24 Best Indoor New York City Activities For Kids

A young girl looks down at a museum exhibit, writing notes.

Parents traveling to the Big Apple often wonder about the best indoor New York City activities for kids. From museums to toy stores and popular interactive experiences, kids of all ages are sure to find something that excites them. See a Broadway show, for example, or learn something new at the American Museum of Natural History. Knowing where to start can seem like the most complicated part, so planning your itinerary with these best indoor New York City activities for kids is a must. Whether it’s a rainy day or just too hot to spend time outdoors, we’ve got you covered with our list of best indoor New York City activities for kids. Keep reading for our parent-approved suggestions! 

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Best Indoor Activities in Midtown Manhattan for Kids

Midtown Manhattan is home to some of the best attractions in New York City, including things to do indoors with kids of all ages. If you’re wondering about the best indoor New York City activities for kids in Midtown, keep reading! We’ve compiled New York rainy day activities for kids, free activities in NYC for kids, and more!

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library

The exterior entrance to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in New York City.
Photo Courtesy: ajay_suresh via Wikimedia Commons

New York City may be renowned for its 42nd Street Library, but this isn’t the only library worth seeing. Families can visit the nearby Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids. Newly opened, this new destination showcases a plethora of books kids can browse, plus other fun stuff to do! During your visit, stop by the Children’s Center, which features storytimes, homework resources, and more. You can also grab a book and head to the Event Center and Rooftop Terrace to enjoy the view or eat. Afterward, head to nearby Bryant Park to ride Le Carousel, check out the outdoor reading carts, or go ice skating in the winter! 

Toy Shops

At one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids, four kids watch a staff member make a customized race car for kids at FAO Schwarz.
Photo Courtesy: FAO Schwarz

There’s no better way to spend a day indoors in New York City than at a toy shop! Of course, there are toy stores throughout Manhattan, but some of the most popular ones are located in Midtown, making them one of the best things to do on a cold day in NYC with kids. Head to Rockefeller Plaza to see the famous FAO Schwarz and take a picture with the security guards dressed in Buckingham Palace attire. Little kids will especially love exploring all the giant stuffed plush toys in the store. Other toy shops around Midtown include The Lego Store on 5th Avenue and the Nintendo Store. Teens may even enjoy a visit to the MoMa Design Store!

Build-A-Bear Workshop

A happy family leaves Build-A-Bear Workshop with their new teddy bears.
Photo Courtesy: Build-A-Bear Workshop

In the mood to visit more toy stores? Take home a fun memento from your trip to the Build-A-Bear Workshop! With a location near Herald Square, this is a convenient way to spend time indoors with kids. From tiny rabbits to teddy bears, little ones will love the interactive process of making their own stuffed animal. Add lots of stuffing, make a wish on a heart, then personalize your new furry friend with fun accessories! One plus of visiting the New York location is that there’s cute merchandise you won’t find in other chain locations, like mini I LOVE NEW YORK t-shirts! Though it’s smaller, there’s also another Build-A-Bear inside FAO Schwarz, so you can combine your trip too.

Broadway Shows

Kids of all ages will love the experience of watching a Broadway show in New York City. With so many to choose from, you’ll surely find one (or more) to appeal to your kids. Most of the famous Broadway theaters are located on the same stretch right off Times Square, so it would also be easy if you want to see more than one show. Plus, lots of kids’ shows also have matinee viewings to ensure kids don’t have to stay up that late. Aladdin is popular with Disney lovers of all ages, and so is The Lion King, which is entertaining for teens too. Little kids will love hearing their favorite songs live during Frozen!

New Victory Theater

The upper balconies at the New Victory Theater, with all the lighting on to illuminate the beautiful seating.
Photo Courtesy: New Victory Theater

Kids who aren’t quite ready for Broadway can visit The New Victory Theater, an off-Broadway establishment focusing on family-friendly programming. Located on 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenue, it’s accessible from Times Square and also one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids. Current performances kids may enjoy include Jabari: Dreams Of Freedom about the Civil Rights Movement and Stono, a show about African dance in America. Most shows are for ages seven and up, however, there are a few experiences for younger kids. Running from the end of May through June, little ones between four and seven can watch Leonardo! A Wonderful Tale About A Terrible Monster. It features puppets, projections, plus fun and silly music!

