Staten Island Chuck predicted six more weeks of winter on Groundhog’s Day and with endless storms hitting NYC, it’s hard to believe otherwise. Don’t worry, even if you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your indoor and wintertime activity ideas, there’s always more to do in NYC. You might not even have time to tackle this list before spring arrives.
1. Go to an indoor water park.
In a less than 2 hour drive south, you can get to Sahara Sam’s Oasis. There you can put on your bathing suits and pretend it’s summer while you enjoy 58,000 square feet or aquatic and arcade fun. Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends, you’ll have plenty of time to experience all this indoor water park has to offer including a surfing simulator, tube slides, a lazy river, a special toddler lagoon, a basketball court pool and more. 160 Cooper Road, West Berlin, Nj, 856-767-7580.
2. Drink hot cocoa…by the shot.
Warm up with hot cocoa at City Bakery. They serve it by the shot here, topped with homemade marshmallows. While the original is yummy enough, February is the cafe’s Hot Chocolate Festival. Each day brings a new delectable flavor to try from malted milk to rum raisin. 3 West 18th St., Union Square.
3. Design your own t-shirt.
Visit Park Slope’s Hiho Batik clothing store and head straight to the back. There you’ll find the Make Your Own Studio where you can use the batik method to create your own t-shirt, pillow, tote and more. Draw your design, trace over it with wax, then paint on color. Leave it with the Hiho Batik artists and they’ll dye the background for you. 184 5th Ave., Park Slope, 718-622-4446.
4. See a reggae musical.
If you’re a Bob Marley fan, then you’ve got to see the New Victory Theater’s Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. The jammin’ reggae family musical features Marley’s songs and is based on a children’s book written by his daughter Cedella. The story shares the message of peace and love. Bonus: you probably can’t listen to Bob Marley tunes without thinking of summertime and beaches. 229 West 42nd St., Midtown.
5. Think spring at the Butterfly Conservatory.
It may be 20 degrees outside, but it’s a summery 80 degrees inside the American Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Conservatory. Beyond the warm temps, kids will love walking through the 1,200 square foot vivarium amongst up to 500 butterflies flitting and floating about. One might even land on your child. Central Park West at 79th St., Upper West Side, 212-769-5100.
6. Take a ferry ride to a magical forest.
Hop on New York Water Taxi’s Ikea ferry and let your kids play a Smaland, the shop’s supervised play area. They’ll love jumping in the ball pit over and over again, and if they ever get out there’s also puppets, toys, videos and books to keep them busy while you shop or have a snack with a friend in the cafe. Kids must be 37″ to 54″ tall and potty trained to play. 1 Beard St., Red Hook.
7. See graffiti art in the warmth of a museum.
The Museum of the City of New York just opened a new exhibit – City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection. THe colorful and playful works of art offer all the wonder of NYC street art, but can be viewed indoors this winter. 1220 5th Ave., Upper East Side, 212-534-1672.
8. Attend a film festival.
The BAMkids Film Festival will show more than 70 movies from across the globe. Each film has recommended ages from 2 to 10 to help you choose the best one for your brood. Aside from movies, the festival also has live performances and filmmaker Q&As to inspire your future Wes Anderson. 30 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, 718-636-4100.
9. Bounce out the winter blues.
Take the crew on a road trip to Bounce! Trampoline Sports, a gigantic trampoline park just 45 minutes away in Syosset. Kids can jump around in several areas of the complex – one section boasts more than 20 trampolines, some of which are even sloping up the walls. Great for the littest jumpers – try Bounce Junior Zones for the under 6 set, inflatable bounce houses for toddlers and a bungee-style swing for the just-walking babes. 310 Michael Dr., Syosset, 516-762-1300.
10. Drop in for a craft session.
From cake decorating and jewelry making to canvas painting and book making, Make Meaning is a crafty kids dream. You’ll love it to because all the mess stays there and your kid gets to bring home his awesome creation. 329 Columbus Ave., Upper West Side, 212-363-0350.
11. See a show in a heated cube.
South Street Seaport has a new pop-up venue – a fully enclosed and heated cube – and they have a few family-friendly concerts in the line-up. Hear Bubble Do The Beatles sing everything from Revolver to Abbey Road or feel the reggae beats with B is for Bob, a Bob Marley kids show. Fulton St. between Water & South St., South Street Seaport.
12. Go rock climbing indoors.
Visit NYC’s biggest rock climbing gym – the 18,000 square foot Brooklyn Boulders. What’s great about this spot is that they have a special kid’s wall designed with easy climbs for children. 575 Degraw St., Gowanus, 347-834-9066.
13. Go for a spin at one of NYC’s newest ice skating rinks.
Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center at Lakeside is finally open for ice skating. The beautiful new outdoor center packs in double the fun with not one, but two outdoor ice skating rinks for practicing your figure eights – one covered and one uncovered where you can feel the warmth of the sun. Want to score a deal? Go on Monday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. (excluding holidays). Kids skate for free. Your admission is still $6 and skate rental is $5. 171 East Dr., Prospect Park.
14. See the Grand Central Train Show.
Never had a chance to catch one of NYC’s holiday train shows? There’s still time. The fabulous layout featuring vintage Lionel trains traveling through a two-level, 34-foot-long New York City and countryside scene, complete with rolling green hills and King Kong climbing a high-rise is on display through Feb. 23. Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall, 15 Vanderbilt Ave.
15. Embrace the snow.
Don’t grumble at the latest snowfall totals, instead get out those snow-pants, boots and mittens and head for the nearest sledding hill. Check out Red Tricycle’s list of the city’s top spots for sledding.
16. Meet a friend for coffee and let the toddlers tag along.
Gloomy winter days call for extra caffeine, right? Get out of the house for your next playdate and enjoy a cup of Joe at Brooklyn’s Iris Cafe. This coffee shop also offers artisanal provisions, including Iris’ signature granola and organic produce. Sit down and relax for awhile. Your kiddos won’t mind – there’s a toy kitchen for plenty of playtime fun. 20 Columbia Pl., Brooklyn Heights.
17. Take a road trip to Lake Placid.
If your kids got in the Olympic spirit, they’ll be thrilled to visit New York’s site of the 1980 Winter Olympics. While you’ll have to endure a 5-hour road trip, once there you can try a variety of athletic endeavors, one of the most alluring being the Bobsled Experience. For $75, kids ages 7 to 12 can take the same heart-pounding journey that the Olympians did. For teens ages 13 to 19, the cost jumps up to $80, and if you’re up for adventure too, you can give bobsledding a go for $85. 220 Bobsled Run Rd., Lake Placid, 518-523-4436.
Tell us about your favorite winter activities that keep your kids busy until spring.
— Julie Seguss
Images courtesy of Sahara Sam’s Oasis and AMNH.