RECOMMENDED: Winter break activities for NYC kids
Schools in NYC let out for the holiday recess from December 24–January 3, which means there's a lot of quality family time coming your way! Make it an awesome Christmas for kids, then be sure to fit in our favorite things to do with kids over winter break—the vacation is a great opportunity to head to the best museums for children and keep the kids busy (and warm!) with fun indoor activities.
Things to do with kids over winter break
When the kids are out of school over winter break, head to Jersey for 12 whole days of boredom-busting activities that will keep their holiday impatience at bay. Curious kids can channel their inner mad scientist during demos and workshops involving ice- and snow-themed experiments. This year’s lineup includes a meet-and-greet with a live penguin and a chance to make ice cream with liquid nitogen. Don’t miss out on live performances on select days, and make sure to check out the two traveling exhibits on display: “Dora & Diego—Let’s Explore!” and “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.” Youngsters can even meet Dora in person Dec 26–29 (11am–1pm)! Check the website for a full schedule of activities. Ages 3 and up.
The museum’s annual family concerts showcase clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest! as they lead a musical tour of Eastern European Jewish culture. In the grand finale, the audience acts out a shtetl wedding with kids taking on the roles of bride, groom and wedding guests. Sing, dance and learn Yiddish through the band's traditional tunes, then head out on a synagogue tour. All ages.
No matter how crafty you are, your at-home efforts will pale in comparison to this Guinness World Record–winning gingerbread metropolis made from more than 600 pounds of dough and 750 pounds of candy. The 500-square-foot village features sweet additions, like a double-decker carousel, two trains, a candy factory and S.C. Kingle & Co., an edible riff on the historic Gimbels department store.. Catch the opening celebration on November 14, then line up on January 11 (line opens at noon, giveaway starts at 1pm), the exhibit's last day, for a chance to take home a house. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ages 2 and up.
The DiMenna Children's History Museum will remain open during the holiday break so curious kids can explore the toys and trains of the Jerni Collection and participate in fun educational activities. They'll test their attention to detail with a museum-wide scavenger hunt, listen to train stories and participate in a locomotive-themed craft project, resulting in a souvenir to take home. All ages.
Kick back with the kids for a kid-friendly movie screening at the totally amazing (and totally free) Sony Wonder Technology Lab. Catch festive episodes of Sesame Street (Dec 26) to celebrate the holidays and don't miss family-friendly feature films, including Oliver! (Dec 26). Reservations are required and screenings are approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
You and the kids already adore Elf, the movie, and now you can see Santa's most unhelpful helper live on-stage in the Off Broadway incarnation. Unfortunately, Will Ferrell doesn't play the role of Buddy, but the musical follows the same hilarious tale of an orphaned boy raised as an elf at the North Pole. His confused identity leads him to a wintry New York City, where he sings and dances his way through Central Park and Rockefeller Center in search of his family. All ages.
Keep your kids occupied during the winter break from school at this drop-in craft session. They'll tour the current exhibit, "Masterpieces & Curiosities: Alfred Stieglitz's The Steerage," then create paper sculptures of imaginative forms of transportation inspired by what they see in the galleries. Ages 3 and up.