To experience the holiday magic in NYC, try these Best New York City Christmas Activities With Kids!

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Two young boys standing in front of the Intrepid Air & Space Museum with airplanes in the background and a view of the Manhattan skyline.
Photo Courtesy: Kelli Levesque Wein

Families can learn about maritime history at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum. Located on Pier 86 on West 46th St and 12th Ave, this kid-friendly museum is on an actual ship! It also has exhibits detailing the history of The Cold War, nuclear submarines, and airplanes. Historical context aside, kids will appreciate the hands-on interaction. Even older children will love climbing in the replica aircraft carriers! Of course, don’t forget about the star of the show: The Space Shuttle. You’ll feel like you’re actually on a plane as you visit the crew’s quarters and try the 4D simulator! Afterward, look at the torpedo room in the Submarine Growler, the only American missile submarine open to the public.

The Intrepid Air & Space Museum is included in the New York Sightseeing Pass, the New York CityPASS, and the Go New York Pass.

Gazillion Bubble Show

A performer on stage creates a huge bubble during the Gazillion Bubble Show.
Photo Courtesy: Rachita Sethi Reddy

Thousands of bubbles float before your eyes at the Gazillion Bubble Show. On 50th Street and 8th Ave, this off-broadway production may be better suited for younger kids, but older kids may appreciate it too. Witness a whimsical world of bubble magic and special laser lighting effects during this interactive, one-hour show. Little ones will gaze in awe at the different kinds of funky shapes, made from soap, water, and dry ice. And, the closer you are to the stage, the more likely some bubbles will land on you! It’s also great entertainment for little kids because the performers usually pick volunteers from the audience to participate. Show off your skills to an audience, then take some bubbles home!

American Girl Place

The American Girl Place is a must-visit for all doll lovers. Situated off Rockefeller Plaza, this department store specializes in all things buying, dressing, and enjoying quality time with American Girl Dolls. If kids don’t own one, visit the store to buy your first. Limited-edition dolls and permanent models allow kids to choose from cute options, each with a unique style. (Children can even customize one to look like them!) Afterward, browse to find accessories and clothes, then try one of the special experiences. Make a reservation for lunch or dinner so kids can eat alongside their favorite companion, hire a personal shopper, or head to the salon for a makeover to match their doll!

Best Indoor Activities near Central Park for Kids

Looking for the best indoor New York City activities for kids near Central Park? Though the park itself is always a popular attraction, you can also escape the elements inside for a bit. Here are our suggestions for New York City rainy day activities for kids!  

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater 

Three puppets, two people and one duck, on stage at a production for the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater.
Photo Courtesy: City Parks Foundation

Entertain yourself on a rainy day at The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater! Located on 79th Street near Central Park West, this historic theater showcases fun puppet shows for families with young kids. It’s no surprise it’s one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids! Inspired by children’s classics like Peter Pan, these interactive shows let families enjoy amazing music, acting, and even lighting optical illusions during a 50-minute performance. Parents usually sit on the sidelines to give kids a good view of the stage, so they can have fun with friends too. The City Parks Foundation also provides some other activities for young kids to complete at home or during their visit, like special coloring pages. 

Putting together an NYC itinerary? We have some great suggestions for the Best Itineraries for New York City with Kids!

Best Indoor Activities on the Upper West Side for Kids

If you’re exploring the Upper West Side with kids and need a break, feel free to stop at one of these indoor New York City activities for kids! We’ve included things to do indoors in NYC with kids, including things to do with toddlers.

American Museum of Natural History

See fossils come alive at the American Museum of Natural History. Accessible via the B or C train to 81st St, kids visiting here will feel like they’ve entered their very own viewing of Night at the Museum. Showcasing thousands of prehistoric artifacts, this family-friendly museum splits exhibits based on location, such as Asia, America, and Africa. Walk around in amazement as you pass exhibits with life-size dinosaurs, Alaskan brown bears, sea creatures, and other animals. And don’t forget about the giant blue whale hovering over the main area! Between Hayden Planetarium, a Sea Lion movie, and special rotating exhibitions, one day might not be enough for your family!

It’s a big museum, so we suggest visiting in the morning so you have enough time to see as much as possible. This is surely one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids!

