This stunning carousel on the Brooklyn foreshore was such a favourite place of ours to visit that it’s become a constant to measure Cheese’s childhood against. When we lived in Brooklyn, the carousel was an easy 30 minute walk from our apartment so we would stroll on down at least once a week.
Now we no longer live in the city, we still make sure to visit every year (pictured above is our most recent visit). The carousel is so very special to us, and to many Brooklyn families whose children are similarly growing up with this carousel in their backyard as a regular play space to hang out and while away an afternoon.
Jane’s Carousel is actually the same age as Cheese, opening in the Brooklyn Bridge park on the East River in Brooklyn on September 16, 2011 – only a few weeks after Cheese was born. See above for her first ride on the carousel when she was 9 months old.
Of course the bones of the carousel are a lot older than that. The carousel used to be called the Idora Park Merry-Go-Round, and was built in 1922 for the Idora Park amusement park in Youngstown, Ohio by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.
In 1984 Idora Park closed to the public, The carousel was bought at auction by Jane and David Walentas and moved to Brooklyn, New York for restoration.
Since the carousel opened in its current incarnation it’s been an incredibly popular addition to the Brooklyn foreshore for locals and tourists alike.
It was such an important part of Cheese’s childhood that we held her first birthday party at the carousel (above!).
Jane’s Carousel Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Hours: Wed-Mon 11am-7pm. Closed Tues. Prices: $2 (parents can ride with their child for free if the child is not able to ride by themselves) Online janescarousel.com Get Directions Image from Cheese’s first birthday party and horse’s face in opening image by Raquel Frechette.
New York has no shortage of carousels, but its newest is pretty special. The SeaGlass Carousel opened in Lower Manhattan in August 2015, a stunning underwater garden filled with a pastel sea of fish.
The Battery was the first home of the New York Aquarium, which opened in 1896 in what is now Castle Clinton. The aquarium closed in 1941 and is now located at Coney Island, gone from Battery Park but not forgotten. The brand new carousel pays homage to the original home of the aquarium with a mystical display of light, colour and music. Put simply, a ride on the carousel is like swimming in an acid dream.
SeaGlass came to life through the genius design by wxy architecture. The 2.575 square foot spiraling pavilion, inspired by the chambered nautilus, rises out of The Battery’s gardens like a glowing beacon, a siren song to children and adults alike.
The George Tsypin Opera Factory created the unique underwater experience where a rider sits inside one of 30 massive fibreglass, iridescent fish, and glides in patterns on a 360° aquatic adventure.
SeaGlass is unlike most carousels in that it doesn’t have a centre pole. Instead, the fish sit on four turntables that are driven by electric motors under the floor.
The underwater atmosphere is a result of the combination of LED colour-changing lighting in the fish, and light projectors that hang from the ceiling to create a “water effect”.
Of course, the kids we took on the carousel noticed none of these details. They saw only the sum of its parts – a magical underwater ride on glowing fish.
“Can we go again? And again, and again?” Yes kids, you certainly can.
All children under 42 inches tall must ride on an adult’s lap, with only one child per lap. Both children and accompanying parents must have a ticket. Children under 12 months old may ride for free.
Dogs must be leashed in the park, and are not allowed in the pavilion or on the ride.
Strollers must be left outside the pavilion.
To enter the pavilion where the carousel is housed, you must buy a ticket, even if you don’t intend to ride.
Central Park is one of the best places for families to enjoy in NYC. In every season, the park is endlessly entertaining for kids of all ages, from itty bitty babies who are content to sit in their strollers and look at leaves, to busy preschoolers who can’t sit still, and tweens and teens who are beginning to take an interest in history.
Tips on making the most of your day in Central Park:
Bring a picnic lunch or lots of snacks. There aren’t many places to buy food in the park apart from hot dog vendors. If you’re entering from the south end of the park, you can pick up a delicious picnic lunch from Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. For reasonably priced food within the park, Pain de Quotidien on 69th street has light lunch and snacks. If you’re after a bit of a nicer meal, drop by Tavern On The Green at 67th street or the Loeb Boathouse.
Not long ago, a friend of mine was visiting New York with her two young kids and asked for advice on where they should go on their trip. I quickly wrote what ended up being a bit of an epic email about my favourite places in New York City for young families.
