When it's too hot, wet or cold, check out these family-friendly spots for free adventures. Get wiggles out and people watch at museums, stores, libraries and more with no cover charge.

Also see our guide to free museum hours and (not free but fun) interactive pop-ups.


The 81st Street Studio at the Met

📍1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
Thu-Tue 10 am–5 pm

Explore hands-on stations where art and science meet at the Met’s new free drop-in discovery and play space. Investigate the scientific properties of materials like wood, metal, and clay, play instruments, browse books and more interactive fun.

⭐️ Pick up a free 81st Street Studio Family Field Guide to explore the Met galleries—and the world beyond—with instructions that guide discovery and useful tools, a Look it Up reference booklet, and a field notebook for recording data and drawing conclusions


David Rubenstein Atrium

📍Broadway between W 62nd & 63rd Streets
Mon–Fri 8 am–10 pm
Sat–Sun 9 am–10 pm

Lots of space for kids to roam in the happening atrium, plus a wall of greenery and a fountain. Check out free music and dance events throughout the week.

Big bathroom with a changing table on the second floor. Pick up discounted theater tickets at an outpost of TKTS.

🍽 Lots of tables and chairs plus seating among the fountain. All-day breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, wine, and dessert avialable at counter service The Independent Café (Tue–Sat 9 am–5 pm + during Atrium performances).


American Folk Art Museum

📍2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue at W 66th Street
Tue-Sun 11:30 am-6:00 pm

The cozy, always free American Folk Art Museum features rotating family-friendly exhibits featuring Americana art that often includes engaging colors, patterns and animals.

🧵 Look lots of birds, butterflies and other animals in over 35 unique quilts What That Quilt Knows About Me.



Rockefeller Center Shops

📍30 Rockefeller Plaza
10 am-8 pm

Play in iconic interactive stores at Rockfeller Center.

Dance on the giant piano at three-story toy store FAO SCHWARZ. Explore immersive environments for historical and contemporary high-end dolls at AMERICAN GIRL. Say hi to life-size Mario, Luigi and Bowser and try the newest Switch games at NINTENDO. 


Lego Store Rockefeller Center

📍636 Fifth Avenue at 50th Street
Daily 10 am–8 pm

Take photos with taxis, subway stations, the Statue of Liberty and other NYC icons built out of LEGOS. Make mosaics, create a custom Minifigure ($11.99), look for hidden treasures in the enormous Tree of Discovery and shop for exclusive sets, hard-to-find bricks and elements that you can select by hand at the rainbow Pick A Brick wall. Don’t miss the detailed replica of Rockefeller Center…


New York Public Library

📍476 Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
Mon, Thu-Sat 10 am–6 pm
Tue-Wed 10 am–8 pm
Sun 1 pm–5 pm

The city’s oldest library is grand, gorgeous and welcoming to all ages with engaging rotating exhibits. Say hello to the marble lions Patience and Fortitude by the famous Fifth Avenue stairs and check out the famous billowing cloud ceiling mural on the Rose Main Reading Room.

In free exhibit The New York Public Library Treasures, see some of the most extraordinary items from the NYPL’s collections including the stuffed inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh, Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten cop, and fabulous costumes on display and in videos.

Also visit the magnificent new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library’s children’s room and rooftop reading terrace with gorgeous views over Manhattan across the street at 40th Street & Fifth.

🌳 🍽 Find food and fun at adjacent Bryant Park.


Macy’s Herald Square

📍151 W 34th Street
10 am–9 pm

“America’s Largest Department Store” covers an entire city block with 11 levels. Find fun photo-ops, toy demos and occasional give-aways inside the ToysRUs store-within-a-store on the seventh floor. Pose with Geoffrey the giraffe, kid-seized hot wheels, Thomas the train and more favorites. Also dance on the 16 feet long piano in the basement. Look for seasonal decorations and events including the Flower Show in the…


The Shops at Columbus Circle

📍10 Columbus Circle
Mon-Sat 10 am-8 pm
Sun 11 am–7 pm

Check out the giant (naked) sumo statues, escalators, colorful displays and wide open spaces at this large upscale shopping mall on the SW edge of Central Park. Browse unique toys for all ages at the CAMP Store, plus slide, play with flip sequin walls, check out cool toys, make customizable slime at the Schmutz Station and, for limited time, join a rescue in the The…



