Kid-Friendly NYC: Managing the Freeze over Winter

There’s a chill in the air, and piles of snow on the ground. Christmas in New York is an exciting season! But what about all those additional months of deep-freeze? NYC can be toasty and fun outside in the chill throughout the winter, as well as inside at some seasonally special activities.

Go for the real-deal Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in early December


Christmas in the City

Everybody knows the magic of Christmas in New York! You’ve probably seen it in movies like Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alone: 2. So why not experience it for yourself?

Go for the real-deal Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in early December, or just stare in awe at the tree any night during the season for a gorgeous illumination of the plaza. This is Christmas headquarters, after all.

All kids should experience the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, perhaps the world’s first mash-up. The show has everything from Santa’s workshop to The Nutcracker, and even takes the audience back to the birth of Christ. Try a matinee so you can save time for ice-skating or tree-watching once the show is over.

Show your kids New York City in miniature at the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. See the city’s landmark buildings recreated in bark and leaves as model trains zoom through this mini-city. The show runs from late November until early January.

And of course, who could forget New York’s greatest holiday hero? Macy’s one true Santa Claus! Head to their flagship store on 34th Street to visit the 8th floor, Santaland and see the big man. He flies in on the heels of the Thanksgiving Day Parade and sees children all the way up to Christmas Eve.

The line to see Santa snakes through a magical forest with reindeer, animatronic trees, gingerbread men, and a giant train display, all navigated by elves. If waiting in line for three hours isn’t your idea of a great Saturday, arrive early on a weekday, or book an Express Pass time slot with Santa ahead of time online. You’ll only wait about 15 minutes, but you’ll miss some of Santaland, too.

Don’t miss New York’s favorite, The Rink at Rockefeller Center, open for a season that extends to April


Take on the Ice

Wintertime brings out a New Yorker’s favorite seasonal activity: Ice skating! Rinks all over the boroughs make for a family skating paradise, starting in October and usually wrapping up in March. While there are indeed, year-round options, the rinks-with-a-view are seasonal, so lace up your skates and put on your mittens to let the fun begin!

Don’t miss New York’s favorite, The Rink at Rockefeller Center, open for a season that extends to April. Admission and skate rentals are on the pricey side, so make this a special occasion. Visit New York’s only free rink (although there is still a hefty skate rental fee) at Bryant Park’s Winter Village for a similar big-city rink experience or take in the city from Central Park at the Wollman Rink, which rounds out Manhattan’s trio of rinks with a view.

Prospect Park’s Lefrak Center at Lakeside offers year round skating – of the “roller” variety in the summer, and “ice” variety in the winter at reasonable, non-Manhattan prices. The Abe Stark Skating Arena at Coney Island is another great seasonal rink, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more picturesque rink outside Manhattan than the World War II Veterans War Memorial Rink in Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island. Definitely worth the trip!

More Snowy Stuff

Bundle up your little munchkins and trek out to a sledding hill. While any hill at your local park works just fine, Central Park is (obviously) a prime choice. Pilgrim Hill, at 72nd Street on the east side of the park (where you’ll find a mountain of kids and their sleds,) is the best bet.

Trek north to Cedar Hill, between 76th and 79th Streets, for a few less kids and a few more rides. Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park and Forest Park in Queens are also popular sledding locations.

Find interactive science assignments for tots at the Queens Library’s Children’s Library Discovery Center


Warm Up with Stories

A cold winter is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to new chapter books. Hiding out with a cozy book in a comfy nook could hook them on reading for the long-term.

Head to your local library branch to bring some reading home, or check out library storytimes with little ones.

Find interactive science assignments for tots from 3 - 12 at the Queens Library’s Children’s Library Discovery Center, inside the central branch. The fun and educational science games and puzzles at the Discovery Center are brand new, but the databases, book lists, and storytimes are all classic library features that still work wonders.

Visit the Children’s Center at 42nd Street for a range of bookish fun at the Central Library’s Schwarzman Building. See the real-life Winnie the Pooh bear on display before your kids read all about him in A.A. Milne’s classic tale. Don’t forget the center’s collection of picture books for your youngest ones.

The BAMKids Film Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music is two days of film programming in February designed specifically for kids. Although it’s a different kind of storytelling, the festival highlights the best of children’s film festivals from around the world, and is sure to teach your kids something new.

Forage through 6,000 square feet of jungle in the greenhouse at Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Summer on the Inside

Indoor parks, anyone? New York has a surprising wealth of indoor public spaces in private office buildings and city-owned buildings all over the place.

Step out of the cold at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Tropical Pavilion inside the Conservatory. Forage through 6,000 square feet of jungle foliage under the steamy glass greenhouse. Head to the Rainforest Tropic Zone at the Central Park Zoo if your kids prefer to see lemurs and snakes in their jungles.

Need to get out of the house with your infant? Try the public winter garden at the Brookfield Place or the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. The ice cream parlor, café, and places to play at the base of Trump Tower also make for a good family indoor outing.

How do you and the kids celebrate winter in the city? Let us know in the comments below!

Tags : travel   NYC   New York   winter holidays   

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