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!
MulchFest 2018: If you celebrated Christmas and live near a New York City park, this weekend you and the kids can help the environment by disposing of your Christmas trees at one of the many mulching stations set up in NYC Parks by the New York City Department of Sanitation and GreeNYC. Trees can also be left curbside. But why not take a walk to the park with the tree in tow and pick up a bag of wood chips to use in your garden or pack around the tree in front of your home to create a snug winter bed. NYC Parks says more than 26,000 trees were recycled last year. Fnd a chipping location near your home here.
Climb the Wall: If you and the kids are experiencing a little cabin fever after this week's big snowstorm, head over to Brooklyn Boulders (BKB), the largest climbing gym, in New York City, featuring more than 18,000 square feet of bouldering and climbing walls and climbing classes for all skill levels. Climbing at BKB can help kids build self-confidence and persevere while getting a great full-body workout that will improve their problem-solving, concentration, movement, balance and spatial awareness skills. Adventure camps great for school holidays available in weeklong stints for $725 or single day adventures for $129.
Indoor Ice Skating: If your family loves to ice skate but is lukewarm about the winter cold, lace up your skates at City Ice Pavilion. Admission is $10 per person, skates can be rented for $6 but helmet rentals are no longer offered. Group skating and hockey lessons are offered along with school break programming, including a Martin Luther King Day camp, which will run Jan. 15 from 8:45 to noon with the option of concentrating on ice skating or hockey. Ages 4 and up welcome, $75 for the half day.
Get Arty: Your family can explore their creativity at the Brooklyn Museum’s Creativity Lab on Jan. 7 (from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, free with museum admission). A drop-in workshop for all ages, this weekend's Creativity Lab activity will encourage children to take inspiration from museum's galleries as they get messy, experiment with materials, and learn artistic techniques with a new project each month. Bring the whole family and stay as long as you’d like! Alternatively, if you want to combine your art appreciation with movement go on Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m., and have a family dance party to the funk rock–free jazz musical stylings of Sinkane, presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall.
Winter Walking Tours: Although the Brooklyn Botanic Garden really comes alive in spring and summer, there's still plenty of wildlife to observe here — birds, mammals, even insects — that remain active in winter. Check them all out on one of the Garden's First Sunday guided tours taking place this Sunday, from 11 a.m. to noon. If you prefer something indoors from 10 a.m. to noon, hands-on family programs for kids of all ages will focus on different winter themes each month in the Lillian and Amy Goldman Atrium
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.
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, 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 Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Ralph Selitzer, from Flickr