No-School Cool: What to Do with the Kids on Veterans Day

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No school? No problem! There are plenty of delightful diversions happening all around the city on Veterans Day, November 11, and some places are even hosting special events or classes for the liberated masses. Check out our recs on how to make the most of the day with no class.


photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Flickr

Salute Veterans at the Parade
Officially known as America’s Parade, the New York City Veterans Day Parade is the largest celebration of veterans in the country. This year’s theme is “Honor and Remember”, and the featured military branch is the Navy. Expect marching bands from around the country, floats, vintage vehicles and more, as well as Grand Marshall World War II and Navy vet former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau.

11:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
5th Avenue from 26th St. to 52nd St.


photo: Emmanuel Milou via Flickr

Kids’ Day Off: Go Behind the Scenes at MSG
Join the folks at the JCC Manhattan for a behind-the-scenes tour of Madison Square Garden. The tour includes a visit to the Knicks & Rangers locker rooms and much more. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. (Kids should bring a packed lunch and drink.)

Tickets: $150/public; $135/members

Go on a Discovery Walks for Families: Trees of Central Park
Take part in a free, hands-on, guided exploration and identification of some of Central Park’s majestic trees and enjoy the seasonal foliage, too. Nature trekkers can also borrow a Discovery Kit — a rugged backpack filled with kid-friendly binoculars, field guides, and other discovery tools. Pre-registration is required; terrain may not be suitable for strollers. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Belvedere Castle
Mid-Park at 79th Street


photo: Big Apple Circus

Hit the Tent at the Big Apple Circus: The Grand Tour
Now in its 38th Season, the Big Apple Circus has returned to the Big Top at Lincoln Center. The theme of this year’s show is the 1920s-inflected The Grand Tour, which celebrates the advent of modern travel by ships, planes, train and automobiles. Expect acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, clowns, and more from all over the world, as well as ponies, puppies and live music from the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band. No seat is more than 50-feet away from the action!

Tickets: Starting at $25

Run, Jump, Play, Craft and More at New York Kids Club
The New York Kids Club brings the full power of its offerings to bust boredom on school break days. (If you child’s school is closed on Election Day, they have you covered there, too.) Times, activities and price vary by location, but some mix of music, gymnastics, arts and crafts, cooking and theater will keep the kids busy for much of the day.

Locations throughout New York City

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photo: Taste Buds Kitchen
Get Cooking with Taste Buds Kitchen
This Chelsea culinary spot will host two kids’ events inspired by Food Network’s Chopped! on Veterans Day. From 9 a.m. to noon,  kids 4 to 8 years old will make 2-3 recipes from scratch, with fun elements like mystery baskets, surprise ingredients and cooking challenges. From 1 – 4 p.m. little cooks 9 to 13 years old will do the same.
109 W. 27th St., 10th Fl.
Get Wild at the Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo offers one-day camps when school is not in session for kids Pre-K to 1st grade, and those in grades 2 – 5. Campers make enrichments treats for the animals, study animal behavior, do arts and crafts and play zoo games.
64th St. at 5th Avenue
Tickets: $80
Celebrate Veterans with Art at CMOM
Pay a visit to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and contribute to its Veterans Day Patriotic Pinwheel Installation. Kids can add one to the large spinning sculpture saluting veterans and also make one to take home.

Drop-in 10 a.m. – 1p.m. & 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Free with museum admission
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side


photo: Twinkle via Yelp

Sample the City’s Drop-in Play Spaces
You’ve got lots to choose from! Here are our picks in Brooklyn or Manhattan, many of which don’t require a membership.

Hang with Project Playdate
There’s never a dull moment on the 11th with Project Playdate in Tribeca, and registration is now open for both half- and full-day slots. Activities include a fun and educational workshop at Launch Math, a music workshop and a hip hop dance class. Online:



photo: via Prospect Park Facebook page

Spend the Day in Prospect Park
Brooklyn’s back yard will be hosting several fee events, starting at noon. The Prospect Park Audubon Center will host a Bird Nerd Game Hour with puzzles, bingo and more from 1-2 p.m.; an Alliance Naturalist will lead families to areas of the park to learn about nature and participate in a Citizen Science project; at 3 p.m. it’s feeding time for the snakes (see one gobble up a mouse), and families can borrow the park’s Discovery Packs for tools and activities for exploring nature. Stop by the park’s carousel for a $2 spin and the hop over the the Lefferts Historic House for old fashioned games like potato sack and spoon races and stilt-walking.
Did we miss something? Don’t keep it to yourself — tell us about it in the comments below!
—Mimi O’Connor