Ready for the holidays? Okay, the one day that is Christmas and then the next 10ish filler days until school starts again. It’s too cold to play outside (but it doesn’t look like snow either), and they’re bored of all their usual haunts. Here are some new ideas to keep it fresh this holiday break.
Been There: Stepping Stones Children’s Museum
How About: Liberty Science Center?
Liberty Science Center is located in Jersey City, about 45 minutes from Westchester. The museum is set off from the rest of the city with its own parking lot (pay $7 there or park for free at the station lot down the street, just be sure to read the signs to make sure it’s free the day you choose to visit).
Just inside the doors are four floors of exhibits. This museum has the space for large-scale stuff, including a planetarium, a climbing structure for kids over 40”, large rooms for special exhibitions, and a skyscraper zone that features a beam walk (harnessed, of course) for kids over 40”. From the moment they walk in, kids will be mesmerized by the sheer space of the museum. The Hoberman Sphere, a metal-jointed orb that uses a pulley system to expand and contract all day, sets the tone as you head inside for a WOW afternoon.
Though K-2 seems to be the sweet spot for this hands-on learning center, our 2 year old and 4 year old played for hours during our most recent visit. While there is no designated toddler area, there is a zone geared toward younger kids called I Explore that features several sensory exhibits like an air maze that sucks in fabric balls and puffs them out high into the air. Or dip your hands into the rice trough and start scooping. There are also tracks and wheels to play with physics, and a light wall with lots of colored pegs.
Liberty Science Center is one of the few children’s museums in our area that features licensed special exhibits. Visit before January 27 to see the Doc McStuffins medical exhibit. Kids can put on a lab coat and visit the Pet Vet to “x-ray” stuffed animals and give them wellness visits.
There’s a nursery with baby dolls and an operating room. Topics featured are hygiene, exercise, and eating well.
The museum also has more than 100 live species. Visit them in the exhibit Eat or Be Eaten. This isn’t your typical fuzzy zoo walk. Kids can see more offbeat contributors to the ecosystem such as naked mole rats, tamarins, frogs, and ants and learn about evolution and the food chain.
Been there: The Play Place
How About: Billy Beez?
Just over the Tappan Zee (fine, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge) is the Palisades Mall. If your kids like to climb and slide and are getting a little bored of The Play Place, Billy Beez on the first floor of the mall (next to Best Buy), will keep them busy for hours. It’s more pricy, but your admission is good all day, so you can take a lunch or shopping break and come back for more action.
There are tons of slides, a giant climbing structure, a ball cannon, a soft play area for crawlers, trampolines, and more. Kids love it, and we know a lot of parents that think it’s a good time too. The place is big enough for you to climb and slide with them.
Been There: The Westchester Mall’s play area
How About: The Danbury Mall?
We all love the fourth floor of the Westchester Mall. The food court serves grilled cheese sandwiches and wine, there are kid-sized potties, and the play area is a great place to unwind and let the little ones off leash.
But wouldn’t it be nice to visit a mall with free parking and stores you could actually afford to shop in? Enter the Danbury Mall. Just 45 minutes from mid-county, this mall has a carousel, a small children’s play area with slides and small structures to climb, and coin-operated ride-on cars and trucks. Kid-friendly stores include LEGO, Build-A-Bear, Disney Store, Janie & Jack, and lots of fun mom stores, too. Plus they have a food court that is more kid-friendly (there’s a McDonald’s!)
Been there: Bounce U
How About: Rockin Jump?
Rockin Jump has two locations in Yonkers and Mount Kisco and features a Rockin Tots jump time, where from 9am to 11am most days, kids under 6 get the run of the place. They get access to the entire play space: an obstacle course with a slide and a foam pit, a trampoline room, slam dunk courts, dodgeball courts and jousting pits.
It’s very baby-friendly too. We’ve come with a kid in a carrier or car seat and had no trouble letting the baby hang while big sis bounced all around. It’s $18 for one parent and one child to bounce for 2 hours. Discounts available for additional siblings and parents.
