Make Meaning — Art Space for Kids, young and old

Paint-a-pot… step aside.  I think your days are numbered. Make Meaning recently opened its doors on the Upper West Side and they are definitely on to something!  The gigantic, walk-in creativity center offers a place where parents and their kids can sit together and work side by side on a variety of creative projects — all age appropriate and stuff that you will actually use!

The space currently offers six experiences: soap crafting, candle-making, ceramics, glass, jewelry and paper and they are open to 11pm on some nights!  Not only is it a perfect retreat when it’s too cold or crummy to be outside but what mother doesn’t need some downtime to just zone out and create something for themselves once in a while?

I love the look of the Soapsphere! Kids can choose the color and fragrance of their soap and then throw in a toy surprise for bath-time fun!  And they serve cupcakes!

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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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Hudson River Park

hudson river parkOftentimes, it is very easy to forget that Manhattan is actually an island — surrounded by beautiful open water views and wide promenades to stroll and cycle. I have lived here my whole life and I still do a double-take when I catch a glimpse of a boat going by or see more then a few trees in a cluster. Hudson River Park is a long expanse along the base of New York City that is getting more developed and exciting with each passing year. Starting at Chambers street and walking down to the tip of the island is a long and scenic esplanade lined with playgrounds and open lawns for picnics, people watching, and feeling a bit like you are NOT in New York City. For the kids, check out Rockefeller Playground which offers something for all ages as well as the secluded Tear Drop Park with its hidden sprinkler grottoes and giant slide into a sand pit. Also be sure to poke into the World Financial Center for a scoop of gelato or a burger from the famous PJ Clarks. At the very base is Wagner Park that has amazing views of the Statue of Liberty and on summer weekends they almost always have something going on for young kids.

(Photo from Flickr)

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Turtle Back Zoo — Who Knew?!

This past weekend we did a Saturday field trip to New Jersey to a place called Turtle Back Zoo. A quick 14 mile drive from lower Manhattan, the large 15-acre zoo has over 850 animals and it was a truly incredible place to spend the afternoon. Not only was I blown away by the huge selection of animals but I also loved that they had large and open natural spaces to roam around in. It almost felt like visiting a giant rural farm and I was surprised at times how close you could actually get to the animals.

When you are done checking out all the animals there are a bunch of other great things to do: a Carousel, a climbing area with slides, pony rides, even an old-fashioned train that takes you on a five minute ride around a nearby reservoir. We loved every second of our visit and on a sunny weekend day it wasn’t crowded at all! Heads up: If your kids complain about walking (like mine constantly do) definitely bring a stroller. You can also rent cute little wagons for $7.00. The one major downside is the café, which is sadly chock full of really gross fast-food so be sure to pack a lunch. Dare I say it… New Jersey wins again, first with a great museum and now with a zoo!

Central Park Zoo

central park zooThe Central Park Zoo is a treat for young kids – especially the separate children’s zoo that has a ton of things to climb around in, an adorable petting zoo, and a HUGE indoor rainforest filled with all kinds of wildlife walking around. While not as expansive as the Bronx Zoo (the real deal zoo in New York) the Zoo in Central Park has all the appeal of a large zoo in a nice compact space. There are Polar Bears, Penguins and Monkeys to name a few as well as a giant tank with Seals who put on shows a few times a day. Go early if you can, and like anything else in NYC — avoid on the weekends and school holidays if you can help it.

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Horse & Buggy ride

horse and buggy rideOh how I love playing tourist sometimes! And one of my favorite spots to visit is perhaps the crossroads of it all — the corner of 59th and 5th Avenue. Tiffany’s, The Plaza Hotel, FAO Schwartz, Bergdorf, Barneys, and the entrance to Central Park — to name a few of the highlights.

And I ask — is there anything more New York than taking a Horse and Buggy Ride through Central Park? So cheesy but oh so fun! Kids can often sit in the front with the driver if you ask very very nicely, and it’s a great way to see the park and take a break from the crowds. Ask to be dropped off at the old-fashioned Carosel which is great fun and a must visit (and at $2 dollars a ride it might just be the least expensive thing to do these days). And don’t forget Heckscher Playground – one of the biggest and best in the city.

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