Market 57

📍25 Eleventh Ave
Sun-Thu 11 am–8 pm
Fri-Sat 11 am–10 pm

Sample a variety of food–  Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Caribbean, Vegan, Ice Cream and more –  at more than dozen kiosks with a talented mix of minority- and women-owned businesses, outposts for beloved pop-up concepts, and seasoned operators’ bold creations. Curated under the guidance and mentorship of The James Beard Foundation, the market is committed to championing the Good Food For Good™ mission by supporting…


Harry Potter New York

📍935 Broadway
Mon–Sat 9 am– 9 pm
Sun 9 am –7 pm

Find magical photo opportunities over three spacious floors while shopping for the largest collection of Harry Potter products in the world, from pocket money items to rare collectibles.

Strike a pose inside a London phone box as if transporting yourself to the Ministry of Magic or step into Hagrid’s boots. Scan Enchanted Keys around the store to bring the magic to life. Browse over 50 wands inspired by characters.

Reserve online to transform into a Hogwarts student and cast spells with your wand or fly on a broom in two (fun but very short) VR adventures (ages 10+, $34).

🍽 Stock up on chocolate frogs and try Butterbeer ice cream other treats in an area inspired by Honeyduke.


Chelsea Market

📍75 Nineth Avenue at W 15th Street
Mon-Sun 7 am–10 pm

Choose from doughnuts, tacos, hand-pulled noodles, lobster rolls, gelato and many more delicious options at this indoor market. Find covered outdoor tables available along 15th and 16th Streets. Shopping options include books, chocolate and fun Chinese merchandise & snacks at Pearl River Mart. Find all sorts of sweet treats at a new outpost of legendary Economy Candy. Look for art installations among twinkling lights and cool…


Books Of Wonder

📍42 W 17th Street
Daily 11 am–7 pm

Founded in 1980, this delightful store is focused on children’s books. Browse a carefully curated selection of books for babies through teens (many of them signed by th author), as well as vintage, old, rare, and collectible editions for collectors and those looking for long lost treasures. Friendly and knowledgable employees are always have great recommendations. Admire a gallery of original children’s book art and…



National Museum of the American Indian – New York

📍One Bowling Green
Daily 10 am–5 pm

All ages can learn about the culture and contributions of Native Americans at the engaging New York branch of this DC museum, housed in the grand Alexander Hamilton US Custom House. Lots of opportunities for hands-on exploration in multiple rooms. Touch a buffalo hide, match animal drawings, learn about Mayan math, play in a teepee and more.

⭐️ Pick up a fantastic family guide and find featured items among the galleries including wood and stone carvings, exquisite clothing, feather bonnets and lots of animal representations.


Essex Market

📍88 Essex St
Mon-Sat 8am–8pm
Sun 10 am–6 pm

Sample fresh, affordable, and high quality food and other items from 40+ small businesses in this Lower East Side fixture.S hop vendors with individual stories and distinctive personality for delicious treats like cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine, cheeseburger empanadas from Dominican Cravings, ube ice cream from  L.E.S. Ice Cream Factory and many more diverse options. Vendor hours vary Lots of tables available at the light-filled…


Brookfield Place

📍220 Vesey Street

Palm trees in the Winter Garden, lots of space and stairs, views of New York Harbor and Lady Liberty, many delicious food options including French market Le District, intriguing exhibits, diverse programming for all ages and seasonal skating make this downtown shopping center and office complex an excellent destination for bad weather days. Connected to the Oculus via an underground tunnel.


Westfield World Trade Center Oculus

📍185 Greenwich Street
Mon-Sat 10 am–8 pm
Sun 11 am–7 pm

The largest shopping complex in Manhattan, housed in the stunning Oculus, has over 216 stores, yummy restaurants and cafes, festive seasonal decor and lots of great programming for all-ages.

🍽 Diverse options for food and treats include Italian emporium Eataly Downtown.


South Street Seaport Museum

📍12 Fulton Street
Wed-Sun 11 am–5 pm

Explore New York’s origins as a world port and learn about the global interaction of commerce, labor and diverse cultures that took place at the Seaport in centuries past. Board and explore 1885 cargo ship Wavertree and early 20th century lightship Ambrose.

Play with toy boats and sea creatures among maritime-themed art by a beloved creator of picture books for young children at hands-on Seaport Discovery: Exploring Our Waters with Eric Carle.

⭐️ Book rides on the harbor on the 1885 Schooner Pioneer and last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat ($15-$30).