Aren’t hip to the Queens scene yet? Young (and expecting) families are heading to the borough for lots of reasons: the space, the food, the community. With that, come play spaces galore, birthday party venues, and lots of spots to drop in for play, art, singalongs, or parent self-care. We’ve rounded up our favorite places for a last-minute activity for you and the kid, be they baby, toddler, or a little older. Here’s where you can drop-in and play in neighborhoods throughout Queens, from Astoria and Long Island City, to Sunnyside, Corona, Hunters Point, and beyond!

photo: Museum of Moving Image Facebook page


Museum of the Moving Image
Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image offers  drop-in studio sessions most Saturdays, free with Museum admission. With the assistance of Museum educators, visitors engage in hands-on creative work, making projects ranging from flipbooks and thaumatropes (hand-drawn optical toys) to stop-motion and computer animations and video games. Studio visitors also have the opportunity to see, handle, and explore the inner workings of moving-image technology, such as projectors, film strips and videotape, video game consoles, and more. Recommended for kids ages four and up, who must be accompanied by an adult. Check the museum’s events page for info on the current session’s topic. (Don’t forget to check out the Jim Henson exhibit while you’re there. Also—the GIF elevator!)

Tickets: Free with museum admission
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave.

ACD Play Space via Yelp 

ACD Play Space
This Astoria spot offers tons of choices for area families. In addition to drop-in play, ACD Play Space also holds drop-in classes (that you can also sign up for on a per semester basis). Consider FunikiJam music for kids four and under; Petite Ballroom, where you and the kid can learn some dancing moves (14 months to three-and-a-half); Pineapple Explorers Club, which incorporates theater and books, and Wonders of Play, a developmental class for kids two and under. (ACD also hosts drop-off classes, parties, special events, and more.) Fill out the waiver before you go!)

ACD Play Space
31-24 38th St.

photo: Upper 90 Soccer Center 

Upper 90 Soccer Center 
This super soccer center in Astoria (it has both indoor and outdoor fields) is a magnet for fans of the game both big and small. However, Upper 90 hosts Toddler Open Play every weekday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and on Fridays, it’s free! (It’s $7-$10 other days.) They provide the cones, balls, and goals, the kids provide the non-stop energy. There’s a cafe on site for snacks and drinks as well.

34-23 38th St.


photo: Giving Tree Yoga Facebook page

Giving Tree Yoga
Giving Tree Yoga in Astoria offers several drop-in classes for parents with kids of all ages. For those very fresh to the game, drop-in to the new parent series for parents of kids six months and younger, offered Mondays from 9:45-11:45 a.m. for $25. During it, you can get help with issues ranging from breastfeeding to sleep, to self-care with a certified breastfeeding consultant, doula, and educator.  For older babies and older kids, there’s baby, toddler, and kid yoga, offered a various times throughout the week. (Note that Mommy & Me Yoga is on hiatus until January 2019.)

Tickets: new parents workshop: $25; family yoga: $24
Giving Tree Yoga Studio
22-56 31st St.
718-728 -0110

photo: Raising Astoria Facebook page 

Raising Astoria
Raising Astoria is another family-friendly community space with lots going on. Head to the site’s home page for what’s happening and for info on if a class or event is full. Drop-ins are mostly cash only, so bring the green with you. Options range from $10 Open Play (session for toddlers and younger kids); Funikijam World Music and Movement ($25), Who’s That Baby Singalong (0 to three years old, $12), Developmental Movement for Infants (3-9 months, $25), and more. Multi-class packs are also available. Again, socks only, no nuts!

26-11 23rd Ave.

photo: Maria A. via Yelp


Bounce U
Sometimes, you just need a bounce house or five. Bounce U in College Point holds various “Open Bounce” sessions throughout the week, and even holds a Preschooler Open Bounce on Friday mornings from 11:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for little ones ages two to six. Bigger kids get Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. No school? Check for special sessions those days, too. You can walk-in, but it’s best to make a reservation to guarantee a spot.

Tickets: $13.99/child
Whitepoint Center
132-25 14th Ave.
College Point

photo: NY Hall of Science Facebook page


New York Hall of Science 
The New York Hall of Science may seem like a destination for big kids to explore big ideas, but it’s also a great destination for the younger kiddos to start thinking scientifically. Little Makers is a drop-in class On Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., where children six and younger can tinker, design, and create take-home projects. Note there’s a $6 materials fee. For guaranteed entry, buy a ticket in advance online. Another option: the museum’s Preschool Place, a wonderland for the under-six set with lots of multi-sensory activities to explore. Open during the museum’s hours, and free with admission, Preschool Place is the perfect last-minute answer to the eternal question: “What should we do today?”

New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street

photo: Queens Museum Facebook page 

Queens Museum
The Queens Museum offers family workshops that are free with museum admission every Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Kids and caregivers create together with the guidance of museum staff, exploring different pieces in the museum’s collection. Past activities have included building monsters, making puppets, designing a city block, and more. On the third Sunday of every month, workshops for children with special needs are also led by art therapists. Note the museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. Check the events calendar for the most up-to-date info.