After more friends started asking for the same advice, I thought it was time I turned into into a more useful blog post, which is what you’ll find below: my top tips on places to take young kids for an awesome time in New York City. Note: this is not an exhaustive list, it’s just the things our family enjoyed the most during our time in New York City.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Located on the Upper West Side, the Children’s Museum has several levels of interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. Cafe Lalo, right across the street, was in the movie You’ve Got Mail and does an amazing frozen yoghurt with fresh berries.
Central Park Carousel
It’s a bit pricier than the other carousels at $3 a ride for kids and adults accompanying them, but all horses go up and down and super fast.
Take a magical underwater spin on the SeaGlass Carousel – a fish-themed carousel in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in New York City that opened in August 2015. More info here.
New York Public Library
It’s free to enter this iconic library – with nearly 53 million items, the New York Public Library is the second largest public library in the United States, and fourth largest in the world. It has a great children’s section downstairs. Get more info here.
Central Park Conservatory Water
This is the pond where you can rent little remote control sailboats boats that you’ve seen in movies, and then climb all over the nearby Alice In Wonderland statue.
Central Park Zoo In the main part of the zoo, kids love watching the seals and penguins. The attached Tisch Children’s Zoo is where you can feed animals. There’s also an Imax theatre if it’s a hot/cold day. Kids will also love the Delacorte Music Clock, near the children’s zoo, which plays music every half hour from 8am until 5pm daily. It plays a total of 44 songs that change with the season.
There are splash parks all over the city in summer, so if you’re visiting then, bring lots of sunscreen as there are very few playgrounds with shade. Also pack shoes that the kids can run in the water in (like crocs).
Brooklyn Day Trip
I used to live in Brooklyn and absolutely loved it. I recommend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into DUMBO and Jane’s Carousel on the other side. There is also nearby: Jacques Torres chocolates, One Girl Cookie (they make amazing layer cake and cupcakes), Almondine (famous for croissants and fruit tarts), pizza! (Juliana’s is the best of them all), Superfine (a bar that is super kid-friendly, has a pool table and also makes amazing cocktails). Also the playgrounds: there is a huge one right under the Manhattan Bridge with a pirate ship in it. On the other side of the carousel is a toddler-sized playground, as well as lots of parklands for playing and kicking around a ball.
New York has some of the best toy stores possibly in the world. While it has some gorgeous boutiques scattered all over the city (I particularly love Piccolini in SoHo), the biggies you’ll want to visit include: the Disney Store (which has a great little area upstairs for colouring in and watching Disney film shorts) and American Girl Place (girls can dine with their dolls in the cafe or take their doll to the hair salon).
A fun day trip during summer: catch the ferry and spend the day. Get food from the food trucks, bring a ball to kick around, lounge in the giant hammocks. They have a lot of events so look on their site for anything fun happening.
Chelsea High Line
Little kids can run wild up on the elevated platform while you admire the view below. Grab lunch from Chelsea Market nearby, and take toddlers to the nearby Chelsea Piers if you need an indoor play space on a bad weather day.
TriBeCa Bubby’s restaurant is really kid-friendly but my fave is Sarabeth’s. There is the fantastic Washington Market Park playground almost exactly across the road, or you can walk a little further to the great playground at Pier 25, right on the Hudson River.
Take a break from shopping to let kids stretch their legs at Vesuvio playground, right behind Dominique Ansel‘s bakery.
Children’s Museum Of The Arts
This gorgeous SoHo facility has an all-ages drop in for their art studio, full of materials for kids to just explore and create messy masterpieces. They also have a ball room to jump in with BIG balls and story and music times. Get more tips info on spending a day here.
New York does bagels like no other city. It’s something to do with the water. My favourite place for bagels is Murray’s. Just don’t ask for it toasted.
This little park has a great playground and the original Shake Shack (under renovation at time of writing), and is right across the road from Eataly (delicious kid-friendly place to grab lunch, coffee or gelato).
Union Square ABC Kitchen is nearby (kid-friendly and delicious food) and it has a great playground.
14 St – Union Square Station
Oddly, the station is actually fun for kids. There are lots of the quirky Tom Otterness sculptures to spot everywhere and there are always street performers, usually musicians or dancers, performing.
