What to Do with Your Kids this Spring in New York
80 things to do with your kids in the spring in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Westchester, Rockland, and Long Island.
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Celebrate St. Patrick and the luck of the Irish.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Pearl River hosts a super celebration of all things Irish, including the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the state, second only to the New York City parade. It typically features 12 bagpipe bands, Catholic school groups, veterans, fire fighters, police officers, and performances by Irish dance schools. Check for details on the parade in early March.
Find everything you need for your family.
For more than 20 years, families have flocked to Youthfest at the SUNY Rockland Community College Fieldhouse in Suffern to meet and learn about local businesses, services, and activities for kids and parents. This popular annual March event also features loads of giveaways, activities, and performances throughout the day. It’s organized by the Rockland County Youth Bureau.
Roast marshmallows on a campfire.
Gather around a Spring Campfire at the Tenafly Nature Center in Tenafly, NJ, in late March to learn how this season affects our local plants and animals. You’ll also listen to stories and roast marshmallows for s’mores. If you plan on making your own campfire at home, check out 10 tips on cooking food over the flames.
See your favorite Disney characters.
Experience the magic of Disney Junior Dance Party at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, where you can catch some of your favorite characters performing in late March.
Shop at the local farmers’ market.
In early April, the Nyack Farmers’ Market moves from its indoor location in the Nyack Center to the Main Street parking lot in downtown Nyack. Open Thursdays (8am-2pm) through December, the outdoor market offers local produce, cheese, wine, bakery and specialty items, and more. Get details on live entertainment at the market before heading over. If you can't find what you need there, check out another farmers' market in the area.
See a new kind of circus.
In April, UniverSoul Circus sometimes comes to Newark, NJ to deliver a unique, jaw-dropping performance with the message that everyone belongs.
Explore nature with your young children.
Beginning in late April, parents can bring their babies, toddlers, and young children to the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall for its Nature Strollers program, which opens up the museum’s family-friendly trails to this special group every Monday morning through June.
Search for Easter eggs with Boulder Bird.
Near Easter time, kids ages 10 and younger can join Boulder Bird’s Egg Hunt at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, home of the Rockland Boulders. Special prizes are hidden along with candy-filled eggs, and kids can take pictures with Boulder Bird and the Bunny throughout the day.
Help clean up your neighborhood.
In honor of Earth Day, Keep Rockland Beautiful hosts community cleanup events throughout the county to…well, keep Rockland beautiful! Find details on this and other community service activities on our website.
Learn where wool comes from.
The popular Sheep Shearing event at Bergen County Zoo in Paramus, NJ, invites visitors to cheer on the zoo’s flock of sheep as they get their annual haircuts in early May. In addition to shearing demos, there are children’s crafts, special story times, wool spinning demonstrations, and more, and you can enjoy visiting the animals and taking a spin on the zoo’s carousel while you’re there–or find another zoo, botanical garden, or nature center in the area!
Play in nature.
Stop by Grasshopper Grove at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center when it opens for the season, typically in mid-April. Located in Cornwall in nearby Orange County, Grasshopper Grove aims to inspire children to discover nature play spaces in their own backyards.
Get moving for a good cause.
Join the March of Dimes’ March for Babies in various New Jersey cities in early May to expand programs and educate medical professionals so that moms and babies can get the best possible care, even when pregnancy doesn’t go as planned. Find details on this and other charity walks in the area in our roundup.
Jump aboard a train ride.
Celebrate National Train Day in mid-May with a train ride (including one on Thomas the Tank Engine!) or by visiting a nearby train exhibit or museum.
Make Mom feel special with a trip to the Bronx for a Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party at the New York Botanical Garden. Live music, games, hands-on nature activities, picnicking, and the garden’s amazing array of plants and flowers all make this a worthwhile trip into the city.
Catch some thrills at an amusement park.
Rye’s Playland, in nearby Westchester County, opens for the season in mid-May with rides and games for all ages. Browse the full list of area theme parks, too.
Explore a farm.
Cropsey Community Farm in New City hosts open houses and other family events throughout the spring and summer. Visitors to this 12-acre organic, biodynamic community farm—the first of its kind in Rockland County—can typically stroll the fields, meet the farm team, meet animals, and do a planting activity or even work alongside the team in the fields.
Walk with dinosaurs.
Travel back in time—to the Jurassic period, to be exact—at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Leonia, NJ. This 30-acre zoo-like adventure park, where the “animals” are actually animatronic dinosaurs, typically opens Memorial Day weekend.
Interact with living history.
On late spring and summer weekends, the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site in nearby Orange County (690 Route 9W in Fort Montgomery, just north of Bear Mountain) hosts living history demonstrations complete with costumed interpreters and musket and cannon firings (featuring the fort’s pride and joy, a 32-pound cannon named George).
Attend the Spring Street Fair.
The New City Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Spring Street Fair in early June on Main Street in downtown New City. The fair features live music, bounce houses, food and craft vendors, kid’s activities, rides, games, a DJ, and more. Check newcitychamber.com for details.
Learn how maple syrup is made.
