Winters in New York are no joke and when you’ve got a little someone that needs to get their wiggles out, it can seem like an eternity. No fear! We are here with a list of 11 super-fun kids activities that will get you out of the cold and make sure your little one never gets bored this winter.
1. Play indoors
There are a number of indoor playrooms in the city but our favorites have plenty of room for running, jumping and climbing, as well as friendly staff to welcome you in from the cold. The Playroom NYC on the Upper East side specializes in unstructured creative play and has a dress-up area. Over in Brooklyn, Recess d.u.m.b.o. features custom-made play structures and complimentary hot beverages for those who need a little extra warming up. The Toddler Gym at Chelsea Piers accommodates kids as young as 6 months and offers a wide range of drop-in activities on site as well.
2. Take a ride on an indoor carousel
It wouldn’t be a day out with the kids in New York without a carousel ride and fortunately, one of the most scenic and charming carousel rides in the city is covered during the winter months. Jane’s Carousel is a restored, 3-row carousel built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and, sitting at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, offers breath-taking views of lower Manhattan. After a ride on the carousel (or 3!) head over to Juliana’s Pizza for a slice of the original New York style pizza.
3. Get creative with Lego™
Lego™ is the cornerstone of creative play (pun intended!) and is widely believed to aid child development in three important ways: it helps develop fine motor skills, encourages creativity and, because there is no ‘wrong’ when building Lego™, supports a child’s ability to try new things without the fear of failure. Lucky for us, there are two (warm) Lego™ stores in New York to choose from, one in Rockefeller Center and another in the Flatiron District. Both locations host regular events, including a monthly model building workshop.
Lego™ comes from Denmark and so it’s no surprise that the Heimbold Family Children’s Playing and Learning Center at Scandinavia House has a custom Lego™ corner, in addition to a train table, indoor climbing facility and a mushroom house for those more drawn to imaginary play.
4. Visit a museum
One of the great things about living in New York is your immediate access to some of finest museums in the world. And when it’s cold outside, it’s a great time to take advantage of them. Both the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and Brooklyn Children’s Museum are of course designed with young visitors in mind and offer exhibits and programming for children as young as 0 – 3 years. Uptown the American Natural History Museum recently added a cast of the 122-foot Titanosaur to its world-famous dinosaur collection. The cast is based on remains that were found in Argentina’s Patagonia and paleontologists suggest the animal would have weighed around 70 tons. A must-see for curious minds!
5. Catch a show
The Big Apple is host to some of the best shows on earth but you don’t need to break the bank on Broadway to escape the weather and delight your little ones this winter. Vital Theatre on the Upper West Side specializes in children’s productions including their award-winning Pinkalicious Musical. Downtown the Galli Theater brings classic fairy tales to life for children 4 and up, including an after-show workshop where children work with the actors to put on their own version of the show. For those who dare to go off the beaten path, don’t miss the weekend family shows at Jalopy Theater in Red Hook, showcasing performances in folk, bluegrass, country and the blues.
6. Sip a hot chocolate
A winter without hot chocolate is like a summer without a barbecue. And New York is brimming with options for you to get that hand-warming sugar fix. Our favorite place is Voilà Chocolat on the Upper West side takes their chocolate very seriously. Run by a team of specialists, including a nationally-recognized Master Chocolatier and a senior chocolate scientist, Voilà Chocolat has a small cafe and space in the back where they host regular children’s activities. Jacques Torres Chocolate has hot chocolate bars all over the city as well and, in Brooklyn, we can’t get enough of The Chocolate Room in Cobble Hill and Park Slope.
Voilà Chocolat is available via KidPass.
7. Get your cook on
One great way to keep everyone occupied while trapped at home during the winter months is to get busy in the kitchen. The BBC Good Food blog has an entire section dedicated to cooking with kids, including lots of great recipes that include separate instructions for parents and children. Our favorite is spaghetti with meatballs with a veggie hidden in the sauce. It’s so delicious, we promise no one will notice! Other fun and healthy options include teriyaki salmon and rainbow fruit skewers.
Freshmade NYC also offers cooking classes in SOHO on KidPass.
8. Cozy up with a book
Bookstores are a great place to seek refuge when it’s cold outside. Our favorite bookstore with a kids section in Manhattan is definitely McNally Jackson which has an entire floor downstairs dedicated to children’s books. They also host sing-alongs and story times throughout the week. Also downtown, Strand bookstore has a spacious kids section with room to sit and read and, since most books are used, can be lighter on the wallet. Bank Street bookstore is great option uptown and often hosts puppet shows. Powerhouse Arena is our pick in Brooklyn with two locations in DUMBO and Park Slope. The former has ample space to hang out while it’s snowing outside.
9. Go rock climbing
It’s well known that rock climbing nurtures confidence and problem-solving, as well as physical fitness and core strength. Trouble is, we live in the middle of a huge city, right? Wrong! New York is full of indoor climbing studios used by adults and kids alike. Some cater more specifically to children such as Brooklyn Boulders in the Gowanus which has an after-school and weekend program just for kids. For those in Manhattan, Chelsea Piers’ youth rock climbing program is your best option for getting some exercise indoors this winter.
Brooklyn Boulders is available via KidPass.
10. Say hello to Lady Liberty
If you’re blessed with a sunny day and feel like seeing the sights, Circle Line cruises run through the winter and offer indoor, heated seating. See our Lady Liberty up close (like, 100 feet!) and learn fun facts about her design and construction. There is an onboard café that offers sandwiches, snacks, and hot beverages, in case you need a little warming up before heading out on the deck to view lower Manhattan like you’ve never seen it before.
Circle Line cruises are available via KidPass.
11. Go Skiing
Better yet, skip town and head north for a weekend of fun in the mountains. Many ski resorts within driving distance of New York offer daycare or ski school for kids aged 3 – 12 years. Bromley Mountain, a family-friendly ski resort in southern Vermont, is a favorite of ours. They offer ski lessons and childcare right on the mountain for children of all ages. If you get there early, there are beautiful, reasonably-priced houses for rent in the area on AirBnB and VRBO as well as discounted ski passes available at Liftopia or directly from Bromley Mountain ticket office.