I love holiday season in NYC. When everything is lit up and extra sparkly there is something magical about walking down even the most crowded midtown sidewalks – most of the time. The best part of the season in NYC is all of the fantastic kid-centric happenings all over town. From Christmas Tree Lightings to fanciful window gazing, ice skating to trains shows and of course, museums and theater to keep you warm and entertained.
My first pick if you are here is The New Victory Theater. You can always count on top quality, beautifully produced and reasonably priced theater for kids ages 3-16 and adults. One of my favorite things about the New Vic is their program guide, which truthfully describes the age range for each show. This is so important when taking your child to the theater – don’t ignore it! Also, they have big, giant booster cushions for little ones and many shows are about an hour with no intermission – perfect for jam-packed holiday days and for kids with shorter attention spans. It’s a fantastic way to take your kid to the theater. Check out their latest production Untapped for seriously cool tap dance performances – this is not your Shirley Temple homage. Up next is the Chinese acrobatic circus, Cirque Shanghai. Always a crowd pleaser!
Here is my rundown of favorite year-round places and things to do in NYC with kids. This is an evolving and growing resource that I will add to weekly. Right now, I’ve begun with the neighborhood I know best with kids – the Upper West Side.
Feel free to comment and add your own fave finds to the list!
Time Out Kids NY – the best guide to what is happening every day in NYC for kids and parents.
New York Magazine Kids – another great guide to what’s happening now
New York Family – a website with a very local, authentic bent
On the Upper West Side:
American Museum Of Natural History Dinosaurs? check. Awesome planetarium? Check. But most of all I love this museum because no matter how crowded it gets it never feels tight and your kids can still see everything. Come without a stroller if you can because taking the stairs is much better than waiting for the elevators. Also for kids 5 and over the Discovery Room is a must – but come early, they only take a set number of kids per session. So, go there first, get tickets for a certain time, and then plan accordingly.
The food at AMNH is actually pretty good, but it’s hard to resist leaving the museum and heading west towards Columbus Ave and 77th Street to Shake Shack. Yes it will be packed (there is more seating downstairs) but on a nice day you can take your burgers and shakes over to Central Park or head down 77th Street to the great Tecumseh Playground on the corner of Amsterdam (weekends only during the school year). Or, if Shake Shack is way too crowded for your taste, walk the one block west on 77th street to Chirpin’ Chicken to eat like a local. If you have a sweet tooth afterward walk south on Amsterdam to 75th street and grab some cupcakes at Crumbs. Or, for the best chocolate chip cookie of your life walk to 74th street and immediately east of Amsterdam you will see Levain Bakery. The cookies are big enough for 3 people to share. Not kidding.
JCC Manhattan – lots of classes, two pools, a gorgeous gym and free drop in activities in the winter on Saturdays.
Vital Theater Company – fun, short, well produced children’s theater. Check their website for the latest shows and times.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan – Okay, I have to be honest here. Us UWS parents have very mixed feelings about this museum. On the one hand it is a great place to go when the weather is bad, on the other hand, everyone else feels the same way so it gets ridiculously crowded and the coat check gets mobbed because you MUST check your stroller. If you go go early or go late. On the upside, little kids love it. It’s completely hands on and fun and has lots of floors to explore. It’s really not for older kids even though they try and bill it that way. My daughters took 2 classes there and both were excellent. Also, there’s no food, but Arties Deli is down the block, Cafe Lalo is across the street and 5 Napkin Burger is a block North.