Have Some Fun with the Kids
With all the kid-friendly diners (and truly good restaurants that welcome kids), the famous parks, the fantastic and engaging museums, and stores selling books, toys, and candy that will wow them, New York is (no kidding!) a family-friendly destination. These activities will keep the adults entertained, too.
Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
You know a carousel must be quite special if it is the first to make the National Register of Historic Places. Jane’s Carousel, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, is truly unique. The fully-restored antique carousel from 1922 with 48 beautifully carved and painted wooden horses and 1,200 lights sits on the edge of the East River, nestled between the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg Bridges. In addition, the Carousel is housed in a modern glass pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. The carousel originated in Ohio. In 1984, it was purchased and brought to Brooklyn for two decades of careful restoration before the pavillion opened to the public in 2011. The carousel is the perfect resting spot after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Release your inner child with a ride on the carousel ($2/ticket) and marvel in the breathtaking 180-degree views of Manhattan. Afterwards, hit Grimaldi’s Pizzeria up the block or the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a nearby landmark fireboat house. And on weekends in the warm months, visit Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn Flea Food Market with 100 vendors. www.janescarousel.com
Randall Manor, Staten Island, NY, USA
The price of everything is always going up, up, up in New York City . . . with one exception. The Staten Island Ferry, which started operating in 1905, remains the best deal in the Big Apple: it’s free. The 25-minute ride between Whitehall Terminal in lower Manhattan and St. George Terminal on Staten Island gives you THE best view of the Statue of Liberty, 24 hours a day. And unlike the paid forms of transportation in the city (we’re looking at YOU, subways and buses!), the Staten Island Ferry has the best on-time record of all forms of city transit, so you won’t miss out on other sights and activities.
North End Ave & Vesey St, New York, NY 10280, USA
The Irish potato famine (“An Gorta Mor”) is in the mid 1800s saw the migration of a million people to America following a blight destruction of potato crops in Ireland. Visitors to Battery Park City can appreciate the depth and beauty of Ireland (complete with original soil from Carradoogan from the parish of Attymass in County Mayo) if they visit the Irish Hunger Memorial memorial located on Vesey Street and North End Avenue. Haunting, exquisite and deeply moving in a raw agrarian way, the Memorial was designed by artist Brian Tolle and landscape architect Gail Wittwer-Laird. What I loved about the memorial is its quiet beauty. There are no ostentatious plaques or audio system; instead, the landscaped plot tells a story in and of itself, using stones, soil, native vegetation and an original cottage which belonged to the Irish Slack family which was deserted in the 1960s because of their move to the United States. Visitors can wander freely on the path at all hours of the day (there is no gate or entry times) and gaze at a peach-colored sunset settling into the skyscrapers. A powerful memorial located close to the World Trade Center and smack opposite to the Conrad Hilton in New York (my hotel room had a direct view), the memorial deepens your appreciation for the cultural and ethnic melting pot that is New York.
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
If you are a fan of the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar bookstore, then you’ll be in heaven at the Strand, on Broadway at 12th Street. The store boasts that it has 2.5 million books, or 18 miles of them. While we aren’t sure how they measured books in miles, if you are looking for something to read, you are sure to find it here on one of the emporium’s two levels. Most of the goods here are used, though the Strand also has new copies of all the latest popular releases. There is also a separate rare-book room for serious collectors in the building next door (ask at the information desk for directions). The Strand also hosts regular signings and readings.
New York, NY, USA
Manhattan can, famously, feel like endless rows of apartment blocks and office towers for most of its length. At least above 14th Street, a regular grid of streets and avenues, bisected only by Broadway, has transformed the city into a dream for real estate developers. The green spaces interrupting the pattern—Union Square, Gramercy Park, Madison Square Park—are few and far between, with one enormous exception: Central Park. Running from 59th Street to 110th Street, and between Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) and Fifth Avenue, it is one of the world’s largest urban parks, measuring some 843 acres. It is the masterpiece of the 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted working in collaboration with Calvert Vaux. Inside its borders are stately allées and naturalistic scenes, ice-skating rinks (in the winter), an enormous reservoir, and a faux castle. The park is hugely popular, and so to call it an escape from the bustle of the city is often not accurate, especially on mild summer days and the first warm ones in the spring when thousands of residents head to its playing fields, bike and run along the road that loops the park, and enjoy picnics on the Sheep Meadow or one of its other lawns.
210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
For much of its history, the western edges of Manhattan neighborhoods like the West Village and Chelsea consisted of small manufacturing buildings and warehouses that served the piers on the Hudson River. Over time, those factories were replaced with residential developments, and shipping largely moved out to Brooklyn and New Jersey. What remained, however, was an abandoned light-rail line, located above street level. After 10 years of lobbying the city, state, and federal governments, the first section of the High Line park opened in 2009. It now extends for 1.45 miles, from Gansevoort Street in the south to 34th Street at its other end. An innovative design by James Corner Field Operations uses native species to preserve some of the feeling the old rail line had when it was overgrown with weeds. It has quickly become one of New York’s most popular attractions, both with residents and visitors who stroll the length of it, as well as a model for other cities attempting to find new uses for old infrastructure.
46 Bowery, New York, NY 10013, USA
New York City’s Chinese and Chinese American populations total around 570,000, making this the largest concentration of Chinese outside the mother country. The first Chinatown in Manhattan dates to the 1870s, and while it continues to grow, it has also been joined by other Chinatowns, including one in Flushing, Queens. That is where Joe’s Shanghai opened its first location, in 1995—though the two in Manhattan, on Pell Street in Chinatown and West 56th Street in Midtown, will be more convenient for most travelers. You can expect a wait for a table, and when you are seated you may be sharing it with strangers. The restaurant can be noisy, and as soon as you have finished your meal, you’ll be encouraged to settle up and leave. In other words, people don’t come here for the atmosphere or the service. Instead, the excellent and generous renditions of favorite Chinese dishes, especially the restaurant’s signature soup dumplings, are the draw. The dumplings are served in bamboo steamer baskets and each one holds a pork or crab meatball in a hot broth, all wrapped up in a doughy package. It may prove to be the most flavorful moment of your trip to New York.
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Despite multiple trips over countless years going to New York City, it wasn’t until a year ago today that I encountered this sandwich — the one that left me drooling until I could enjoy it again. Katz’s quickly went from a one-stop place for me to a traditional stop, regardless of my city plans. Katz’s Delicatessen is located in NYC’s Lower East Side and has been a proud resident since 1888. That fact alone should be enough to persuade you to pay it a visit. While there may be many options for food, the only thing I ever ordered is the pastrami on rye. It’s thick-cut, perfectly seasoned, stack of meat with mustard on rye. Did I mention I don’t even like mustard? This is the only sandwich where I will eat it. Served with a side of pickles, you really can’t go wrong. I convinced a visiting group from California to try it as I was enjoying mine when they claimed seats nearby — and they agreed with my impression of this NYC staple (4 of their 6 party members had ordered this sandwich) Be warned: I have yet to visit the deli when it isn’t packed full of people, so don’t plan on this being a quick stop. The lines may be out the door, and it may feel like chaos inside (think sardines in human form), but once you start eating you will forget any of the “trouble” had while waiting. The best way to order is to fall in line, don’t be shy, and talk to those behind the counters. They’ll share their stories and give a free taste while you wait. Don’t forget to tip them!