Alas, a child’s need for vigorous play seems to increase in direct proportion to falling temperatures. Don’t fret. Instead, when the weather gets frightful, head to one of the city’s best indoor play zones for a little rope-swinging, goat-grooming, magnetic wall-climbing, and nonstop energy-burning. By Jessica Allen.
The Art Farm in the City
419 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
At this organic, eco-friendly center on the Upper East Side, wee ones can learn how to care for and respect animals. Among the array of winged and/or four-legged friends available for petting and loving are guinea pigs, birds, bunnies, pigs, goats, lizards, turtles, and sheep. Daily drop-ins offer kids the chance to bake, make arts and crafts, and hang out with some or all of the aforementioned animals. Regularly scheduled classes include Art for Busy Kids, Farm Foodies Cooking, and a live, hands-on education workshop that focuses on animal habitation, classification, and husbandry.
129A West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
The philosophy at City Treehouse can be summed up as follows: children learn best through play. Infants and little toddlers will delight in the soft play studio, full of fabric tents, plush toys, and easy-peasy puzzles. Bigger kids will revel in the two-story treehouse, which features a secret cave among lots of other nooks and crannies. There’s also a crazy-fun water zone, including jets, sprinklers, hoses, dams, water wheels, buckets, and an interactive stream table. Bring a change of clothes and beach shoes, because you and the kids are definitely going to get wet.
Curiosity on Court
278 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Perhaps no creature on Earth is as curious as a human child—and that’s why a toddler, for better or worse, can spend hours going through your purse or taking everything out of your kitchen cupboard. Curiosity on Court, a huge play space in Brooklyn, exploits this universal characteristic by offering kids 10 and under a range of areas and scenes that foster exploration, creativity, and most importantly, imagination. There are magnet walls, climbing structures, tunnels, subway turnstiles and much more.
The Playroom NYC
1439 First Avenue
New York, NY 10021
Play is the name of the game at the aptly named Playroom NYC. At this facility on the Upper East Side, your kid can play, play, and play some more. Geared to tots between the ages of six months and five years, the Playroom includes climbing structures, tunnels, train tracks, fully-stocked pretend kitchens, slides, bouncers, and costumes. In short, it’s a toddler’s dream, regardless of whether said toddler is into things that go or stuff to wear. Another plus? The on-site staff is super-proactive about wiping things down, so you don’t have to worry about taking home anything extra, like germs.
144 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
With sand boxes and water areas and free-play zones, Twinkle is the kind of place your kids will fall in love with—and then never, ever want to leave. Designed for kids ages six and under, Twinkle has just one main rule: no shoes allowed. Other than that, pretty much anything goes in this fun, festive space in Brooklyn. We particularly love the life-size tree that lets kids get a bird’s-eye view of everything going on below, the fully padded dance studio (complete with blinking lights), and the pink-on-pink beauty salon, where kids can get or give a (fake) cut, color, or wash.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.