Updated: Apr 13, 2019

This is our favorite NYC playground rundown. Whoo hoo! These are playgrounds that we have visited since Curious G was a baby, and continue to visit because they are AWESOME. They have something for everyone; crawlers and up. I’ve come to realize that as C.G. grows older and stronger, her playground skills develop and she also gains a ton of confidence in the process. It’s a joy to watch, and a parental rite of passage that I like to bask in while enjoying the lively al fresco atmosphere in the playgrounds listed in this post.

I also enjoy visiting these playgrounds because some of my favorite spots are within close walking distance. Read on for mini playground reviews, followed by the restaurants, cafes, and other stops we like to make pre and après playground. This post is the pre-cursor to our summer bucket list post, which you can read here from last year. So stay tuned for this year's list!

This list includes playgrounds in the following neighborhoods, in no particular order: Union Square, and Flatiron / NoMad, Battery Park, South Street Seaport, Chelsea, Lower East Side, Chinatown, Nolita, Long Island City, Queens, Williamsburg, BK, DUMBO, and Midtown.

1. Evelyn’s Playground in Union Square Park, Union Square

When I was a real estate agent, I acted as a tour guide to many of my buyers and I always referred to Union Square as the downtown Times Square. It is a main hub for transportation, shopping, and dining; and the park is a lovely place to spend an hour or two.

Curious G loves this playground because she has mastered the toddler area, which boasts quite a sandbox and a jungle gym with three sections and three slides (baby swings are available as well). She also enjoys the challenges of the older kid area. Someday soon, she will climb atop the silver dome where you will always find multiple kids scaling at any given moment. I've seen 'tweens having fun in the older kid section, which is not always the case with other playgrounds.

Adjacent to the silver dome are fairly well maintained restrooms, and there is a decent scattering of benches for tired caregivers to rest on. There are a few picnic tables in the toddler section. However, you will probably want to eat outside of the playground because there are so many options in the vicinity.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays you can find the freshest local produce and other farm sourced products at the Union Square Green Market. And, while you can also find the usual suspects for lunch provisions nearby (think Sweetgreen, Chipotle, Pret A Manger, Maoz, Luke’s Lobster, and more), we love to grab a few slices from the iconic Joe’s Pizza, which is on 14th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Directly across the street on 17th Street, you will find a multi-level Barnes and Noble with a vast kids books and toys section, as well as a café. Right next to Barnes and Noble, Kellogg’s Café is a fun and colorful stop for experimental cereal enjoyment (kids under 12 get free cereal and toppings Monday - Fridays 2pm-6pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-10am).

On the Union Square East side, towards 5th Avenue, you can indulge in fabulous baked goods from Breads Bakery and comfort yourself with an enormous bowl of handmade Japanese noodles from TsuruTonTan. (There are truly a ton of places to eat around here, please message me or comment below if you want more recs!). We also recently tried a few delicious and very picturesque desserts at LRoom on 14th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Last but not least, from the Eastern side you can walk to the toy store- playspace hybrid Camp, a must-do "family experience store".

Towards the southern side of the park, you can find a massive Whole Foods, Best Buy, DSW, and more big box stores; so if you need to run some errands, this is a convenient spot!

This summer, don’t forget to check out Summer in the Square, which is one of our favorite FREE activities every summer. It’s a must-do!

2. Madison Square Park (Police Officer Moira Ann Smith Playground), Flatiron / NoMad

You can actually walk to and from Union Square Park to and from the Madison Square Park playground since it's only six blocks away. This playground is great for toddlers and elementary school aged children. There is also a baby section with a cute little slide; as well as a water play area that operates during the late spring through summer. There is a tire swing, as well as a baby swing set.

We also love Madison Square Park itself for roaming around (check out all of the seasonal semi-interactive public art!), checking out the cute dogs in the dog runs, and picnicking on the lawn. Of course, we cannot fail to mention shoveling burgers, shakes and fries into our faces from the original Shake Shack location right in the southern part of the park.

If burgers are not your thing, you can also cross Fifth Avenue from the west side of the park to grab something at Eataly. But, like Union Square, there are a lot of food options in the vicinity in every direction. Again, please comment or message me for more recs. We like Maman on 25th Street for a brunchy meal complete with indulgent breakfast pastries as well as healthier fare, and there are also endless fast casual options along 23rd Street, which is right across the street from the south side of the park.

For an educational experience, you can check out MoMATH on 26th Street, which is right across the street from the north side of the park. You can also stop into the Lego Store, which is across the street from the western side of the park. Fifth Avenue is a shopping hub from 23rd Street to 14th Street; so this makes it another fine area for running errands. Also, on nearby Broadway, ABC Carpet & Home is always a fun place to browse and eat, and Flying Tiger is a cute store to pick up toys and knick knacks. Another attraction nearby is the Sony Square experience, where you can try out virtual reality games, see their mini-photography exhibits, and take a bunch of photos in the area where they set up ever-changing vibrant backdrops for your Instagram-content-creating pleasure.

