As the city that never sleeps, New York may have more in common
with your children than you think. And while it may seem
intimidating, the city is incredibly toddler and baby friendly with
a few minor exceptions-if you're taking the subway, be prepared to
carry your stroller up and down the stairs, since it's a rare train
station that has an elevator and an even rarer train station that
has one that works.
As a native New Yorker who has lived in Chicago for nine years,
and travels back to my hometown of Greenwich Village every other
month with my 3-year-old and infant, I'm always on a mission to
expose my kids to the real New York - the one that comes complete
with plenty of bagels (Ess-A-Bagel, 359 1st Ave.) and incorporates
the best museums and landmarks New York has to offer.
If you want the real New York experience for your kids, make
sure you check out my favorite kid-friendly spots and
Union Square Park, 1 Union Square West
Your kids ages 2-10 will delight in this brand new
playground, tucked away on the Northside of Union Square Park
(which has a fabulous farmer's market Monday, Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday throughout the entire year). It's got everything from
scary slides to a sandbox to fun climbing statues and water
Ellis Island, (212) 363-3200
Hop on the ferry (try to catch the 8 a.m. ferry to avoid
the crowds) and head over to Ellis Island to show your kids how
their ancestors arrived in the United States. It's a fun,
interactive museum - and you could even pay $5 to look up your own
ancestors. Bonus: The kids will love the ferry ride over, which
offers amazing picture opps.
Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St., (212)
It may easily be the best museum in the city for kids and
grown-ups alike. Live out your Jurassic Park fantasy on the 4th
floor by examining the dinosaur fossils, and make sure you pose
next to the ginormous Tyrannosaurus Rex. The museum is huge, so
plan ahead and figure out which exhibits you want to see, or you
could easily spend an entire day here.
Ray's Candy Store, 113 Avenue A, (917) 340-7855
The chocolate egg-cream is probably one of New York's
best drinks. They mix seltzer with milk and chocolate syrup and
it's heaven. Don't worry-there are no raw eggs in this drink.
The High Line, 122 Gansevoort St.
It's a park built on top of an old elevated train, and
you'll get amazing views. OK, so this is actually pretty touristy,
but your kids will have a great time running around. Bring a lunch
and eat it at one of the many picnic areas, and stop in afterward
for a popsicle at People's Pops in Chelsea Market, 425 W. 15th
Economy Candy, 108 Rivington St., (212) 254-1531
I may enjoy this spot even more than my 3-year-old does,
if that's possible. It's the most classic candy store in the world
(the world being New York City) and it's filled from top to bottom
with nostalgic candy bars that you may remember from your childhood
(Cracker Jack and candy necklaces were my junior high staples), but
may not be able to find outside of this tiny shop. Leave the
strollers in the hotel for this one, or you'll get many angry
glares from the other New Yorkers who are trying to fill their
sweet craving in this hole-in-the-wall candy store.
The Strand, 828 Broadway, (212) 473-1452
It's one of the biggest used bookstores in the world, and
they have a delightful, quiet children's section tucked in the
corner of the second floor. We stop in here whenever the craziness
of New York gets to be too much for our 3-year-old, who can spend
hours thumbing through the books (and we take turns watching her
and running around the rest of the store to thumb through books in
our favorite sections, too).
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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