What’s that saying?: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone? Believe it or not, spring really is just around the corner, and we dug up tons of ways to welcome the warmer temps, soft breezes, and burgeoning blooms in the city. From bird-watching to carousels, art projects and digging in the dirt, here are more than 20 activities you and the brood can check out from now through April. Get growing!

FAP Family Rootsphoto: Wave Hill

Head to Wave Hill in the Bronx for Nature and Art Projects
Visit this 28-acre public garden and cultural center for signs of spring, views of the Hudson River and Palisades, and weekend family art projects throughout the season. Projects include decorating terracotta pots (March 14 & 15), making orchid prints (March 21 & 22) and creating a birdy pamphlet book (April 7).The family art project is free with admission.

West 249th Street and Independence Avenue
Tickets: $8/adults; $2/children over six; free/children under six and members
Online: wavehill.org

 photo: Ed Holmes/Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Register for one of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden classes
Children have been tending their own garden plots in BBG’s Children’s Garden for 100 years. Spring and summer classes find kids planting, tending and harvesting their own crops under the guidance of BBG instructors. Other activities include scavenger hunts, crafts, cooking and more.  Classes for two and three-year-olds are attended with a caregiver; classes for older children are drop-off.

150 Eastern Parkway
Crown Heights
Online: bbg.org

Help Keep Central Park in Tip Top Shape
Spend quality time with the family helping keep Central Park green by spreading mulch or raking leaves. Led by environmental educators, “Keeping it Green for Families” is a family-only event that features projects located throughout the Park. (Appropriate for kids ages five and up. Space is limited and advance registration is required.)

Every other Sunday, March 15 – June 21, 10:00 am – noon
Online: centralparknyc.org 

Make a Spring-inspired Craft at Michael’s
March or April showers? No problem! Stop by any Michael’s location to make a fun spring craft such as an Easter Bunny T-shirt (March 21, 1-4 p.m.), tissue paper flowers (March 14, 10 a.m. –noon), crayon resist cards (March 21, 10 a.m.-noon), and a pom pom baby chick (March 28, 10 a.m. –noon). Ages three and up; cost from $2 -$10.

Locations throughout NYC area: michaels.com


photo: Central Park Conservancy

Go on a Discovery Walk in Central Park
Bring your family for a guided Discovery Walk in the Park and take part in hands-on exploration led by Central Park Conservancy educators and Discovery Guides. Park locales include the Ramble (March 22), Harlem Meer and North Woods (April 5) and the 59th Street Pond and Hallet Sanctuary (April 9). Families only; maximum of three children per parent or guardian; for ages five and older. Families interested in participating in a Discovery Walk can visit our calendar for upcoming dates.

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photo: Paul Martinka/Prospect Park Alliance

 Take a ride on the Prospect Park Carousel on its opening day March 26 (or any day this spring). 

Tickets: $2/ride
Prospect Park, Willink entrance at Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard
Online: prospectpark.org

Help the Prospect Park Alliance Prep for Spring
During this day of volunteer service, families and elementary-aged youth groups are invited to help prepare the Park for spring by raking leaves and other activities. Learn the value of service and meet other families and children. Refreshments provided; register online.

March 29, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
9th Street Entrance
Prospect Park
Online: prospectpark.org


photo: Ashley Rehnblom via Flickr

See the Butterflies at the American Museum of Natural History
Haven’t seen the butterflies yet? What are you waiting for? (Also: now’s the time to make a reservation for sleepovers at the museum in May — those sell out fast!)

The Butterfly Conservatory at The American Museum of Natural History
Through May 25
Central Park West at 79th St.
Upper West Side
Online: amnh.org

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photo: Paul Martinka/Prospect Park Alliance

Head to Prospect Park to plant the first crop of the season and all things spring
Join the Prospect Park Alliance for a celebration of spring from April 3-5. Activities include a family-friendly “Nature on the Go” walk with an alliance naturalist; an intro to bird–watching; creating a nature journal and learning to use binoculars and field guides at the Audubon Center and planting the first crop of the season — flax — at the Lefferts Historic House.

Plus: On every Saturday and Sunday in April, the Lefferts Historic House hosts “Spring Sprouts,” at which kids can make a small pot out of newspaper, fill it with soil and plant an herb seed to take home. ($3 suggested donation.)

April 3-5
Prospect Park
Online: prospectpark.org


photo: Steven Depolo via Flickr

Go on an Egg Hunt at the Queens County Farm Museum
It’s all things eggs on April 4 at the farm museum: egg hunting, egg tossing, egg rolling. Plus, visits with the farm animals, hayrides and dancing the bunny hop.

April 4, noon-4 p.m.
$5 (free with farm membership)
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Online: queensfarm.org

Experience the “Enchantment of the Earth” at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
This seed planting ceremony in the museum’s outdoor garden celebrates the opening of a site-specific art project of The Touchstone Center for Children. Ceramicist Carol Grocki Lewis has created a series of ceramic “seed vessels” to accompany Richard Lewis’s poem Enchantments of the Earth. Plant a seed for the garden – and discover the marvel of its growing – through science and the voice of poetry.

April 4, 2:00-2:45 p.m.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
Online: brooklynkids.og

Hunt for Easter Eggs in a Victorian House
Bring an egg carton to Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town on April 4 to decorate in high Victorian style and transform it into a festive egg-holder for six candy-filled eggs. The Easter Bunny will also be on hand as kids search a Victorian town house decorated for spring. Recommended for children ages three and up; refreshments will be served. Pre-paid advance registration required; call 718-351-1611 x270 to sign up.

