Upper West Side
An avenue-by-avenue guide to the most family-friendly area outside Orlando.
Thu May 15 2008
Begin at Little Shop of Crafts (711 Amsterdam Ave at 94th St, 212-531-2723), a neighborhood mainstay offering workshops in beading, mosaics and T-shirt design for kids and adults. Several blocks down, you may spot girls in pink leotards getting picked up from Ballet Hispanico (167 W 89th St at Amsterdam Ave, 212-362-6710), where lessons are also available in jazz, salsa and hip-hop.
To sample the UWS brunch scene, pop into Popover Café (551 Amsterdam Ave at 86th St, 212-595-8555); the namesake oversized baked goods are as entertaining as they are tasty, and the coconut-almond-crusted challah French toast soothes a savage sweet tooth. Another favorite sit-down spot is the cavernous, elegant Dean's Pizzeria (215 W 85th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 212-875-1100), serving classic round or extra-thin square pies.
You can feel good about dropping cash at the well-stocked A Time for Children (506 Amsterdam Ave between 84th and 85th Sts, 212-580-8202), which donates 100 percent of its profits to the Children's Aid Society; the boutique sells Hanna Andersson baby clothes, candy-colored socks, stuffed Paddingtons and a selection of books. At West Side Kids (498 Amsterdam Ave at 84th St, 212-496-7282), the shelves overflow with Haba baby toys, Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles, craft supplies, classic board games and trucks galore. A bulletin board with Polaroids of local kids welcomes shoppers at Roam (488 Amsterdam Ave at 83rd St, 212-721-0155), where moms swoon over Egg Press bodysuits, shower invites and reasonably priced toddler fashions, from puff-sleeve tees to kimono tops.
Bring tiny tots to the Children's Museum of Manhattan (212 W 83rd St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 212-721-1223), for hands-on exhibits about the environment and ancient Greece, plus areas dedicated to messing around with sand or paint.
Ready to nosh again? Hampton Chutney Company (464 Amsterdam Ave between 82nd and 83rd Sts, 212-362-5050) is an airy, casual oasis with calming yoga music, a kids' corner outfitted with shelves of board books and a deep, carpeted window seat filled with teddy bears. The delicious Indian dosas enfold adult-pleasers like potato masala or grilled asparagus with goat cheese, while the kids' menu offers less-highfalutin combos like turkey-and-cheese. For an old-school feel, try the bright blue booths at EJ's Luncheonette (447 Amsterdam Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts, 212-873-3444); kids eat dinner for free on Fridays and Saturdays. Roppongi (434 Amsterdam Ave at 81st St, 212-362-8182) is an unexpectedly accommodating spot to bring sprouts with sophisticated palates. "Udon noodles, sticky rice, chicken teriyaki and miso soup are their favorite things in life," says local mom Elizabeth Franco of her two boys, Benjamin, 6, and William, 1. "The restaurant has only two high chairs, but we've never had a problem. And it's so chill that it can actually be relaxing to take the kids."
The always-packed hair salon Cozy's (448 Amsterdam Ave at 81st St, 212-579-2600) seats little ones in a fire truck facing the TV so that little bobs come out nice and even. For a final sugar rush, pick up red-velvet and caramel-chew cupcakes from the famous Crumbs Bakeshop (321 Amsterdam Ave at 75th St, 212-782-9800).
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