3. Seward Park Playground, Lower East Side

Seward Park is well-shaded, spacious playground where you can get a great feel for the neighborhood. It’s located in the Lower East Side and is bordered by Chinatown, so you can often grab a seat on one of the many benches and watch some elderly ladies conducting a tai-chi or dance class. Your kids may even want to join in (mine always does).

The glorious sprinkler that sits atop a delightfully mosaic-tiled floor is such a welcome feature in the summertime. There are so many climbing options provided by multiple jungle gyms that are spread out around the playground. The toddler section is large, and there are relatively well maintained bathrooms available. You can our detailed review, complete with some recs in Chinatown, from last summer here; and we highly recommend it as a destination if you will be in the Lower East Side or Chinatown. Or, why not make it a reason to come to the Lower East Side and/or Chinatown? In the summertime, we also highly recommend stopping into Ice and Vice for a post playground treat that’s refreshing and delicious!

4. John Jay Park, Upper East Side

John Jay is a large sprawling playground all the way on the east side with entrances on 76th Street and 78th Street. There is plenty of room to ride scooters and bikes, and there are also basketball and handball courts onsite. There is even a set of old fashioned exercise apparatus that can be entertaining to both adults and children.

There are two older baby/ young toddler structures outside the gates of the main toddler and older kid playgrounds, along with a pair of concrete camels, which Curious G has always loved climbing. The main toddler portion has plenty of climbing options, slides, and there is also a little sprinkler in the corner. Benches and picnic tables are available in this area as well.

The main area of the playground has a fun tunnel-like water feature, a sprinkler, game tables, and big kid and baby swings. There are several climbing options including a jungle gym, climbing nets, as well as a canoe. We come here when we want a lot of space to roam. I rarely sit at this playground because the benches fill up very quickly, and I follow C.G. around most of the time because of the expansive layout.

The bonus here is that there is a public pool that is not too crowded during the week in the summertime. We went once last summer on a Monday and the pool was well maintained and the water temperature was not too cold. It was perfect for a hot day. There are locker rooms with showers and bathrooms, which lead to the pool. The lockers provide a convenient place to store your belongings. Only towels are permitted on deck, and you must bring your own lock for the lockers.

There are several restaurants that we like to frequent in the area, including Calexico, the Meatball Shop, Boqueria, La Esquina, and The Mighty Quinn. When Curious G was a baby, we often (boozy) brunched at Calexico and loaded up on Baja fried fish tacos and Micheladas. One of C.G.’s first words was “Michelada”. No joke. I have the videos to prove it.

5. Rockefeller Playground, Battery Park City

This playground is a summer staple for us because we love to come here and enjoy Battery Park City. The lawns are perfect for running around and picnicking. We love the merry-go-round on this playground, as well as the free art workshops and preschool playtimes. Read all about these programs and activities here.

Benches and picnic tables fill up pretty quickly, but I rarely have an issue with that. There is a bathroom across the street in the condo building, which is open to the public. There’s a baby area with baby swings, plenty of sand to play with, and a cute water feature for the summertime.

There are so many dining options in the vicinity, as well as a large movie theater. There are also events that run throughout the year at Brookfield Place, including the ultra-fun and free Saturday Morning Show.

You can roll this into a visit to the Oculus, the Freedom Tower Memorial, Pier 17, and the Sea Glass Carousel.

6. Pier 25 Play Area, Battery Park City / Tribeca

Pier 25 is a summer must-do. A visit to this playground can also be combined with visits to so many downtown sights, as noted here. The main draw for us is the impressive splash pad. The climbing net is another top attraction, as well as the rock climbing wall.

Right behind the playground, also on the pier, are a mini golf range, volleyball courts, and Grand Banks for a memorable meal of oysters and adult beverages. In the summertime, free kids concerts are held here during the sunset, and the views are stunning. Follow us on Instagram to get updates on these concerts and more summer events

Stroll up Hudson River Park to the Meatpacking District/Highline for food (or a visit to the Whitney, or the playground on Pier 51) as we often do; or stroll down to Battery Park.

7. Chelsea Waterside Play Area, Chelsea

This playground re-opened last summer after a $3.4 million makeover. The most outstanding feature is the colorful Robinia wood pipefish that snakes its way atop a rubber padded hill, and divides the two main water play areas. The pipefish serves as the jungle gym element, and also as the perfect backdrop and prop for memorable photos.

This playground is a summertime mecca for young splashpad enthusiasts. It is also attracts design and landscaping enthusiasts with its limestone cattle head sprinklers, reclaimed granite seating blocks, and Wireless Zelcova trees

We like to stop in a few of our favorite galleries including Sikkema Jenkins, Gagosian, and Gladstone Gallery before or after the playground. We also like to grab supper at Empire Diner or Bottino.

