Family Fun

What to Do in NYC When Your Kid Has Off From School: A Survival Guide

Your kids will agree to at least one of these ideas!

Between parent-teacher conferences, teacher development days, and every holiday known to man (Brooklyn-Queens Day??), it seems like our kids have a day off from school every week. Need ideas to keep them entertained and active, especially on cold winter afternoons when you can’t just head to your local park or playground? Read on.

  1. Swim in a pool of sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream in SoHo. Multiple samples of the sweet stuff are included with your ticket!

    Photo by Cindy Ord/Courtesy of Getty Images/Museum of Ice Cream
  2. Meander through a cool underwater dreamland—which also happens to teach lessons about climate change and sustainability—at the immersive pop-up Arcadia Earth in the East Village. Lunch and hot cocoa afterward will definitely be in order.

    Arcadia Earth
    Photo courtesy of Arcadia Earth
  3. Walk a plank hundreds of feet above New York City, skydive over the Grand Canyon, or fight zombies at one of our favorite virtual reality arcades in town.
  4. If your kid is a fan of K-pop and all things Korean culture, spend an epic day exploring the food and shopping (we know where to score BTS posters) in Manhattan’s Koreatown.

    Photo courtesy of Grace Street
  5. Solve puzzles, figure out the tricks behind common illusions, and learn how and why your brain plays tricks on you at the Museum of Illusions in Chelsea.
  6. Ride the glass-enclosed, year-round carousel with skyline views of Manhattan; browse books; and eat chocolate on this pretty-much-perfect family day in Dumbo, the kid-friendliest neighborhood in NYC!
  7. Learn to sling arrows, throw axes, climb walls, and riposte—all indoors—in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, where there’s an archery center, a Kick Axe, a climbing gym, and a fencing studio within a couple blocks of one another.
  8. Beat a lie detector test and slither through a laser maze at the surprisingly smart and fun Spyscape espionage experience in midtown. If your mission is successful, treat yourselves to an over-the-top Crazyshake at Black Tap three blocks away.
  9. Catch a matinee performance of a long-running, family-friendly, off-Broadway show like Blue Man Group, Stomp, Gazillion Bubble Show, or That Physics Show. Bring the very young (ages 4 to 7-ish) to the immersive Pip’s Island.

    Photo by Evan Zimmerman/Courtesy of MurphyMade
  10. Visit one or two of New York’s historic homes, where kids can get a taste of what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. We are completely charmed by the Merchant’s House Museum in NoHo, but Bartow-Pell Mansion MuseumMount Vernon Hotel Museum & GardenVan Cortlandt House MuseumMorris-Jumel Mansion, and Hamilton Grange are all great as well.
  11. Discover the arcade-bar hidden behind Sunshine Laundromat in Greenpoint with a group of parents and kids. There are dozens of pinball machines for the littles and dozens of craft beers for the not-so-littles. Sunshine opens at noon on holidays.

    greenpoint bars sunshine laundromat
    This is not your typical NYC laundromat. / Photo by Amy Hoppy
  12. For old-school arcade games in Manhattan, head to Modern Pinball NYC in Kips Bay or Chinatown Fair on Mott Street.
  13. Have an early dinner of chili and burgers at this 200-year-old, everyone-should-eat-or-drink-here-once New York City pub.
  14. Karaoke isn’t just for late-night, drunken fun. Bring the kids to one of our fave spots for a daytime singing sesh.

    Weekend Events NYC May 17-19 2019
    Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Playhouse
  15. Take a behind-the-scenes tour for every kind of kid. Have a budding diplomat? Visit the United Nations. A sports fan? Head to Madison Square Garden. Check out our full list!
  16. If you’ve been to the American Museum of Natural History a million times, try these smaller, quirkier museums, including the Museum of the American Gangster and the Treasures of the Trash Museum.

    Photo courtesy of Museum of the American Gangster/Facebook
  17. Speaking of quirky museums, try to visit the creepy-cool, appointment-only Torah Animal World—a collection of hundreds of taxidermied animals that are described in the Torah—in Borough Park. Afterward, explore kosher bakeries and Judaica stores.
  18. Try to sip all nine of our favorite mugs of hot chocolate in the city.

Need a date night after a day with the kids? We’ve got ideas for that, too.