Maple Sugaring Day at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket is an experience to remember for anyone with a sweet tooth. Nobody but Mother Nature knows exactly when the sap will run, but the four- to-six-week season typically starts in late February or early March. Learn how to make maple syrup, candy, and other sweets from the farm’s maple trees. And don't forget to visit other places that offer maple sugaring events.
Enjoy an Irish celebration!
Embrace Irish music on the luckiest day of the year at the annual Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade in early March. This parade is Long Island’s oldest and largest, and it features a variety of pipe bands, including some of the finest of the New York metro area.
Find Easter eggs by the sea.
Orient Beach State Park’s annual Easter Egg Hunt is worth the trip for the novelty of hunting seaside. The Big Rabbit himself will be there to greet the wee hunters, ready to hand out prizes for those who discover the special eggs at this event, which changes dates according to when the holiday falls.
Find everything you need for your family.
The All Kids Fair at the Melville Marriott in April is half resource expo, half fun family outing that delivers a trove of educational vendors for parents. Kids get to enjoy balloon-twisting clowns, face painting, a petting zoo, and magicians while you peruse the offerings.
The Arbor Day Family Festival in late April at Coe Hall Mansion in Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay is a combo of learning and fun. With plenty of space for wiggly kiddies to romp, they’ll go home happy and tired—and with a better understanding of the importance of trees.
Make your own chocolate.
April showers bring…a need for rainy-day ideas for kids. And what’s better than eating chocolate? Making your own fresh. Kron Chocolatier in Great Neck allows you to do just that. From chocolate popcorn to chocolate truffles, a visit to this old-world candy crafter will satisfy the biggest sweet tooth.
Tiptoe through the tulips.
Huntington Tulip Festival at Heckscher Park in early May is a family-oriented, floral bonanza that showcases more than 20,000 tulips. Hands-on children’s activity booths, art exhibitions, and lectures and demonstrations are all featured among the blooms.
Make Mom feel special.
The Mother’s Day Picnic at Belmont Park in Elmont over Mother’s Day weekend is a unique way to celebrate the special ladies in your life. Pack your own picnic and watch the horse races with Mom and Grandma before heading over to the playground and petting zoo.
Get your first pedicure of the season.
Spring is the start of pedicure season! Looking for a bonding experience with your little girl? Lipstick & Lollipops has you covered. Located in Mount Sinai, this one-of-a-kind spa not only offers all the latest in nail styles, but glitter tattoos to show off with tank tops, too.
Hop on a mini train.
Around mid-May, Long Island Live Steamers in Brookhaven kicks off its seasonal Public Run Days, when train lovers (aka kids) can catch a ride Harry Potter-style. Relive the glory days of the railroad as you chug along 8 acres of tracks. And in honor of National Train Day, which typically coincides with Mother’s Day weekend, check out our full list of train rides and exhibits in the area.
Snap lots of pictures of cherry blossoms.
The Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University in May is a wonderful way to learn about Japanese culture. With workshops in origami, martial arts, taiko, dance, and painting, this fest will wow kids as well as grown-ups.
Go for a stroll.
As the weather warms, thoughts turn to strolling—and Downtown Glen Cove is a really good place to do just that. Meander past boutiques, restaurants, specialty food markets, a movie theater, and a marina. And don’t miss Justin’s Toys, a store that offers workshops in which kids create their own playthings.
Walk among treetops.
If your family is on the adventurous side, take a trip to The Adventure Park in Wheatley Heights. Consisting of eight different ropes courses amidst 5 acres of trees, this park will satisfy any adrenaline-fueled family.
Visit a lighthouse.
A calming and relaxing experience, visiting the Fire Island Lighthouse is a must for any Long Island family. Walk the scenic boardwalk, visit the museum, and climb to the top of the tower that’s become one of Long Island’s best-known symbols.
Spend the day at an all-in-one nature site.
Where can you find exotic animals, a fitness trail, an ecology center, a picnic area, and three pools? Only at the Town of Brookhaven’s Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve in Holtsville.
Meet various dog breeds.
Sure to bring a smile to your child’s face, the Long Island Kennel Club Annual Dog Show in mid-May—recently relocated to Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay—features a breed showcase and a “My Dog Can Do That” event. Bring your own talented pooch!
Explore local flora and fauna.
Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center in Oyster Bay comes to life in spring. You’ll find birds of prey as well as reptiles and amphibians native to our area. Consider an Owl Prowl or other guided hike.
See beautiful springtime colors.
The Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River is awash with color in May. Five different nature walks are available next to the Connetquot River. Kids will surely stop at the duck and chicken pens. Find more info on Bayard and other nearby nature centers in our zoo guide.
Take a spin on a carousel.
Remember Nunley’s Carousel in Baldwin? A historic landmark and place of fondest childhood memories for many of us, the amusement park closed in 1995. But the cherished carousel continues to spin in a beautiful dedicated building at Museum Row in Garden City.
See an awesome parade of planes.
The Bethpage Air Show, a Memorial Day staple at Jones Beach in Wantagh, is a can’t-miss Long Island event that showcases world-class military and civilian fliers. Pack a lunch and some sunscreen, and witness the incredible feats of amazing pilots and parachuters (be sure to bring earplugs for the youngest in your brood and for kids with sensitivities).
Main photo by Antonio M. Rosario