The city is gearing up for the holidays, and this is your chance to be the first to visit some of the hot spots on opening weekend. Watch Santa and the Rockettes team up at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, drool over a gigantic gingerbread village with over 1,000 houses and structures, or chug on over to Grand Central Terminal to visit the Annual Holiday Train Show. And don’t worry if you’re not in the holiday spirit yet, we’ve got plenty of other ways to keep your family entertained too, so read on.


Photo: 14th Annual Train Show, gigi_nyc via flickr


Escape the City on a Family Discovery Walk
Escape the city without actually leaving the city. Bring your little city slickers to explore the Ramble, Central Park’s 36-acre “wild garden” with the help of some park experts. Your little explorers will get to use a discovery kit, a rugged backpack filled with binoculars, field guides and other discovery tools, to learn all about the plants and animals that call the park home. Reservations are requiredSat. 10-11 a.m. Central Park. Free. Ages 5 and up. Event details.


Opening Weekend: Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular 
Tis the season… well almost. Sure Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but we’re willing to bet that Santa is already on the minds of your little elves. So take them to opening weekend where they’ll get to see live animals on stage, holiday-riffic musical numbers, high-kicking Rockettes dressed as toy soldiers, and yes — Santa! If you can’t get to the show this weekend, Santa is setting up camp until Jan. 3rd. Fri. at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 pm. Rockefeller Center. $44/person and up. All ages. Event details

Opening Weekend: 14th Annual Holiday Train Show
Roll on over to the Transit Museum Store inside Grand Central and let your little rail fans go nuts over this year’s holiday train show. The impressive display features Lionel model trains running in and out of a model Grand Central Station on a 34 foot-long, two-level platform. You’ll also find lots of unique subway and train gifts for purchase like subway backpacks and train sets, so feel free to get in a little holiday shopping for the train lovers in your life while visiting. If you can’t make it this weekend, the show will keep rolling until Feb. 21st. Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Midtown East. Free. All ages. Event details.


Take a Spin on the Rink at Opening Weekend
Sure, New York has no shortage of ice skating rinks, but this one will offer you amazing skyline views right on the Hudson. So dust off your ice skates (or rent a pair if you don’t own) and head over to Brookfield Place because the rink is up and running for the season. While you’re visiting, drop into Hudson Eats for a delicious and easy meal with the kiddos and swing by the visiting art exhibit Canstruction, sculptures created entirely out of cans. Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Battery Park City. $15/person (90 mins.) All ages. Event details.

Story Time with the Biggest Reddest Dog
Clifford may be too big to play fetch with indoors, but he’s perfect for an indoor story time. Bring your little readers in for crafts and stories all with the dog himself. Clifford will be sitting and giving handshakes for all his little fans. Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Union Square. Free. All ages. Event details


Rub Elbows with Authors at Brooklyn Children’s Book Fair 
It’s a kid lit kind of day at the Brooklyn Museum’s 9th Annual Children’s Book Fair. The event features more than thirty Brooklyn authors and illustrators as well as hands on art activities and fun photo opportunities for all ages. Other highlights include readings by award-winning authors and illustrators like Julia Sarcone-Roach, Tad Hills, Abby Hanlon, and more. Sat. Noon-4 p.m. Crown Heights. Free. All ages. Event details.

Alvin and the Chipmunks Live on Stage 
Get your tickets because Alvin and the gang are coming to Brooklyn for a fun and interactive show your little ones will love. Follow the chipmunks on an exciting adventure filled with familiar music from bands like Maroon 5, Elvis Presley and One Direction and even a giant pillow fight over the audience. Sat. 2:30 p.m. Flatbush. $25-$55/person. All ages. Event details.


Run as Fast as You Can to Gingerbread Lane
Warning: this exhibit is going to make you hungry! It’s opening weekend for the 500 square foot delicious village made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy. The reigning champs for the Guinness Book of Records’ largest gingerbread village, consists of more than 1,050 houses and structures like Eggnog Bay, Gum Drop Row, and Peppermint Central Park. If you want to add some extra fun, visit on Sunday the 15th between 10:30 a.m. and noon and your little bakers can make their very own mini gingerbread house, they’ll have plenty of inspiration! Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Corona. Free with admission ($8/family for gingerbread workshop). All ages. Event details.

Get Wild on the Farm
Take a break from the city and bring your little animals to the farm’s Wildlife Weekend event where they can learn about interesting critters like birds-of-prey, frogs, bugs and more. Your little city slickers will feel like true country kids for the day as they take in an animal show, hop on a hayride, feed the farm animals, and even ride a pony. Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Floral Park. $9/person. All ages. Event details

Randall’s Island

The Great Randall’s Island Scavenger Hunt
Here’s your chance to let your little ones act like real pirates for the day as they explore Randall’s Island,  unlocking secrets and searching for treasure. Your kiddos will learn how to use a map and compass like real explorers and enjoy arts and crafts. Every little pirate will even take home an actual treasure. Sat. Noon-3 p.m. Randall’s Island. Free. All ages. Event details

Where will your family explore this weekend? Share with us in the comment section below.

—Caitlin Dowling