It’s not as far to get to as you’d think – a fast train trip and a good option if the kids are going a bit crazy in the city. They have a fun monorail type thing where you watch all the animals around the park, a revamped kids’ zoo with a bug carousel, and a lot of space for kids to run free.
Bronx Botanical Gardens
A great trip out of the city for the day. It’s particularly beautiful in spring when all the flowers and cherry trees are blooming. Check what’s on as they always have great exhibitions. The food is pretty average so I’d pack my own and have a picnic lunch.
Big Gay Ice Cream
Delicious soft serve (honestly!). The shop in the West Village is particularly fun, kids love it. My fave ice cream is the Salty Pimp.
Midtown has a dearth of decent places to eat. I love The Counter, a build-your-own burger joint that has great fries and milkshakes too, right in the middle of Times Square.
Ample Hills Creamery
Possibly the best ice cream of all time. Crazy flavours and reasonable prices, this Brooklyn ice creamery is worth the trip to Gowanus.
Use the subway! Get a weekly pass and take kids in either an umbrella stroller or baby carrier. Find accessible subway stations here. If you need to get a car, call Uber and request a car seat.
Tip a minimum of 15% for service in restaurants. You’ll also need to tip in bars, hotel staff, cabs, nail salons etc.
With the temperature (finally!) rising, life with a kid is all about finding ways to cool down. There are only so many times you can go to your closest splash park before you literally go bananas from boredom (sorry, it’s the truth!). So why not venture out of your neighbourhood to try something new? You’re not the only one who will enjoy checking out a new playground – and getting there and back is just part of the adventure.
A great afternoon (and cheap!) outing we recently took was jumping on the East River Ferry to Wall st/Pier 11, and the Imagination Playground at the South Sea Port. It’s worth noting that the ferry trip alone made for a great adventure for the kids. They were insanely excited to sit in a big person seat next to the window, and see Manhattan quickly approaching. There is a cool breeze through the middle of the ferry while it’s on the water that will make you want to stay on the ferry and spend the entire day just going up and down the river…
We decided to test drive the Imagination Playground because we really wanted to see how the toddlers enjoyed playing with the blue, foam blocks that the Imagination Playgrounds are famous for. Imagination Playground blocks are suitable for kids aged two and up to play with. They’re basically huge shapes made out of non-toxic lightweight foam. The blocks come in a variety of shapes (curved and sharp angles) and sizes, and encourage kids to use their imagination to transform their play space into anything they can dream up. A robot, a play house, an animal or rocket ship – the only limit to what can be built with these blocks is a child’s imagination.
The blocks are only one feature of this great playground. At one end lies a huge sandpit, with a ramp running over the top and a twisty slide that ends up back in the sand. In the afternoons, this section is fully shaded, so gives a great respite from the heat if you can just get your kid to stay there.
At the other end of the playground lies the sprinklers, and a whole host of kids of all ages trying to cool down. Tip: dress your kid in their swimwear and water shoes, so they can run around from one area to the next without dirtying their regular clothes. Don’t bother with a swim diaper (the kids won’t get THAT wet), but do remember a hat and the water shoes in particular.
My toddler’s splash park outfit this summer consists of a long-sleeved swim top (better sun protection and less time spent trying to cover her in sunscreen while she wiggles and objects), a swim diaper (I put it over her regular diaper if we are somewhere that only has a basic sprinkler as she doesn’t get very wet, just so she has something to wear that’s water-friendly with her top) a hat and water shoes (we upgraded to the Natives shoes after taking these photos because the water come straight out, so your kid can wear the shoes in the water, and then all afternoon without getting wrinkly, soggy feet).
One last feature of the playground is an array of pipes and turning wheels, that older kids enjoyed climbing and the toddlers enjoyed spinning the wheels. Like everything else at the playground, each item can be played with by kids of all ages and abilities.
Imagination Playground at Burling Slip
Hours: Daily, 9am-6pm
Front St., John St., and South St.
East River Ferry
Cost: $4 per trip, $12 for an all-day pass
Hours: Ferries run ever every 20 minutes on weekdays, and every 15 minute on weekends. Be sure to check the schedule and your closest terminal. The trip from Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO to Pier 11/Wall St only takes five minutes.
