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Best Upper West Side Activities for Kids During Spring Break

By Emily Frost | April 12, 2014 12:47pm
 Let your kids see all that the neighborhood has to offer this week. 
Upper West Side Activities for Spring Break
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Not going to Disney World next week?

Kids can still come back from their spring breaks with plenty to brag about, including excursions and expeditions that are all within walking distance. 

DNAinfo New York has put together a list of local activities for your stay-cation that will make your young ones the city's biggest boosters. 

Mickey Mouse, who?

Fly Like a Pterosaur 

American Museum of Natural History
W. 79th St. and Central Park West
10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. daily.
Entry + exhibit: $27 for adults, $22 for students, $16 for children

It's hard to turn down seeing an airplane-size flying reptile up close and then getting to simulate its flight as it soars through prehistoric swamps and dinosaur-filled valleys. 

This exhibit shows off the best of the museum — a place where groundbreaking research is happening with creatures that died off 66 million years ago but that can also bring ancient history alive in compelling ways for the under-7 crowd. 

Build Moving Sculptures and Robots

Children's Museum of Manhattan
West 83rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway
Tues.-Fri., Sun.: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
$11 each; children under 1 are free.

The Children's Museum of Manhattan is debuting a brand-new innovation lab for kids to tinker, scribble ideas on an expansive chalkboard and let their imaginations wander. It's a place where little ones can mess around with blocks while their older siblings ponder bigger questions. 

Over spring break the lab will host a "Meet the Makers Festival" with sessions ranging from guitar building to assembling a moving sculpture. It will be led by local artists and thinkers at the forefront of the DIY "maker movement" in NYC. 

In one session, artist and engineer Ricardo Cid will lead kids through creating moving wooden robots. He'll also work on curing math phobias. 

"If you ever wonder why mathematics is important, it’s to create robots like this," he said.

The festival schedule can be found here.

Examine Underwater Life Up Close 

Dana Discovery Center in Central Park
110th Street between Fifth Avenue Lenox avenues
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, free

Water, water everywhere... A new exhibit, "Ponds, Pipes, and People," put on by the Central Park Conservancy, looks at the history and current use of the park's waterways, all of them manmade. 

Large catfish and carp are mounted to a wall, as is a portion of a real pipe used to provide irrigation, providing more tactile aspects of the exhibit. Plaques full of interesting facts and history plaster the walls. 

Kids can look at microscopic organisms floating in a drop of water from the Harlem Meer or gaze out at the Meer through binoculars to spy sunning turtles just starting to emerge from hibernation. 

Toss in Some Basketball History

New-York Historical Society
Central Park West and West 77th Street
Tues- Thurs + Sat., 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.,
Fri. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Closed Mon.
Adults $18; Seniors, Educators, Military $14; Students $12; 
Kids 5-13 $6; Kids under 5 free.

For those still high on the excitement of March Madness, they can take a look at the early days of the sport through a different lens.

An exhibit called "The Black Fives" showcases the years between 1900 and the 1950s when black basketball players were barred from the NBA and had their own leagues in the city.

Many of the arenas where the teams played held 5,000 to 6,000 people, and after games, large dance parties would take place, according to Claude Johnson, who helped curate the exhibit and is the founder of Black Fives Foundation.

There's plenty of other interesting trivia from this little-known history, as well as jerseys, photographs, ticket stubs, basketballs and sneakers on display. 

Gaze Up at "Phoenix"

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Amsterdam Avenue between West 112 and 113th streets
7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Suggested donation $5

Two gargantuan birds — sculptures constructed of scrap metal and LED lights by Chinese artist Xu Bing — have landed at the cathedral. The two "Phoenix" sculptures hang suspended from the ceiling and take up almost the entire length of the massive church, with lengths of 90 and 100 feet each.

Weighing more than 12 tons combined, the sculptures are a reflection on China's past and its future. The metal scraps were collected by Xu Bing from the many construction sites dotting the rapidly changing landscape of Beijing. 

The birds' expressive, dragon-like faces and their sheer size makes the installation a must-see.