The most wonderful time of the year can certainly turn into the most stressful if you don’t put together some sort of a plan for your kids over the holiday break. After the high of the holidays wears off, you and your brood will likely be sitting around wishing for something to do. That’s where we come in! Winter break for New York City public school students runs from Dec 24, 2018 to Jan 1, 2019, so that means there’s plenty of opportunity for some fun. Check out these 26 things to do with kids during the holiday break!
1. Go to Camp!
Tailor-made for hanging with the kids when school is out, the Flatiron District's CAMP bills itself as a "family experience store", combining merchandise, experience, play, and media. What does that look like? 10,000 square feet of activities, entertainment, and yes, cool stuff to buy, all in a super kid-friendly camp-themed (summer camp, that is) environment.
Visitors start out in "the canteen", a fun general store type of space, but things get crazy when a secret door is opened, revealing the camp-tastic playground. Activities and events range from free to $25 and up, with workshops for kids ages four and older. Examples include "Sew & Glow Light Up Patch" with Tech Will Save Us, "Classic Camp Lanyard Weaving" with Kid Made Modern, "Embroider Your Own Merit Badge", and "Make Your Own Lip Gloss" with Taste Beauty. Events include concerts, performances (Story Pirates!), book signings, and more. Also: there's a Milk Bar inside camp, and an exclusive Camp-themed sundae!
The best news? Camp is here to stay, and will change themes every eight to 12 weeks, meaning you can come back in spring and have a whole new batch of fun!
Hours: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m./weekdays; 9 a.m. - 10 p.m./Sat.. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m./Sun.
110 5th Ave.
2. Get Rolling with at the New Dreamland Roller Disco at Industry City
Lace up and rock out at the new Dreamland Roller Disco at Industry City from the skate-tacular Lola Star. Kids over 7 are welcome to skate at the Roll-a-Rama Family Skate Extravaganza every Saturday from 1-4 p.m. and the our Dreamland Discoteque, every Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and include skate rental; $18 walk-up admission. And yes, they are doing birthday parties and lessons!
Note: To get to the rink, enter at 274 36th and walk through the Building 2 Food Hall. Then cross through the courtyard to Building 1. Make a slight right and enter at the courtyard entrance to the rink.
274 36th Ave.
3. Celebrate Mickey's 90th Birthday
New York City's newest pop-up honors everyone's favorite mouse, Mickey! This 16,000-square-foot. exhibit showcases how Mickey started out, tracking his evolution up until today. It includes many interactive experiences for kids and adults alike. It runs through Feb. 2019, so the holiday break is a perfect time to catch it before it leaves town.
60 10th Ave.
4. Learn to be a spy
SPYSCAPE now offers a spy school for kids in middle school and older. The afternoon program includes make and break WWII codes, learn how to detect lies and more. The program is free for kids, but they must be accompanied by a paid ticket holder. Read our full story about SPYSCAPE here!
928 8th Ave.
5. Check out the Brooklyn Children's Museum's new exhibit "TapeScape"
Got tape? The BCM does—miles and miles of it. The new exhibit "TapeScape" is a playspace for kids made entirely from tape. The exhibit is about 400 square feet and includes tons of tunnels for kids (and adults) to crawl through and explore.
145 Brooklyn Ave.
6. Play Doctor with Doc McStuffins
The Liberty Science Center has a new Doc McStuffin's exhibit where kids can throw on a white coat and perform "check ups" on various toys, groom toy pets at the Pet Vet, feed baby toys in the nursery, and learn all about health and wellness in this interactive exhibit.
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
7. Visit the Brooklyn Cat Cafe's new location (and maybe take home a new friend!)
The Brooklyn Cat Cafe has moved! Formerly on Atlantic Avenue, you'll now find it in a new and improved space (where increased events and activities are promised) on Montague Street. Note that it's closed Monday and Tuesday and it's adults only after 5:30 Thursdays and Saturdays.