Another option is to cross 11th Avenue to Pier 62 and ride the carousel and then sit on a bench and have a snack while staring at the birds circling above the Hudson River. You can also grab at bite at Fresh & Co, which is attached to Chelsea Piers. (This is also where the closest bathroom is when playing at Chelsea Waterside)

8. Gantry Plaza State Park Tot Lot and Little Kid Playground, Long Island City

We love taking the ferry from the 34th Street terminal one stop to Long Island City to this beautiful park when the weather is nice (find out 5 more fun reasons to ride the NYC ferry). We did this quick 5 minute ferry ride several times last summer, and you can read all about it here. This park is a destination, and there are actually two playgrounds, which are fun for a wide range of ages. The grounds and the views from the park are gorgeous, and everyone who has the time should check it out at least once this spring or summer because there is just so much space for the little ones to run around freely. You can walk the entire park from end to end easily, and there are plenty of accessible bathrooms. But the views of Manhattan are what really make this park stand out, and there are so many vantage points to enjoy it from. There is a snack stand at the LIC Landing by COFFEED. But I would recommend bringing your own food, and then getting ice cream for dessert at the LIC Landing by COFFEED or at one of the ice cream trucks that frequent the park.

You can also venture out of the park and eat at Maiella, or even the LIC Flea (which opens on the weekends in the summer time).

9. Domino Park Playground, Williamsburg, BK

Domino Park was at the top of our list of destinations last summer when it opened for a host of reasons. The picturesque splash pad was one of them. Plus, the playground is also one of Curious G’s current faves. It is a climber’s heaven, and resembles a Willy Wonka-esque factory where kids literally get lost inside colorful silos of climbing fun. I’ve had a few panicky moments looking for C.G., only to find her perched at the very pinnacle of a climbing net housed inside one of the silos.

Read our review of Domino Park here, and be sure to stop by North Brooklyn Farm before or after the park because who doesn’t love an urban farm with a BMX dirt track and that famous Tom Fruin stained glass house in it? It’s a little urban haven in my opinion.

Skip TacoCina inside Domino Park because the food is mediocre (or perhaps order some beers and chips so that you can enjoy sitting in the fun patio area while staring out at the beautiful East River view). If you take the 15-minute walk up River Street and then Kent to the William Vale Hotel on Wythe Avenue, you can get some really yummy burgers, fries, chicken fingers, insanely delicious ice cream concoctions, and adult beverages while enjoying the glory of an open terrace in Williamsburg at Mister Dips. Be sure to wash this meal down with some doughnuts from Wylie Dusfresne’s Du’s Donuts on the way down.

If you want to make this a triple header (quadruple, if you’ve stopped at the farm), you can also stop into Brooklyn Bowl further west on Wythe Avenue. Bowl a few rounds, have some Blue Ribbon fried chicken and beer and stay for the live music (family bowl every Sunday with Rock and Rock Playhouse is a really great party to bring the kids to!). You can also hotel-rooftop hop since Wythe Hotel and Williamsburg Hotel are all on Wythe Avenue. In fact, if you are there on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the summertime, that entire block will feel like a fun rooftop party with all of the music blasting down to the streets (it will make you nostalgic for your 20’s).

10. Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, BK

While Brooklyn Bridge Park is essentially one giant playground for both kids and adults, Pier 6 contains the most diverse selection of actual playgrounds. One of our favorites is the Waterlab, which is a big splash pad that is nothing short of a micro waterpark! You can also hit up Slide Alley, Sandbox Village, Slide Mountain, and Swing Valley.

If you get really hungry, you can walk over to Fornino's Pizza, which is right across from the playgrounds. You can also walk over to Pier 5 for some ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery. Another fun option from Pier 6 is to take the ferry over to Governor’s Island and spend a few hours exploring. Find out more about Governor's Island and the other piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park here.

You can also read about Brooklyn Bridge Park's Main St Playground, along with Jane’s Carousel here. If you have time you can start at Pier 6 and work your way up to Pier 1 and then Main Street. Or vice versa starting at Main Street. You will then more or less cover the entirety of Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Note: there is also a baby/small toddler playground on Pier 1 that is right by the ferry terminal. It’s also next to a sprawling lawn and the One Hotel)

In addition to Smile to Go, Sugarcane, and Cecconi's, which are all housed in Empire Stores (except for Sugarcane), you can also walk to Front Street and enjoy the iconic pizza at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, or eat at Juliana’s Pizza or Shake Shack.

11. DiSalvio Playground, Nolita

DiSalvio is the most newly renovated playground on this list. It just re-opened last month, and Curious G has dubbed it her favorite playground several times in the last few weeks. The bright colors, multiple jungle gyms, spinning apparati, climbing nets and vicinity to so many of our favorite places to eat may play a factor in her declaration.

You can read my DiSalvio Playground review in Mommy Poppins here. Taim Falafel, Pomodoro Pizza, Rice to Riches, and Van Leeweun Ice Cream are directly across the street from the playground, so expect to smell the aroma of delicious food while your kids are playing. Some of our favorite places to grab a bite in the area are Baz Bagel, Dez, Rubirosa, and Pasquale Jones. Quite frankly, you are on the cusp of Nolita where cute cafes abound, as well as Little Italy, and Chinatown; so there are limitless food options here.

