Top of the Rock

If you are looking for that take-your-breath-away New York City view,  Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is really as good as it gets.  With three levels of wrap-around walking terraces set atop one of the most spectaular Art Deco buildings in the world — it really is a must visit if you are in town, and I found it an especially easy place to take children (kids under five are free!)  After a recent visit  I also thought it was a far superior option to the Empire State Building (which I have heard is kind of a run down mess inside).  It’s kind of nice to have a photo OF the Empire State Building in the background with a view that is equally as nice in a less cramped and hectic setting. One of my favorite parts of the whole visit was the ride in the elevator… that alone was worth the trip (I won’t ruin the surprise as to why but it was way cool!)  And as if it couldn’t get any better… it’s right next door to Rockefeller center where there are tons of places to eat afterwards with kids.  If you are going to do the NYC tourist thing – I say by all means, this is a must for the photo books and kids will dig it.

Area: Midtown Manhattan

(Image from Pure Contemporary)

Chelsea Piers

A huge three-pier complex on the West Side Highway, Chelsea Piers is New York’s answer to suburban living. The sprawling sporting and entertainment paradise has it all – a multi-story golf driving range, swimming pool, world-class gym, Olympic sized skating rink, bowling alley, sun deck, skate park, a kids ball pit, a playground and a spa to mention just a few…ok…breathe. Although it’s not all that easy to get to, there are plenty of taxis waiting outside to get you home again and I would suggest just taking a taxi there for your sanity (subway stop is a few LONG blocks away). Check out the website for more information – they have tons of stuff going on year round for kids: summer camps, birthday parties and sports and dance classes galore.  This summer they also have an old-fashioned carousel set up which is always a good time.  I haven’t been in a while but I seem to recall that they also have a Brewery on-site which is always a bonus.

CONTACT DETAILS:

Chelsea Piers
62 Chelsea Piers
New York, NY 10011
(212) 336-6666

The Highline

You can’t help but LOVE New York City if you take an early evening stroll on The Highline. Not only is the people-watching fantastic but the whole experience will just make you feel cool. The Highline was the old elevated subway system in NYC and after years of sitting dilapidated and unused it has been transformed into an uber-chic above-ground promenade. The park itself snakes up 10th Avenue and not only offers amazing city views but also tons of places to sit and relax. Although there is not a playground up there they do offer programs for children and have just launched “Wild Wednesdays” which offer free programs for kids ages 5 and up (be sure to check out the stuff for Adults as well). And as if it couldn’t get any better, New York’s coolest bars and restaurants line the streets underneath. I would highly recommend Sunday brunch or drinks at the Standard Grill which sits just at the starting point of the park. It would also be a great date spot fyi!

(image from Flickr)

Pearl River Mart

One of my very favorite things to do in NYC is to take a stroll around Chinatown. The experience is transporting on many levels and it offers the closest thing that NYC has to an “open air” market. From the fish markets to the exotic fruit and vegetable stands you will see stuff that will both entice and, quite frankly, might even scare you a little. I have been known to stand and gawk outside of the fish markets because I am just so amazed at the sight of live fish, crabs and even turtles flailing around. You don’t see that stuff in your ordinary state-side supermarket.

And then there is the shopping… although not technically in Chinatown-proper anymore, one of my very favorite places is Pearl River Mart which is essentially a gigantic Chinese department store. There are tons of amazing things inside – housewares, silk fabrics, rows and rows of ornate dishes, brocade jewelry boxes, exotic foods and incredible paper goods. I love picking up gifts here for my kids and for friends alike. They have these amazing streamers (pictured) and lanterns that I nab for birthday parties or even just adding a little flair to a room.

(Image from Flickr) (more…)

The Eloise Store at the Plaza

The Eloise Store, located in the iconic Plaza Hotel, is devoted entirely to the storybook character Eloise – a precocious little six-year-old who grew up in the hotel. The store is tucked in the back of what is essentially a ghost-town of uber-luxury boutiques. The pristine pink and black space is inviting and there are several areas for young children to role-play, including a little stage with dress-up clothing, a huge tea party room (which will eventually serve food) and a comfy media space with bean-bag chairs to watch Eloise on a big screen. The store is just starting to host birthday parties in the spring which I am sure will be a huge hit and possibly the main draw of the space. If you are an Eloise fan, you will adore the nostalgia of it and as expected, there are a ton of themed items to purchase (note: there was screaming and tears when we left). I think it’s a perfect place to take a young lady for a special day out (think 4yr-7rs). Little girls will love it.

Eloise Store At the Plaza
Lower Lobby of the Plaza Hotel, 59th and 5th Ave

Things to do on a beautiful sunny day. NYC museums!

