As the temperatures dip, parents across the city begin looking for indoor refuges that’ll keep their kids both warm and entertained. Luckily, there’s still a lot to do if you’re not in the mood to brave the cold, thanks to the city’s many museums and playspaces—but when a day calls for something special, here are the spots to check out.
The Coolest Things to Do With the Kids When It's Freezing Outside
This growing mini empire—with locations in Brooklyn, Union Square and Hudson Yards—is so much more than a toy store. Enter through a secret doorway into a room packed full of interactive stations that little hands are encouraged to touch. Themes switch over every few months. The Fifth Avenue flagship has been transformed into the Toy Lab, for example, where kids can test the things they want to add to their wish list.
Multiple locations; camp.com
2. Milk Bar Flagship
Christina Tosi’s recently opened New York City HQ is like the Build-a-Bear of bakeries. While customers can pop in for all the usual cookies, cake truffles and pies, it’s the new custom treats that make a trip here extra memorable. Sidle up with the kids to tile-lined stations and watch their eyes grow as bakers prepare their cookie, cake or pint of ice cream right in front of them.
1196 Broadway; milkbarstore.com
3. Big Apple Circus
The Big Apple Circus has been wowing families for 42 years running, and it’s back this season with a performance that’ll keep the entire family on the edge of their seats, including theatrical juggling, high-wire acts and—best of all?—acrobatic cats. The show's only running until Feb. 2, so you've got to act fast—especially if you want to catch a performance by one of its guest ringmasters, like Pigeon series author Mo Willems (Jan. 16), RuPaul's Drag Race's Alexis Michelle (Jan. 23), and Christie Brinkley (Jan. 30-31, Feb. 1).
60 Lincoln Center Plaza; bigapplecircus.com
4. Dreamland Roller Rink
The pop-up roller rink is spending the winter at City Point (home of the parent-favorite food hall Dekalb Market) with special skate sessions for kids that run through February. Weekly “Learn to Skate” lessons happen on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, while more advanced families can put on their ’70s best for the Saturday-afternoon dress-up parties.
445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn; dreamlandrollerrink.com
5. Union Square Play
The popular play space—known for its open-play hours and no-membership-required classes—has teamed up with Sawyer to turn its 5,000-square-foot home into a holiday wonderland this December. The month will be filled with festive kids’ activities and also shoppable sections featuring brands like Lalo, Tiny Beans and Simka Rose.
36 E. 18th St.; unionsquareplay.com
6. Bowlmor Lanes
Finally get the tweens to put down their phones with the promise of laser tag. The Chelsea Pier location of Bowlmor Lanes has a city-themed laser tag adventure that has players running through replicas and murals of the Washington Square Park arch, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. Raising a thrill seeker? There’s also an aerial ropes course that includes a 35-foot-long bridge.
Pier 60; bowlmor.com
7. Alamo Drafthouse
Adults may know Alamo Drafthouse for letting grown-ups throw back a beer while watching a movie, but it has some special perks for mini cinephiles too. Parents with infants and special-needs kids can swing by for Alamo for All, see a classic flick for a discount (sales are donated to local charities) during holiday breaks or join for monthly viewings of PBS specials.
445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn; drafthouse.com