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Indoor Play

Literary Lions at the New York City Public Library

Literary Lions at the New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The New York Public Library is great free spot to stop by with kids when visiting New York City. Located on 5th Avenue, it’s the second largest public library in the United States, and fourth largest in the world.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The library is home to more than 51 million items, from books, e-books, and DVDs to research collections.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

Most tourists enjoy taking a photo Patience and Fortitude, the famous pair of marble lions that stand in front of the buildings entrance at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, but don’t venture inside.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me New York Public Library via christineknight.me

If you’re visiting with kids in tow, I highly recommend dropping by the Children’s Center at 42nd Street to enjoy free access to a wide range of children’s literature, music, and media.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The library runs free storytimes suitable for kids from birth to age five. The full program is on their website.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

 

The Children’s Center is open daily, same hours at the library, except Sundays 1pm-5pm

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The New York Public Library
5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY 10018, United States
Hours: Mon 10am-6pm, Tue & Wed 10am-8pm, Thur-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun closed
Prices: FREE
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Best of New York City for Kids: Children’s Museum of the Arts

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Little artists will love New York’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, a hands-on art museum dedicated to engaging kids aged 10 months-15 years. While the museum runs many hands-on programs throughout the year, we just love to drop by for a creative day out whenever we are in town.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

So what’s there to do?

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Explore the current exhibition in the Gallery and join in exhibit-themed workshops.

In the Media Lab, learn how to animate or watch a short film made by CMA students.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Mould a scene from your imagination at the very popular Clay Bar (ages 5 and over).

Upon request, record a song, speech, or score a soundtrack in the Sound Booth (only available on Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday).

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Kids under five can get messy with art materials in the WEE Arts early childhood studio.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Head to the Fine Arts Studio is to paint, draw, sculpt, or sew an original masterpiece.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

What you need to know before you go:

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

The Clay Bar is one of the most popular stations so sign up for a 35 minutes session as soon as you arrive then check out the other areas of the museum while you wait for your time slot.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

The WEE Arts Studio for kids under five is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-3:30pm Thursday, 12-6pm, and weekends from 10am-5pm. The studio is also open for WEE Arts Drop in sessions when the museum is closed to the public every Monday through Friday from 10:45 AM – 12 PM and Wednesday from 1:45-3 PM.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Prepare to get messy! While there are smocks provided, dress your child in clothes that they can get paint on.

The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me The Children's Museum of the Arts, NYC via christineknight.me

Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St, New York, NY 10014
Online
Hours: Mondays: 12-5 PM
Tuesdays & Wednesdays: WEE Arts Drop In Classes* ONLY ( for ages 5 & under, see below)
Thursdays & Fridays: 12-6 PM
Saturdays & Sundays: 10 AM-5 PM
Prices: $12 per person
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

A Star Twinkles in Williamsburg

There’s a saying that you don’t live in New York for the weather. The five months of this year so far have certainly proved this to be true, with a long, cold winter, snow and a ridiculous amount of rain.

So what’s a parent of a little kid to do, when it’s too wet, too cold (and now that the summer months are upon us—too hot) to play outside?

The answer? Catch the G (or L!) train to Williamsburg and check out the play space there, Twinkle.

Twinkle is a true family business, owned by sisters Vanessa Yee-Chan and Mieka John, and their father Victor John. The family has been part of the Williamsburg community for over 30 years, and decided, after noticing a lack of play spaces in their area for families to go to, to create the amazing world that is Twinkle.

Walking into Twinkle was literally like walking into a wonderland. Here is a breakdown of the many, many different areas of the playspace: Red Hot Fire House (a giant fire truck where kids can make the lights and siren flash), Stardust Tree Fort (a life-sized tree with a fort in its branches), How to Feed your Dragon (four 15-foot dragons that suck up scarves into their pipes and shoot them out the top), Pretty in Pink (a beauty parlour with crazy wigs), Brooklyn General Store (the most amazing kids store we’ve ever seen, stocked with play groceries and carts, and a moving conveyor belt on which to “buy” items after shopping), the Graffiti Studio (a dance room filled with balls and balloons), Gently Down the Stream (a water play station), The Hard Hat Zone (a sandpit with construction toys), Young MacDonald’s Barnyard (adorable pretend farm animals for kids 18 months and younger), and Twinkle Lounge (a place for parents to sit and relax, overlooking the playspace).

