Get Inside and Play!
by Erin O’Hara, 12/31/2008
- more in kids/
The wintry weather doesn't seem to be winding down anytime soon, but that doesn't mean the little ones have to sacrifice good old-fashioned fun until spring. In New York City, there are lots of indoor spots devoted to keeping kids active—even when playgrounds and ball fields are covered in snow.
Chelsea Piers is an indoor athletic wonderland, and everything here—from the Golf Club to the Sky Rink—is kid-friendly. But the real score is the Field House, which offers youth classes and clinics in soccer, basketball, baseball, dance, gymnastics and even rock climbing. Throw in the batting cages, the Little Athletes Exploration Center (ages 6 months to 4 years) and birthday-party packages, and you've got every energetic kid's winter dream come true.
Brooklyn's Powerplay offers challenging athletic entertainment for children as young as 9 months and as old as 9 years through dance, rock climbing, cheerleading, gymnastics and general fitness classes. It also has classes for children with special needs. The little athletes—grouped by age with names like Cozy Cubs (9–12 months) and Mighty Bears (5–6 years)—will have a ball here while exercising and developing their poise and motor skills. Tucked alongside Madison Square Park, Apple Seeds is another great place for active kids to stretch and grow. The schedule includes Apple CORE Training, Move Baby, Move! (a gym class for tots ages 6–12 months), Scribble and Dribble (a combination of art and athletics) and an array of art, science, language, dance, music and cooking classes. Apple Seeds members receive access to the venue's 15,000-square-foot play area and discounts at the boutique (which offers books, toys, clothing and plenty of environmentally friendly goods) and on-site kids' hair salon.
Indoor playgrounds are sprouting up all over NYC. Down in TriBeCa, Playgarden features all the trappings of the outdoor variety: monkey bars, ladders, slides, ball pits and even trampolines—and they're all made of recycled, safe materials. Another spot with an indoor playground, Citibabes, is a trendy SoHo youth haven. Its laundry list of innovative classes includes CitiYoga and Muscle Movers, plus cooking, science and eco-friendly art courses. New York Kids Club offers semester-long classes in fitness, gymnastics, martial arts, rock climbing and conditioning—and participants gain access to the club's open-play sessions (though these require the purchase of packs of Play Passes).
For future jumpers, climbers, tumblers and contortionists, LAVA in Brooklyn is the perfect place to let off some steam. Children as young as 3 can take acrobatics and trapeze classes, and free workout sessions are offered every Wednesday. Another great option for high-flying tots or class clowns, the New York Circus Arts Academy offers beginners classes in trampoline and tumbling, aerial acrobatics, juggling and stilting, along with more advanced ventures, such as trapeze, hand balancing, aerial silk and aerial hoop. (Visit the New York Circus Arts Academy's website for class descriptions.) Children who aren't quite sure if they're ready to run away and join the circus can give it a whirl at a two-hour-long single-session introductory class, offered three times a week. Before you know it, you may be watching their premiere performance in Cirque du Soleil.
Young New Yorkers who dream of one day breaking Michael Phelps' gold-medal record can keep working toward their goal during the winter, thanks to indoor public swimming pools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Visit nycgovparks.org for more information.
These days, ice-skaters have more options than the classic standbys at Rockefeller Center and Central Park. For some indoor fun that's just as cool—literally—there's City Ice Pavilion, an indoor NHL-size rink in Long Island City. Snow bunnies of all ages can enjoy a leisurely whirl around the rink during public-skating sessions, held every day of the week. And future winter Olympians can attend City Ice Pavilion's skating school, clinics and camps for hockey and figure skating.
By the time the kids try out all the winter activities NYC has to offer, spring just might already be in full swing.