Take a moment to picture the following scenario. There you are, visiting New York City with the entire family in tow. You’ve made your plans, figured out exactly what you want to do, and everything is in place to make this the best trip ever. You’re beyond excited, the kids are beyond excited, and now all there’s left to do is get out there and have some fun.
Only problem is, the weather is not cooperating! Maybe there’s been a snowstorm, or the city is in the midst of a torrential spring downpour. Maybe it’s way too cold, or perhaps it’s far too hot and humid. Regardless, your big day has arrived and now the last thing you want to do is venture forth into the great outdoors.
Never fear, all is not lost! Read on for some great things to do inside with kids in New York City.
American Museum of Natural History
Whether or not the little ones are fans of the popular Night at the Museum movie franchise, they’ll love all there is to see and do at the American Museum of Natural History. This venerable institution has been delighting kids and families on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for almost 150 years. Among the American Museum of Natural History’s most beloved attractions are an exhibit devoted to the Alaskan Brown Bear and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, where the whole family can marvel at a skeleton of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex and more. The Hayden Planetarium Space Theater is another fabulous spot to spend a rainy day.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Just across the river from New York City, in the great state of New Jersey, you’ll find the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Part of East Rutherford’s massive Meadowlands Sports Complex (where the NFL’s Giants and Jets play their home games), this sprawling facility is a perfect play place for kids 12 years old and under. The MINILAND area uses some 1.5 million legos to recreate miniature versions of several iconic New Jersey and New York landmarks, while the LEGO 4D Cinema is an interactive wonderland the kids will be sure to love. Last but not least, don’t miss out on the chance to ride the Imagination Express train when you’re here!
SEALIFE Aquarium New Jersey
Located right next door to LEGOLAND Discovery Center is SEALIFE Aquarium New Jersey. This approximately 25,000-square-foot aquarium is home to thousands of sea creatures, including nearly 100 unique species drawn from all over the world. Many of the aquarium’s attractions have been specially designed to pay homage to the metro New York market, so in addition to exotic fish, sharks, and jellyfish you’ll see all types of replicas of famous Manhattan landmarks situated throughout the tanks. To take your underwater experience to the next level, be sure to check out the schedule of daily feedings and educational talks given by SEALIFE’s expert staff.
New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts one of the world’s most remarkable collections. Most importantly for those visitors attempting to still have fun with the kids on a day when the weather is crummy, it’s the type of place where there’s truly something for everyone. No matter your age, of course, you’ll be awed by the wonders of The Met’s unparalleled selection of rare Egyptian artifacts, but for something specifically kid-centric, download (or pick up a paper copy at an Information Desk) the “Family Guide.” This tremendous, complimentary resource will provide you with a kid-friendly map to the museum, as well as an audio guide designed for those guests ages 6 through 12.
Madame Tussauds is known the world over for its startlingly lifelike wax figurines, and the Times Square branch is no different. Here you’ll encounter exhibits that let you pretend to be a visitor to the White House, a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and face-to-face with a Broadway legend like the Phantom of the Opera. You can also enjoy a Marvel Universe 4D film or play the Coney Island Carnival Carnage 7D interactive game. Add it all together, and it has the makings of a terrific “indoor” afternoon.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Founded in 1899, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum can lay claim to being the oldest children’s museum found anywhere in the United States. Here you’ll find “Totally Tots,” a play area designed especially for those ages 6 years old and under; “Neighborhood Nature,” an interactive exhibit that introduces kids to the life sciences through dioramas and other hands-on activities; and “World Brooklyn,” a kid-sized reproduction of a typical Brooklyn streetscape, where the young ones can pretend to be bakers, grocers, shopkeepers, and more. What’s more, if the weather takes a turn for the better, there’s a charming green space just outside, too.
If your kids are a bit older—say, 8 or up—then you may well want to consider spending part of that bad-weather day at SPYSCAPE. This high-tech, interactive museum, located just a few blocks south of Columbus Circle and Central Park, is devoted to all things espionage. Here you can learn about the ins and outs of spycraft, the history of several famous 20th Century intelligence operations, and the contemporary role of hackers in our globalized world—all while trying out the tools of the trade yourself. Whether you’re an actual kid, or just a kid at heart, you’ll probably get a kick out of the adventures to be had at SPYSCAPE.