Timeout New York Kids

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Carroll Gardens

Guess who's discovered the area celebrated in Motherless Brooklyn?

Who put the Ca in BoCoCa? Old-world shops still line Carroll Gardens’ streets, alongside stylish new cafés and boutiques—a collision famously depicted in Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel, Motherless Brooklyn. Once a quiet Italian-American community on the outskirts of working-class Red Hook, the area took on a middle-class identity after the BQE and Gowanus Expressway bisected South Brooklyn in the early 1960s. Residents may travel to Red Hook to visit their favorite Swedish furnishings superstore, but there’s plenty within the nabe’s borders—from DeGraw Street to Hamilton Avenue and Hoyt Street to Columbia Street—to keep your family entertained and well fed.

Check it out

The Carroll Street stop on the F and G lines conveniently lets visitors off at Carroll Park (President St between Court and Smith Sts), where they’ll find basketball hoops, an asphalt softball diamond and two playgrounds. From June through August the park hosts a popular family concert series on weekday afternoons, featuring Brooklyn-based musicians like the Deedle Deedle Dees and Randy Kaplan.

With only a small placard to indicate its whereabouts, the Brooklyn Fencing Center (62 4th St, 718-522-5822) occupies the second floor of a nondescript building near the Gowanus Canal. The facility offers children ages seven and up instruction in Olympic-style fencing, and hosts birthday parties where kids can fight it out—without getting in trouble—during a 50-minute lesson.

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