Brooklyn Cat Cafe
76 Montague St.
8. Unleash your inner artist at CMoM
The exhibit "Art, Artists & You", at the Children's Museum of Manhattan encourages kids to become part of the art process by working on stop motion animation, crafting a model of a pet, or contributing to a wall hanging. The goal of the exhibit is to promote self-expression through art and it runs through the end of December.
212 West 83rd St.
Upper West Side
9. Fight brain drain at the Museum of Illusions
Not just another Insta-bait installation, The Museum of Illusions invites visitors to explore more than 70 elements and experiences that include "illusionistic rooms", optical illusions, and puzzles. Every "piece" in the museum is accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of what is causing or creating the illusion; mathematical, biological, and psychological concepts are all touched upon, as are perception, vision, and how the human brain works. This museum is an outstanding (and very fun) way to engage kids with complex scientific principles, and help them understand through experience. But yeah, there are cool photo ops, too.
Tickets: $19/adults; $15/kids six - 15; $17/students, seniors, military; $53/family of four
Daily, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
77 Eighth Ave.
10. Check out one of NYC's many ice rinks
Winter in NYC means it's time to lace up those skates and hit the ice. While you can expect droves of tourists at various ice rinks leading up to Christmas, once the holiday passes the venues clear out making it a great place to spend the day. Check out our list of NYC ice skating rinks —including its newest at the Seaport's Pier 17 (shown here)—and pick your fave.
11. Get your sled on
Don't forget—it might snow! If so, grab your sled, bundle up, and get ready to to sled a hill or two. If you're not sure where to go, check out our list of great sledding spots in NYC.
12. Catch a flick (or three)
Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet, The Grinch, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse! So many movies, so much time! Also, so many deluxe movie theaters for kids and families in NYC. The Nitehawk Cinema Prospect Park finally opened its doors, there's a new dine-in theater on the Upper East Side, and Alamo Draft House offers cheap seats ($1-$5) on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve for special screenings. Click here to find all of NYC's family-friendly theaters!
13. Warm up at an indoor playground
If your kids are suffering from cabin fever, take them to a local indoor playspace so they can burn off some of that excess energy. Kids can climb and jump their little hearts out, without the worry of wrecking your furniture. Check out this list of the best indoor playgrounds in NYC. For our favorite Brooklyn spots, click here. For our favorite Queens spots, go here!
14. Enjoy "Hug Time" with the Trolls
Celebrate Poppy's Best Day Ever at this interactive and very colorful experience. Troll lovers will get to dance and hug and sing with their favorite characters from this adorable film. Move through different experiences such as Branch’s Musical Mash-Up and the Caterbus. You can even upgrade your experience to get decked out like your favorite Troll!
15. Check out GingerBread Lane
There's still time to head over to NYSCI for some educational fun and to check out this year's GingerBread Lane. (FYI: They give it all away on January 21 on a first-come, first-served basis.) GingerBread Lane is the record-holder of the Guinness World Records for largest gingerbread village and year after year creator Jon Lovitch bakes and builds the entire thing from scratch. This year's storefronts include Pickles and Ice Cream Pregnancy Boutique, 8 Maids a Milking Dairy and Milk Bar, 6 Geese a Laying Brunch Café, 5 Golden Rings Jewelry Store. The exhibit is free with museum admission.
47-01 111th St.
16. Visit NYC's most famous tree
Likewise, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is also hanging around until January 7. If you want to avoid the holiday crowds, you likely won't make it to Rockefeller Center before Christmas, but after Christmas, the crowds lessen significantly, making it a great time to play tourist in your hometown. Marvel at the famous tree, then stop and watch the ice skaters down below.
17. Stop by NYC's newest toy store
While your'e there, don't forget to check out the new FAO Schwarz, which reopened on Nov. 16 in a 20,000-square-foot space in Rockefeller Center. The iconic Fifth Avenue location closed its doors in 2015 but many of the fixtures we know and love are back including the clock tower, the large piano, and the toy soldiers that you can pose for pictures with! New to this location are the interactive experiences for kids and families such as a Build-a-Bear workshop, a Transformers shop, and a Melissa & Doug grocery store. Read our full review here!