My toddler is 21 months old, and the perfect age to enjoy a lot of what Twinkle has to offer. The playspace is suitable for kids under the age of six, so they have a range of activities that children can enjoy depending on their age. My daughter in particular enjoyed the grocery store, the fire truck, the sand pit and the water play station. I enjoyed seeing her deliriously happy.

Twinkle is a membership-based play space, with a $25 first-time trial drop-in rate, which is exactly what we did to test drive the amazing space. You can also buy a six-visit pass for $130 if, like us, you’re not a local to the play space, but think you’ll be back a few times over a two-month period. The six visit pass is perfect for summer and winter in particular, if, also like us, you spend all of your time during these seasons trying to escape the excessive heat/cold.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

This article was originally posted on the MommyNearest Blog.  

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

A Day With Kids At The MoMA

Brunch Travel Guide - One Weekend with Baby in Midtown, via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Sculpture Garden
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.

Family Programs
The MoMA offers programs for children ages 4 – 14 and their parents and caregivers. All programs are free.

Family Gallery Talks
For ages four and up. These tours are a fun and creative way for children to interact with art.

Gallery Guides
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.

Hands-on Workshops
Kids ages 4 – 14 learn about ideas and techniques in modern and contemporary art in these free workshops.

Family Films
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.

This article was first published on MommyNearest.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

A Sunny, Sparkly Day At The Met With Pediped

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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!!”).

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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!

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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!

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Pediped Alexis Shoes in Silver via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

A Day At The Met With Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

A Day With A Toddler At American Museum of Natural History: The Hit List

American Museum of Natural History - A Day At The Museum, via brunchwithmybaby.com
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:

American Museum of Natural History via brunchwithmybaby.com

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

American Museum of Natural History via brunchwithmybaby.com
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

American Museum of Natural History via brunchwithmybaby.com
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

American Museum of Natural History - A Day At The Museum, via brunchwithmybaby.com

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

American Museum of Natural History - A Day At The Museum, via brunchwithmybaby.com

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

American Museum of Natural History via brunchwithmybaby.com
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

American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY

After (or before) your visit, check out these delicious places to eat that are right around the corner.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Taste Buds Kitchen Cupcake Kids Class

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese is really into “helping” me in the kitchen these days. She likes to “help” spread Vegemite on toast, “cut” vegetables and “crack” eggs in a bowl. She’s been so interested in food preparation lately that I thought I would give a Cupcake Kids class at Taste Buds Kitchen a go.

The class theme for this week was Pinkalicious (the theme changes every week), based on the bestselling kid’s book series of the same name. A cute table is set up for 10 kids and their parents, ages two to six, with all the ingredients laid out, ready for mixing. Cheese was the youngest kid in the class that day by a fair amount (she turned two in August). The kids were on average, ages four to six.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

The above photo pretty much encapsulates how the class went. Cheese was thoroughly enjoying trying all the ingredients. She followed the simple directions, like which ingredient to put in the bowl, but mixing was a bit hard for her to really get right (time to step in, Mama!).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

I’ve always loved baking, since I was a kid too, actually. I’ve been wondering how to introduce baking to Cheese, so this class was not just fun for her, it was also educational for me to see how I can teach my toddler how to bake. I have to admit, I thought the class was just cupcake decorating. If I’d known it was baking from scratch I might not have been so game to bring her, as it’s definitely not something I would have thought she’d be into and for which she would be able to sit through a class.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

After mixing through the ingredients, it was time to spoon the mixture into cupcake pans and have them placed in the oven to cook. Notice how they’re all pink?

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

While the cupcakes were baking, Chef Maggie read Pinkalicious (which I’d never read before, so it was fun for me too, ha!), while the kids listened and colored in a special Pinkalicious-themed coloring sheet.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese was really into the book. A few months ago, this would have been a disaster (Read: toddler running ALL OVER THE ROOM) but since she started preschool last month, her concentration has definitely improved. She was up and down a few times to wash her hands again and get some food to eat, but over all she was really into the activity.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

After the story came the frosting. The cupcakes hadn’t quite finished baking, so we frosted some previously prepared cupcakes while the others were still baking. After a quick lesson in the right way to frost, it was over to the kids, or in my case toddler, to let them do their stickiest. Cheese was in heaven. Didn’t want me to help (of course), so her cupcake looked kind of . . .  like a toddler decorated it 🙂 She really enjoyed picking up hearts and pink sugar and sprinkling them on top (and tasting a few).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

We were given a sweet little container to place one of our decorated cupcakes in to take home, while we enjoyed eating the other cupcake right then and there (of course).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese really enjoyed the class (she was going on about the “cake cakes” all the way home), and it was a fun activity for us to do together. I think she was a little young for the class, but not by much. I would definitely take her again when she’s a little older — probably in winter when I’m desperate for ways to entertain us both. As with a lot of things that I get stressed over (for nothing), Cheese proved me wrong in her ability to handle her first baking experience. Even though her attention span did wane at times, the class was a success for the both of us.

