At the end of my last post I had three days to go until I took on my mantel as New Yorker Mom. What happened? Well, the fact that I am only now finishing my blog probably says it all: 7.30am to 9pm it was the three of us exploring, meeting new friends and old mates, flipping out on the subway and in the heat, dancing on tables on the roof terrace (of our second rented Brooklyn pad), shrieking in sheer delight in waves and fountains, climbing boulders in Central Park, fighting over the camera on the Statten Island Ferry and playing Minion Rush on the iPad (they deserved it). Oh, my. I love New York City. J and D did not want to leave (most of the time).
I was rather amazed at how we quickly we started ticking off the places-to-see-with-kids – not that there is any chance of running out! I never planned to be so ‘thirsty’ for things to do. But somehow, the city would not let us sleep, heat or no heat, we had to explore. Here are some tasty morsels (some with Dad still in tow – is that cheating?!):
Amazing bright, white sandy beach that extends a long way! In fact, if I have counted correctly, there are ten beach-stops to choose from on the subway. We found ourselves on beach 98 ( it was recommended) after a rather crowded train journey – which is not the norm apparently. Rockaway is known for surfing so it came as no surprise to see waves crashing on to shore. J and D loved it and at one point all I could hear was J screaming in unadulterated delight. Note: bring your own shelter (tent, parasol), we forgot so I slapped on the factor 50 ( it was boiling) and let them loose. Food comes in the form of various stalls surrounding a sheltered seating area: lobster to fries, tacos to burgers, and ice lollies of course – the organic home-made type. Further down the line I remember diners near the beach, not just stalls (though they were fab), so head on past beach 98 if you’d prefer a padded seat!
DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass):
I had heard a lot about this much-talked-of area before we arrived and how great it is for kids, (and amazing for adults: art, restaurants, views, walks) to the point that I expected everything to literally be UNDER the bridge – including all the playgrounds. This is quite clearly not possible! We caught the ferry from Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the short jaunt to the DUMBO dock. OMG. THE VIEWS. Yes, SO worth it. The Manhattan Skyline is such an iconic image: I felt excited, and in awe every time we saw it.
Ignoring the building work we jumped on Jane’s Carousel, which is gorgeous (from 1920s) and one of many carousels to be discovered in NYC (Bryant Park, Central Park, Prospect Park too), we queued for the biggest $4 ice cream scoop ever right off the ferry and I noted a rather lovely looking cafe next to a tiny park (quiet; adults reading), before J and D ran off in the direction of a leafy green stretch with paths running through it; the prequel to the many piers running along Brooklyn Bridge Park and most definitely NOT UNDER the bridge.
Pier 6 has the main cluster of great playgrounds for kids under 12 (from what I saw) with water play, slide ‘mountain’ and a sandpit heaven to name the three main ones. On the walk to this oasis you’ll pass the pop-up pool off the main walkway and the urban playground on Pier 2, which has basketball courts, bocce, swings, kids outdoor gym (my kids loved!) and a roller skate rink – every thing was in use: teeming with teenagers and children in teams playing each other, or summer clubs creating a day-out. The sheer joie de vivre was amazing.
It’s not a short walk to pier 6 but your little ones will love the end destination! And head there on a Sunday – even though it’s busier – you’ll get the added addition of an amazing food market (Smorgesburg) to visit for lunch (there is a pizza joint right there, which is totally family friendly for weekdays).
As we watched J and D clamber amongst the fountains I questioned the ‘Under the Bridge’ reference in terms of the playgrounds. My husband simply looked at me and said, ‘You’re the Dumbo!’ I laughed. This time. #mustcheckfactsbeforevisit.
Dylan’s Candy Bar:
Willy Wonka eat your heart out! We had to go here. My little boy, once told of it’s existence, believed it must be his – and every sweet-morsel inside it’s walls too. Ralph Lauren gave it to his daughter, Dylan, and it is actually a rather stylish sweetie shop (as far as sweetie shops go), which is obviously no surprise at all.
The colours, oh my! The choice, the excitement, the sheer-disbelief! My daughter tried to pick the sweets off the floor, ‘Mummy! They are stuck under the floor!’ she shrieked!
‘Lollies! Rainbow lollies!’ cried the self-declared shop owner. I could barely see D’s face behind the multi-coloured orb.
For $6.99 kids can fill up their own bag of candy, up to the weight of half-a-pound (0.5lb). My husband and I rolled our eyes at the seemingly money-grabbing ploy here – that was nothing! A handful of jelly beans at the most! We asked: How much do you get in a bag?
“Depends on the candy! It can be quite a bag full!’
In deed it can. Those sweetie-candy-colourful things don’t actually weigh as much as you think.
‘The Biggest Toy Shop In The World!” say J and D. We didn’t just visit shops, but being in NYC, some shopping had to be done and it seemed only fair the kids had a little fun of this sort too – and being very close to the SE corner of Central Park, we (Canadian friends and I) decided to take the plunge and let our little travelling fiends pick a toy out of the plethora of gifts on offer.
I have to say, it was also quite a relief to say, ‘Yes, you can have that,’ instead of the more usual, ‘No’, which I feel is the more common staple when it comes to frequenting shops with kids. Of course, I had a limit in mind, and had warned them of the possibility some things may be (way) ‘too expensive’, but the N.O. word was never uttered. Two ‘My Little Pony’ cuddly toys later, and we were throwing cents into the fountain outside making wishes. I admit that considering the immense choice in FAO Schwarz I did try and encourage a little more looking around, but then common sense, and the definite, “We LOVE these,’ chants that echoed from both mouths made me bite my lip and enjoy the moment of no meltdowns or arguments.
“Father Christmas must come here!” said D. Yes, it would make his life very easy indeed.
To come: Williamsburg Flea Market, Central Park (a corner of), Staten Island Ferry, McCarren Park Pool, The High Line and Governer’s Island.
Sorted and understood: Jet-lag. I am less afraid of this now. It took a few days of early wake-ups (and Netflix) and a husband not-yet-at-work but with no school drop-offs and pick-ups and deadlines to hit (beyond my control) – because we were ON HOLIDAY – meant the pressure of when to be up and out dissipated and we learnt to take it all in our stride.
It took some getting used too: The Heat. It is amazing how draining such heat can be. Couple this with the Subway (though trains are air-conditioned) and journeys can become draining. As I have said previously: this was always going to be an adventure, not your typical summer holiday destination.
I do have a question: is it some weird idiosyncrasy of my own or is it a Brit thing? I am adverse to tumble dryers. Seriously. I have a voice that runs on repeat whenever I am faced with one: they ruin clothes! We were the only people drying clothes over the porch and ignoring the TD in the basement. Daft? Maybe.