Sweet William opens in Manhattan!

One of my very favorite children’s shops from Brooklyn recently opened in Nolita last month — dangerously close to where I live (uh oh). I have always admired Sweet William as it is a store that gets it just right. The space is adorable and the clothes are incredibly well edited, wearable and unique. I assure you, you will want it all. I am especially drawn to the store as a great source for newborn gifts — the teeny tiny outfits from the likes of Ketiketa and Tuss are criminal they are so cute. This is definitely a shop to visit.

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mcnally jackson
McNally Jackson Bookstore

Make Meaning — Art Space for Kids, young and old

Paint-a-pot… step aside.  I think your days are numbered. Make Meaning recently opened its doors on the Upper West Side and they are definitely on to something!  The gigantic, walk-in creativity center offers a place where parents and their kids can sit together and work side by side on a variety of creative projects — all age appropriate and stuff that you will actually use!

The space currently offers six experiences: soap crafting, candle-making, ceramics, glass, jewelry and paper and they are open to 11pm on some nights!  Not only is it a perfect retreat when it’s too cold or crummy to be outside but what mother doesn’t need some downtime to just zone out and create something for themselves once in a while?

I love the look of the Soapsphere! Kids can choose the color and fragrance of their soap and then throw in a toy surprise for bath-time fun!  And they serve cupcakes!

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Things to do on a beautiful sunny day. NYC museums!

Pizza

Pizza places are everywhere in New York so picking a favorite would not only be impossible but simply immoral.  There are zillions of restaurants ranging from the simple traditional New York slice to the thin-crust, brick-oven gourmet type and below are a few of my favorites (with kids AND without).  I am going to keep a running list as I seek out other places in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the next few months but I would love to hear from others what the best kid-friendly pizza place is in YOUR neighborhood.

1) Lombardi’s – (Nolita) For sit down pizza with kids in the downtown area Lombardi’s is famous for their thin-crust, coal oven pizzas with all sorts of toppings. On the weekends the line will literally snake out the door so get there early.

2) For the real deal New York slice there is Joe’s Pizza (Greenwhich Village) which was a big hit back when I was in high school.  Cheap, delicious, hot pizza that is so good you could eat half a pie on your own.  There is no real place to sit down here but there are a few places to stand and scarf down a slice or two and there is a little park across the street with benches if you have a child in tow.  It is a great place to refuel if you want to walk along Bleecker Street up into the West Village.  Joe’s is packed during the lunch hours and late night but it’s always good.

3) L’il Frankies (East Village) — a good standby for an early dinner out with kids.  The oven was handcrafted by a 3rd generation Neapolitan oven builder, brick by brick. It features real lava from Vesuvio and through a unique double dome design, recycles heat to reach near 900 degrees!  There is a great little playground nearby as well to hit before or after (on 1st street and 1st Avenue).

4)  For the adults… One of my favorites is Georgione (Soho) and although it is not a traditional pizza place, the pie here rocks.  I am here at least once a week with friends scarfing one down.  My other favorite for a pizza date night or dinner out with friends is Apizz — Delicious and made in front of your eyes…

Mini Munchers — NYC Restaurant Guide for kids!!

Standing ovation for this one!  Standing Ovation. I have been waiting for someone to come up with an easy to use search guide of places to eat with children in New York and I am so grateful to this mom of two for doing the homework and creating Mini-Munchers.  The New York restaurant scene is not all that child-friendly in general and while some neighborhoods offer better options than others, it’s nice to have a tested resource of places that you can take your clan when you need to eat out.  You can easily search by neighborhood and cuisine and can view the menu on-line.  The site also offers commentary on other perks and offerings for kids (like if they have changing tables, crayons and quick service!).

Purl Soho

This winter I plan to channel some old-world “know-how” into my life and finally learn how to sew and knit… properly.   As a city-kid, “knitting” was never something that hit my radar until recently but I would really love to tap into to this creative zone and learn to make fun things for the kids and for the home.  I have always loved the look of Purl Soho with its walls chock full of colorful yarns, beautiful fabrics and cute-as-a-button trims but I always felt intimidated by my dire lack of craftiness.   The store recently moved to a new huge space on Broome Street and they are now offering classes (yippie!) so I am definitely jumping on board.  If you don’t have a chance to visit the store… do check out their website which is enticing and inspiring.

Also check out this adorable little make-your-own Alphabet Block kit for babies…would be a nice gift for a friend.

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Favorite children’s bookstore — Scholastic StoreHigh Tea at the Crosby HotelArt classes for wee ones

Top of the Rock

If you are looking for that take-your-breath-away New York City view,  Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is really as good as it gets.  With three levels of wrap-around walking terraces set atop one of the most spectaular Art Deco buildings in the world — it really is a must visit if you are in town, and I found it an especially easy place to take children (kids under five are free!)  After a recent visit  I also thought it was a far superior option to the Empire State Building (which I have heard is kind of a run down mess inside).  It’s kind of nice to have a photo OF the Empire State Building in the background with a view that is equally as nice in a less cramped and hectic setting. One of my favorite parts of the whole visit was the ride in the elevator… that alone was worth the trip (I won’t ruin the surprise as to why but it was way cool!)  And as if it couldn’t get any better… it’s right next door to Rockefeller center where there are tons of places to eat afterwards with kids.  If you are going to do the NYC tourist thing – I say by all means, this is a must for the photo books and kids will dig it.