20 Rockefeller Plaza
18. Brush up on your Jewish history
If your family doesn't celebrate Christmas, why not head over to the Jewish Museum, the Museum at Eldridge Street, or, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which are all open on Christmas Day? You can learn all about Jewish traditions with a tour or an arts and craft project at one of these amazing museums.
1109 5th Ave
Upper East Side
Museum at Eldridge Street
12 Eldridge St.
Lower East Side
Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Pl.
19. Take a trip to Japan—without the airfare
Head to Sunset Park to New York's first Japanese food hall, which opened in November. Eleven vendors pack Industry City's 20,000-square-foot food market. Foodies can try everything from soba and udon noodles to grilled chicken skewers and sashimi. Guests can also shop in he famed Sunrise Mart, which will house its very own butcher shop and tofu market.
934 3rd Avenue
20. Try a New Escape Room at Shipwrecked Escape Deck
New York City's newest escape rooms are at mini golf fave Shipwrecked in Red Hook. Shipwrecked Escape Deck is on the mezzanine level of the building and there are three rooms to choose from: Haunted, Mission Reactor, and Temple Escape. Teams of five people have 25 minutes to solve a room, and we won't lie: we tried two (Mission Reactor and Temple Escape) and they are hard! You do get to ask for up to three clues to give you some hints and help, but be forewarned. If you want to have a private game, you need to buy out the whole room of five spots, and groups with kids under 13 must buy the whole room. (You do get a discount if you do.) Parties with kids under 13 must have an adult for every two children.
Tickets: $19/person with bulk discounts
621 Court St.
21. Enjoy the magic of Harry Potter in NYC
If you've got a Harry Potter lover on your hands, head over to the NY Historical Society to check out their latest exhibit, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. (Heads up: it closes January 27!) It features rare books, manuscripts, drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay. Potterheads will be absolutely thrilled by this exhibit. Read our full review here!
Oct. 5, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019
Hours: Tues, Thurs and Sat 10 a. m. – 6 p. m., Fri 10 a. m. – 8 p. m., Sun 11 a. m. – 5 p. m. Closed Mon.
170 Central Park West
at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
22. Chug along to a train show
It's a holiday tradition, but that doesn't mean you can't go see these after the holidays have died down. Grand Central's 17th annual show is free and centrally located. Can't get enough? Check out the impressive annual train show in the Bronx at the New York Botanical Garden.
Grand Central Terminal
89 E 42nd St.
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd.
23. Take an art workshop
If your kid loves to get creative, enrolling them in an art camp during the holiday break is a great choice. Kids at Art NYC is holding art camps Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-4, from 9am-12pm each day. Kids can learn mask-making, puppet-making, and papier mache. Camps are $95 each.
Kids at Art
1412 2nd Ave.
Upper East Side
24. Brush up on your STEM skills
More the science type? NORY is offering various holiday break camps for kids ages 3-7, with a focus on STEM skills. Camps explore the new science of physical computing through advanced robotic projects, or bringing gadgets to life with electrical engineering and hardware code. Kids can also learn how to program electronics using an Arduino board, a little electronic circuit board designed specifically for building electronics projects. Camp is offered at three different locations through out the city; the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, and Downtown at the Pine Street School.
25. Welcome The Big Apple Circus back
After a bout with bankruptcy, NYC's hometown gang of clowns, acrobats, and trapeze artists are back and better than ever. The show has a brand new look and new acts to boot, but it is still quintessentially New York and makes for a great time. You can catch the show through Jan. 27.
62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
Upper West Side
26. Join the circus in BK
From Dec. 26- 30 The Muse in Brooklyn will run its Kid Camp: Winter Edition. Kids will learn skills such as aerial silks, trapeze, juggling, hula hooping, circus arts, building, and set painting. The camp culminates with a show on the last day, which parents are invited to.
Late registration: $620 per week
Single-Day registration: $130 per day
350 Moffat St.