You won’t run out of things to do in New York City with kids during Spring Break! Whether it’s your big vacation getaway if you’re traveling from afar or it’s your reluctant staycation if you live here, there’s a plenty to see, do and eat. Here are 23 activities that will appeal to locals and visitors alike who need to entertain their children.
1. Go to to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Why lead with the obvious? Because you could probably spend the whole two weeks at The Met and not run out of things to see. Even the youngest children will enjoy throwing pennies into the fountain at the Temple of Dendur. For older children, the sky’s the limit. You should be able to complement anything that they’ve been learning at school with a corresponding exhibit.
2. Try to find the best pizza. NYC is the pizza capital of the world, so enjoy indulging in the kids’ favorite foods. Have fun trying out different pizza places. Bonus points if it take you to a new neighborhood to explore.
3. Try to find the best cupcake. What are you going to have for dessert after pizza? It’s probably going to be too cold for ice cream.
4. Or even better, have a macaron from Laduree. They’re flown in directly from Paris!
5. See a marionette show at The Swedish Cottage in Central Park. This is probably best for ages 2-8. The adorable cottage is hidden away in Central Park. Right now, “Jack and the Beanstalk” is showing.
7. Take a Circle Line Cruise around the city. Being on a boat is so much fun for kids. And lest you think that it’s something that a local wouldn’t do, my mother (lifelong New Yorker) requested to do this for her 60th birthday.
8. If you’re here on March 17th, watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s the largest in the world. Warning: the streets and bars close to the parade route can get a little, shall we say, rowdy.
9. Go to the Natural History Museum and marvel at the massive dinosaurs. Jaded older kids will love Dark Universe at the Hayden Planetarium. It’s suitable for children over four.
10. Or venture further afield to the New York Hall of Science in Queens. There a lot of great hands-on exhibits that explain scientific and mathematic principles. And it’s fun to walk around the rockets out in front of the museum.
11. If the weather is nice, try to find the Bubble Man in Central Park. He lives up to his moniker by making giant bubbles, and it’s mesmerizing for kids (and adults) of all ages.
12. Check out the new grizzly bears at the Central Park Zoo. The Polar Bear’s lair was empty for over a year after his death. The Central Park Zoo is relatively small (about 90 minutes max) so for a longer, more intense zoo experience head to the Bronx Zoo.
13. Visit Eloise at The Plaza Hotel. At the very least, take a look at her oil portrait hanging by the Palm Court. The Eloise shop is fun, but it could be an expensive visit. Stop and have lunch or a snack at the Plaza food court — one of my favorite market’s in New York. If you really want to splurge, book a night at The Eloise Suite designed by Betsey Johnson.
14. Play around at the fancy new Lego flagship store in the Flatiron district. Bonus points if you eat at Eataly or Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
15. Walk along The Highline, a public park on a former elevated freight train tracks. It runs from Gansevoort to 34th Street on the West Side. It won’t be in bloom yet but it should still be enjoyable.
16. If your Spring Break falls over Easter, then you can enjoy the wacky hats at the Easter Day parade. New Yorkers’ creative talent is on display as the fearless and the fashionable flaunt their hats down Fifth Avenue.
17. The New York Transit Museum feels geared toward kids, but any adult that likes nostalgia will enjoy wandering in and out of vintage subways cars from decades ago. I love seeing the city buses that I used to ride in the 1980s. It’s located in a defunct subway station in Brooklyn.
18. After a three-year renovation, The Cooper Hewitt reopened in December and Carnegie’s mansion has never looked better. The design museum has a “Process Lab” for kids and an “Immersion Room” where they can create digital wallpaper.
19. Tugboats used to rule the East River and the Hudson. Now only a handful of these workhorse boats remain, but it’s fun to spot them on the East River from the promenade in Carl Schurz Park. The mayor’s mansion is at the north end of the park.
20. For an unusual view of Manhattan, take the Roosevelt Tram over the East River to Roosevelt Island. There’s not much to do on Roosevelt Island, so it’s all about the journey for this cost-effective activity.
21. Go to a Broadway matinee, as long as your child is over four (and some require over age five but you most likely won’t carded). Don’t wait on the TKTS line at Times Square with complaining kids, buy online at a variety of discount websites instead.
22. The Statue of Liberty is a trek and most locals leave this one to be ticked off as a school trip. If you’re having a staycation, then you’ll feel like you actually went somewhere if you venture to Ellis Island. If you’re just visiting, well, you don’t want to miss Lady Liberty.
23. The Children’s Museum of Art is a hands-on art experience that’s best for ages 2-8. This Tribeca newcomer is pretty cool, and it’s a great staycation activity for uptowners like me. It’s a brave new world in Lower Manhattan!
Think you’d rather leave New York City for Spring Break? Check out my ideas for 18 Easy NYC Getaways With and Without a Car.