The American Museum of Natural History is included in the New York Sightseeing Pass, the New York CityPASS, and the Go New York Pass.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Left Image: A young girl plays at the presidential exhibit at the Chidlren's Museum. Right Image: A young toddler walks across a colorful bridge inside the Children's Musuem.
Photo Courtesy: Rachel Rapisarda

Toddlers and young children will love the five floors of fun at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Located on West 83rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, it’s one of the best things to do in New York City with young kids! Exhibitions will get little ones thinking, from the environmental center with an outdoor water section to the first-floor art gallery. Kids can even climb through a giant, kaleidoscopic sculpture or pretend they’re the stars of their own comic book! While every exhibit caters to different ages, most are suitable for kids between two and ten years old. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan also provides families with various educational resources, like classes for kids. 

Best Indoor Activities in Lower Manhattan for Kids

If you’re exploring Lower Manhattan with your family, check out these indoor New York City activities for kids! From museums to candy stores, we’ve included some fun indoor places to go in Manhattan with kids. Stay tuned for our suggestions, including fun things to do when it’s raining in NYC with kids!

Candy Stores

Two men standing in front a candy filled with various candy brands at Economy Candy Store, one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Economy Candy

If your kids have a sweet tooth, indulge them with a trip to a famed candy store. From Times Square to Union Square, there are plenty of spots throughout the city. Of course, one of our top recommendations is Dylan’s Candy Bar, a classic attraction with multiple locations, from Union Square to the Upper East Side. Visit the one on East 60th Street and 3rd Avenue to shop from two floors of tasty goodies! For a more no-frills experience, you could also visit Economy Candy in the Lower East Side, otherwise known as the oldest candy store in New York City. Either way, your kids will want to spend hours just filling up their bags! 

A child overlooking the Seaglass Carousel in Lower Manhattan.

Take a spin “underwater” on the SeaGlass Carousel! Enclosed within its own building at the Battery Park Conservatory, this magical merry-go-round glows and changes color as it spins. But, instead of horses, it’s all vibrant fish! It’s perfect if you’re already sightseeing in the area, since there are lots of things to do nearby as well. Though older kids may be a bit bored here, younger children will surely be entertained. (Visit after sunset for even more amazing visuals!) Open all year round, it’s always a great family activity regardless of the season. Warm up during the winter, cool down during the summer, or escape a rainy day in New York.

Pro Tip: Ticket bundles save you money, so the whole family can ride together. No wonder this is one of the best things to do with toddlers in NYC and indoor New York City activities for kids!

The Sloomoo Institute 

Want the chance to touch slime? You can at Sloomoo Institute! Located between Broome and Grand Street along Broadway, this experimental pop-up lets kids get up close and personal with all types of unique textures. Dig your fingers into over 30 vats of slime, visit the ASMR sound station, and see some CGI renderings. Kids will love “tagging” the museum’s slime wall, building slime sandcastles in the toy area, or making their own slime. Plus, if you really want to get your hands dirty, pass through 250 gallons of slime during a special “slime shower!” Obviously, a visit here can get sticky fast, so we suggest bringing some wipes or even a vinegar solution to remove the slime. 

Museum of Ice Cream

A young girl sits on a bench at the Museum of Ice Cream that looks like a melted ice-cream cone next to a large sign that says "LOVE".
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to the Museum of Ice Cream! Located in SoHo, this interactive, Instagram-worthy exhibit usually has long lines, but it’s totally worth the wait. Kids will have plenty of chances to play, dance, and slide at 13 multi-sensory installations spread over 3 floors. Prepare to uncover incredible photo opportunities, since exploring the museum is a treat within itself! Step inside a colorful replica subway car, pose with giant ice cream scoopers, and hop in the giant sprinkle pool! Then, visit the cafe to sample some of the ice creams. While this experience may be fun for kids, a lot of parents consider it quite overpriced. We suggest it for younger kids.

