Merry Christmas friends! To thank you for following along on our journeys this year, I’ve organised a prize pack worth almost $180 for one lucky reader as an early Chrissie pressie.
The pack contains copies of five DVD sets that the family will love:
1. Bad Moms
2. The Legend of Tarzan
3. Dial E For Emma
4. The Night Of
5. Doctor Doctor
In this new comedy from the writers of The Hangover, Amy has a seemingly perfect life – a great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home and a career. However she’s over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities – going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.
The Legend of Tarzan
It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom. But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.
Dial E For Emma
Ring, Ring! Hello? Or should we say, yellow? Emma’s friends know that they just have to Dial E For Emma and she will answer the phone and be on her way! Emma embarks on a dancing adventure and uses her “Book of Dance” to help her try out and discover different styles of dance. Whether it is Jazz or Country, Fusion or Ballet, Emma will dance the day away! Share in Emma’s love for dancing, singing, sign language and dress ups and know that she is only a phone call away!
The Night Of
From creators Steven Zaillian and Richard Price, The Night Of is an eight-part limited series that delves into the intricate story of a fictitious murder case in New York City. The series follows the police investigation and legal proceedings, all the while examining the criminal justice system and the purgatory of Rikers Island, where the accused awaits his trial.
This new Australian series follows Hugh Knight – a rising star in the heart surgery ranks. He is gifted, charming, infallible, and a hedonist who – due to his sheer talent – believes he can live outside the rules. But his “work hard, play harder” philosophy is about to come back and bite him. Hard.
These great DVDs are available for purchase in stores nationally.
Here’s your chance to win this DVD pack for yourself (Merry Christmas!). One winner will receive a pack containing The Night Of, Doctor Doctor, Bad Moms, The Legend of Tarzan and Dial E For Emma valued at $179.75. All you need to do to be in the running to win is enter the question in the form below in 25 words or less, “Which DVD would you like to win the most and why?”. The most creative entry will win.
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.
The library is home to more than 51 million items, from books, e-books, and DVDs to research collections.
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.
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.
The library runs free storytimes suitable for kids from birth to age five. The full program is on their website.
The Children’s Center is open daily, same hours at the library, except Sundays 1pm-5pm
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
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.
So what’s there to do?
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.
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).
Kids under five can get messy with art materials in the WEE Arts early childhood studio.
Head to the Fine Arts Studio is to paint, draw, sculpt, or sew an original masterpiece.
What you need to know before you go:
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 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.
Prepare to get messy! While there are smocks provided, dress your child in clothes that they can get paint on.
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
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.
I called New York home for three-and-a-half wonderful years. As we’d visited many times over the years as tourists, I hadn’t thought our countries were that dissimilar until our immersion in daily life as New Yorkers began. It’s the little things that you really notice as time goes on – the small details that are head-tiltingly perplexing at times, and Earth-shatteringly good at others (BAGELS where have you been all my life?). A few notes I’ve finally written down that have been running around my head for the past few years on life in New York.
1. Pizza is served by the slice in tiny holes in the wall all over the city, and is an acceptable lunch or after school snack.
2. Bagels taste like heaven. Just don’t ask for one toasted, particularly from Murray’s.
3. Corn syrup is in everything, even Tomato Sauce (which is also oddly named “Ketchup”).
4. The daily average temperature is below 10dC for six entire months of the year. That is very very cold.
5. Capsicum are called “peppers” even though they’re not spicy.
6. You need to tip literally everyone. At Christmas, you can expect to tip your USP delivery guy, building manager, cleaners, building concierge, your child’s teachers, your hairdresser and basically anyone you’ve had contact with over the year.
7. Even if you get shitty service you have to tip. A tip of 10% is considered too low. 15% average and 20% desirable.
8. There is no such thing as a flat white unless you find an Aussie-run cafe.
9. The Jewish holidays are just as important as Christian ones and kids have days off school for them.
10. Cold weather removes the importance of looking good. Embrace a marshmallow man coat that goes below the knees and pull up the hood to prevent frost bite.
11. Brunch is anywhere from 11am-2pm and alcohol, like bellinis, is served from midday.
12. No one gets up before 10am unless they’ve got a newborn baby.
13. There’s nary an avocado let alone haloumi at brunch. If you ask for tomato with your dish it will arrive cold and sliced.
14. Chemists are called drug stores, and the big pharmacies are like supermarkets that sell pretty much everything from milk to photo frames and toilet paper.
15. Trader Joe has the best bargain groceries, as well as original creations like “Cookie Butter”.
16. Kids go to see a pediatrician from birth, not your local GP. They also see a pediatric dentist.
17. There is garbage piled up high on every street but no one seems to ever talk about it.
18. You know it’s summer when the pavement smells like dog (or possibly human!) wee.
19. Central Park and Prospect park more than make up for not having a back yard.
20. You can’t call yourself a New Yorker Until you see your first flasher, groper, masterbator or person doing a poop on the subway.