You can also walk over to Bowery and take in some modern art at the New Museum or take the graffiti art tour at Citizen M Hotel.

I personally love to shop in this neighborhood. Check out the nearby boutiques Warm and Piccoliny shops for both kids and adults (along with a bunch of other shops that you will have to message me to find out. Or comment below!)

Gertrude Ederle Playground, Curious G and Me, Best NYC Playgrounds
Stepping into this little enclave of fun is always exciting for Curious G!

12. Gertrude Ederle Playground, Midtown West

Located between Amsterdam and West End Avenues, with entrances on both 59th and 60th Streets, this playground looks futuristic with flashes of silver and plenty of curving climbing structures thanks to a $5 million renovation. Upon entry from the 60th Street entrance, a fun toddler jungle gym welcomes you, but Curious G likes to run over to the benches and use them as her own personal balance beams on days when the playground is fairly empty.

Next to the benches, you will find clean bathrooms, which is always convenient. Between the toddler area and the section with the more advanced climbing apparatus, is a little water play area. One of my favorite parts of this playground is the Astroturf lawn that is big enough for mini soccer matches while other kids run around the perimeter. A large blank wall that’s ripe for chalk drawings frames the Astroturf.

Now if you do not live in this neighborhood, why would you come to this playground? I have taken C.G. to play here after a visit to the Museum of Art and Design in Columbus Circle. I have also taken her to play here, and then headed to the Shops at Columbus Circle, a.k.a. Time Warner Center, for lunch. There are a few vendors in the Columbus Circle underground food hall Turnstyle, but we like Chick' n Cone and the carambellows (glorified Mallomars) from Woops the best. Inside of the Shops at Columbus Circle, we like Momofuku Noodle Bar, Bluebird London, and Bouchon Bakery and Café. For a quick smoothie bowl or sushi-to-go, we head downstairs to Whole Foods.

A large Nordstrom is also slated to open on Broadway just a block from Columbus Circle (the Nordstrom Men’s store is already open) in case you don’t get your fill of shopping in Time Warner Center.

And, of course, if you are in the area after watching a performance in Lincoln Center, you can always walk over to Gertrude Ederle right after.

13. Imagination Playground, South Street Seaport

Last summer, we found ourselves at Pier 17 almost every time we had guests in town since its expansive deck is perfect for soaking in the fabulous views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. There’s a bevy of activity going on at Pier 17, which you can read about here. But we always find ourselves returning to The Imagination Playground after since it’s right across the street.

You can almost always find a nice collection of the iconic blue Imagination Playground blocks available for your kids’ building pleasure between the water play area and the giant sandbox/slide section. (Parents who do not want their kids to play in city sandboxes: do not come here, because it’s pretty much unavoidable unless you quarantine them in the water play area).

There is a decent bathroom on hand that is housed in a structure that serves as a lookout deck accessible via a flight of stairs. You can see Pier 17 from the playground without climbing to the deck, and the views are quite nice. Benches are available and I’ve never had an issue with getting a seat.

In addition to the prime selection of restaurants at Pier 17, you can also eat right across the street at Trading Post. Industry Kitchen is also less than a block away and a lovely spot to dine al fresco. By Chloe is a healthy fast casual option within arm’s reach from the playground. Walk a few steps from By Chloe, and you will find yourself in South Street Seaport, where you can take a nice stroll and browse the shops. Walk north and you will come upon the Italian import 10 Corso Como for some fun browsing and/or dining (we have not eaten there), Mr. C., and some other restaurants which we have not tried, but all look delicious. If you are in the mood for a movie, you can catch one at the iPic, which is a “fancy theater” that serves cocktails.

There is also a TKTS box office right across from the playground, where you can get same-day Broadway tickets for up to 50% off. And like, Rockefeller Playground, you can also roll this playground visit in with a stop at the Oculus and Freedom Tower. You can also stroll down to Wall Street and pay homage to the Fearless Girl statue if you should feel so inclined.

14. Billy Johnson Playground, Central Park East

This playground, accessible via the Central Park entrance on 67th Street and 5th Avenue, wins for most iconic NYC slide. Curious G has graduated from riding down this slide on our laps to riding solo atop a cardboard sled (literally a piece of cardboard that comes from who-knows-where, but is somehow always available here). The slide is made of granite and already slippery, but the cardboard shoots the kids down the slide at lightening speeds. Parents stand around the foot of this curved granite slide, which is accessed via climbing up a hill on some rocks and stumps; armed with their phones ready to capture their kids flashing by.

The playground is still in the midst of a facelift, but so far the improvements have not been lost on us. We love the upgraded swing area that now provides both baby and big kid swings, The sand pit has been renovated, and the bridge that C.G. likes to run under has been cleaned up with some new steps. But most notably, a mini granite slide was added a few feet away from the original one. We haven’t seen the climbing nets yet, but can’t wait for their arrival!

