Central Park
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

The best winter activities for kids in NYC

NYC's coolest winter activities for kids (sledding, cocoa crawls) just might put it in the running for the best season

By Allie Early and Danielle Valente
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The most delightful winter activities for kids will have you singing "Let It Snow." 

Now is the time to conquer those steep sledding hills and lace up for ice skating in NYC. Sure the temperatures are wicked, but with the help of a warm winter coat and a mug of hot cocoa, you will be ready to tackle any adventure that awaits. 

This season might look a little different in NYC, but with our guide, we'll help you make the most of it—and safely. 

Best winter activities for kids

 LuminoCity Festival
 LuminoCity Festival
Courtesy: LuminoCity Festival

1. Christmas events in NYC

Things to do

The most wonderful time of year might look a little different in 2020, but we can still help those who are searching for "Christmas events near me." From fun holiday light show installations to the (virtual) Macy's Santaland, there is plenty of winter goodness to go around. Plus, new rules are in place at each venue to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Before the man in the big red suit pulls into town, tackle all of these great seasonal happenings! Then, curl up with some hot chocolate and one of our favorite Christmas movies for kids!

LuminoCity Festival
LuminoCity Festival
Courtesy: LuminoCity Festival

2. Holiday light shows

Things to do Festivals

'Tis the season to be jolly and visit a holiday light show or two! Fortunately for you, we've rounded up the coolest Christmas events in and near NYC that are totally illuminating—literally! From the visiting LuminoCity Festival at Randall's Island to Sesame Place's brand-new drive-thru experience, these events allow visitors to enjoy the best of the season while staying socially distanced. 

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six flags
six flags
Photograph: Courtesy Six Flags

3. Drive-thru Christmas attractions

Things to do

The season of lights is getting even brighter: Drive-thru Christmas lights have popped up around NYC, and they're the perfect way to ring in the holidays safely. Twinkling tunnels, larger-than-life seasonal displays—they're all ready to wow your little elves! We suggest you bring along some hot chocolate and crank up the Christmas songs for kids while out on your adventure. 

Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier

4. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Things to do Bryant Park, Midtown West

Winter Village is on its way to Bryant Park! Every year, the midtown green space transforms into a holiday wonderland, complete with shops, sweets, ice skating, a Christmas tree and more. Things will look a little different in 2020: The event will be spaced out appropriately, everything will take place outdoors and timed skating sessions will be required. (Tickets open at the end of October.) Visit the Bryant Park website for more details. All ages. 

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tree nyc
tree nyc
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Christmas tree farms

Things to do Markets and fairs

No one wants to find themselves with a skimpy tree a la Charlie Brown. Bundle up and map out where to find a Christmas tree farm near NYC. The smell of pine is practically a necessity come the holidays. 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

6. Sledding hills

Things to do Quirky events

When Elsa sends a blizzard our way, your brood will ditch those indoor activities for kids and opt for tallest hill he or she can find. We mapped out our go-to kids' playgrounds and parks equipped with the perfect slopes for sledding in NYC, from  Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. 

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Bar Pisellino Hot Chocolate
Bar Pisellino Hot Chocolate
Photograph: Oliver Strand

7. Enjoy hot chocolate

Restaurants

When the temperature dips, we can't help but search for a cup of the best hot chocolate in NYC. Whether we're off to fun Christmas events or just staying in with a few good family movies, delicious cocoa in the winter is a necessity—much like a big helping (or two) of whipped cream. 

 

skiing
skiing
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

8. Winter weekend getaways

Travel

Update: New rules and regulations are likely in place in 2020. Some locations might require advanced reservations. Always call ahead before making a trip. 

These amazing winter getaways from NYC are perfect for families—and will force you out of hibernation. Whether you're looking for snowy fun or the best splashy indoor water park in NY, there's something for everyone. 

 

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Photograph: Courtesy Ski Butternut

9. Ski resorts near NYC

Travel Collection: Getaways
Snowy adventure awaits you at the best family ski resorts near NYC. It doesn't matter if you're new to the scene or if you and your crew spend all your on black diamonds, we have the perfect winter weekend getaways for you.
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

10. Snow tubing near NYC

Travel

Bundle up and get ready to slide down lengthy lanes of snow—you'll feel like you're gliding! It's the perfect outdoor activity for all ages and it'll get everyone's adrenaline going. Even better? Most spots have snack areas where you can refuel afterwards with a delightful cup of hot chocolate.