Tickets: $8/adults; free/children under 18, students with ID, and NYC Dept. of Education employees with ID
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

photo: via Sky Village NYC Facebook page 


Sky Village NYC
From the same people who brought you Shastye Art Gallery and Play Space comes the new Sky Village NYC in Ditmars Steinway. This Queens spot offers drop-in open art play for kids 1 and 1/2 to five years old almost every day of the week for $20, as well as $20 drop-in music classes with Tiny Tunes NYC (for babies to 2 and 1/2 year olds) on Wednesdays. Plus:  Story time and DISCO for babies and toddlers on Mondays and Thursdays, also $20.

Sky Village NYC
23-05 29th St.
Ditmars Steinway

photo: Little Bear Play Cafe


One of the newest play spots to hit the Queens scene, Little Bear Play Cafe is a clean and modern space that offers small play structures for climbing and sliding (into a small ball pit) as well as areas for lower-key fun, like a train table, play kitchen, and block area. Designed for kids ages six and younger, Little Bear also hosts drop-in Storytime Tuesday (9:15 a.m. for kids 0-2, and 10 a.m. for ages 3 and up), and will be hosting art classes with The Art Table Studio this summer. (You can register for a full session, or see if you can drop-in day of.)

100-26 Queens Blvd.
Forest Hills

photo: Kids N Shape Facebook page


Kids ‘N Shape
Kids ’N Shape lives up to its name: bouncy houses, ball pits, zip lines, a basketball court, and tricycles are in this gymnasium-sized play area. Open play sessions, which happen almost every day of the week, are two hours, which seems like enough time to expend most your kid’s energy. Entry is first-come, first-served, and it’s capped at 50 kids, so if you definitely want in, get there early! Check the online calendar for up to date open play days ands times. 

Tickets: $12
162-26 Cross Bay Blvd.
Howard Beach


The first location of the rapidly-expanding PLAYDAY empire (it now has a location in Gramercy Park and is expanding to Tribeca soon), this spot for creative kids and families in Hunter’s Point welcomes drop-ins for any class. Options include grown-up and me art and music classes for kids as young as nine months; printmaking, chess strategy, mixed media, sculpture, and even one inspired by that art world prankster Banksy. You can also drop in for open play, which can involve art making, ping-pong, or playing in the backyard in warm weather. Prices range from $18/hour for open play to about $35, depending on the class, with discounts for bulk play passes.

Playday NYC
5-37 51st Ave.
Hunters Point


photo: Linda N. via Yelp


City Owlets
Long Island City’s play space and community spot City Owlets offers open play, storytime, enrichment classes, new parent playgroups (Fridays, 12:30-3:30), and special events. (Recent events include Halloween festivities and live animal shows complete with puppets). Open play is $25 for a single day, but you can buy open play passes for discounted rates. If you want to make sure you have a spot, you can register in advance online.

Tickets: Free and up, with discounts for bulk pass purchases
1042 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City

photo: Noguchi Museum Facebook page 

Noguchi Museum
With all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, sometimes we all need to go Zen for a while or at least for a few hours, which is about the length of one of the family programs at the Noguchi Museum. Dedicated to the serene sculpture of Isamu Noguchi, on the first Sunday of every month from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., the museum offers an Open Studio  program for families to explore the galleries and then make art in response to their experiences. (Best for kids ages two and up, it’s free with admission to the museum—$10 for adults, free for kids.) On selected weekends, the museum also offers smaller classes – Art for Tots and Art for Families – but registration is required.

Tickets: free with museum admission; $10/adults, free/kids
Noguchi Museum
9-01 33rd Rd.
Long Island City

Socrates Sculpture Park
Between May and the end of September, the Socrates Sculpture Park hosts free, drop-in art workshops outside every Saturday. Each week, a different artist instructs the class on making cool stuff like dream catchers, kites, and plaster cast sculptures using recycled materials and found objects.

Tickets: free
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd.
Long Island City

photo: via Sunnyside Plays Facebook page


Sunnyside Plays
This Sunnyside/Woodside spot offers lots of chances to drop in. Try open play, for kids 0 to seven years old, Mon-Fri. 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. (weekend hours vary due to events). The rates is $15 per child, $7.50 for siblings and babies. Classes include Dance Matters: Tiny Tots on Mondays, for walkers to kids three-and-a-half ($27); Crafts for Tots for kids four and under ($20); Painting for Tots for kids four and under ($20), and Music and Stories with Pineapple Express Club ($20 per child/$15 for siblings.) Open play is often included after morning classes. Socks are mandatory, and outside food is welcome, but no nuts! Check the Sunnyside Plays web site for the latest class times, and pre-register if you want to guarantee a spot!

Sunnyside Plays
43-09 48th Ave.

—Mimi O’Connor


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