Forty years after his parents brought J&R Music World to downtown Manhattan, Jason Friedman, dad to five-year-old Micole and 18-month-old Oliver, decided it was time to add a kid component to the megashop. J&R Jr., a store-within-a-store that opened earlier this year, sells everything from baby gear and toys to CDs and electronics designed specifically for little ones. The spot's also become a must-visit destination for local families thanks to a slew of classes, kid concerts and special weekend events; it also hosts birthday parties. One of the best parts about the new venture, says Friedman, who lives on the Upper East Side with his wife Danielle, a pediatrician, is getting to introduce his kids to some of their favorite kindie musicians. "We've been lucky to host Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes, Rockin' with Andy and Little Maestros."
" Every time we go to Central Park we try to walk down a different path. We're always amazed that we discover a new nook every time. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth."
"We love Noi Due (143 W 69th St between Columbus Ave and Broadway; 212-712-2222, noiduecafe.com), an Italian caf on the Upper West Side. It's hidden down a flight of stairs on a side street, and it has a great brunch menu and a very kid-friendly staff. Their pancakes are the best. They're not your standard-fare flapjacks, but rather thick and fluffy. Plus, they come with chocolate or maple syrup."
"The Central Park Zoo is within walking distance of our apartment, and it appeals to kids of all ages. Our little one loves spending time at the Tisch Children's Zoo, and our older one is currently obsessed with the polar bears. And we all enjoy watching the sea lion feedings!"
"While we've yet to make the trip to Governors Island (open Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from May 26 to Sept 30), all of our friends tell us that it's a great way to spend the afternoon. We can't wait to take the ferry over there with the kids and ride our bikes on the paths. It's sure to become one of our family's favorite summer destinations."
"We're going through a dinosaur moment in our house. There's nothing more exciting as a parent than seeing your kids' eyes light up when they see that tall T. rex at the American Museum of Natural History for the first time."
NEIGHBORHOOD TO VISIT FOR A DAY
"We like walking around the West Village with the kids. With its charming cobblestone streets, funky boutiques and endless cafs, there's something for everyone. We, of course, always make a pit stop at Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker St at 11th St; 212-462-2572, magnoliabakery.com) for some treats."
"The arts-and-crafts projects at Make Meaning really encourage creativity. And the store offers so many different crafting options! Plus, we get to use the pretty soaps the kids make."