience boasts made-to-order omelettes and a decadent chocolate fountain, and Santa will come to your table for photos. At Rock Center Cafe, there's a candy bar where kids can assemble their own treat bags to take home after sitting on Santa's Lap in the Throne Room. Don't forget to go for a spin on the ice rink when you're through, since free admission is included with your meal. *Breakfast available at Rock Center Cafe and The Sea Grill. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Che Chorley
Theater, Circuses & magic

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

icon-location-pin New Victory Theater, Midtown West
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Bibi and Bichu are two brothers who wanted nothing more than to join the circus. Their dreams have come true, and NYC gets to experience the excitement with "Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams," an event featuring tumblers, jugglers, contortionists and other artists who are ready to make your jaw drop with unbelieveable acts. Ages 5 and up. 

Photograph: Courtesy Paul Martinka
Things to do

Paleyland

icon-location-pin The Paley Center for Media, Midtown West
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Step into a winter wonderland at The Paley Center for Media and get treated to fun activities for the whole family. No worries if you missed your favorite holiday special when it aired on TV — catch screenings of many TV classics, including A Rugrats Chanukah, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Rugrats Kwanzaa, Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays and more. Families can take a photo by an immersive Instagram experience that looks like a candy cane forest or snap a pic by the stunning four-foot tall menorah. Children can also check out a holiday-themed VR game while they await the arrival of Santa Claus to tell him their Christmas wishes. All ages. Santa’s hours and screenings vary.

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Photograph: Courtesy NASA
Museums, Special interest

"Personal Space"

icon-location-pin Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Hell's Kitchen
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If you have trouble packing your suitcase before a trip, wait until you find out what astronauts have to bring when they head to outer space! During this year’s annual Space & Science Festival, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will host an exhibit, "Personal Space," dedicated to all of the personal items that astronauts bring along for the trip. Astronauts who will be featured in this exhibit include Mike Massimino, Dr. Ellen Baker and more. All ages. 

Kids Class
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Introduction to Stop Motion Animation

icon-location-pin Creative Arts Studio, Boerum Hill
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Let kids take their love for movies to another level with Intro to Stop- Motion Animation, which teaches them how to use a camera and color-correct masterpieces. Once the class wraps up, little filmmakers will have their own clips to share.

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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.   

Eloise at the Plaza
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Things to do

Tea with Santa

icon-location-pin The Plaza, Midtown West
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Little ones should don their best tea-time garb for this stylish holiday event at the Eloise at The Plaza shop. They'll sip lemonade and holiday teas, munch on fresh fruit kabobs and assorted mini sandwiches, and sample sweet treats for dessert. After the kiddies fill their bellies, they can gather ‘round to hear a cozy Christmas story and take pictures with Santa, for a holiday experience they’re sure to remember. Reservations required. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Museums, Special interest

"Germ City"

icon-location-pin Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem
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If your kids won't cover their mouths when sneezing or refuse tissues, maybe "Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis" will help them change their ways. MCNY's new exhibit will focus on the clash between NYC and disease and how it has shaped us in a variety of ways, from culturally to physically. Pieces include "Blood Mirror," Jordan Eagles' offering that's comprised of human blood, a 20th-century smallpox quarantine poster and New York City Health Department diphtheria pamphlet, among many other others. Don't forget to register for the Community Care Fair, a family event on Nov 18 from 11am–3pm, that will let visitors explore ways we care for one another by taking a look at paraphernalia, stories and more. All ages.  

Photograph: Courtesy WinterFest
Shopping

“Winterfest” at the Brooklyn Museum

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Museum | Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park
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It's safe to say Brooklyn is on Santa's nice list, and the inaugural "Winterfest" at Brooklyn Museum is proof. Visitors can make the best of the season with the help of the attraction's 50 vendors, performances from local musicians, photo ops at Santa Land, sweets at The Chocolate Dome, cultural programs at Spectacular Menorah and so much more. All ages. 

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Things to do, Ice skating

Santa's Winter Wonderland at Brookfield Place

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Explore Santa Claus’ Winter Wonderland at Brookfield place this holiday season! Your kids can play in a special children's activity center (and partake in ice-skating, shopping and dining options for various prices) prior to their visit with Santa. Photo packages start at $29 (further pricing details TBD), and you can find Santa at 230 Vesey St, Level 2. Other great offerings include Sensory-Friendly Santa with Autism Speaks (Dec 9 8:30–10am) and Santa Paws! (Nov 25, Dec 2 6:30–7:30pm; dogs must be under 25lbs and carried or in carrier at all times, except service animals). All ages.

Photograph: Courtesy Ann-Sophie Fjelloe-Jensen/New York Hall of Science.
Things to do

GingerBread Lane

icon-location-pin New York Hall of Science | Queens, NY, Queens
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Get ready to have your mind blown at this massive gingerbread house display. In it, you won’t find just a couple of houses made of gingerbread cookies, candy and icing. That would be child’s play compared to this 500-square-foot village that has won the Guinness World Record for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Master builder Jon Lovitch designs, bakes and builds each feature over the course of the year. All ages.