Obviously, we recommend spending more time in Central Park before or after visiting the Billy Johnson Playground. A Central Park post has been on my list of must-do’s for about a year now, so stay tuned because we visit so regularly that I metaphorically refer to it as our backyard.


Evelyn’s Playground,Union Square

Union Square Green Market



Pret A Manger


Luke’s Lobster

Joe’s Pizza

Barnes and Noble

Kellogg’s Café

Breads Bakery




Madison Square Park (Police Officer Moira Ann Smith Playground), Flatiron / NoMad

Shake Shack




Lego Store

ABC Carpet

Flying Tiger

Sony Square

Seward Park Playground, Lower East Side

Ice and Vice

John Jay Park, Upper East Side


The Meatball Shop


La Esquina

The Mighty Quinn

Rockefeller Playground, Battery Park City

Brookfield Place

Pier 17

the Sea Glass Carousel

Pier 25 Play Area, Battery Park City / Tribeca

Grand Banks


playground on Pier 51

Chelsea Waterside Play Area, Chelsea

Sikkema Jenkins


Gladstone Gallery

Empire Diner


Pier 62 carousel

Fresh & Co

Chelsea Piers

Gantry Plaza State Park Tot Lot and Little Kid Playground, Long Island City

LIC Landing by COFFEED


LIC Flea

Domino Park Playground, Williamsburg, BK

North Brooklyn Farm

William Vale Hotel

Mister Dips

Du’s Donuts

Brooklyn Bowl & Blue Ribbon fried chicken & Rock and Rock Playhouse

Wythe Hotel

Williamsburg Hotel

Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, BK

Fornino's Pizza

Ample Hills Creamery

One Hotel

Smile to Go



Empire Stores

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Juliana’s Pizza

Shake Shack

DiSalvio Playground, Nolita

Taim Falafel

Pomodoro Pizza

Rice to Riches

Van Leeweun Ice Cream

Baz Bagel



Pasquale Jones

New Museum

Citizen M Hotel.



Gertrude Ederle Playground, Midtown West

Museum of Art and Design

Shops at Columbus Circle


Chick' n Cone


Momofuku Noodle Bar

Bluebird London

Bouchon Bakery and Café

Lincoln Center

Imagination Playground, South Street Seaport

Pier 17

Trading Post

Industry Kitchen

By Chloe

10 Corso Como

Mr. C.


The Oculus and Freedom Tower

Billy Johnson Playground, Central Park East

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These websites and online resources have been integrated into our daily lives in the past three+ weeks and G loves them all. These are the sites that I turn to when I need to focus on work, cook a more elaborate meal, or tackle some re-organizing around the apartment. They are engaging enough to occupy her for at least an hour. In fact, she would probably stay on some of these sites all day if I let her.

For more educational and entertaining ideas, check out our Homeschool Ideas Story highlight reel on Instagram. I will update this list as we discover more exciting resources.

G is five years old, but these online resources serve a wide range of ages in my opinion.

1. Carnegie Hall Musical Explorers, FREE

This is a current fave. You get a music lesson, a cultural lesson, and a world language lesson all rolled into one. G started out with one of the hour-long concerts, which features Soul Science Lab, then moved on to the brief mini lessons (about five minutes on average) presented by the artists that performed in the concert. There are art and writing activities that are provided online as well. So far, she loved learning traditional Colombian Cumbia songs, Armenian folk songs and dances, and how to beat box!

2. Draw so cute on Youtube, FREE

This channel provides step-by-step drawing tutorials. The first time G tried this channel, she picked a hand sanitizer superhero battling a coronavirus-Wennie, the teacher updates very regularly and her forte is Beanie Boo-like characters with big cutesy eyes. There are many drawing tutorial channels on Youtube but G is particularly drawn to this one. It is, as the name implies, very cute.

3. Kids Art hub on Youtube, FREE

G did her first drawing tutorial with this website. It has a variety of different options and is lead by a father and his two kids. Most kids that we know love it, and again, it can occupy for an hour+.

4. Google Earth, FREE

One night G and I explored the Galapagos Islands via Google Earth. We trekked around and watched a video that almost made us feel like we were under the sea. You can explore the far corners of the earth, including 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites, at your own pace while enjoying the comforts of your Pjs and giant tub of ice cream.

5. Cosmic Kids Yoga, FREE

This one is 100% dependable for an hour of engaging screen time. You can find the channel on Youtube or download the app for a full library of story time yoga and dance workouts. G's favorites are Popcorn the Dolphin, Harry Potter and the disco party that involves a washing machine move. Jaime, the instructor has a remarkable talent for storytelling while making yoga poses accessible to the kiddos.

6. Go Noodle, FREE

Go Noodle is the program that G did in her Pre-K classroom on the days when she did not have gym. You can select short (about three minute) movement videos or game options. On the website, you can select from featured videos or go directly to the variety of channels that span different musical styles and themes. G loves MooseTube and Blazer Fresh. The videos range from calming relaxation exercises to active jumping dance combinations.