It can seem like a big undertaking to take little ones to the MoMA. With its small rooms and quiet atmosphere, it can feel like a daunting prospect. However, the MoMA loves kids — just keep strollers and toddlers several feet from the art works and you’ll be fine. Use our guide below to enjoy showing your tiny tot or older child the beautiful of modern art.
This is your best bet with a baby or toddler. Stroll them around the exhibits you want to see (I’d suggest choosing only one exhibit per visit), then release them in the sculpture garden to play.
Bonus tip: The sculpture garden is free to visit on its own every morning from 9-10:30am. After that time you’ll need to buy a ticket, so get in early if you want to do a test run with just a little bit of culture before taking on the entire museum.
The MoMA offers programs for children ages 4 – 14 and their parents and caregivers. All programs are free.
Pick up a free art card or printed guide (you can download the guide here in advance) with activities, questions and ideas for looking at art in the MoMA.
MoMA Audio for Kids
The MoMA has special kid-friendly audio guides.
Kids ages 4 – 14 learn about ideas and techniques in modern and contemporary art in these free workshops.
The MoMA hosts free screenings of family films every month. They tend to show unusual films you might otherwise never see (no Disney here!)
MoMA Art Labs
Adults and kids can experiment, play, and create art in this interactive space. Explore tools, techniques and ideas about art in a family-friendly environment.
MoMA Art Lab App
Live too far from the MoMA to make a visit in person? Download the MoMA Art Lab app (suitable for ages seven and up) and your kids can enjoy creating artworks such as a shape poem, sound composition or group drawing.
Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St. btwn 5th & 6th Ave.
As transplants to this glorious city, we’re constantly seeking out fun new ways to experience everything NYC has to offer. We try to balance obvious kid-centric activities with things that we, as adults, are interested in. I also hope that exposing Missy E to art and culture will inspire in her an interest when she is older too.
I’ve always loved art galleries in particular, and never get sick of visiting the grande dame of museums and art galleries, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA the Met). We used to take E fairly frequently to the Met when she was a baby and young toddler, when she was easily amused by large paintings with bright colors. We hadn’t taken her in a long time, especially since she hit the destructive toddler stage, out of fear of an extremely large bill at the end of our visit.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that we decided it was finally time to revisit the Met, especially because we wanted to check out the new Roof Garden Commission, an installation by Dan Graham with Günther Vogt. Major plus: Gardens are generally not breakable or easily ruined by grimy toddler fingerprints.
Since it was a special occasion, we dressed E in a super cute outfit, highlighted by her brand new shoes that she’s been dying to wear — a sparkly silver pair called the Alexis Silver by Pediped. E was so delighted with her fancy shoes that she showed them to literally every single person we encountered on our trip up there (“My shoes!! They’re sparkly!!”).
First things first however: getting to the Met. It’s a long train ride for us to the 86th St Station, so by the time we reached our stop, we all needed a snack. We dropped by Dean and Deluca (1150 Madison Ave at 85th St) to load up on coffee and croissants. Note: be sure to finish your food and coffee before entering the Met, or try to stow the food away until you get to the rooftop garden.
As soon as we reached the staircase leading to the museum, E and her fancy feet took off at a fast gallop. Let the races begin!
The key to enjoying an art gallery with a small child is to pick one thing you really want to see and to not try for anything more than that. Since the rooftop garden was our aim, we made our way to the rooftop elevator straight away, rather than browsing around the large halls.
We did however choose the path to the elevator that seemed to most intrigue Missy E — the Greek and Roman hall filled with sculptures. While we were a bit terrified of her crash tackling priceless art and smashing things, she was remarkably well behaved and surprisingly docile. We pointed out things we thought she might be interested in, like animals or statues of people, and she was particularly concerned about the statues that were missing limbs or heads.
The fountain was also a particular favorite. She was fascinated by the money in there, so we gave her spare change and taught her how to throw in coins and make wishes. “What do you wish for?” “The playground!”. Of course. “Anything else?” “Lions. And giraffes!”. Er, sorry Miss E. Wrong spot for those. But we will keep it in mind when we next visit the zoo!