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Photograph courtesy K. Corbin, J. Sparks
Museums, Natural history

Unseen Oceans

icon-location-pin American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side
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Travel deep beneath the Ocean's surface to discover what lurks in the dark, cold depths of the sea with this special exhibit. Visitors learn about the new, cutting edge technologies like robotics, satellite monitoring, miniaturization, and high-definition imaging that scientists use to explore the ocean's vast realm. They can also see some of the new discoveries, like a new island forming near Hawaii and the behaviors of deep sea animals. The exhibit features mesmerizing displays, like a floor-to-ceiling array of biofluorescent species (animals that absorb and re-emit light) and a virtual ride in a submersible.

Things to do, Exhibitions

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

icon-location-pin New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx
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All aboard! One of NYC's most beloved traditions is making its way back into town. The New York Botanical Garden promises another year of fantastic displays during its annual holiday train show, this time spotlighting Lower Manhattan. Get a glimpse of trains zipping through pint-sized downtown attractions—One World Trade Center, Battery Maritime Building—while enjoying festive decorations in one of the city's most beloved green spaces. In addition to the display itself, the Holiday Train Show also offers the opportunity for fun programming—arts and crafts for kids, Bar Car Nights for mom and dad and other festive happenings. Get your tickets ASAP—this event is likely to sell out quickly. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Richard Termine
Theater

The New Victory Theater 2018/2019 Season

icon-location-pin New Victory Theater, Midtown West
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There's nothing like scoring tickets to a show in NYC. As the 2018-2019 lineup quickly approaches, the New Victory Theater—which gives families an opportunity to enjoy international performances—has provided a glimpse into what fans can expect when the curtains rise (dance, puppetry, circus acts, to name a few). Here's the new lineup:  Machine de Cirque Opens Sept 28 Tinga Tinga Tales Oct 13–20 Beauty and the Beast Oct 26–Nov 11 Velocity Opens Nov 16 Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams Opens Nov 30 Emily Brown and the Thing Jan 26–Feb 3 A Simple Space  Feb 9-24  Ajijaak on Turtle Island Opens March 1, 2019 Fiesta Con Sonia De Los Santos March 15 & 16  The Nature of Forgetting  March 23–31    SNAP Opens April 13, 2019   Silent Voices: Lovestate Opens May 2, 2019   Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days Opens May 10, 2019

Photograph: Courtesy Hunter Canning
Theater, Off Broadway

Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic

icon-location-pin New World Stages, Hell's Kitchen
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Love Harry Potter? This one's for you. If you're a fan of witchcraft and wizardry, Puffs will take you back to that certain school, only this time the focus isn't on Harry—it's on the other kids who aren't destined for an epic story...but they'll certainly provide plenty of laughs along the way. All matinee showings of Puffs are family-friendly. All ages. 

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Photograph: Grand Central Holiday Fair
Things to do

Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair

icon-location-pin Grand Central Terminal, Midtown East
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Forty unique vendors come together in one of NYC's most gorgeous architecutral attractions to provide a can't-miss holiday experience. If your daily commute's got you down, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is surely one way to make you feel merry and bright. Explore the wide array of handmade goods—toys, games, accessories and more—before boarding your train home. Chances are, you're bound to find some great gifts for loved ones. Even better? You also have the option to snag a sneak peek at the holiday train show too, so you're truly entering a winter wonderland. You'll be spending a lot of time wandering the train station this season! Note that the market won't be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, so plan your shopping ahead of time. All ages.

Photograph: Courtesy The Illusionists Shin Lim
Theater, Children's

The Illusionists—Magic of the Holidays

icon-location-pin Marquis Theatre, Midtown West
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This family-friendly show complete with escapes, fun mind games, illusions and other can't-miss spectacles gets a holiday twist. After quintessential NYC pitstops—Rockefeller Center, Radio City, Dyker Heights—begin a new holiday tradition where you're floored by even more unbelievable spectacles. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy: Robert Gerhardt and Denis Y. Suspitsyn
Museums, Art and design

"Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again"

icon-location-pin Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District
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Take a look back at Andy Warhol's iconic pieces—portraits, pop and photo silkscreen paintings and other pieces of work—during the Whitney's retrospective that highlights all aspects of his career. During Family Day (Dec 1 from 10:30am–3pm), kids can create their own artistic gems inspired by the late icon. Check the museum's website to see when its Open Studios (Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am–3pm in November and December, minus holidays) will dedicate its weekly kids’ project to all-things Warhol. All ages. 

Things to do

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

icon-location-pin Radio City Music Hall, Midtown West
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Every year, this holiday stalwart gets families in the spirit with Santa appearances, colorful sets and, of course, one-of-a-kind dance numbers from the impressive Rockettes. Enjoy classic routines like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "New York at Christmas," in which dancers journey through the city on a double-decker bus, and keep an eye out for exciting new additions as well. The show now incorporates advanced technology throughout, taking the audience on a wild ride via 3D glasses and a flying LED screen, and one number even sends a host of helium-filled, GPS-enabled iridescent snowflakes floating high above the audience, transforming Radio City into a sparkling winter wonderland! Get ready for a new finale scene! All ages.