 

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CMOM Right to Vote
CMOM Right to Vote
Courtesy: CMOM

11. “Right to Vote”

Museums Childhood Children's Museum of Manhattan, Upper West Side

The Children's Museum of Manhattan new “Right to Vote” exhibit commemorates the centennial of women’s suffrage and, of course, the 2020 election. It intends to emphasizes the importance of working for the greater good, listening to others' opinions and thoughtful decision making. Upon visiting the installation, little politicians in the making will cast a vote to a subject near and dear to their heart—free school meals, clean water or more park spaces. After testing out what voting feels like, kids step into the role of commander in chief in the mini Oval Office, where they can take calls and make deals. Subsequently, they'll learn about important figures in the women's suffrage movement and use the pioneers' example to create artwork to represent what's important to them. (Think DIY posters, ballots, etc.) Ages 2 and up. 

DC Super Hero
DC Super Hero
Courtesy: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis + Jennifer Dummett

12. "DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers"

Museums Special interest Liberty Science Center,

Consider it your favorite comic books come to life: "DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers" lets kids connect with their favorite vigilantes like Batman and Wonder Woman as they learn about safety along the way. Young visitors can solve puzzles in Gotham, see if trouble is brewing thanks to the Crisis Scanner, wander through Museum of Ancient History's laser maze and much more. All ages. 

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PS ART
PS ART
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/P.S. 193 Alfred J. Kennedy Queens/Alexandra Budnick

13. "P.S. Art" Exhibition at The Met

Museums Special interest The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park

NYC's youngest are showing off their creative chops. The 13th annual "P.S. Art" exhibition at the Met showcases artwork from 122 students ranging from prekindergarten through 12th grade in public schools and District 75 schools throughout the five boroughs. Catch all the work in a variety of media! "Now, more than ever, we are committed to investing in education and supporting school communities," Max Hollein, director of The Met, said in a statement. Though the Museum had to close for over five months, realizing the presentation of 'P.S. Art' soon after our reopening demonstrates the importance of this artistic program. I'm looking forward to celebrating the tremendous accomplishments of these very talented students." All ages.

Best winter activities for kids

Schmackary's
Schmackary's
Photograph: Courtesy Schmackary's

17. Cookie delivery services

Restaurants

Sometimes bundling up in a winter ensemble is just too much to bear. Swap the coat and scarf for some jammies and let the treats come to you. The best cookie delivery services in NYC—Levain Bakery, Schmackary’s, to name a few—bring top-notch sweets right right to the comfort of your home. If you’re in the middle of a fun holiday movie or can’t quite find the strength to brave the cold, this is the perfect way to snag some dessert without any winter discomfort...just make sure you have some hot cocoa before you order!

Courtesy American Dream

18. American Dream Mall

News City Life

"Mall" isn't necessarily an accurate way to describe American Dream.  Sure, the long-awaited 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.  The estimated $5 billion project from Triple Five Group, the masterminds behind the Mall of America in Minnesota, worked to ensure that the Meadowlands shopping and entertainment behemoth is the talk of the town. Here's what you can look forward to:  Nickelodeon Universe (Opens Oct 25), DreamWorks Water Park (Opens Nov 27), Big SNOW Ski and Snowboard Park (Opens Dec 5) and SO much more. 

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19. Build a snowman

While adults might not be terribly pleased about commuting in the snow, kids pray for fierce winter weather, and rightfully so. Once NYC is transformed into a bright-white blanket, it’s go time. Grab accessories, carrots and buttons to create a unique, trendy snowman that adds some flair to NYC winters.

Best winter activities for kids

grufnik-306152946_1cfb622db6_o.jpg
Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Grufnik

21. Plan a spring day trip

Travel Collection: Getaways

Give your youngsters a dose of fresh air and introduce them to a variety of exciting East Coast cities this spring. These destinations, each just a short drive or train ride from the city, are bursting with family-friendly activities, making them the perfect spots for spring day trips from NYC. Make the most of the kids' time off school during their spring break or plan a quick weekend outing away from the hustle and bustle to explore awesome museum exhibits for kids, check out unique fairs and festivals and enjoy the great outdoors—NYC will still be here when you get back!

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