9 Non-Lame Ways to Keep Kids Entertained for a Day in NYC
You’re babysitting your niece when it suddenly dawns on you that your normal Saturday agenda doesn’t exactly work for an 8-year-old. Fear not: We’ve found some of the city’s coolest kid-friendly activities that just so happen to be kind of fun for adults too.
Get Trolled (in a Good Way)
Forget about the internet-era definition of troll and instead spend a day with the way more fun rainbow-haired version at DreamWorks’ The Trolls Experience, an immersive, hands-on adventure in the heart of NYC. Think a complete Troll makeover with Troll wigs, glitter tattoos and full face painting by the Glitter Gurus. There’s even a Caterbus filled with floating gems and a dance party with 3-D Glitter Goggles. Oh, and tickets are buy one, get one free from now until June 16. The kids will have a blast, and you’ll get plenty of colorful fodder for the ’Gram.
218 W. 57th St.; trollstheexperience.com
Make a Mess in Someone Else's Kitchen
You made cookies with your niece in your apartment exactly once and you’re still finding remnants of flour on the cabinets. Save yourself the cleanup and take her to one of the city’smany kid-friendly cooking classes. Eataly regularly hosts hands-on classes for dishes like cannoli and suppli al telefono (cheesy rice croquettes), while every Sunday at Soho restaurant Nonna Beppa, your junior chef can learn to make pasta from scratch while you kick back over a leisurely brunch.
Go Camping without leaving the City
Not ready to deal with the separation anxiety and/or cost of summer camp? Pop by this Flatiron toy store, which doubles as an experiential play space. Along with tons of cool toys and games, there’s a hidden door that opens up to a camp-themed back room that hosts activities like live sing-alongs, crafts and pajama parties.
110 Fifth Ave.; camp.com
Spend a Day on Governors Island
We’ve enjoyed many a grown-up excursion to Governors Island (see: the Jazz Age Lawn Party), but did you know it’s great for kids too? For starters, there’s the Hills, a park area that features rolling slopes, sweeping views and four giant slides (including the longest one in NYC, at 57 feet). There’s also Play:groundNYC, a 50,000-square-foot “adventure playground” made up of repurposed materials like old doors and tires—think a sterilized junkyard where kids can climb, build and explore (with constant supervision from designated “playworkers”).
Play Games at Brooklyn Crab
Hop on the ferry to Red Hook (even the transportation is fun!) and head to this kid-friendly waterfront shack for mini-golf, bean-bag toss, sandboxes and eat-with-your-hands buckets of seafood (plus hot dogs for picky eaters…and watermelon margaritas for you).
24 Reed St., Brooklyn; brooklyncrab.com
Head to the “Country” at the Queens County Farm Museum
Little city slickers can get acquainted with goats, pigs and chickens at NYC’s oldest continuously operating farm—it’s been around for, oh, 320 years. For the full rural experience, stop by for the Queens County Fair (September 21 and 22) for pie-eating contests, hayrides and carnival games.
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Queens; queensfarm.org
Jump It Out at a Trampoline Park
Got a ball of energy on your hands? Head just outside the city (an hour on the LIRR plus a quick cab ride) to Bounce, a massive playground of trampolines, foam pits, extra-springy dodgeball and more. (It happens to be an awesome workout too.) If she’s not tired after a full day of acrobatics, we don’t know what to tell you.
310 Michael Dr., Syosset; bouncesyosset.com
Keep It Classy With a Museum Tour
Maybe your babysitting charge is more of the artistic type, in which case he’ll be right at home on a family tour of the Whitney. On weekends, the education center turns into a hands-on studio, where kids (and adults) can create their own masterpieces inspired by the works on view.
99 Gansevoort St.; whitney.org
Geek Out with VR
The ultimate challenge: an older kid who refuses to part with her phone for more than 30 seconds. Take her to Jump Into the Light for trippy digital experiences like painting, zombie hunting and even “3-D selfies” that you can use to print out mini versions of yourselves.
180 Orchard St.; jumpintothelight.com