7. The Giant Room, FREE

Our favorite family innovation hub brings free interactive Zoom sessions every weekday from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm. Just click on the link to register. Kids will be lead in a creative project everyday, which will culminate in a museum in your very own home!

8. Storyline Online, FREE

Would you like Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Silverman, and Michelle Yeoh to read to your kids? I bet they would enjoy it! This amazing site features videos of 84 celebrities reading popular children's books. I cannot recommend it enough.

9. Brainpop, FREE

Many schools use this as a teaching aid, and now it is available to families. G has been hooked on the science and arts and technology videos. Each video is accompanied by games and even pop quizzes. The other subjects are Health, Reading and Writing, Social Studies, and Math. We have yet to even explore those subjects, but I am sure they will come in handy soon!

10. FaceTime

This might seem obvious, but in case you haven't tried it yet, FaceTime has most effectively replaced physical playdates during this time. G has had hour+ FaceTime play dates. She likes to make a fort and then play pretend with her buddies (or grandparents) inside of her magical little space.

We haven't tried these yet, but have gotten recommendations from friends and family:


This is a learning system that connects to an app you can upload. To be honest, ours is still sitting in the box, but we will get to it this week and let you know how it goes! There are several levels available.

Khan Academy

I imagine that this is similar to Brain Pop, but we have not tried it yet.

I Can Do That NYC Dance Classes

G did theater camp here last summer and loved it. We are trying to figure out which dance class to try. You can register for single drop in classes with this program!

Let me know if you have any faves and I will try to add them to this list! Again, check out our Homeschool Ideas Story highlight reel on Instagram to see what else has been keeping G occupied indoors!

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Cold weather does not have to bring about cabin fever; especially when you have a handy list of fun activities and places to go when the temperatures drop. I titled this post "36 ways to stay entertained with your kids", rather than 36 ways to entertain your kids because these venues are fun for the whole family. Before we begin, you can also learn about our summer indoor adventures at MoMath, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Children's Museum of the Arts, as well 14 other museums we love. You may also be wondering what age group this list is for. G started going to some of these spots when she was a baby, and she would still have fun at them as an almost-five year-old. We have also visited many of these venues with older friends up to age ten. This list also spans across different New York City neighborhoods and boroughs.

Indoor activity guide for NYC kids, Central Rock Gym, Indoor fun, Curious G and Me, indoor rock climbing for kids, indoor rock climbing in NYC
The Ladder at Central Rock Gym is a good starting point for first time climbers.

1. Central Rock Gym, 21 West End Avenue, Midtown West

Rock climbing is an excellent outlet for kids to build up their confidence, increase strength, and have a blast. Central Rock Gym offers kids climbing hours, when kids can climb the 40 foot wall with a staff member on hand to belay while parents climb alongside them. Recreational climbing teams and climbing camps are also available for kids. We have heard great things about Brooklyn Boulders, but their minimum age requirement is 5, so we will have to wait another year and a half before going there. Chelsea Piers also has climbing facilities; as well as a preschool gym, and a wide spectrum of indoor sports facilities. If we lived closer, we would probably be there everyday.

New York Hall of Science, STEM for kids, best children's museums in New York, Curious G and Me, indoor fun, best indoor entertainment for NYC families
The Connected Worlds exhibit is both exciting and relaxing at the same time

2. NY Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona, Queens

This museum houses more than 450 interactive exhibits. You can make a bot and more in the Design Lab, command a flock of birds with the flick of your wrist in the Connected Worlds Exhibit; and there’s even Preschool Place, where toddlers can spend a full day learning through play. The entire museum would take more than a few days to cover, and you can learn about the different properties of physics, chemistry, or biology each day through daily demonstrations. General admission is $16 for adults and $13 for kids; it's also free on Sundays from 10am-11am and Friday from 2pm-5pm! We went after school one afternoon and spent about three hours playing in a few different areas of the museum, yet we feel like we barely scratched the surface.

Scandinavia House, Heimbold Playing and Learning Center, indoor playspace, NYC with kids, Curious G and Me, Indoor play space guide
There are so many fun stations in the learning and play center at Scandinavia House! Little G loved it back then and we plan to take her again this winter!

3. Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, Murray Hill, Manhattan

We have had a few play dates here on snowy Saturdays, when open play hours in the Heimbold Center Family Children's Playing and Learning Center in the Scandinavia House are from noon to 5pm for $15 per child. Members have access to the playroom Tuesday-Saturday. The last time we went, we started with brunch at The Smith on Broadway and 27th Street, then made the snowy trek over to Park Avenue and 37th Street where Curious G and her friend played pretend in the giant mushroom fort, created structures on the Lego table, read some books, dressed up, and more. There are also workshops available on certain weekends, and its in-house restaurant Smorgas Chef is open to the public as well.

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Old school gymnasium fun! Curious G played with toys, ran around, read books, attended holiday parties, made new friends, built structures with Imagination Playground blocks, danced to music, and so much more at this rec center. It was a big part of her winter activity schedule!