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Things to do

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

icon-location-pin Columbus Circle, Midtown West
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If you’re searching for a gift that’s a little more personal than the ones at The Shops at Columbus Circle, then cross the street to Central Park and browse through this outdoor holiday market. You’ll find handmade items for babies by Lil’ New Yorker, punk rock-styled onesies, or “punksies,” by Punkster, stuffed animals that can be microwaved and give off a lavender or chamomile scent. All ages.

Photograph: Credit New York Transit Museum
Things to do

Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal

icon-location-pin Grand Central Terminal, Midtown East
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  Commuting in the winter can be quite a challenge. Between cold temperatures, howling winds and a dusting of snow, getting to and from NYC isn't always easy. However, The New York Transit Museum's model train exhibit at the Grand Central Gallery Annex & Store makes the venture a lot more tolerable. Lionel trains will travel along two 34’ long “O” gauge model train layout, where onlookers will start off in a mini Grand Central and follow along as the route heads toward the North Pole as work from Ebony Bolt is displayed throughout the exhibit. Sounds like a fun way to kill time while you're waiting for your 6pm home, right? All ages.

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Things to do

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), Upper West Side
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This enchanting production is the one people have in mind when they ask, "Have you been to The Nutcracker?" The New York City Ballet's full roster of ballerinas, danseurs and musicians—plus children from the School of American Ballet—perform Balanchine's classic choreography. Princess-smitten tots will fall for the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen, but all kids will get a kick out of the one-ton Christmas tree that "grows" to 40 feet onstage, and Mother Ginger, who hides little dancers under her nine-foot-wide skirt. 

Photograph: Courtesy Liberty Science Center
Museums, Childhood

"Doc McStuffins"

icon-location-pin Liberty Science Center,
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Little Dottie wants to follow in her mother's footsteps on the TV hit, Doc McStuffins. With the hopes of becoming a doctor, she practices her medical routines on her stuffed animals...who just so happen to come to life! Kids can channel their inner Doc McStuffins by checking in on fury friends in the ER, giving animals X-rays and more. This is a bilingual English and Spanish immersive exhibit. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Robb McCormick + Liberty Science Center
Museums, Science and technology

“International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes”

icon-location-pin Liberty Science Center,
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Do you have your magnifying glass ready? You'll need it! Liberty Science Center is taking a step back in time with its latest exhibit, “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes," which allows visitors to explore science and technological advances from the late 1800s, decipher the inner workings of forensic specialists today and go through clues to uncover an exclusive mystery! All ages. 

Things to do

Union Square Holiday Market

icon-location-pin Union Square, Union Square
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Grab a cup of hot cocoa or cider to beat the chill as you navigate this holiday market, a favorite among shoppers looking to support local businesses. Foodies can grab a taste from  a variety of vendors here before browsing through kiosks featuring jewelry, artwork, candles, home goods, beauty products and gifts for kids. Here, you’ll find many artisanal products that are NYC-made, USA-made, Fairtrade/Organic Certified and made from recycled, reused or vintage items. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ann-Sophie Fjelloe-Jensen/New York Hall of Science.
Things to do

GingerBread Lane

icon-location-pin New York Hall of Science | Queens, NY, Queens
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Get ready to have your mind blown at this massive gingerbread house display. In it, you won’t find just a couple of houses made of gingerbread cookies, candy and icing. That would be child’s play compared to this 500-square-foot village that has won the Guinness World Record for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Master builder Jon Lovitch designs, bakes and builds each feature over the course of the year. All ages.

Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier
Things to do

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

icon-location-pin Bryant Park, Midtown West
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Every year, Bryant Park transforms into a winter village complete with an outdoor ice skating rink right at the center. Shop from local vendors selling food and drinks and get an early start on those holiday wish lists. Wonderful pop-up shops for kids include Kubiya Games for those who enjoy a good brainteaser and New York Puzzle Company for jigsaw puzzles based on classic children’s book covers. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Eric Lennartson
Art

“TapeScape” at BCM

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Crown Heights
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Let your imagination run wild as you climb through a massive playscape made from miles of TAPE! This interactive exhibit by Brooklyn Children’s Museum in collaboration with Eric Lennartson is custom-built for the museum and created from unexpected everyday materials, and it’ll be located in the Visiting Exhibit Gallery. The exhibit will span about 400 square feet (about the size of a studio apartment here in NYC), offering plenty of tunnels to crawl through, and it’s open for anyone to explore, even adults. “TapeScape” encourages creativity, curiosity and gross motor play. The artist, Eric Lennartson, weighed in with Time Out New York Kids: “Because the exhibit is so crazy, it attracts everyone to play in it. One of the reasons I love the exhibit is that I see adults playing with kids in the exhibit. I see older kids playing again like they did when they were younger and didn't have to act so cool. I tell people it lets you act half your age again.” Building the exhibit will take around two weeks: the first will be used to create the skeletal structure, and the second for adding around thirteen miles worth of tape—that’s enough to go back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge a dozen times! Lennartson continues: "I love that tape is such a common thing that everyone has, but it can do extraordinary things. It is completely unexpected material to build with, right? Why would you think that that roll of tape in your desk drawer could make something as big as a three-dimension

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