Historic Richmond Town
April 4
11 a.m. -1:40 p.m.
Members: $9/kids, free/adults; non-members: $10/kids; $5/adults
441 Clarke Ave.
Staten Island
Online: historicrichmondtown.org


Make nature-inspired art at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Weekend morning art projects include “Buzzing Bees”, “Blooming Blossoms” and “Easter Egg Spin Art.”

Saturdays & Sundays throughout March and April
Tickets: kids and adults/$11; kids under 12 and members: free
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Online: cmom.org

Say “Whee!” at the Queens County Farm Museum Children’s Carnival
Carnival rides touch down in the apple orchard, along with midway games and prizes, hayrides and kids’ entertainment.

April 11 & 12; 18 & 19, 11 a.m. -6 p.m.
Tickets: $12/person includes unlimited rides; free for members
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy
Online: queensfarm.org

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photo: New York Botanical Garden

Dig in the dirt at the New York Botanic Garden
The NYBG’s Howell Family Garden is a place where kids are encouraged to get involved (and perhaps a little messy) with daily interactive gardening activities from April 4 – May 3 from 1:30-6 p.m. Check out the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden  for additional spring activities for kids, including helping birds build nests and receiving a nesting bag to take back to your neighborhood. (Got a little green thumb in the family? Check out the garden’s spring and summer classes for kids as young as three years old!)

New York Botanical Garden
Tickets: $20/adults; $8/kids two-12; free/kids under two and members
2900 Southern Blvd.
Online: nybg.org 


Sign up to spend a night at the Queens Zoo
Experience the Queens Zoo after hours! On May 16 and  June 6, families with kids four and older will be treated to fun-filled activities, such as learning about animal diets, preparing animal enrichment treats, a late night walk in the Aviary, and meeting some animals up close. You supply your own tent, sleeping bags,and picnic dinner, while beverages, dessert, late-night snack and breakfast are be provided. (No need for alarm clocks, the zoo’s vocal parrots provide the wake-up call.) Register online.

Queens Zoo Overnight Adventure
53-51 111th St.
Corona, Ny
Online: queenszoo.com


photo: ilovebutter via Flickr

Meet chickens from a farm in Brooklyn
A farm in Brooklyn? With real, live chickens? Drop by the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to meet special guest and local urban farmer, Yon Fleming, and her friendly chickens from Bed-Stuy’s Hattie Carthan Community Garden.

April 8
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
Online: brooklynkids.og

Go Bird Watching for Free in Prospect Park
Head to the Prospect Park Audubon Center for its free monthly bird watching tour for families. Get a quick lesson on how to use binoculars, then head out to identify some of the 250 species that call the park home.

April 11, 10-11 a.m.
Online: prospectpark.org

Birding Walk

photo: Wave Hill

Check out Spring Wings Week at Wave Hill in the Bronx
Welcome back feathered friends at Wave Hill’s Spring Wings Week. Naturalist and educator Gabriel Willow will lead a bird-centric Chirps and Tweets family walk through the gardens and woodlands. (For ages six and older with an adult.) Or help create a giant outdoor bird’s nest with visiting artist and sculptor Matt Bua, using sticks, leaves, grasses and found feathers. Both activities are free with admission to the garden.

April 11 & 12
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue
Tickets: $8/adults; $2/children over six; free/children under six and members
Online: wavehill.org


photo: Alonso Javier Torres via Flickr

Explore the Woods of Central Park with the Woodlands Discovery Club for Families
Discover rocks, trees, soil, and squirrels in New York City’s greatest outdoor classroom – Central Park! Woodlands Discovery Club for Families is the perfect adventure for families looking to get out of the house and explore a woodland without ever leaving the city. In each weekly two-hour session, families will learn together and connect with nature through hands-on science activities, using tools from your very own Discovery Kits! Activities are correlated to state and national learning standards. Five-week sessions take place in the park’s North Woods and begin April 18 and May 30. For families with children grades 1 through 4. Register here.

Salute the Earth with Fish, Raptors and a “Bash the Trash” Parade
Celebrate Earth Day at the Prospect Park Audubon Center with fishing lessons, a bird of prey “Raptor Meet and Greet,” caring for the lakeshore by spreading mulch, and creating instruments out of recycled materials and jamming out in a performance and parade led by “Bash the Trash.”

April 19, 1-4 p.m.
Propect Park Audubon Center
Online: prospectpark.org

Have Old School Fun at Street Games in Harlem
No screens to be seen! Check out all kinds of street games, from pogo sticks, hula hoops and yo-yos, to street hockey, kickball, hippity-hop and relay races. Kids can learn to ride a bike (bring your own bike and helmet), attend a skateboarding clinic and check out a soap box derby. Local radio stations will be on hand spinning tunes, and there will also be live performances by acts including the Dance Theater of Harlem.

April 25
11 a.m. -3 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson Park
114th St. and First Ave.


photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

See the Cherry Blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Attend the Sakura Matsuri, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual celebration of Japanese culture and the cherry blossom season on April 25 and 26.

April 25 & 26, 10 a.m. -6 p.m.
Tickets: $12/adults; free/kids under 12 & members
150 Eastern Pkwy.
Crown Heights
Online: bbg.org


How do you welcome spring in NYC? Let us in on it in the comments!

—Mimi O’Connor