Next stop, the rooftop garden. There is a special elevator that takes you up to the roof — ask for directions as you enter or you’ll be walking around in circles trying to find it. The garden is open seasonally, and offers spectacular views of Central Park and the surrounding buildings. It’s also a space where kids can run around a bit, particular with the current extremely kid-friendly exhibition. The Roof Garden Commission is kind of like a garden maze, with two-way mirrored glass set between ivy hedgerows, and is especially fun for toddlers. Missy E really enjoyed the maze aspect of it, playing hide and seek with us, and also got a thrill out of seeing her reflection in the glass.
All the while, the bright sunshine caught the sparkles on E’s shoes, making her fast-moving feet appear to actually be silver. With full sparkle from tip to toe, they are every girly-girl’s dream come true, as well as having all the features that matter to adults: a flexible rubber sole with grip on it for climbing, sparkles that are part of the material rather than glued on (so there is no loose glitter floating around the apartment), and an adjustable strap to keep the shoes on her feet when she’s running around like a crazy person.
These Pediped shoes also feature Memory Foam Technology (MFT). This means that the shoes include a memory foam insole that shapes perfectly to the child’s foot, thus acting like a custom insole and supporting the foot in all the right places. As a result, the shoes are an excellent fit and are super comfy. MFT also prevents kids’ little feet from slipping in the shoe by providing a secure fit. What I love most about these shoes is how they dress up any outfit, but still provide the support and fit that growing (and busy) feet need.
After the museum, we made E’s wish come true by taking her to the Hecksher Playground next door. Lucky her shoes were made for climbing!
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Hours: Daily, Sun-Thur 10am-5:30pm, Fri & Sat 10-9pm.
The Roof Garden Commission is on display April 29–November 2, 2014
The Alexis Silver Pediped shoes retail for $59 and are available on the Pediped website.
Brunch With My Baby was provided with a sample for reviewing purposes. All opinions, as always, are our own.
Right, so this cold snap means we need to find places that are warm and entertaining for a toddler, FAST. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is the the perfect place to take an active kid. It has enough rooms, exhibits and general cool stuff to occupy kids of all ages all day — and their parents too (praise be!).
The AMHN has plenty of special exhibits on as well as the permanents like ye olde dinosaurs. If you’re planning a day at the museum (and with toddlers, two hours often feels like a whole day), make sure you visit these toddler-pleasers:
Origami Holiday Tree The Origami Holiday Tree is a tradition that goes back 40 years at the museum. Volunteers start folding the ornaments in July to complete the hundreds of creatures that are displayed on the tree. Every year the tree has a different theme — this year it’s Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, in honor of the Museum’s new exhibition The Power of Poison. The animals are mostly easily identifiable, even for toddlers, so you can easily spend a long time just at the tree, asking your toddler to show you the different animals, and pointing out those they they might not be able to identify themselves. It’s also a good photo op.
Dates: Through January 12, 2014 Entry: Included with general admission
Dinosaurs Everyone’s favourite dinosaurs are crowd pleasers for the toddler set too. We like to let Cheese loose in the dinosaur rooms and watch her roar at the T-rex. If your kid (or spouse) is a dinosaur freak, take the “Dino Tour” suggested by the AMNH website to help visitors take in all the dinos on offer. The most entertaining part of the dinosaur exhibits for us is when Cheese tells her dad that the T-Rex needs to brush his teeth (see pic above).
Dates: Permanent exhibit Entry: Included with general admission
The Butterfly Conservatory
These beautiful insects flutter into the museum every year. Entry is timed, so you need to buy a ticket for this special exhibit, and play close observance to the rules. I’d suggest taking only babies or older toddlers who can follow directions into this exhibit, as the butterflies are within toddler-reach at all times. The butterflies like to land on visitors — making for some very exciting times for toddlers when they experience their light touch. An enchanting experience, not just the toddlers.
Dates: Through May 26, 2014 Entry: Additional ticket required
Whales Of The Deep
This exhibit is fascinating for adults, and fun for kids. There is a life-sized whale heart that kids can crawl inside, and a massive sperm whale skeleton. Cheese’s favourite part of the exhibit was the sound chamber where you could spin a wheel and select a whale, and then listen to its distinctive sounds.
