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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Soul CycleBilly’s Bakery. Diagnosis…DeliciousKaffe 1668 — The new Tribeca fix

Kaffe 1668 — The new Tribeca fix

So the very loud, stay-at-home dad that I have written about before is truly a deep and bottomless well of good information. He has been talking up this coffee place that just opened in the neighborhood saying we were all complete and total fools if we ever went anywhere else for our morning fix. As a rule of thumb I try to avoid Starbucks, if I can, to support the smaller cafés in the city (of which there might be exactly three left). Don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks and all, but I really feel like a total loser when they make me call their small a “tall” and their large a “venti”… pisses me off every. single. time.

So the other day I made the journey over to Kaffe 1668 and seriously… stay-at-home dad was right! Kaffee makes truly amazing coffee. Each individual cup is single brewed and is presented almost like a work of art. The people there take such pride in each cup that you almost feel bad about drinking it. It is also a nice place to sit and grab a small bite as they have the most delicious little sandwhiches and pastries – all which look like they were made with the same amount of love as the coffee. Right now there is only one in the city but I sure hope more open up soon! FYI: for Tribeca peeps it’s a great pit stop before or after Soul Cycle.

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LandmarcMoomah – Coffee and CreativitySoul Cycle

Mayflower Inn and Spa

Since having my girls, my husband and I have only taken 3 short weekend trips away from home. Six nights. Four years. Exactly six times where I have slept past 7:30 in the morning. Now before you call me a loser… just wait… it gets even worse. Those six nights were all spent at the exact same place. A place which is less than a two-hour drive from our house!

But look – it’s not that we are afraid to leave our children with the grandparents for a few days – it’s just that we really love going here and honestly, when it comes right down to it… vacation for us at this juncture in our lives means sleeping past 7am, eating well, taking a bath without someone banging on the door, and long stretches of quiet. (more…)

Landmarc

landmarcWhile most of us can agree that eating out with small children usually causes nothing but indigestion, I do like to get out from time to time to give us all a break. That being said, when we do venture out, I am VERY particular about finding places that are both adult and kid friendly. Landmarc has an excellent family vibe and is a place where you don’t have to worry about eating with children – they totally get it. They have two locations, one in Tribeca and one in the Time Warner Center and they offer a very nice kids menu that is not simply chicken fingers and french fries. The best part – the desserts…. mini ice cream cones and even cotton candy! Also worth noting parents, is that they have a high quality and very inexpensive wine selection. They don’t mark-up their wines and basically serve them at cost, so have a glass or two!  you deserve it….

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Moomah – Coffee and CreativitySoul CycleBilly’s Bakery. Diagnosis…Delicious

KISAN Concept Store

KISAN Concept Store is a nifty little place, just off the beaten path in Soho. The store is a collective of all things stylish and beautifully made offering nearly everything from interesting coffee table books and gadgets — to chic clothing/shoes — to handbags and jewelery — to stunning, mouth-agape children’s clothing. The owners literally comb the world over to find the lines they carry and it is the kind of stuff you won’t see anywhere else and can’t get anywhere else. The back of the store is wholly dedicated to higher-end children’s clothing as well as a small selection of internationally themed toys and books. They happen to carry one of my favorite European brands, Caramel Baby and Child (and ps: they just started selling on-line and will ship to the US).

I ain’t gonna lie – this is Soho and it ain’t cheap, but everything in this store is really special and it is a fabulous place to pick up unique gifts. If you are in need of a special outfit for a young boy or girl this is a great place to look.

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High Tea at the Crosby HotelThe best of Soho’s children’s boutiquesArt classes for wee ones

Obaibi

frenchMy childhood friend — who fled NYC long ago to live in Paris — sends us the cutest, chicest outfits every year for the girls’ birthday. I am always excited when the package arrives but always find myself equally bummed out that I can never find the brand here! Well last week I learned that Obaibi had quietly opened a store on the upper east side, and so I made the trek the other day and practically bought the entire place out.

What I love about the clothes is not only the beautiful muted color palate but the hipper-than-hip French styling. In addition to a bunch of great sweaters and dresses, I picked up a pair of cargo capris with a flowy top and a printed cotton wrap scarf. The cuteness factor was off the charts! Obaibi carries items from birth-5yrs and I am hoping that they soon open a store with the line for older kids (Okaidi). I would say to all New York moms that it is worth the trip – the clothes are adorable, beautifully made and priced WELL WELL WELL below what you would find elsewhere. Dress like a little French girl at Old Navy pricing. Viva la France!

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The Eloise Store at the PlazaHorse & Buggy rideCentral Park Zoo

Williamsburg

hipkidsWilliamsburg is seriously as cool as it gets. In fact, I used to joke with a friend of mine that they should just plaster a picture of either Beck or Moby on the front of all the Subway cars to identify that the “L” train to Brooklyn was for hipster transport only.

I guess now, with time being what it is, those young men and women with the complicated haircuts and ironic t-shirts are getting older and having kids of their own. And thank goodness they are because the children’s stores there are really just so darn cool!!!! If you have not been, you must go. Make a day of it as there are so many amazing shops and little places to eat.

