Family Saturday

Your NYC Staycation Plans: MLK Day Weekend Edition

Honor the civil rights leader (and celebrate the extra weekend day!).

Photo by Joshua Bright/Courtesy of

We love a cozy winter NYC staycation! Make the most of yours with a mix of service, silliness, and Japanese snacks.

1. Make Monday a family day of service at the Brooklyn Museum, where you can pack bags of gloves, socks, and warm clothing for CAMBA Homeless Shelter’s Respite Bed Program.

2. Dress up as Spider-Man, Blade, Green Lantern, or Black Panther and join the cosplay show at the two-day seventh annual Black Comic Book Festival at Harlem’s Schomburg Center.

schomburg center mlk weekend
Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center

3. You didn’t make it to the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden over the holidays? It’s OK! You can still hop the choo-choo through Monday (get your tickets in advance!).

4. Learn about the suffragists, school integrationists, and equal rights advocates of the past, as well as the environmentalists, social justice warriors, and resisters of today through photographs, vintage footage, and protest signs at “Activist New York” at the Museum of the City of New York, a fascinating survey of centuries of activism in our city. This Monday, MCNY hosts a special event for families in which you’ll create a protest sign for the issue closest to your heart.

mlk weekend
Photo by Benedict J. Fernandez/Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

5. Bring older kids to see the stage adaptation of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma March, the true story of the youngest person to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, for voting rights.

6. Indulge your inner (and actual) child with a breeze through the exhibition “Mickey: The True Original.”

7. Shop for kawaii snacks at Sunrise Mart, and slurp soba inside Japan Village at Industry City.

8. In fact, spend the whole day at Industry City, playing Skee-Ball in the Frying Pan Game Room, snapping selfies at the M.C. Escher exhibition (which is only in town through February 3!), and roller-skating at the pop-up Dreamland Roller Disco.

industry city mlk weekend
Photo courtesy of the Frying Pan/Facebook

9. Take the whole gang out for a special-treat dinner at our favorite family restaurants.

10. Play Sound Voltex at Chinatown Fair.

11. Visit the wall that celebrates immigration (the American Immigrant Wall of Honor) at Ellis Island. It’s currently inscribed with nearly 775,000 names of immigrants from all eras, including today—and there’s room for about 3,500 more names if you want to honor a friend or family member yourself.

mlk weekend
Photo courtesy of the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation/Yelp

12. Inspire your kid to practice her instrument more at the Jazz Standard’s Jazz for Kids program on Sunday, featuring its youth orchestra. Plus: brunch!

13. Have breakfast at Tiffany’s.

14. Introduce little ones to MLK at a free day of art and storytelling centered around civil rights themes at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum on Sunday.

15. Folk dance to horn-heavy Balkan and Roma (“gypsy”) music at the lively and wonderful Zlatne Uste Golden Festival at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.

16. Many museums (Staten Island Children’s Museum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the New-York Historical Society, Wave Hill) are hosting family art workshops on MLK Day, but we’re particularly excited about the one at the Jewish Museum, where you can create a visual poem collaging words from King’s speeches with images from nature to form a tree design of inspired ideas.

MLK Holiday Weekend
Sample Dream Tree collages. / Photo courtesy of the Jewish Museum, New York

17. Learn to macramé, weave, crochet, and knit at the craftiest spots in the city.

18. Watch On the Basis of Sex (with your older kids) or Mary Poppins Returns (with the littles) at the new Nitehawk Cinema in Park Slope. Weather permitting, squeeze in a romp in the snow across the street at Prospect Park.

mlk weekend
Photo by Jay Maidment/Courtesy of Disney

19. After a day fighting zombies (and math challenges) at the New York Hall of Science, take home a piece of the giant “GingerBread Lane” exhibition. Gingerbread and frosting even tastes good stale.

20. Imagine a world without a smartphone (gasp!). That’s what this futuristic rock musical from the TADA! Youth Theater asks children to do. Following a terrible, world-changing disaster in the year 2211, Odd Day Rains centers around a group of kids who must learn how to live without the supervision of adults, the help of technology, or even running water.

21. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the United Nations, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, or a Broadway theater.

Guided Tours mlk weekend
Photo courtesy of Carnegie Hall