4. Recreation Center 54, 348 East 54th Street, Midtown East

Before Curious G started preschool, the NYC Parks-run 54th Street Rec Center was heaven sent. We would go twice a week in the wintertime, for a couple of hours, where she had the chance to run around, participate in a brief circle time, play with friends and ride tricycles in the large gymnasium. Check out the NYC Parks rec centers in your neighborhood, as well as your local YMCAs, because most have fun family programs at very low cost. My annual membership was only $150 for the 54th Street Rec Center and the playtime was included with the membership! In addition to family programming, there are also exercise facilities, enrichment classes, and indoor swimming.

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One of our all-time favorite places to go to in NYC

5. New York Public Library, thoughout NYC

We included the New York Public Library system in our summer hit list as well because libraries are the city’s gift that keeps on giving. Most libraries include children’s areas that offer story and play times, as well as mini concerts and movie nights. Check here for scheduled events. We especially love the 53rd Street branch because the children’s room is massive and full of fun stations for play (puppet show anyone?). We come here often to hide out from extreme weather; both hot and cold, to color, work on puzzles, play on the computers (Free ABC Mouse!), build on the Lego table, and of course read books. The bleacher seating on the second floor, where they play movies sometimes, is a fun spot to have lunch. The children's librarians are friendly and helpful as a bonus! Please note that we love many other branches in addition to 53rd Street. Feel free to email me, DM, or comment below if you would like to know more.

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6. MoMA Art Lab, 11 West 53rd Street, Midtown Manhattan

After visiting the 53rd Street Library, you can cross the street and enter one of the world’s best modern art museums. Curious G and I enjoy browsing the exhibits (the museum offers family guides and activities for the kids; and we can’t wait to see the end results of the lobby renovation this winter), but we could always spend a full day in the Art Lab. We have been coming here since C.G. was 2, and she discovers something new each time. The Lab is free with admission, and kids can create multi media art projects, play with art inspired toys, and explore the many ways that art and nature combine to create masterpieces. MoMA was included in our summer museum round up, and you can read about it here. My favorite part of the Lab is the inspiring selection of coffee table books. Art Lab admission is free with museum admission ($25 for adults, free for kids under 16).

*I got a free annual membership with my IDNYC.

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The decor throughout Lady Mendl's is simply divine

7. Tea Parlors, throughout NYC

We have had afternoon tea at Palm Court, which is pricey so save it for a special occassion. We also love Lady Mendl’s and Alice's Tea Cup, and find that a lunch time play date combined with a tea party makes for an excellent afternoon indoors. FYI, we have also thrown together impromptu tea parlor set ups at home for in house tea party experiences, which is another quick and easy idea for indoor fun. Throw in some costumes for added entertainment.

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Non-stop fun at The Craft Studio

8. The Craft Studio, 1657 Third Avenue, UES and 174 Duane Street, Tribeca

Last winter, Curious G had fun painting a ceramic cupcake, which now sits proudly upon our bookshelf, at her friend’s birthday party. However, I plan to take her back for some more creative play when the winter chill really sets in. There are many craft studios throughout the city. Some of them include Little Shop of Crafts on the Upper West Side, The Painted Pot in Park Slope, Oliloli in Forest Hills, and Color me Mine in Chinatown (even though the website says Tribeca).

9. Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street, Battery Park City

On Saturdays in the fall and winter time Brookfield Place hosts FREE amazing puppet shows and magic shows in the Hudson Eats food court. Check the events schedule for upcoming shows. Canstruction was a pretty cool art installation that we saw last year, and it takes place the first weekend of November. The food court is full of delicious options. We love the fried chicken at Fuku, the burgers (and fried chicken sandwich) at Umame Burger; and when we want healthier options, we grab something from Dig Inn or Chop’t. There’s so much more in terms of dining at Brookfield Place, but we also adore the ice skating rink and the Luminaries light installations every winter. We even caught a free one hour performance of the Nutcracker in the Atrium two years ago, which is coming up again at the end of this month. While you’re there you can also get some serious shopping done. When Curious G was a baby, we stocked up on hip little accessories and toys at Babesta! Click here for more photos and descriptions of Brookfield Place, as well as Battery Park City.

10. The Oculus (a.k.a. Westfield World Trade Center), 185 Greenwich Street, FiDi

You don’t even have to brave the cold to make it over to the Oculus from Brookfield Place. There is an underground pedestrian tunnel that connects the two buildings! And we cannot overlook the bevy of subway lines with entrances into Oculus (the elevator system gets a little confusing, so pay attention to where you are headed). Now there are always cute and fun events and pop-ups going on at the Oculus to occupy your little ones, but there is also a fleet of mall staples where you can get some solid shopping done as well. The architecture and dazzling space are enough to warrant a visit, and your kids can roam around freely (under your watchful eyes, of course). Again, there is no shortage of food options here, and you can spend an hour or so alone just walking around and eating your way through Eataly.