Dates: Through January 5, 2014 Entry: Additional ticket required
Frogs: A Chorus Of Color This live exhibit features frogs in bright orange, blue and red. Toddlers and kids of all ages will enjoy seeing such a large variety of frogs from around the world. It’s a rare chance to get up close to these critters, not to be missed for frog-lovers of all ages.
Dates: Through January 5, 2014 Entry: Additional ticket required
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life The 94-foot-long, 21,000-pound model of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling is a must-see for every visitor. The hall has recently been renovated, and now features 750 sea creatures, including computerized glowing jellyfishes, and includes modern technology in the exhibits, such as high-definition video projections and interactive computer stations. The best spot in the room is lying directly underneath the whale on the floor. No kidding. It’s amazing how different the world looks from down there.
Dates: Permanent exhibit Entry: Included with general admission
Desperate to get away from the cement landscape that is Manhattan? Us too, especially on days when the heat radiates from the ground up. One of our favourite easy escapes is an afternoon trip to Governors Island. The 172-acre island is just off the southern tip of Manhattan, near Brooklyn. Governors Island was used as a military base for almost two centuries, before 150 acres were sold to the people of New York in 2003. (The remaining 22 acres of the Island was declared the Governors Island National Monument that is overseen by the National Park Service.)
Each year, Governors Island opens every Memorial Day weekend through to the end of September, and is chock full of fun events all summer long. With a young toddler, our choices are a bit limited —so this year the best bets for us were the FIGMENT interactive installations (including the treehouse pictured, above) and a mini-golf course (open summer-long, at the Parade Grounds) the Fête Paradiso and Compost Outpost. Older kids will love the Children’s Museum of the Arts Free Art Island Outpost Program, which is open all season from 11am to 3pm, at Nolan Park. Kids can enjoy hands-on workshops including painting, sound design, sculpture, animation and podcasting.
As well as enjoying the seasonal events offered, it’s also really nice to simply take a walk around the island. I love this walkway (above) through the middle of the park, with the towering trees on both sides, and the empty buildings that once housed military personal (which can sometimes make you feel like you’re in a ghost town). On a quiet day, it’s an eerie vibe. You can walk or bike (BYO bike or hire one when you get there) around the entire island, to take in an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and southern tip of Manhattan.
The hot event to visit this summer has been Fête Paradiso, a traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels, making its American debut. The collection includes attractions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as carousels, flying swings and a pipe organ. Not only is it cool seeing rare, museum-quality items in a setting as beautiful as the island, you can also ride most of the vintage attractions. Insider tip: The rides are a bit on the pricey side, particularly if you’re going with a toddler. If you’re riding with your kid, it will cost you each a ticket, even if you’re just holding your kid while they’re riding the carousel. The best value is a buying in bulk.
There are a lot of rides, mostly suited to adults and older kids due to lack of modern safety features. The best rides for small kids are the carousels.
A carousel with cars was the favourite among the junior set (vroom vroom!). The only problem? No seat belts to strap the kids in, so the merry-go-round presents a couple of challenges — a moving platform, plus a moving toddler ON the platform who wants to buzz from car to car to car. TOO MANY CHOICES FOR TODDLER BRAINS!
This miniature VW van was dubbed “the party bus” by the parents watching the chaos unfold, as all the kids scrambled to squeeze inside and take the wheel at once.
For a change of pace, calm everyone down at Earth Matter’sCompost Outpost (open all season, 10am-5pm, South Battery). Kids can get up close to chickens, goats, rabbits and worms, all of whom spend their days eating compost, care of Governor’s Island visitors. Older kids can learn about compost first-hand, by taking part in the daily composting.
Eating On The Island
When it comes to food, you have a few expensive choices. Fête Paradiso features an eatery inside a pavilion designed in 1900 for bumper cars. Food is available in a tent, catered by French eatery Le Gamin. You’ll be able to try some traditional bistro fare like Steak Frites ($15), Croque Monsieur ($8) Salade Nicoise ($8) and sweet crepes with Nutella, lemon sugar or jam ($5). Kid-friendly options include hamburgers ($8) and Rotisserie Chicken ($10). Adults can enjoy spirits and wine from the Languedoc region of France. There is also the King Island Food Court, featuring a variety of vendors and cuisines, and picnic tables at which to sit. For a really relaxing day, bring a packed picnic and blanket.
