Keep this list of the top 20 winter activities in NYC handy for ideas to keep cabin fever at bay, including going ice-skating, sledding, and some spectacular holiday shows.
1. Go ice-skating outdoors.
Hit the ice for some classic winter fun at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s state-of-the-art skating facility featuring two ice rinks. Or find more indoor and outdoor ice rinks in NYC.
2. Kick off the holiday season with the Rockettes.
It wouldn’t be Christmas in New York without the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in Midtown, Manhattan (radiocitychristmas.com). From early November through December, the Rockettes perform classic numbers such as "New York at Christmas" and "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers."
3. See model trains in the Bronx.
Hitch a ride to tons of fun at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show, which boasts replicas of area landmarks made entirely from plants. The show typically runs mid-November through early January. Check out our full list of nearby train shows and exhibits that you can visit throughout the year.
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4. Watch a performance of the The Nutcracker
Visit the Land of Sweets when New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Performances are usually held late November through early January.
5. Cut down your own Christmas tree.
Make this Christmas special with a day trip to cut your own Christmas tree at Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs in nearby Westchester County or one of the area’s other farms, most of which are open from late November through late December.
6. Go to a holiday fair at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum.
Usually held in early December, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum’s annual Holiday Family Day in the Bronx includes storytelling, shopping, crafts, and of course, pictures with Santa.
7. Attend a menorah or tree lighting.
Watch little eyes light up with holiday joy during a Christmas tree or menorah lighting. If you’re looking for a big event, brave the crowds at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan to see its illustrious tree throughout December, or celebrate Hanukkah at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, where the World’s Largest Menorah stands throughout the festival of lights.
8. Visit with Santa Claus
From Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan to Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island, Kris Kringle makes appearances all over the city from late November to late December. For something unique, climb aboard Circle Line Downtown’s Zephyr yacht for a Breakfast with Santa Cruise in New York Harbor in mid-December.
9. Give back during the giving season.
With all of the gift-giving and receiving, the holiday season is a great time to teach kids about being charitable. Give a little back to your community and find a place to volunteer.
10. See the Guinness World Record-setting Gingerbread Lane.
Marvel at homemade gingerbread houses that are designed, baked, built, and decorated by chef Jon Lovitch over the course of an entire year. Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was recognized as the largest gingerbread village in the world by the 2014 Guinness World Records. This marvel is typically on view mid-November through mid-January.
11. Step back in time with historical holiday traditions.
In mid-December, step into the 18th century with Candlelight Tours at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. During the special holiday tour, visitors will learn about the history of some of today’s most cherished holiday traditions.
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12. Go sledding on a snowy day.
Pull out your Flexible Flyer and get set for some downhill snow-day fun. Once there’s enough snow on the ground (4 to 6 inches), hills in New York City parks are fair game for sledding.
13. Go skiing at nearby mountains.
Grab your gear and pack up the kids for a day (or a few days) of skiing or snowboarding at one of the area’s many family-friendly resorts.
14. Go behind the scenes at the Museum of the Moving Image.
Escape from the cold at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. The only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the art, history, and technology of moving pictures, this museum boasts behind-the-scenes exhibits, hands-on workshops, and daily film screenings.
15. Attend an authentic Native American Pow Wow.
Over two weekends in late January and early February, city folks can get a taste of Native American culture during the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow Wow at Theater for the New City in the East Village of Manhattan. The event brings together Native American artists, educators, singers, dancers, storytellers, and performing groups from across the Americas. Check out more cultural festivals in the area.
16. Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Ring in the Chinese New Year in late January or early February with dragon dancers, steel drummers, fireworks, and more at the famous Flushing Lunar New Year Parade in Queens. Check our calendar for details closer to the date.
17. Brighten up with a winter festival in Brooklyn.
Brighten up those dark winter days with Illuminated, a pop-up festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Over two weekends in late January and early February, visitors will enjoy food, performances, crafts, and more, all inspired by winter.
18. Explore the Intrepid.
During school winter break in mid-February, join the Intrepid Museum for hands-on activities and shows about aviation and space exploration during Kids Week. Special guests and planetarium visits are included, all free with general admission.
19. Try something tastey at a children's food festival.
In late February, the Kids Food Festival in Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park educates little foodies and their families about making balanced food choices with lots of fun hands-on activities—and yummy food, of course!
20. Be a critic at a movie festival just for kids.
In February, the BAMKids Film Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music in Fort Greene features the best kids’ shorts and features from dozens of countries around the world. Plus, pre-film entertainment includes magic shows, stop-motion animation activities, face painting, and more.
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