Kids home from school? Cabin fever? Stop stressing – there’s so much to do in and around New York City when the snow hits. And best of all – you won’t have to break the bank. Check out these free winter activities in the Tri-State area. By Kimberly Coleman and Holly Rosen Fink.

Winter Waterfould

Prospect Park Audubon Center
Inside Lincoln Road/Ocean Ave. Entrance
Brooklyn, NY 11225
(718) 287-3400
Reviews & More Info

Explore Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with official Park Rangers as your guide on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. Rangers will teach your children to care for the environment and the parks – as well as protect them and their wild residents.

Free Passes to Museums

Multiple Locations (Check Your Local Library)
Long Island & NYC

Did you know that several library branches in Long Island take part in a special Museum Pass Program? If you have a library card in good standing, you can check out a Museum Pass, which provides you with a pass that is good for free admission to participating museums and attractions. For example, the Copiague Library offers free passes to eight different attractions including The Long Island Children’s Museum. When the passes are checked out, they grant free admission to families of four (to six – depending on the attraction). Discounts at the attractions’ gift shops are even included in certain cases. In addition to this wonderful program, Long Island local libraries also have a variety of other special winter programs all week during the break.

In New York City, many museums and galleries offer free or “Pay-What-You-Wish” days. Check out the list here.

Cockaponset State Forest and Pattaconk Lake Recreation Area

18 Ranger Road
Haddam, CT 06438
(860) 566-2304

There are so many winter activities that can be done in the great outdoors. Connecticut has a few small Alpine ski areas where families can enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing at budget prices. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are also available throughout the state in its various local and state parks. In addition, several good sledding hills are sprinkled throughout the various towns. If you already have your own equipment, many of these winter activities can end up being free of cost. If you don’t, you can always go for a free hike. The 15,652 acre Cockaponset State Forest, the second largest forest in Connecticut is the perfect place to go hiking. You can even avoid the seasonal weekend/holiday parking fee of $14 for state residents/$20 for non-residents if you go during the weekdays when there is no fee.

Walk on the Wild Side

Duke Farms
80 Route 206 South
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
(908) 722-3700

Although the farm is in the process of being transformed into an environmental center, the “Walk on the Wild Side” program is still being offered. Open to the public, this 2,700-acre property allows visitors to take their time exploring nature with this particular free recreational offering. Families who like to hike will be able to follow the 1.25-mile trail through a variety of different habitats…all at their own (self-guided) pace. This provides a great opportunity for parents to bring the natural sciences “alive” by pointing out and discussing the various wildlife and such while the kids are taking a break from the schoolbooks. The trail is open on Fridays through Sundays from 10am to 3pm and while reservations are not required, it is smart to call ahead for trail availability. (Closings can happen based on inclement weather or trail maintenance.)