21. Paying 15% of your yearly rent to a broker is called the “New York tax”. You painfully shell it out when you rent your first apartment, then do whatever you can to avoid every paying it again for subsequent homes.
22. You’ll pretty much never get a quiet subway ride without buskers or beggars, so forget about trying to finish your novel.
23. Speaking of buskers, you’re always at high risk of getting kicked in the head when the street dancers start swinging around the poles on the subway.
24. Everything is sooooo cheap – until you take into account the falling Aussie dollar. Unless you’re earning US dollars, in which case, everything is INCREDIBLY cheap and you wonder how you could ever adjust to paying rip off Australian prices ever again.
25. You think you’re prepared for winter, but by January 1 you’d give your right arm for a day over 10 degrees.
26. Spring flowers start blooming well before the weather actually warms up. Don’t get excited too far in advance.
27. The only way to survive New York winters is to not be there for them. Leave the country, do it now.
28. Waiting an hour for brunch is a New York institution. If you don’t have to wait, it’s probably going to be crap.
29. A third floor walk up in a traditional brownstone is going to seem a lot less charming after you have to carry your groceries, stroller and child up and down the stairs 20 times a day.
30. Heating in brownstones is antiquated. Your choice of heating settings is on (heat level “furnace”) or off (heat level “arctic”). Expect to spend winter with the heater on and your windows open.
31. Walk fast so you don’t make New Yorkers angry.
32. If you see a TV show filming, the correct response is to sigh about how inconvenient it is, and pretend not to notice the famous actor waiting for his cue. Even if it’s Ben Stiller, it’s so uncool to stare or, God forbid, whip out your iPhone to take a photo.
33. Kale is disgusting and yet is served everywhere. Everyone pretends to like it.
34. Times Square is for tourists.
35. Layer cakes taste like heaven.
36. Every corner seems familiar because it’s featured in a movie or TV show at some stage. The city feels instantly like you’ve already been there before, even if it’s your first time.
37. Supermarket bread tastes terrible and goes off within days.
38. American chocolate tastes disgusting, particularly Hersheys, which is made from sour milk.
39. When faced with bureaucracy you’ll think it was designed to make you return to the country from which you came. It takes serious stamina to get anything done.
40. If you don’t have private health insurance, do not get sick. If you go to a doctor without insurance expect to shell out several hundred dollars for a 10 minute GP visit.
41. Expect to be treated like a second class citizen by officials in any formal capacity if you’re not an American.
42. When on the subway you’ll frequently hear announcements but won’t be able to understand a word of them.
43. Milk comes in fat-free, lowfat 1%, reduced fat 2% and whole milk. That’s a lot of choice for milk.
44. The pressure to buy organic food will drive you to shop in Whole Foods and then regret your over-priced fruit and vege for the next week.
45. The nursery schools admissions process will turn you into a lunatic.
46. If you drop something on the floor of the subway, leave it there. There’s no coming back.
47. There are so many rules. “Ma’am, you’d can’t put that stroller there”, “Sir, you can’t carry your child on your shoulders (at the American Museum of History)”.
48. There is ice cream everywhere but very little gelato.
49. Kinder Surprise Eggs are banned.
50. People are helpful. Ask one person on what station you should get off at on the subway and the whole carriage will pipe up with their opinion.
51. People are warm and welcoming. New friends who barely knew me invited us into their homes.
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.
A special giveaway for US readers this week from the wonderful peeps at 7AM Enfant.
One lucky reader will win a Le Sac igloo and matching set of WarmMuffs in the colour of their choice, just in time for the next polar vortex.
The Le Sac igloo is designed to keep babies warm in strollers and carseats. It features a five-point harness opening, a soft, faux fur hood that zips down to lie flat on a stroller or car-seat, and a water-repellent shell to protect children from snow, rain, and wind. For warmer outdoor temperatures, the snapped fleece blanket can be removed and the lightweight cotton lining can be used independently. The 7AM Enfant Le Sac igloo retails for $115 USD.
And for your strolling pleasure, we are also offering a matching set of WarMMuffs. These cozy hand-warmers attach to any bar or handles, keeping your hands toasty while making it easy to hand out snacks and retrieve thrown toys. The WarMMuffs’ hook and loop fasteners allow for easy attachment to strollers, shopping carts and more. The 7AM Enfant WarMMuffs retail for $38 USD.
Enter The Giveaway!
To be in the running to win your own matching set of 7AM Enfant Le Sac igloo and matching WarMMuffs, simply sign up to the Adventure, Baby! and 7AM Enfant mailing lists below, then leave a comment at the end of the post to let me know. If you’ve already signed up for both, just leave a comment saying you’re already receiving both newsletters to go in the running.
Giveaway is open Thursday November 20th 12am to Wednesday November 26, 11:59am. Entry open to US mailing addresses only. By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions listed here.
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.