Museum of Illusions

A man reached out to hold the head of a tiny woman sitting on a chair at the Museum of Illusions.
Photo Courtesy: Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions is certainly one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids! Located on 8th Avenue and 14th Street, this family-friendly museum is accessible by the A/C/E trains. With exhibits that appeal to young kids and Instagram-worthy shots for teens, a visit here is ideal for all ages. Every room is designed to deceive your senses, between colorful kaleidoscopes, holograms, and other fun visual illusions. Stare down into the Bottomless Pit, put your head on a plate, and tilt 90 degrees in the Reverse Room. Kids will love the Tilted Room and the True Mirror. Have your camera ready, since there are so many fun photo illusions to choose from! 

Traveling with little kids? Check out this list of the Best Things To Do In New York City With Young Kids!

Children’s Museum Of The Arts

A staff member helps several child paint, while they visit the Children’s Museum Of The Arts.
Photo Courtesy: Children’s Museum Of The Arts

Keep kids entertained at the Children’s Museum Of The Arts. Located in Lower Manhattan’s Hudson Square neighborhood, it’s rated one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids. This family-friendly museum showcases interactive exhibits and unique workshops designed to inspire children and jumpstart their imagination. In the galleries, children can explore hands-on exhibits to learn more about the artistic process, including shows about space. Then, in the workshops, they can put their knowledge to the test! From Screenprints to oil painting, clay, collages, sculpting, animation, and sound art, this class will give your little ones the confidence of a budding artist. Check the schedule for when you’re visiting. A few workshops require sign-up ahead of time.

The GIANT Room

Several kids and staff members do an activity in a very vibrant and colorful room at The GIANT Room.
Photo Courtesy: The GIANT Room

Creative kids can spend time at The GIANT Room, one of the best indoor New York City activities for kids. Located on 11th Avenue and 28th Street in Chelsea, this educational hub hosts weekend workshops, after-school programs, and more fun for kids between the ages of three and twelve. After-school programs feature fun activities like how to “build your own spa” with bath bombs, face masks, etc. There are also classes on clay modeling, doodling, and animation for more artistic kids. If you visit during a summer or winter break, be sure to check out the half or full-day camp options. Plus, for parties or large gatherings, you can also request a custom session.

CAMP, A Family Experience Store

Inside, CAMP, A Family Experience Store, featuring bright colors and kid-sized seating.
Photo Courtesy: CAMP, A Family Experience Store

CAMP, A Family Experience Store is unlike any shop you’ve ever visited. Though this interactive retail experience has multiple locations throughout New York City, two of the most popular are CAMP 5th Avenue in the Flat Iron District and CAMP Hudson Yards. At the Flat Iron location, kids can browse through a variety of fun toys, games, puzzles, candy, and more, accompanied by rotating themed experiences. (Recently, it was cosmos-themed, where the entire store was decorated with pretty stars!) There’s also a playhouse for kids to explore, a mini scooter track, tunnels to climb through, and other activities. At CAMP Hudson Yards, families can expect a similar selection of merchandise, with fun slides and an added ice cream shop.

Color Me Mine

Inside Color Me Mine, featuring shelves filled with ceramics ready for fun family-friendly classes.
Photo Courtesy: Color Me Mine

Let little ones unleash their inner artist at Color Me Mine in TriBeCa! Kids can paint their own pottery and ceramics at this family-friendly studio, which offers workshops, parties, etc. As one of the best fun indoor places to go in Manhattan with kids, they accept walk-ins for groups of five or less, so it’s the perfect place for families. (Groups of six or more need to call ahead of time.) A small studio fee covers the cost of painting, glazing, and firing, and kids can choose from fun ceramic shapes for under $20, like giraffes, butterflies, and more. You collect your pieces a week later, so schedule this at the beginning of your New York family vacation.

Best Indoor Activities in Brooklyn for Kids

Heading to Brooklyn with your family? Don’t worry, this borough has plenty of indoor New York City activities for kids! Here are our favorite indoor attractions in NYC for kids, including fun things to do in NYC when it’s raining!

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Left Image: A mom and her young child play at a water table at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Right Image: A mom and her young child play in a bus exhibit at the Brooklyn Chidlren's Musuem.
Photo Courtesy: Sherry Chen

Families with younger kids will love the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Located in a primarily residential neighborhood near Prospect Park, this off-the-beaten-path destination has fun exhibits to keep kids entertained. Permanent installations include The Sensory Room, where they can enjoy touch, sound, and sight exercises. Or, The Nest, an outdoor climbing structure located on the museum’s terrace. There’s even a Totally Tots section for the museum’s tiniest visitors and a Science Inquiry Center where kids can learn about the environment and local animals in the area. Right now, families can also enjoy a temporary maze exhibition on the second floor. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum also hosts a range of programs for all ages, like Making Art in the Color Lab.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is included in the New York Sightseeing Pass.