So recently I had a really terrible idea. It was pouring horizontal rain, freezing cold AND the schools were all closed for spring break… and for some reason, I decided it would be a truly excellent idea to take one of my girls to the Planetarium at the Natural History Museum. The good news was that I got our tickets the night before on-line (which you should ALWAYS do if available) … the bad news is that I spent the morning in a complete state of nature with what seemed like all of human kind. Uggh!

Despite the human jigsaw puzzle, we had a great time but the whole experience served as a gentle reminder that a rainy day visit to a museum is really not such a great idea after all as chances are that every single other human being alive has the same idea. Here are some of my favorite museums in the city… (more…)

Art, food and a place to sit

newmuseum_kaufmanI do love New York but there are also a lot of things that I really hate about it.the lack of parks and open spaces, and the complete absence of places to just sit down. The other day I took my girls to the New Museum on the Bowery. I have been wanting to go since it opened and there was an exhibition by Urs Fisher which looked bizarre and cool. There was, after all, a croissant hanging from the ceiling on fishing wire with a butterfly on it! Anyway– the exhibition was indeed cool but the best discovery of the day was the little cafeteria with tables and chairs that they had in the back of the main lobby. It’s a nice place to sit (for free!) and shockingly, it was very kid friendly — they even serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So for those roaming around Soho or the East Village with a stroller looking for a place to just sit for a few minutes — stop in. Admission is free for everyone under 18.

New York Transit Museum

new york transit museumOn a recent freezing and rainy Sunday we hopped on the subway and headed to the Transit Museum and what a treat it was! The museum itself exists in an old subway station and has two entire platforms of old subway cars to explore. It really is a trip down memory lane to the time of the good ole pre-blackberry days.  The early subway cars had hand-woven wicker seats and hanging lamps – can you even imagine how long those would last today? Upstairs there are two city buses that little ones can sit in and pretend to drive as well as a lane of turnstiles. It is much like the transport museum in London – but a bit more gritty. This is after all, New York. There is also a nice little lunchroom to take a breather, so pack a lunch!

Art classes for wee ones

wee artsWhen it rains in NYC a day at home can seem like an eternity. Wee Arts drop-in classes at Children’s Museum of the Arts is a wonderful way to spend the morning doing something that everyone will be happy about. For $22 a family, children can rotate from play dough to paint to stickers to block building. Young and engaging teachers walk around to help the children explore various materials and the program ends with a fun and upbeat session of sing-a-longs, drumming and a farewell book.

Wee-Arts DROP IN ?(ages 10 months to 3½ years) ?Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 10:45am-12pm.

Music Together in the city

musictogether.jpgI started going to Music Together when my girls were 6 months old. They sat on my lap like two blobs back then and we continued to go once a week until they started pre-school. While NYC offers a million “mommy and me” type classes I found that we enjoyed Music Together the most. Its grassroots, back to basics approach is the type of class that I love. No flash, no bubble machine, just good old catchy tunes sung by a teacher, in jeans, with a guitar. Take a trial class to see which teacher you like as some are better than others. I would say that it is mainly geared for the younger set but it’s a great way to start kids out on a life long love of music and they offer classes everywhere. It also gave me a wide repertoire of kid’s songs to sing at home freeing me from the shackles of what seemed like a never ending loop of “Wheels on the bus”.

The unspeakable: A trip to New Jersey

science_of_survivalI kid. I am after all a New Yorker and it’s in my DNA to pick on New Jersey. Truth be told however, I find myself going there quite often with my kids on day trips. One of my very favorite go-to spots is the Liberty Science Center, which (dare I say) blows all of the kid’s museums in NYC out of the water. There are tons of things to do there and there is a separate contained Toddler play area with animal displays and all sorts of things to touch and climb on. One of our personal favorite exhibits is “My Hudson Home” which has giant tanks filled with fish and turtles and a water table with sand to scoop. It appeals to all ages beyond the toddler years and there is something for everyone to enjoy. The place is absolutely immaculate to boot and they have an incredible cafeteria with organic and healthy food for adults and children. Go early or late afternoon to avoid the school crowds and I guarantee a good time for all. Please note: bring blindfold for when you leave if you want to avoid the gift shop.

Moomah – Coffee and Creativity

moomahI have been watching……waiting…..okay, technically “stalking” out this place for weeks now and as of last Monday the doors to paradise have finally flung wide open. Moomah – which dubs itself a “creative arts café” is the brainchild of Tracey Stewart, a Tribeca mother who took a delightful detour from the over-stimulating child play spaces that have been cropping up around the city to create a community space where adults would feel just as much at home as their kids. One part adult café, one part earth-conscious art/exploration space for kids – Moomah offers something for all of the senses and serves as a place where the adults don’t have to just sit awkwardly on the sidelines. From big tables for impromptu art projects to cozy couches where you can grab a light meal and read a book, the rustic-chic space offers cool activities for families to do together. (more…)