Being stuck at home with pre-school children or even older kids during the winter holidays can be a challenge for parents and caregivers alike. Apartments suddenly feel oppressive and cramped, play-dates get exhausted. Filling rainy days with meaningful or fun expeditions via traditional outlets: commercial or institutional, can become an expensive habit. Pouring over the many guides in search of an authentic and low-cost event can become a vocation in itself.
But one of the most amazing things about New York City is that it offers a wide resource of stable, regular venues where our kids can let off steam. Here is a definitive guide (courtesy of Mommypoppins.com) for parents to bookmark. The places listed below are either FREE or LOW-COST. Simply click on the links for additional info like hours, updates, addresses, availability and fees, should they apply.
4. Create a masterpiece at The LEGO Store, where they have stations set up for hours of building fun. And don’t miss the amazing LEGO recreations of NYC landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, on display throughout the store.
5. And while you are in the neighborhood, stop by the FDNY Fire Zone to learn all about fire safety from a real fireman.
8. The NYC Parks Department runs Nature Centers in every borough that are open year-round. Kids can learn about the world around them through fun activities including tours, craft projects and more.
9. Midtown’s Sony Wonder Technology Lab has cool hands-on techie exhibits for all ages, family workshops and free film screenings.
10. There is a world of high-tech wonder and magic (and free events) to be had at the Disney Store in Times Square. Just try to get out without buying anything!
11. Learn about the NYC of a long, long time ago with a visit to Lefferts Historic House in the Children’s Corner of Prospect Park. Kids will love playing with traditional toys and games, and participating in special craft activities such as candle making.
12. Watch the bakers in action or grab a bite to eat at Chelsea Market. You can also stop by the children's section of Posman Books to relax and read a story.
15. There are plenty of stores where kids can kill an hour or so playing or reading while you shop. Check out Nintendo World, Toys R Us or one of these.
16. Take in a fun, free flick at one of these places around town.
17. Groove to the beat at a Carnegie Hall free, interactive concert in neighborhoods all around the city this winter.
18. Every other Saturday the ultra-cool design museum Cooper-Hewitt offers special Design Kids workshops, in addition to toddler programs and drop-in programs on weekdays.
20. Barnes & Noble, large kids play area and book corner: Union Square, 33 E 17th St
New York, NY 10003; Tribeca, 97 Warren Street, New York, NY 10007.
Bonus Tip: Family Memberships to city museums and zoos are also a great way to go places for free. You'll initially shell out around $100 to join but membership should pay for itself in no time if you visit often enough. Membership often comes with extra perks too, such as access to special events and programming.