The Big Apple is rife with leisure opportunities for grown-ups; the city streets are crawling with fun, relaxation, and culture options from Broadway and fashion shows, to galleries and foodie havens. But what about families with young kids? The ones with parents who want to creatively disguise learning opportunities as fun – yes, we’re talking to you! In this article we’d like to arm you with a few cool ideas for things to do in New York with kids. We know that in addition to homework and chores, your kids would probably snort at the suggestion of doing an educational activity in their free time… but they don’t need to know, do they? Enjoy!
1. American Museum of Natural History
Home to one of the largest dinosaur fossil collections in the world, the American Museum of Natural History is certainly one of the top things to do in New York with kids. Conveniently located in Central Park West, the museum hosts a fairly new Hall of Human Origins, which contains an internationally comprehensive display of Neanderthals – a sight strange enough to leave your kids with tilted heads and curious minds! Also, their Discovery Room is an interactive must-see for kids ages 5 to 12. More info here.
2. ABT Kids
Did you know that the American Ballet Theatre has a mid-year initiative to introduce little ones to the sophisticated world of American ballet? Showcasing performances by their top dancers, ABT presents one-hour shows at the Metropolitan Opera House designed for families with kids ages 4 to 12. If you arrive early, you can also sign up for a pre-performance workshop, which is an interactive introduction to what you’re about to see on stage. Your little one will also learn a basic warm-up and mini choreography.
If you’re looking for things to do in New York with kids, taking private lessons is a fantastic option for long-term learning. Depending on your interests, you can find one-on-one lessons for music, language, drama, computers, and much more. Browse teacher profiles online, and then filter through your preferred budget, location and times. Start your search here.
4. Queens Botanical Garden
This magical garden is located at 43-50 Main St in Queens, and is open Tuesday through Sunday of each week. Plenty of disguised learning can be done through their guided tours. Because the botanical displays vary each season, the garden offers a unique learning experience with your little ones during every visit. A popular stop is the permanent Bee Garden, which contains actual working hives; you can also swing by around the end of April for their annual Arbor Festival. It’s a good chance to get those green thumbs dirty, while enjoying crafts, face painting, and live music. More info here.
5. DiMenna Children’s History Museum
As far as local history and culture museums go, this is one of Central Park’s most kid-friendly options. This bright and interactive museum is the ideal spot to learn about the history and culture of New York; kids can explore a variety of hands-on exhibits, as well as huddle up for a surreal story session. And if you want to be those super cool parents who encourage learning while partying, this museum also hosts birthday parties where younger kids can go on a history hunt and slightly older kids get to try their hand at a history expedition – certainly one of the coolest things to do in New York with kids. More info here.
6. Museum of the Moving Image
Now this is something radical for little movie buffs. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens has a completely renovated core exhibit called “Behind the Screen” that allows kids to play with sound effects, and even add their own touches and voices to scenes from their favorite movies. It also hosts over 1,400 fascinating artifacts! The best part is that your little one will be learning about live video editing and experiencing what it feels like to be a movie director – all the while not realizing how educational the process is! More info on family memberships here.
7. Liberty Science Center
Open Tuesday through Sunday in Jersey City, the Liberty Science Center puts a fun spin on educational things to do in New York with kids throughout the year. With unique exhibits on human communication methods and “I Explore” for younger scientists, this science center encourages healthy curiosity and scientific reasoning. More info here.
As you can see, The Big Apple is full of both fun and educational activities for the whole family. Go on, take a bite – you may even learn a thing or two while enjoying these special moments with your little ones!
Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius