Get excited New York City, spring is finally in full swing! While it would be difficult to say there’s nothing to do in NYC at any time of the year, the options expand exponentially once the temperatures rise. Looking for ideas on how to do the season right with a kid or two? Here are a few of our favorite NYC springtime activities for you and your little ones to enjoy, from free museums to storytimes to stargazing. Seriously though: all of the below are $5 or less!


Central Park Turtle Pond photo: via Mike Carey on Flickr

1. Relax in the sun and check out Central Park’s Turtle Pond, which is home to not one, not two, but five species of turtles. (It’s thought that many of the current residents began their lives as NYC pets and were brought to the park when they outgrew their indoor accommodations.) See who can spot a bird, dragonfly, and turtle first!

2. Make a weekend stop at Smorgasburg on Pier 5. Grab some of the best no-fuss gourmet street food and picnic with the family in the massive Brooklyn Bridge Park for an only-in-NYC experience.

3. Take a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Free on Wednesdays, it’s finally warm enough to walk around outside and take in the numerous animal exhibits. The Children’s Zoo offers kids the option to feed the animals as well.

4. For those rainy spring Saturdays, make your way to the Guggenheim. Expand your children’s minds by bringing them in from 5:45–7:45 p.m., when admission is pay what you wish.


Bryant Park Carousel photo: via Rhiannon on Flickr

5. Head to Le Carrousel in Bryant Park. With carousel rides at $3 and kid-friendly events on Saturdays from 1-2 p.m., this one is great option for a weekend midtown diversion.

6. Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights is a can’t-miss. Admission is free on Thursdays from 3-5 p.m., perfect for an after school visit or playdate.

7. Breathe in spring’s freshest florals at the New York Botanical Garden. Grounds admission is free to everyone all day on Wednesdays, and from 9 -10 a.m. on Saturdays.

8. …Or swing by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s always free for children under 12, and free for everyone both all day on Tuesdays and from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. Be sure to check out the Kids’ Discovery Stations once inside and catch the cherry blossoms while you can!


Highline photo: via Ashu Mathura on Flickr

9. Walk the High Line. If you’re in the area as the sun sets, check out the park’s free stargazing event every Tuesday from dusk until 9 p.m. at 14th Street. High-powered telescopes from the Amateur Astronomers Association help visitors get a glimpse of the moon, stars and planets!

10. Grab a hotdog at Papaya King. This NYC institution’s cheap grub is perfect for a spring day (just not every spring day). Head to its location at 86th and Third Avenue before visiting Central Park or a nearby museum.

11. Summer reading season is about to kick into high gear — get your child a free New York Public Library Card to get started. Check out your closest library’s kids programs; Family Read Aloud is one of our favorites.


Roosevelt Island Tramway photo: via Phil Roeder on Flickr

12. Go for a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. (Catch it at 60th Street and Second Avenue.) Take in the city views on a clear day with the family for the price of a subway ride. And while you’re there… take a Kids & Family yoga class for a suggested donation of $5 at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. Classes are held Wednesdays-Saturdays.)

13. If you’ve got a Mastercard and your kids like baseball, be sure to take advantage of the New York Yankees $5 Mastercard game on June 17th. Yankee Stadium, 1 East 161st street, Bronx

14. Visit the Discovery Room at the American Museum of Natural History and inspire your kids to explore science hands-on. The entire museum is pay what you wish, and the Discovery Room exhibit is free for a 40-minute session.

Fleet Week photo: via Official U.S. Navy Page on Flickr

15. Welcome Fleet Week. From May 18-25, take your pick of free events across NYC: Ship tours, Navy Band Concerts, Parade of Ships, and a US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo.

16. Check out the NY Aquarium. Explore water-dwellers on Fridays from 4-6 p.m., when admission is pay-what-you-wish. Recommended donation is $5.

17. Register for New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)’s Sounds for Unusual Creatures free concert on May 17th. You’ll get free general admission to the museum for the day with your registration. We’re also big fans of their Make It: One Block Challenge series, offered on May 17th as well for $3.

For a Triple Play: Washington Square Park

park photo: NYC Parks

18. Head to one of Manhattan’s top playgrounds. We recommend these!

19. Visit Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for the free outdoor activities of its Pop-Up Audubon series. Activities include nature hikes, bird-watching, and learning about native plants and the aquatics habitats of the park. Grab a Discovery Pack, a ready-to-go kit of nature activities for families.

20. Pipsqueak’s Children’s Shoppe in Brooklyn is always a good idea. This kid’s store offers open play time for $5, among other workshops and music series for your kids to enjoy while you shop.


Sony Wonder Lab photo: via Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr

21. Visit the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. With free entry, the whole family can explore high tech and creative exhibits that will make you feel like you’re living in the future. The Dance Motion capture is our favorite.

22. Get down at a Celebrate Brooklyn! Dance Party, a free groovefest with live bands and DJs playing Classic Soul Funk (May 14), Electro Soul (May 21) and Latin Jazz (May 28).

23. Take a boat ride on The Staten Island Ferry on a warm, sunny day. It’s free and a great way to see the Statue of Liberty up close.

photo: Public Art Fund

24. Visit one of the many public art installations on view throughout the city, or hit a bunch and make a day of it!

25. We’re already getting excited for the Park Slope Old Stone House’s Rites of Spring event featuring a giant puppet pageant. It’s free and takes place on May 16th. Check out their site for lots of other free events for families.

26. Get crafty. Michaels offers free events (plus supply costs) like jewelry-making and paper crafting at the chain’s multiple NYC locations.

2013 April 24 BPL Playdate 237

storytime photo: Brooklyn Public Library

27. Head to one of the many free drop-in story times around the city.

28. Never walked the Brooklyn Bridge? It’s time. Take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy this NYC landmark on a sunny afternoon with the whole family.

29. Get to Carnegie Hall by, you know, just going there already. Enjoy free interactive concerts and family activities on weekends at Carnegie Hall. The Hall also offers family concerts throughout in all five boroughs.


30. Sneak away to the Elevated Acre, the New York Earth Room or another one of our favorite secret spots in the city!

What’s on your must-do list this season? Tell us in the comments below!

—Ilyssa Smith