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Bubbles are a classic baby music class closer

11. Moosiki Kids, throughout the Upper East side

Curious G’s first baby class ever was with Moosiki Kids, and we continued to go until C.G. was about 2. Ms. Laura is a super engaging teacher, and when my parents accompanied us to a class, my mother even remarked that Ms. Laura deserves her own show on TV. While we always registered for full semesters, Moosiki does offer drop in classes, and can sometimes be found on Kidpass. And while we are on the subject of music classes, I must also give a shout out to Music For Aardvarks. Curious G actually took two consecutive music classes from ages 9 months to 2 because she also loved both Moosiki Kids as well as the music from Music for Aardvarks (we still listen to the CD in the car here and there). Teacher Ryan of Music for Aardvarks is another Pied Piper, like Ms. Laura, and keeps the kids focused throughout the class.

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A little disco will warm you right up on a cold day

12. A La Mode Shoppe, 360 East 55th Street, Midtown East,

Ok, so ice cream doesn’t scream winter, but who wouldn’t want to enjoy delicious small-batch homemade ice cream while watching the kids play with the adorable little ice cream cart and peruse the unique kids' toys and apparel. Classes are also available and fun events like magic show and movie nights are also held every month!

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Holiday under the Stars in the Time Warner Center

13. The Shops at Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, Columbus Circle

And here we go with another mall! I grew up in New Jersey so mall culture is in my veins. However, Time Warner Center is another space where kids have room to roam and seasonal events are often hosted here. I also find myself getting bargains at H&M for Curious G while we are there. But the main focus for us, is often brunch at Bouchon Bakery and Cafe or Landmarc, two kid-friendly venues, which made their way to our Yum and Yummer list. The Turnstyle Underground Market is also a novelty to check out. We like to beeline to Chick-N-Cone for a quick and tasty lunch there. And, last but not least, the Museum of Art and Design is right across the street, where family friendly weekend events are often held.

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Curious G still "reads" the book she made after this story time at Barnes and Noble. It's about a lion dancer.

14. Barnes and Noble, 150 E. 86th Street & 33 E. 17th Street, Upper East side and Union Sq.

Barnes and Noble on 86th Street, probably has the largest kids’ section in the city and we have spent a lot of time there before or after going to Central Park or the Met or Cooper Hewitt. In addition to children’s books, a great selection of toys are available; and we love to grab a cookie and sit in the café while we're there. The Barnes and Noble in Union Square is another place where we have attended story times, played on the train table, and walked around each floor just browsing. Honorable mentions go to Strand and Books of Wonder, for their dynamic story times. Pete the Cat acted out by a well-known theater group? Strand has it. Author readings? Find them at Books of Wonder.

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Creating a wall paper masterpiece in the Immersion Room

15. Cooper Hewitt, 2 East 91st Street, Upper East side

This museum got its own post back in the summer for the amazing Design Beyond Vision exhibit. It offers some fun hands-on exhibits which are kid friendly, and also hosts events for families and kids on a regular basis. Check the schedule here. Adult admission is $18 at the door and $16 online. Kids under 18 are free.

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Learning about Mayan art at The Met

16. Start with Art, The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East side

The Met’s Start with Art made its way onto our summer hit list as well because it’s such an enriching experience for kids to get a guided mini tour while creating their own works of art based on the inspiring pieces that they learn about. Check the schedule here, but it usually takes place on Thursday afternoons, as well as Saturday mornings and afternoons. We also love the Nolen library, which is next to the hall where the Start with Art program meets. Both the library and Start with Art are free with admission (which is a suggested donation for NYC residents).

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Curious G always makes new discoveries in the Discovery Room

17. Discovery Room and Butterfly Conservatory at American Museum of Natural History,

Central Park West between 79th and 81st Streets

The Discovery Room is a regular go-to for Curious G because it offers endless ways to discover new things while learning about science and nature. We recently spent an afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History walking through the Hall of Biodiversity, then playing in the Discovery Room; and ended the day in the Butterfly Conservatory. We plan to check out the Backyard Wilderness 3-D movie, and have yet to visit the Planetarium! Admission to the museum is pay-as-you-wish at the ticket counters and $23 online for adults, and $13 for children under 13. The Discovery Room is complimentary and the Butterfly Conservatory requires a timed entry ticket. Please check the website for more information on the Conservatory, as well as the Discovery Room hours.

*Free annual memberships are available via IDNYC.

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This city block back drop serves as the environment for kids to imagine themselves as taxi drivers, shop keepers, noodle cart vendors, and more

18. Chinatown Learning Center and Collections Hub, 215 Centre Street, Chinatown

This is another museum that was featured in our summer museum roundup because the playroom downstairs is fun! Their story times take place on Thursday afternoons and and they also host MOCAcreate workshops on Saturdays. The museum, itself, is a very interesting place to explore first hand accounts of the Asian American experience. Playtime in the the Chinatown Learning Center and Collections Hub is included with admission ($10 for adults and $7 for kids). Check the website for the special program admission fees. *This was another museum where I got a free annual membership via IDNYC.