Timeout New York Kids

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New York's best things to do with the family 2012

We've chosen the best things to do with the family in the city—everything from a must-visit pizza spot in midtown to a toddler dance party in Park Slope.

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Best place to hang out in cold weather: Chelsea Market

  • Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

    Best kids' menu in an already awesome restaurant: Blue Ribbon Brooklyn and Blue Ribbon Sushi Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

    Best in-store activities for kids: J&R Jr.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Best place to commune with nature: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Best new-this-year playground: Rockaway Park Playground

Photograph: Beth Levendis

Best place to hang out in cold weather: Chelsea Market

New York's best things to do with the family 2012

Best place to hang out in cold weather: Chelsea Market

  • Price band: 1/4

When the temperature drops in the city, nowhere feels colder than the windswept High Line in winter. After racing along the repurposed railway tressle, Chelsea Market makes a toasty spot to defrost. Enter through the doors on Tenth Avenue and warm air wraps around you; once you’re inside, aromas from the market’s many eateries arrive, making your mouth water. There’s the cheesy whiff from Lucy’s Whey, the seaside tang of the Lobster Place, and Hale & Hearty smells, well, soupy. But after a while, all you can smell is chocolate. Jacques Torres, the Fat Witch Bakery, Eleni’s and Ruthy’s will send you cuckoo for cocoa whiffs with their handmade treats. Instead of hitting them all, though it’s tempting, find a table at Bar Suzette in the arcade and order fresh crêpes oozing with chocolatey Nutella—the $5 folded flapjack is delicious and easy for kids to manage. • 212-243-6005, chelseamarket.com.—Clare Lambe

  1. 75 Ninth Ave, (at 16th St)
More info

Best kids’ menu in an already awesome restaurant: Blue Ribbon Brooklyn and Blue Ribbon Sushi Brooklyn

  • Price band: 2/4

Blue Ribbon has been a grown-up favorite for years, with its oyster bar, super-fresh sashimi, and comfort food classics. What makes it a godsend for families, though, is its amazing kids’ menu. Sure, they have the requisite chicken fingers and grilled cheese, but that grilled cheese is made with challah and either provolone, Swiss, American or cheddar, and the fingers can be dipped in katsu. Plus, the menu branches out, introducing kids to international delicacies (think chicken and vegetable paella). • 718-840-0404, blueribbonrestaurants.com.—Amy Sirot

  1. 280 Fifth Ave, (between Garfield Pl and 1st St), 11215-19
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Best in-store activities for kids: J&R Jr.

  • Price band: 1/4

With the city’s latest baby boom taking place in the Financial District, it was only a matter of time before the area’s businesses started to take notice. In February, downtown electronics shop J&R Music World opened J&R Jr., a store-within-a-store that sells everything from baby gear and toys to electronics designed specifically for little hands. While the store also hosts parties and a slew of classes throughout the week, the special family events—most of which are free—are what we find the most impressive. Since opening, J&R Jr. has treated kids and parents to craft nights, performances by big name musicians like Dan Zanes, meet-and-greets with popular TV stars like the Fresh Beat Band and a new Saturday-night movie series complete with free pizza. • 212-238-9060, jr.com/jr.—Rory Halperin

  1. 1 Ann St, second floor, (at Park Row)
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Best place to commune with nature: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

If you don’t know where the BBG is, you’re hardly likely to stumble upon it. Just as it’s hidden from the city at large, the city is hidden from it once you set foot inside. Wooded trails, rose gardens and a gem of a Japanese hill-and-pond garden await on the other side of the lovely new visitors’ center—a far more garden-worthy entrance than any other to date. And if nature alone doesn’t do it for you, the BBG also puts on some of the most colorful (and kid-friendly) fests in the city, from the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom) celebration to fall’s Chile Pepper Fiesta and Ghouls & Gourds festival. Plus, admission is free till noon on Saturdays, except on special event weekends. • 718-623-7200, bbg.org.—Lee Magill

  1. 990 Washington Ave, (at President St)
More info

Best new-this-year playground: Rockaway Park Playground

Just a stone’s throw from the beloved Queens beach whose buzz seems to grow each year, the playground inside the completely revamped Rockaway Park is a winner. The huge water-play area alone makes it worth a visit, sporting as it does a run-through set of spraying hoops, whimsical, egglike seating elements and a wooden play ship outfitted with working nozzles to fight off approaching pirates. But when you add in multiple complex jungle gyms—with slides, monkey bars, climbing walls and spinners—wood flooring redolent of the nearby boardwalk and a little sand beach, you realize it’s a destination in its own right. Tween and teen siblings will love the offerings in the park that surrounds it, including basketball and handball courts, a climbing wall, another water-play feature and even a performance space. (Note: Due to Hurricane Sandy, the park is currently closed.) • Rockaway Park is located along the boardwalk and open beach between Beach 9th and Beach 32nd Sts, Rockaway, Queens (nycgovparks.org/park-features/rockaway-beach/planyc). The playground is located on the park’s eastern end, between Beach 9th and Beach 10th Sts.—Lee Magill

Best library with a view: BPL’s Gerritsen Beach branch

  • Free

The denizens of the quiet South Brooklyn nabe Gerritsen Beach have treasured their library since the day it opened in 1997; it was thanks to their efforts that the 10,000-square-foot facility, complete with a clock tower and arched entryway, was built on the site of a vacant lot. But the library’s coolest feature is the fact that it overlooks Shell Bank Creek, a narrow waterway lined with modest single-family homes with boats moored to their respective docks. A two-story window inside provides a pensive and picturesque setting for young bookworms: It’s not uncommon for kids to glance up from a book and see a local canoeing by on the placid water. (Note: The library is currently closed due to Hurricane Sandy; we hope to see it reopened soon.) • 718-368-1435, brooklynpubliclibrary.org.—Michele Wallach

  1. 2808 Gerritsen Ave, (at Bartlett Pl)
More info


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