This pretty, upscale former bohemia is the soul of downtown.
Thu Nov 20 2008
Photographs: Imogen Brown
The West Village is everyone’s favorite convoluted enclave in Manhattan. For well over a century, this warren of tree-lined streets and avenues running at diagonals has been literally and figuratively off the grid: It has welcomed successive waves of artists, bohemians, beatniks and hippies. This is where the gay-rights revolution was born. In recent years, the neighborhood’s unbeatable combination of cozy blocks and cosmopolitan atmosphere has been luring families of all stripes. And no wonder: The area offers a bonanza of attractions and services. We explored just some of these options, many of which are concentrated along the main drag for West Village moms and dads, Hudson Street.
Check it out
Perhaps the area’s greatest practical amenity for parents is KidsRx (523 Hudson St, 212-741-7110), a pharmacy that specializes in children’s health care. The store offers homeopathic elixirs along with standard meds, and can custom flavorize your child’s prescription to his taste. A model train running up high along the store’s perimeter helps the medicine go down.
These days, all self-respecting family ’hoods boast at least one kiddie barbershop. Doodle Doo’s hair salon and gift boutique (543 Hudson St, 212-627-3667) will take a little off the top while the TV at each station distracts your squirmy guy with a Dora the Explorer DVD. Each young client also receives a bottle of bubbles.
Once every lock is in place, teach your tot to balance mind with body at Karma Kids Yoga (104 W 14th St, 646-638-1444). Daily classes focus on movement, breathing and visualization techniques—all helpful for developing focus and self-control. A more eclectic schedule of activities is found at Baby Moves (139 Perry St, 212-255-1685), where some 50 weekly classes cover everything from dance and art to cooking and bluegrass.
Literally Alive, located at the Players Theatre (115 MacDougal St, 212-866-5170), produces original musicals based on kid-lit classics. Young audience members can meet cast and crew at preshow interactive workshops.
A good local library anchors any neighborhood, and the West Village has a terrific one in the NYPL’s Jefferson Market branch (425 Sixth Ave, 212-243-4334). Located in a landmark Victorian Gothic building codesigned by Calvert Vaux, one of the creators of Central Park, the library features a spacious first-floor children’s room and weekly storytimes.
Topping the area’s long list of cool shops is YoyaMart (15 Gansevoort St, 212-242-5511), which sells clothes, furniture and collectibles by Kidrobot, along with children’s books—or perhaps a Murakami catalog—that you’d never mistake for mass-market. Sister store Yoya (636 Hudson St, 646-336-644) offers similar quality merchandise for toddlers. One of our favorite toy shops anywhere is Kid O (123 W 10th St, 212-366-5405). Look for high-end wooden playthings like the Fagus trucks (handmade in Germany), as well as the store’s own line of games and puzzles.
Clever specialty shops abound here. House of Cards & Curiosities (23 Eighth Ave, 212-675-6178) lives up to its name, stocking real fossils, gemstones, shark’s teeth, ostrich eggs, amber jewelry and vintage-style tin toys. The Ink Pad (22 Eighth Ave, 212-463-9876) is devoted to rubber stamps of every ilk but also carries other craft supplies. Happily for parents, the shop stocks washable ink.