Taste Buds Kitchen
109 W 27th St
212-242-2248
Cupcake Kids is held every Saturday morning at 9am. Classes cost $45 per child.

Brunch With My Baby attended as a guest of Taste Buds Kitchen. All opinions are our own. We happen to love, love, love cupcakes.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Great Kids' Classes for Fall: Kidz Central Station

As New Yorkers, we pride ourselves on certain qualities: we’re cosmopolitan, confident, and open.  We love our city because of the unique opportunities it provides us to experience the best in education, culture, art, and science.  Of course, as parents we would like to share these values and opportunities with our children, too.  But the curse of having so much available to us is that the choices can be overwhelming. We at Kidz Central Station can help!

Below are our picks for some of the best New York City-centric classes for the Fall.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and brunchwithmybaby.com
Art Adventures and Story Art-Ventures
Does your child lean towards the Pollock school of art (i.e. great when it lands on paper. Not so much on your couch)?  If so, encourage your little artist by enrolling her in a creative adventure. Claire’s Creative Adventures, based on the Upper East Side, boasts a variety of offerings for students ages 2 to twelve. Art Adventures and Mini-Art Adventures introduces children to modern and contemporary artists and gives them the supplies to try their hands at creating their own masterpieces. Field trips to city galleries draw on the wealth of art displayed around New York.  Does talent run in the family?  Try the  Parent/Child Workshop together. To give your child some artistic inspiration, sign her up for Story Art-Ventures at Let’s Gogh Art NYC where students from ages 2 to 4 are read a popular children’s story in every session, followed by the completion of a unique art project related to the story. The class also incorporates age-appropriate math, science, writing, geography and history concepts. Depending on the theme, students might also sing, dance and play games.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and brunchwithmybaby.com
Little Scientists and Magical Math
Many of the best minds in the country are based at New York’s myriad institutions of higher learning.  If your child is a budding brainiac, check out these intellectual outings: Little Scientists, offered in lower Manhattan by Little Peep Prep for kids from 16 months to 3 years old and by the 14th Street Y in the East Village for ages 3 to 5, provides a venue for mini-Einsteins to conduct hands-on experiments and to discover the natural world.  If your son or daughter has more of a mathematical bent, Little Peep Prep’s Magical Math for students from 20 months to 4 years old provides children the opportunity to count, sort, match and explore a variety of materials, allowing them to naturally understand the relationship between everyday life and math.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and brunchwithmybaby.com
Animal Care
Healthy, local food is a New York obsession.  We sign up for farm shares and patronize farmer’s markets, but your city kid may wonder what, exactly, a farm is.  Nurture your child’s curiosity and/or love of animals by signing her up for the Animal Care class at the Art Farm in the City, an indoor organic farm on the Upper East Side.  Students from ages 4 to 7 participate in a variety of stories, games, and other activities.  Every session  includes actively caring for the animals in the farm’s indoor petting zoo, up-close  encounters and time to record observations. Before it’s time to go, students can read an animal-themed book or just relax with a favorite creature on the farm.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and brunchwithmybaby.com

¡HOLA! A Playgroup in Spanish
There are hundreds of languages spoken around New York City.  It’s never too early to begin teaching your child a second language; in fact, as we’ve previously discussed on Kidz Buzz, young children’s brains are primed to learn new languages.  The ¡Hola! program hosts Spanish-language playgroups and after-school programs for aspiring polyglots from ages 18 months to 8 years in multiple locations throughout Manhattan and Queens. The program focuses on a wide repertory of concepts to build vocabulary and to help children acquire the correct use of phonetics from a native speaker while also enhancing children’s cognitive abilities, fine/gross motor skills, and social and artistic capabilities.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and brunchwithmybaby.com
PopFit and JumpLife KIDS
New Yorkers are some of the most physically fit people in the country, but students sit in classrooms for most of the day during the school year; and, with the decreasing prevalence of physical education classes in schools, it’s more important than ever to help your child stay active throughout the year. PopFit Kidssignature class (and their junior class), develops “The Fab Five” (Cardio, Balance, Flexibility, Strength and Endurance), in students ages 3 to 8; through energizing circuits, dynamic drills, exciting games, yoga, and more. JumpLife‘s appropriately-named kids’ class in Tribeca caters to older students, ages 8 to thirteen.  The unique 45-minute trampoline workout distinguishes itself from other classes by its atmosphere of non-competition, where students can express themselves and avoid the pressure of organized sports.

