5 Top things To Do, See, and Eat With Kids in NYC
By Carla Sullivan
When venturing out with kids it’s important to know where you’re going and what you’re likely to do. But in New York City the more important questions, really, is where are you going to eat and what are you going to have?
Here are 5 kid-friendly destinations in New York City that my three kids (ages 6, 3 and 1) love, along with their favorite spots to grab a nosh afterward. The best part? These spots have appealing grown-up food, too.
Where To Go: The New York City Police Museum
What To Do: three to 10-year-olds can explore the Junior Officers Discovery Zone. Four areas—Police Academy, The Park and Precinct, Emergency Services Unit and a Multi-Purpose Area—let them learn about policemen with activities like driving and taking care of a Police Car. Older kids can exercise their C.S.I skills and take on challenges similar to those in the real New York Police Academy. (Note: The Museum was damaged in Hurricane Sandy but should reopen later this year.)
Where To Eat: Gigino at Wagner Park, 20 Battery Place
Why We Like It: This outdoor Italian cafe has great Hudson River views. And you’ll actually get to enjoy them while your kids can run around on the lawn until your meal comes. The better-than-average kids menu offers salmon, shrimp and chicken with broccoli as well as plain pasta .
Where To Go: Children’s Museum of Manhattan
What To Do: With 5 floors of activities, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan has kids from crawlers to 8-year-olds covered. Let them climb on a fire truck or city bus, shop in a grocery store or get to know the Chinese Monkey King. In warm weather they can get their splash on at outdoor water area.
Where To Eat: Brother Jimmys BBQ, 428 Amsterdam Avenue
Why We Like It: This barbecue and burger joint does a good job feeding everyone with adult cocktails like the palmetto punch and kid-friendly appetizers like popcorn shrimp and hush puppies (above). Side dishes like baked beans, corn bread and fried okra will make them forget to ask for French fries (for once). Bonus: Kids under 12 eat free and those who join the “clean plate club” earn a scoop of ice cream.
Where To Go: Central Park
What To Do: Welcome to Manhattan’s 843-acre backyard. If the Central Park Zoo (famous even before Madagascar came along), the Swedish Marionette Theatre, a carousel and the Metropolitan Museum of Art aren’t enough, you’ll also find a dozen playgrounds for every age. Preschoolers love the sandbox and big stone slide at the Billy Johnson playground north of the zoo while bigger kids like the climbing at Ancient Playground next to the museum.
Where To Eat: Landmarc, 3rd floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle
Why We Like It: Landmarc has one of the greatest children’s menus I have ever encountered. From Green Eggs and Ham to peanut butter & Nutella to lemomy roast chicken legs, Chef Marc Murphy knows how to capture the imagination of even the pickiest eater. You’ll have plenty of other families for company while you tuck onto your braised lamb sandwich or wild salmon with truffle butter. Breathtaking views of Central Park South make it worth the somewhat steep tab.
Where To Go: Scribble Press
What To Do: Let kids write, illustrate and publish their own books. This place will keep anyone old enough to hold a crayon occupied for hours. Choose one of three books: a 6-page, fill-in-the-blanks Cueprint), A bound, 14-page Author/Illustrator Kit, or completely customized book. My favorite part is the child photo they take for the “author information” on the back.
Where To Eat: Big Daddy’s, 1596 2nd Avenue
Why We Like It: New Yorkers love their diners, but they can be crowded with brusque service at peak times. My kids love this upscale diner that has enough colorful décor and music to keep even the youngest occupied. Crayons and balloons to keep the older ones busy while they wait for crunchy tater tots of milk shakes. The huge burgers are a draw for adults, but there are sandwiches, omelettes and salads, too if want to eat lighter.
Where To Go: Underground
What To Do: Look at subway art! The subway system houses some of the most interesting art installations in the city. My kids and I especially like these:
• Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground” at 14th Street and 8th Avenue: These bronze sculptures, located throughout the floors and along the railings and ceilings, are fun to explore with your kids who delight in spotting little people sitting on the benches and lizard-like creatures crawling on the pillars.
• Toby Buonagurio’s “35 Times” at Times Square/42nd Street transfer corridor from the 1/2/3 and the Shuttle: Thirtyfive brightly colored ceramic panels depict NYC scenes that mingle jazz musicians, Broadway actors and subway riders.
Where To Eat: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, 1650 Broadway near Times Square
Why We Like It: The food is standard diner fare and everyone in your family will find something they like on the huge menu (try to avoid the overpriced, underwhelming kids menu, though). The reason to go—and even tolerate the lines—are the wait staff who sing while you wait for your supper. Take a good look at the guy bringing you your burger—you might spot him in chorus of Mama Mia the next time you’re in town.
Carla Sullivan is the founder and Mommy Muncher at MiniMunchers, which lists complete children’s menus for almost 300 NYC restaurants and offers advice from experts on how to make dining out with kids enjoyable. The MiniMunchers Goodie Bag offers weekly discounts on children’s products and classes.