Mini Jake – is kind of like the Brooklyn version of the popular Giggle chain. It’s a huge space filled with all things modern and cool — strollers, cribs, bedding, feeding stuff… you name it. In a nutshell, it is a modern parents dream as it is chock full of all those eco-fashionable brands that they go gaga for (Oeuf, Stokke, Bloom etc;). The store also has a huge selection toys (think Plan Toys and Playmobil) and a book nook with all the classics. (more…)

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Ample Hills CreameryNew York Transit MuseumPomme

Soul Cycle

SpinBikesSoul Cycle just opened an amazing new space in Tribeca and while I totally TOTALLY dread working out I decided to just suck it up and force myself to go. After all, as mentioned before, the only cardio routine I have these days is courtesy of the Dancey Dance segments from Yo Gabba Gabba.

So anyway– Soul Cycle has had a following for quite some time in other areas of the city and I was nervous as hell to go. I had never done a “spin class” before and I was pretty confident that I was going to die on the bike and make a total scene. As I stood in the lobby waiting for class to start I tried my best to look like a pro but when I saw the sweat drenched people emerge from the prior class I started to panic. (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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The Limelight MarketplaceThe HighlineChelsea Piers

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.

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Favorite children’s bookstore — Scholastic Store

scholasticI absolutely love hanging out in bookstores and the smaller the specialty bookstore, the better. I spend a lot of time at Scholastic and it is always a go-to destination when I am in Soho with the kids. It’s a huge space that offers a little something for everyone from birth through the angst ridden teen years, and they even have a decent sized section of books in other languages. They have a storytime for wee-ones on Tues, Wed and Thursday mornings at 11am, and carry a nice selection of toys, crafts and CDs – all educational. Also, worth noting – the place is a real mood booster — you can’t help but feel happy in here. It’s a bright and cheery space – something you don’t often see.

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Art classes for wee onesHigh Tea at the Crosby HotelPearl River Mart

Belly Dance Maternity

nom_pic1Seems like everyone I know is having a baby all of a sudden. Funny how it always happens in waves.

With “three being the new two” and “twins being the new singleton” in NYC, the maternity business is booming! When I was pregnant I was determined to remain somewhat stylish (well with the roots growing in and the adult onset acne, the least I could do was wear a semi-decent outfit.) One of my very favorite brands to discover along the way was Nom de Naissance, which is based out of LA and is carried at my very favorite maternity store in NYC, Belly Dance Maternity. This adorable West Village shop carries a well edited selection of labels like Splendid, Diane Von Furstenburg and Ripe with the premise being that you can still dress like you did before you got prego. Two other amazing stores that I discovered along the way were Cappucine in Tribeca which does not have an on-line website but is definitely worth the visit. The owner carries both maternity wear and adorable regular clothes in larger sizes (and the owner is French so you know it’s cool). The other place that I found was Bump in Brooklyn which opened after I had the girls but it looks ultra, ultra swank. For the gals that are not into “Pea in a Pod” and “Liz Lange” – these stores are for you.

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Doodle Doo’sWhitney Museum of American ArtThe Shoe Garden

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!

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Pomme

yhst-75091535464214_2082_6057535I always like to find special gifts that are useful and practical for friends with a new baby. In a cramped NYC apartment the last thing you need is more stuff, especially if you are on kid number 2 or 3, which is why I love these adorable little square quilts from Pomme. They are small, plush, easy to wash and cheery.

Pomme is an adorable little store in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn that carries a well-edited and unique array of items for young children. You can call the store direct to get matching pillows or if you are feeling particularly fashionable there are booties to match!

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Getting Around: Tips for navigating NYC

New York prides itself on its amazing transportation system and it is only getting better, although more expensive, every year. When traveling with children, especially with a stroller, things can be a bit tricky but New Yorkers, contrary to popular belief, always help out when it comes to kids. I have seen strangers sprint to hold a door open and someone will always magically appear to help you carry a stroller up or down stairs. We still have a long way to go in terms of making transportation more accessible but it’s slowly getting there.

Subway — The subway is by far the fastest and most efficient method for getting around town. Unfortunately, it’s not great if you are travelling with small children because 1) there are a lot of stairs to navigate 2) it’s loud, 3) unless you travel during off-peak hours it will be packed. Your best bet with kids is to travel after 10am and before 4:30pm and take a local train to your destination — you will have the best chance of getting a seat and enjoying the ride. Useful Tip: Make every attempt to perfect your Metrocard “swipe” technique. If you don’t want to look like a tourist you need to get the movement down pat. It is a quick swipe, not a slow drag. Once you hear a “beep” you must move through the turnstile swiftly, like your life depends on it.

Bus — The Bus is great but it is SLOW. My mom LOVES the bus. She is 71 years old. It is certainly a cleaner and more sedated way to get around the city and is far more kid friendly, but depending on the time of day it can take a while. The system tends to be a bit more confusing then the subway but you can find a bus stop every few blocks among main avenues and larger crosstown streets. Again — best at off-peak hours. You will need to fold a stroller but people always give up seats when they see children in tow. (more…)

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