New York Transit Museum

A train pulls into station at the New York Transit Museum.
Photo Courtesy: New York Transit Museum

Travel underground and back in time at New York Transit Museum! Located in a vintage subway car, this downtown Brooklyn museum features fun, immersive exhibits everyone can enjoy. Alongside rotating shows, the museum also has a permanent collection where little ones can spot old subway artifacts such as turnstiles or conductor uniforms. Plus, since the museum is housed within an old subway station, it’ll be an interactive experience. Pass by the museum’s restored fleets of subway cars and buses, which you can see inside, touch, and pretend you’re really riding! Kids can run around and you’ll learn lots of contextual information too. If you’re hungry afterward, visit the on-site food court or head to nearby Shake Shack. ‘

Visit more family-friendly museums in NYC thanks to this list of the Best Museums In NYC By Age For Families!

Best Indoor Activities for Kids with Multiple Locations in NYC

Some things to do on a rainy day in NYC with kids have multiple locations throughout the city, from Manhattan to Brooklyn or Queens. So, next time you need to find the best indoor New York City activities for kids, you can go ice skating or even visit an escape room. Keep reading to find out more fun indoor activities in NYC for families! 

Ice Skating

Several young boys wearing winter gear and helmets skate along the rink at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers.
Photo Courtesy: Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers

Ice skating in New York City doesn’t have to be a winter activity only! If you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day in NYC with kids, The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers is one popular option in Manhattan. Relatively large but not too crowded, it has two large rinks, one for hockey and another for general skating. Figure skating, hockey lessons, and on-site concessions are available too. Outside, families can enjoy a wraparound terrace with stunning views of the Hudson River and The Statue Of Liberty. In Queens, visit the City Ice Pavillion, an NHL-sized rooftop rink available for open skating sessions. Staten Island boasts the Staten Island Skating Pavillion, offering public skating times on weekends. 

Visiting NYC in the winter? You’ll love these Exciting Places To Go Ice Skating In NYC With Kids!

Escape Rooms

Four pictures showcase the diverse escape rooms at Escape The Room NYC, with the words "Escape The Room" across the image.
Photo Courtesy: Escape The Room NYC

For a fun challenge, the whole family can participate in, visit an escape room! As one of the best things to do on a cold or rainy day in NYC with kids, one popular option is Escape The Room NYC in the Flat Iron District, featuring exciting challenges like “The Dig,” which is Indiana Jones-themed. With themes like “The Heist,” “Lost Spy,” and “Alien Encounter,” there are plenty of options to choose from at Clue Chase in Midtown. The Escape Game is also in Midtown with themes for kids, but unless you book a whole room, you’ll have to participate with others. In Brooklyn, check out Beat The Bomb, which combines an escape room with interactive games like puzzles.

Where to Stay in New York City with Kids

Inside the brightly-lit pool room at the Millennium Hilton New York Downton.
Photo Courtesy: Millennium Hilton New York Downtown

After you’ve explored the best indoor New York City activities for kids, you’ll need a place to stay. Luckily, New York City has lots of places to stay with kids! In Lower Manhattan, book a room at the Millenium Hilton Hotel in the Financial District or the trendy Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca. Or, stay in Midtown Manhattan at places like the Loews Regency New York. For a true luxury experience, we also recommend the nearby St. Regis New York.

For more suggestions on where to stay with kids in NYC, read our list of the Best Family Hotels In New York City With A Pool (Includes 1- to 3-Bedroom Suites!)

Happy Travels!

A young boy leans against an exhibit rail with a dinosaur skeleton in the background.
Photo Courtesy: Suzy Rodgers Gefen

We hope you liked this list of 24 Best Indoor New York City Activities For Kids! Whether you’ll be visiting Brooklyn, Manhattan, or the Bronx, we know you’ll love visiting the Big Apple as a family. Enjoy these indoor New York City activities for kids

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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Families Love Travel Team

The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.