Tips to Know Before You Go:
There’s no drinkable water on the island (so no drinking fountains). You can buy water from island vendors and vending machines, but we’d advise bringing plenty of your own. Water bottles can be re-filled in the Governors Island Ferry Waiting Room at the Battery Maritime Building.
The only indoor bathrooms are located on the upper and lower level of Building 110, adjacent to the ferry landing. There are plenty of port-a-loos placed around the island if you can’t hold on to find these bathrooms.
Open every Sat, Sun and holiday Monday from 10am-7pm through to September 29. To get there, catch the East River ferry from Manhattan (from Wall St/Pier 11 ($4) or the free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building) or the free Brooklyn ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6. Check out the ferry schedules before you go, and be prepared for a long line if you’re heading across from Brooklyn.
On a stupidly hot day, we were dying for an indoor space with super strong air-conditioning, where Cheese could also run around. We caught the A/C train straight up to 81st street to check out the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).
The CMOM is a five-story paradise for kids. Each floor contains either permanent or special exhibits, which are highly interactive, and suitable for children of all ages— from birth on up. Cheese, at 22 months, particularly loved the “PlayWorks” exhibit, featuring a fire truck, MTA bus and a giant talking dragon who “eats” letters.
Other exhibits of note included an outdoor water play area in summer, a mural wall for kids to play on, a sand pit, a soft play area for babies and a Dora The Explorer rainforest world (with a jungle canopy and play exotic animal exhibits for kids to discover).
We went on the 4th of July holiday and it was not overly busy, which you’d expect on a public holiday (maybe everyone was out barbecuing?). You’ll need to check your stroller at the entrance, so bring a carrier for kids who aren’t strong walkers. Also, there are easy-to-access bathrooms with change tables available.
After working up an appetite we ducked into Cafe Lalo across the street (which is worth a visit on its own any day!) for a snack.
Since it was so hot, we each ordered the “Lalo’s Special” ($11.50). It’s a bowl of frozen yogurt with your choice of berries, fruit or nuts, and a fresh-baked breakfast pastry of your choice. We both ordered ours with the berries and went with an apple danish and cranberry scone since they were only two remaining pastries. As always, the yogurt was perfect, with the fresh mixed berries giving sweet zings of flavour to the tart yogurt. While the pastries weren’t our first choices (I’d usually go for a pain au chocolat, and Alec a plain crossant), they were delicious. The apple danish was flaky with big chunks of apple, and the cranberry scone was densely packed with sweet bursts of cranberry.
We let Cheese share our dishes—she loved the yogurt and berries most of all.
Cafe Lalo is actually known for two things—desserts (they have over 100 whole cakes, pies and tarts available), and for a famous scene in the movie “You’ve Got Mail“, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. As such, it’s always packed, either with lovers of sweets like myself, or busloads of tourists—who showed up at just the same time we did that day. The tourists mostly stayed in the front of the cafe to order a dessert to go, so it wasn’t as obtrusive as you’d expect.
The interior—with its walls covered in Toulouse Lautrec-esque prints—is charmingly Parisian. If you block out the decidedly non-European voices around you, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a cafe in Paris.
Taking children to Cafe Lalo is a mixed bag. They’re not especially set up for kids, so come prepared for your visit —you’ll need to leave the stroller outside, and be sure to speak up and ask for anything you need for your child.
Last bite: Drop by for a snack or dessert for a touch of Paris on the UWS. Kids are welcome—order them a pastry or share a “Lalo’s Special” for a fun afternoon (or morning) treat.
Stroller storage: You can’t bring your stroller inside, but they’ll store it for you somewhere mysterious under the restaurant. Easy access: No. Quite a few steps. Change tables: No. The bathrooms are pretty small. Kids’ menu: No, but there’s so much to choose from, from bagels and muffins to steamed eggs or homemade waffles.
201 West 83rd St. (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 496-6031
Hours: Mon-Thur 8am-2am; Fri 8am-4am; Sat 9am-4am Sun 9am-2am. Holidays until 4am.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 721-1234
Hours: Sun-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-7pm. Closed Mondays.