Fun Things To Do with the Kids in New York City this Weekend, Dec. 15–17



Happy Weekend! We've rounded up loads of fun things to do if you and the kids will be spending it in New York City. So break out those UNICEF Kid Power Bands and head on out to any or all of these fun and cultural family attractions happening in the Big Apple this weekend!

The NutcrackerStudents from the Joffrey Ballet School’s Ballet Trainee, Children’s and Youth Ballet program will present the full two act holiday tradition. Performances run Friday, at 7pm; Saturday, at 2pm and 7pm; and Sunday at 1pm and 5pm. To purchase tickets, click here.

The World's Largest Menorahs: Both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Grand Army Plazas have contenders for the title. And this is the weekend to check them out! Across the street from The Plaza hotel is Manhattan's, a 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel version that is illuminated around 5:30 PM daily, 3:30 PM on Friday and 8 PM on Saturday. Across the East River, at the top of Prospect Park stands Brooklyn's entrant, which you and the kids can find illuminated at 6 PM most evenings, with Friday’s at 3:30pm and Saturday’s at 7pm. 

Westfield World Trade Center's #HowDoYouHoliday: If you haven't checked it out yet, the Oculus is holiday central with a bunch of activities the kids are bound to enjoy, from an exclusive holiday concert series spotlighting how the holiday season is celebrated by diverse cultures and communities, to an animated GIF photo booth and holiday arts and crafts. For a complete schedule of storytelling sessions and free screenings of movie classics at the Atom Tickets pop-up theater go here.

Ice skating in Wollman Rink: New Yorkers have been skating in Wollman Rink since 1949 and families have been flocking to it ever since. Nestled at the base of Central Park, the rink is less than a five-minute walk from the park's south entrance at W. 59th Street and 6th Avenue and offers ice hockey, a skating school, party facilities, skate rentals, lockers — plus if you go at night and magical chance to glide around under the stars and enjoy amazing views of the Manhattan skyline at every turn.

Broadway Under the Stars: Taking the whole family to a Broadway show is a pricey affair, but if you want to catch snippets of some of the most family friendly shows now playing on the Great White Way, head to the Time Warner Center for Broadway Under the Stars for the last free performance of its series on Monday December 11 at 5 pm. The show will feature songs from the musicals SpongeBob SquarePants, Once on This Island and A Bronx Tale. 

Holiday Window Walk: New York City is famous for its holiday window displays and, as luck would have it, the roundtrip walk between the most spectacular will give you and the kids a nice little workout! So put on those UNICEF Kid Power Bands and make a big loop. Begin with the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue (50 St. and Fifth Ave.), where it's a "Snow White" Christmas. Work your way down Fifth Ave. — don't miss the Rockefeller Center tree! —to Lord and Taylor at 39 St., where high-fiving polar bears, a retro circus and Santa make an appearance in the store's 80th annual window display. Next walk west to 6th Ave. and 34 St. to check out Macy's seven windows worth of stuffed teddy bears cavorting amidst a riot of holiday gifts. Last stop, if the kids are up for it, is 7th Ave. to Barneys Downtown, at 17th St., where somehow the creative geniuses The Haas Brothers have managed to make creepy crawlies feel downright festive! 

Winter Village at Bryant Park: It’s official: Winter Village at Bryant Park’s 17,000 square foot ice skating rink is open and the holidays are here! The Rink, New York City’s only free public ice skating rink, nestled in one of the city’s most charming parks, also offers skate rentals, holiday shops and a pop-up eatery, Public Fare, for an après-skate snack or hot chocolate.


Holiday Train Show at Grand Central:  The railroad enthusiasts in your family, big and small, won't want to miss the 16th annual model train show, which is back at the New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central outpost. Take a gander at the 34-foot-long, two-level, “O” gauge model train layout with vintage Lionel model trains navigating around a miniature Big Apple, including through GCT itself, and straight on up to the North Pole. The train show is on display 7 days a week until early February, and it’s free!

Prospect Park: The park has a wonderful zoo, plenty of trees to climb, green fields perfect for picnics, playgrounds — and a fave with the neighborhood's canines: Dog Beach. For more familiy friendly fun, the Prospect Park Alliance offers interesting programming at the Prospect Park Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House, both conveniently located near the Prospect Park Carousel

Brooklyn Bridge: Walk it, run it, jog it, bike it - this is a must do. The approximately 1.3 mile-long stretch high above the East River affords incredible panoramic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It could take you thirty minutes to wander across but build in some extra time to stand and take it all in. If you’re walking from the Manhattan side over to Brooklyn, stick to the right hand side for a great shot of the skyline and Statue of Liberty.

Central Park: How many different playgrounds are there in Central Park? Twenty one. There’s a wonderful array of spaces and fun activities for kids of all ages. Among our favorites are the Ancient Playground, the Diana Ross Playground and the Tarr Family Playground. There’s more family fun to be had at the Zoo, the Marionette Theater and the Wollman Ice Rink during the holidays. In the sunny months renting a bike is well worth it, especially since cars are banned from the Park during weekends.

Bronx Zoo: If watching acrobatic lemurs and feeding lions is your thing, then America’s largest zoo is the place to be for a whole day! Home to some 4,000 animals, the Bronx Zoo is a great place to rack up UNICEF Kid Power points wandering the many paths in your quest to see as many animals as possible. Be sure to visit Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest. For weary legs, there’s a tram and monorail!

The Highline: In 1934 the Highline opened to trains and in 1980 the last train ran its course on the overhead freight tracks (carrying three carloads of frozen turkeys)! Fast-forward thirty years, the entire structure of the tracks has been retrofitted to create a  beautiful walkway offering incredible views of the Hudson and Chelsea stands. Open all year round, the Highline has  multiple tours on offer, lots of art and culture and long open stretches for must-not-miss views of the beautiful Hudson, busy river traffic and New Jersey!

Photo of Rockefeller Plaze by Shannon McGee., from Flickr; Grand Central Holiday Train Show photo from New York City Transit Museum