The suggestions above only scratch the surface of the wide range of fun, educational, and enriching classes listed at Kidz Central Station.  KCS does the work of finding and researching kids’ classes for you.  Visit our website, where you can sort offerings by activity type, age, price, schedule, and location and peruse the in-depth descriptions and reviews to identify the perfect class for your child.

Lauren Pohl, Kidz Central StationLauren Pohl is the founder of Kidz Central Station, a website where parents can search for and book fun classes and activities for their kids. Lauren lives with her husband and two kids, her four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son, in Manhattan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Children's Museum of Manhattan + Cafe Lalo: Kid-Friendly Activities, UWS, NY

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com

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).

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com
Riding atop the letter-eating dragon.

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.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com
“Lalo’s Special”: frozen yogurt with fresh berries and an apple turnover.

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.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

We let Cheese share our dishes—she loved the yogurt and berries most of all.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

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.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com
Parisian interior.

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.

Cafe Lalo
201 West 83rd St. (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 496-6031
Prices: $$
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.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Best Restaurants near the American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
Dinosaurs!

One of the best places to take kids of all ages is the American Museum of Natural History. We’ve been taking Cheese there since she was in utero – true story. Whether you’re taking your baby, toddler or bigger kid, there’s literally something for everyone to enjoy. Babies are happy to look at ceiling fans, so the constant changing scenery of exhibits makes them happy to just watch everything pass by. Toddlers love the dinosaurs and giant whales, and bigger kids can get involved in the exhibits.

Before a trip to the museum, you really need to food up to get through the day. Instead of eating at the museum cafe, check out these nearby restaurants that you and the kids will all enjoy.

Sarabeth's UWS
Cheese enjoying her grilled cheese and fries at Sarabeth’s West.

Best elegant dining: Sarabeth’s West
Book a table for a finer dining experience at Sarabeth’s West, where kids are welcome (and usually present, in abundance!). Try their four flower juice and the ricotta pancakes or omelette. No need to order for toddlers – they’ll steal your delicious brunch right off your plate. Ask for a kid’s sippy cup to entertain young ones and buy you a bit more time.

Sarabeth’s West
423 Amsterdam Avenue (80th Street)
New York
Phone: (212) 496 6280
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-10:30pm, Sun 8am–10pm

Isabella's, Upper West Side. Kid-friendly restaurants, New York.
Me and my Cheese at Isabella’s.

Best Friendly Staff: Isabella’s
Not only is the food amazing at Isabella’s, but the staff really go above and beyond to make families feel at home. Waitstaff happily entertained Cheese when we last visited, as well as delivering fast service and perfectly cooked food. FYI I had an omelette and it was devine. Last tip: be sure to book a table as they’re super popular and get busy on weekends.

Isabella’s
359 Columbus Ave
New York
Phone: (212) 724 2100
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm Sat-Sun 10am-11pm

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Bright, roomy interior.

Most appealing to little (and big!) kids: Sugar and Plumm
“Purveyors of yumm”, Sugar and Plumm are bright, cheerful and full of treats. They deliver a great brunch menu, sure to delight everyone in the party, regardless of their age. Kids are catered for with an innovative menu, sippy cups, crayons and a menu to colour in. The drawback: no reservations, so expect a long wait on weekends.

Sugar and Plumm
377 Amsterdam Ave
New York
Phone: (212) 787 8778
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 8:15am-11pm

Shake Shack UWS, New York
Don’t take the shake from the baby. It’s bad.

Best fast food option: Shake Shack UWS
Fast food doesn’t necessarily mean bad food, as proven by the ever-popular Shake Shack. Right outside the museum, and only a block from Central Park, this is the best bet if you’re in a hurry. Solid burgers, fries and shakes will please most fussy eaters. The shakes are an especially big hit with the toddler crowd. They have high chairs and change tables, plus a downstairs rec room with extra seating, so be sure to check it out if the street level area is packed.

Shake Shack, UWS
366 Columbus Avenue
(at West 77th St)
New York
Phone: (646) 747 8770
Hours: Daily, 10:45am-11pm

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.