EDITOR’S NOTE: NYC kids’ winter activities recommendations updated for Winter 2022-23!!
These are the times that try a parent’s soul — the cold, barren doldrums of winter between the New Year’s holiday and the start of spring (yeah – that’s pretty much all of winter, people). How can you keep your child entertained?
We compiled a list of several kids’ winter activities you can find around the boroughs to help you exercise your child’s body and brain.
You can also check out our friends at New York Family magazine for updated lists of seasonal events and great suggestions for other things for you and your little ones to do in the city.
Best kids’ winter activities in NYC: Skating
Let the tourists take over Rockefeller Center. Instead, start your quest for ice time by checking out NYC’s public skating rinks. Then, see what our friends at Tiny Beans recommend for skating in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Personally, we like:
Lakeside Prospect Park. This recently renovated Brooklyn skating rink features an outdoor and an indoor rink so you can have fun no matter the weather. Don’t forget to stop in at the cafe for hot chocolate.
The Rink at Winter Village in Bryant Park. This great Manhattan location always has fun going on in its Winter Village setting. Skating is free if you bring your own skates, but you do need to reserve a time. Features to rent include special penguin “Skate Aids” to rent that will help beginners under age 10 navigate, ice “bumper cars,” curling lanes and even dining igloos.
City Ice Pavilion. Hop over to Queens for this huge skating facility in Long Island City that features two NHL-size rinks. Note: helmets for novice skaters are no longer available for rental.
Best kids’ winter activities in NYC: Learning
Not all kids’ winter activities have to involve the cold. Winter is the best time to take your children to any of the scores of great historic places or museums New York City has to offer because … fewer tourists! Time Out New York Kids offers a great list of permanent kids’ exhibits at local museums. Here are some of our faves:
MOMA: The Museum of Modern Art. The “Art Card” program is part scavenger hunt and part-art history lesson that will teach and entertain your children. Also features story-time events, art classes and more for the wee ones.
The Queens Museum. Home for the most amazing scale model ever built (of New York City, of course, this recently renovated museum in Flushing is also a showcase for many contemporary and modern artists. It also holds many family workshops on Sundays.
National Museum of the American Indian. Located in lower Manhattan inside the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, which is a beautiful feat of turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, this museum teaches about Native American history and culture while also featuring special activities just for kids.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Exploreum Hall. This 13,000 square feet of interactive exhibits is just part of this awesome complex. It offers family-friendly workshops and storytelling activities year-round. You can even sleep onboard overnight through its “Operation Slumber.”
Best kids’ winter activities in NYC: Sledding
The city’s Parks Department website actually lists popular sledding spots in all five NYC boroughs (yes, Staten Island, too). Here are some of our faves:
Central Park: Pilgrim Hill and Cedar Hill. Pilgrim Hill, accessible at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, has steeper hills and tends to get more crowded. Cedar Hill, between 76th and 79th streets on the east side, has two hills, one of which is less steep and thus more popular with the youngest sledders.
Inwood Hill Park. Its location at the tip of Upper Manhattan means it’s less crowded than most NYC sledding spots, but man — it’s worth the trip there with lots of space and slopes to hit.
Indoor play in NYC
Let the kids burn off some energy at one of these NYC indoor play spaces recommended by Tiny Beans.
Bonus: Hit the ski, tubing slopes
New York City may not have mountains but the city is closer to the ski and tubing action than you may think.
We wrote a whole separate post about the best family-friendly skiing and tubing near NYC. Check it out!
Top photo by cottonbro via Pexels