Books of Wonder – a children’s bookstore

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As convenient as Amazon and other similar websites can be, leisurely browsing a good bookstore is a thrill all its own. Given how prominently children’s books feature in the rhythm of my days since my daughter’s birth, having the opportunity to refresh and supplement our growing library is one I take advantage of whenever possible. Books of Wonder, on 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, is an excellent independent bookstore focused solely on children’s literature. Walking the aisles here means having a cover illustration jog a long-forgotten memory of a favorite book from years long past (as happened for my husband today when spotting John Henry: An American Legend) or discovering a new-to-us title that becomes an instant favorite, committed to and recited from memory by everyone in the house.

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When we stopped in earlier this afternoon I had only to divert my attention long enough to fold our stroller (not even necessary here given the spacious layout – such a luxury in New York!), and my daughter was off, climbing a small step stool and removing familiar books from the shelves. Numerous child-size tables and chairs offer space to sit and read together, and the collection, ranging from rare and collectible editions, to New York books and beloved classics, is easy to navigate and visually appealing. The store frequently hosts author events and was used as inspiration for the children’s bookstore central to the movie You’ve Got Mail. After learning about them today, I’m especially keen to return for the storytimes offered on Saturday and Sundays mornings (11am Saturday, 11:30 on Sunday) with books tailored to the age of the children in attendance. Until then a bag with nine new books sits on the floor, ready to be pored over and enjoyed.

Chelsea Piers

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

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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)

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The Limelight Marketplace

In the 1980s, early ’90s, The Limelight was perhaps the most popular nightclub in New York City. Known for its wild parties, weekly drug busts, and all around freakiness, the club closed its doors long ago but the space itself has recently been transformed and re-opened as a…gasp…mini-mall.

The old cathedral space is now The Limelight Marketplace and it is filled with a variety of cute, higher-end food and fashion stalls. New York has never done the “indoor mall” thing well — and most have failed miserably — but this one is actually kind of nice. I especially liked the mini food court which felt a bit like a shrunken down poor man’s Harrods – there are a few delicious bake shops, a fromagerie and a beautiful outdoor farmers market. There were also a few child-oriented stalls: Hunter Boots for toddlers, Silly Souls which makes ironic onesies for newborns like this, and a cute little children’s gift basket service called BookSmart. Overall it is unique, if cramped, but definitely worth a visit. I actually hope this one lasts.

Image from flickr (more…)

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Billy’s Bakery. Diagnosis…Delicious

The cupcake competition in New York has swelled to epic proportions and it seems like there are cupcake pop-up shops everywhere all of a sudden. I am not sure why, as a society, we have become so obsessed with this portable baked good but who’s complaining? I am totally psyched to be able to get my hands on one in a moments notice.

Having young kids, I have sampled pretty much all of the major places in town and I am picking a landslide winner (drum roll). I really do love Billy’s Bakery the best because their cupcakes not only TASTE but LOOK home-made. They do not try too hard to be what they are not and they certainly don’t give you the attitude like some of the others. They come in pretty old-fashioned colors and strike the perfect balance with a generous heap of creamy icing supported by moist and sweet cake. (more…)

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Kidding Around Toys

toysWhile I would really love for my kids to play with handcrafted, eco-friendly and artistically stunning toys, I also know full well that I might as well just set a pile of money on fire. The beautiful wooden farm house with hand painted animals is coated in a layer of dust. The hand-sewn finger puppet theater has yet to be touched by a human hand. That being said, I don’t want a house full of flashing plastic junk but I do like to find items that my kids will actually play with.

Kidding Around is a toy store in Chelsea that I really love as it does a great job stocking toys which are both parent savvy and ones that your kids will love. The website is in dire need of a makeover but if you visit the store in person you will be extremely pleased with what you find inside. Not only is it huge but it has everything that a child could want from birth through the teen years — all of which is thoughtfully edited and categorized. It is my go-to place for amazing birthday gifts and I always stumble upon something new when I go.

I have my sights set on this little red accordian to buy as a gift for someone who bought my girls two recorders last month. Payback time!

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Pop Burger

2099832700_d4561866bbAs mentioned in an earlier post, I am not a huge fan of eating out with young kids. It’s not good for the digestion. But then again, there is Pop Burger.

This unassuming and very hip burger joint in the trendy Meatpacking district is actually one of my favorite super duper secret places to grab a special lunch with the girls. The burgers are delicious, and they come in sets of two which are perfect for teeny hands. They also have a nice selection of healthier items like a salad or an excellent chicken burger which pair nicely with a thick classic milkshake and crispy fries. (more…)

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Chelsea Market

chelseamkt_1I really try to avoid taking my twins out to eat. It is nothing short of torture for me. Seriously….it’s like the minute they see that dilapidated cup of crayons and sad coloring placemat coming at them they start to make a scene. Chelsea Market, on the other hand, is now a destination of mine to eat with the girls on sunny days with the stroller in tow. I can only describe it as an underground culinary fantasy land and one where I am at complete ease dining with two three-year-olds. There’s a huge selection of delicious gourmet places to eat – all in a cool and low key setting. Kids can choose from homeade soup, sandwhiches and pasta and then watch fresh bread being baked, visit a fish market and toss coins into an indoor waterfall. Even better are the places to grab dessert – Eleni’s cookies, Sarabeths and Fat Witch Brownies. On the weekends they oftentimes have musical performances for kids so check the schedule and make a morning of it. And while the weather is still nice grab a coffee and check out the new and ultra-swank Highline where you can sit and watch a parade of New York’s hipsters saunter by.

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