Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Cheap and easy playdates for kids in NYC

Your child's next playdate is booked. Now it's time to plan the afternoon. We have tons of inexpensive ideas that will get you and your charges out and about.

  • Photograph: Tom Stoelker

    Morris-Jumel Mansion

  • Photograph: Tom Stoelker

    Morris-Jumel Mansion

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Brooklyn Commune

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Kensington Stables

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Kensington Stables

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

    Dinosaur BBQ

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Madame Alexander Doll Factory

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Brooklyn Commune

Photograph: Tom Stoelker

Morris-Jumel Mansion

4 A history lesson in Washington Heights


A visit to the Morris-Jumel Mansion (65 Jumel Terr between 160th and 162nd Sts; 212-923-8008, morrisjumel.org. $5, children under 12 free) is like taking a trip back in time. At George Washington's former headquarters, kids learn about American and colonial history while exploring the historic Washington Heights home. Your first stop should be the gift shop—pick up a free scavenger-hunt sheet that helps children locate specific items around the house (a free I Spy game with flashcards is available for the youngest visitors).

Head back to the 21st century with two easily shareable slices of carrot cake ($4) from famous Carrot Top Pastries (3931 Broadway between 164th and 165th Sts; 212-927-4800, carrottoppastries.com).—AL

The breakdown
Entertainment $5
Food $8
Total $13

5 A visit to Kensington Stables


Pony rides may be synonymous with state fairs, but Kensington Stables (51 Caton Pl at E 8th St, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn; 718-972-4588, kensingtonstables.com) offers daily excursions for kids right in Brooklyn. For $3, children get a four-minute ride—twice up and down the block. Bring along the camera; you'll want to snap photos of the equestrians-in-training.

Cap off the special play date with lunch at Brooklyn Commune (601 Greenwood Ave at Prospect Ave; 718-686-1044, brooklyncommune.com). At the beloved Windsor Terrace caf, kids can munch on either peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese "kidwiches" ($4 each) while parents sip on a Stumptown coffee ($1.75).—AL

The breakdown
Entertainment $6
Food $9.75
Total $15.75

6 Dolls and dinosaurs in Harlem


Take a free tour of the Madame Alexander Doll Company (615 W 131st St at Broadway; 212-283-5900, madamealexander.com). By watching a film about the history of the company and walking through the showroom, kids learn how the doll transformed over the decades (an extra fee will gain you admission to the doll hospital).

Make a pit stop at the famed Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (700 W 125th St at Twelfth Ave; 212-694-1777, dinosaurbarbque.com) before heading home. Stay on budget with "dino" sliders ($4 each) made with pulled pork or brisket. The eatery scores extra points by offering temporary T. rex tattoos to children.—AL

The breakdown
Entertainment $0
Food $12
Total $12

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