Been there: iPad on the couch
How About: Alamo Drafthouse’s Kid-Friendly Screenings?
Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, the souped-up movie theatre with food and booze, offers Alamo For All screenings, which are sensory-friendly and little-kid tolerant. And they have plenty of showings over the holidays! Take the kids to see Mary Poppins, Spider-Man, or Aquaman on Christmas, among other films being shown during the week.
Alamo for All screenings have brighter lights, lower sound, and allow talking and moving around the theatre. Whatever makes them comfortable. One friend even used to drag in a portable high chair and make a whole setup so she got a break and everyone could enjoy the movie.
Been there: Weekly library programs
How About: Special Events from the Baby Got Chat event calendar?
Most recurring library programs are taking a break over winter vacation, but many places have stepped up with holiday programming to fill the gaps. Check out the Baby Got Chat event calendar for special events happening every day. Stop by the Crestwood Library for Dance with Daphne or their Frozen Karaoke Party, or hit up Westchester’s Winter Wonderland or Lasdon Park’s Holidays on the Hill.
Special Bonus: What to do on New Year’s Eve
NEW YEAR’S EVE FUN
Ring in the New Year at Noon at New Roc City
New Roc City, 10:30am to 12:30pm
For the 9th year in a row, New Roc City will host their festive ‘Ring in the New Year at Noon’ event for kids ages 2 – 10 in the atrium on Sunday, December 31st from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm. Parents and kids will enjoy an exciting Times Square inspired atmosphere in a safe and fun environment.
The highlight of the event is always the thrilling count down to a 3,000+ balloon drop at noon, along with face painting, arts and crafts, kiddy rides, clowns, wheel of chance, games, snacks, goody bag, raffle prizes and much more! $10 per family. Click here for more info.
Countdown to Noon at Bounce U
Elmsford, 11:00am to 1:00pm
Come ring in the New Year, BounceU Style. An all ages bounce featuring 90 minutes in the 2 giant bounce rooms (45 minutes each). All participating kids will receive hats, horns and blowers. We'll stop the action to do a countdown to 12 noon! Then all kids will enjoy a pizza party with soft drinks. A great way to celebrate the New Year with young friends. 2 hours; $19.95 plus tax per child. Reservations required. Click here for more info.
Countdown to Noon at Fun Craft
Scarsdale, 11:30am to 12:30pm, registration required
Ring in the New Year with your family and friends! We’ll host our very own countdown to the ball drop at noon on New Year’s Eve, while we sing, dance and play our way into the new year! Come hungry for continental breakfast! Ball drop begins at 11:59am! $20 includes admission for one child and one parent. Click here for more info.
Family Party at Blue Moon Mexican Cafe
Bronxville, reservations starting at 4pm
This annual kid-friendly party is celebrating its 20th year. Head to Blue Moon for an early celebration with a clown, balloon art, party hats, and noisemakers. Free entertainment with dinner purchase. Click here for more info.
Dave & Buster’s Family New Years Eve Celebration
Pelham Manor, 5pm to 8pm
Dave & Busters is offering an exciting and fun way for you & your family to ring in the New Year! Choose Package 1 for $45 (includes tax and tip) and receive: An appetizer buffet with family favorites, Dessert, Unlimited soft drinks, $20 Power Card per guest, A video ball drop to ring in the New Year, Face Painter and craft station. Or upgrade to Package 2 for an extra $7 and receive a $25 Power Card per guest to use on video games. Click here for more info.
Westchester’s Winter Wonderland New Year’s Eve Party with Ball Drop at 7pm
Kensico Dam Plaza, 5pm to 9pm
Parents and kiddos alike will love our family friendly New Year’s Eve Ball Drop that takes place at 7pm and is followed by a fantastic 5-minute pyrotechnic show. Tickets are $20 per adult. Kids 3 and under are free. Click here for more info.
That's it for this week. Don’t forget to check out our exclusive list of every children's library program in Westchester. Many programs are on winter hiatus, so be sure to check the library’s calendar to be sure the event you want to attend is still happening. And for more special events every day, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
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See you next time!