Area: Midtown Manhattan

(Image from Pure Contemporary)

McNally Jackson Bookstore

I am all about supporting the underdog in this city and the McNally-Jackson Bookstore in Nolita is my very favorite bookstore. Not only is it great for my own browsing but I happen to think they have an incredible children’s book section. You won’t find any junky Dora or Elmo themed reads here and they carry a large selection of titles from abroad. In fact, this is the place we found one of our all time faves from the U.K. (The Runaway Dinner). I always feel smarter just being in the place and the staff is ultra cool to boot (they always have great book suggestions if you are in need of something new to read.) There is also a small café to sit and read a magazine and it’s a nice pit-stop to bring a child to pick out new books. (more…)

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sweet william
Sweet William opens in Manhattan!

Chelsea Piers

A huge three-pier complex on the West Side Highway, Chelsea Piers is New York’s answer to suburban living. The sprawling sporting and entertainment paradise has it all – a multi-story golf driving range, swimming pool, world-class gym, Olympic sized skating rink, bowling alley, sun deck, skate park, a kids ball pit, a playground and a spa to mention just a few…ok…breathe. Although it’s not all that easy to get to, there are plenty of taxis waiting outside to get you home again and I would suggest just taking a taxi there for your sanity (subway stop is a few LONG blocks away). Check out the website for more information – they have tons of stuff going on year round for kids: summer camps, birthday parties and sports and dance classes galore.  This summer they also have an old-fashioned carousel set up which is always a good time.  I haven’t been in a while but I seem to recall that they also have a Brewery on-site which is always a bonus.

CONTACT DETAILS:

Chelsea Piers
62 Chelsea Piers
New York, NY 10011
(212) 336-6666

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Veniero’s Pasticceria

Without fail… every year since birth, my entire family has celebrated their birthday with a cake from Veniero’s. There simply is no substitute, and frankly, a birthday just isn’t a birthday without one. The old-school Italian Pasticceria has been around since the beginning of time and is a wonderful place to bring your kids for an afternoon treat. There are cases filled with freshly made Cannoli’s, Eclairs, Fruit Tarts and my personal favorite, THE RAINBOW COOKIE. Quite possibly as addictive as heroin, and Veniero’s has the best ones on the planet.

There is a large space in the back to sit down and enjoy them with a cappuccino and they are open late on the weekends so it’s a great place to bring kids for an after dinner treat. Try to hit it at off hours and NEVER during the holidays as it is crowded. By the way — I got this image off of one of my favorite NY Food Oriented Websites “The Smitten Kitchen” which has the recipe. And luckily once the guilt sets in… Liquiteria is just down the street!! (more…)

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Veselka — Ukranian 27/7Katz’s DelicatessenArt, food and a place to sit

Veselka — Ukranian 27/7

One of the greatest things about New York City is the ability to source any type food you desire at a moment’s notice — even at 3am. Veselka has been around since I was a kid and I am happy that it is still going strong. This long-standing East Village eatery is open 24-7 and serves up hearty platters of delicious Ukrainian Pierogi, Sweet and Savory Blintzes and hearty vegetable soups. If you are looking for something a bit lighter they have a HUGE menu that serves up all the traditional diner favorites like scrambled eggs, pancakes, salads and sandwiches. Its a perfect little spot for a quick easy breakfast or lunch with kids. It also sits on the corner of one of my favorite blocks in New York…9th street between 1st and 2nd Avenue which is home to a bunch of small boutique shops, including a sweet little toy shop called Dinasour Hill. (Image from Flickr)

Nearby Playground: Tompkins Square Park

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Liquiteria — It’s clean-up time everybody!Katz’s DelicatessenVeniero’s Pasticceria

The Union Square Farmer’s Market

The Union Square Farmers Market is the largest and most popular open-air food market in New York City. While there are farmers markets throughout the entire city the one at Union Square operates year round, four days a week, and is really is at its peak in the summer and fall. A visit is a real New York experience that couples the city’s obsession with food, with top notch people watching. In addition to numerous stands displaying heaps of fresh fruits and veggies you can find daily caught seafood, eggs, hand-made cheeses, baked goods and beautiful flowers — all sourced from local farms and for the most part, organic. The market is certainly THE most reasonable place to shop for food in the city and it is a wonderful place to take a child to explore. The people who work the stands are always up for a chat about what they are selling and are thrilled to introduce new things that you don’t see in your average American supermarket. I am starving just thinking about it. (Image from Flickr)

Also worth noting is that one of the city’s newest and most modern playgrounds (called “The Evelyn”) just opened so when you are done surfing the food stands there is a place to climb and play. (more…)

Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen is a classic New York fixture and happens to be one of the few dining institutions to have survived the massive gentrification of the East Village. The sprawling cafeteria-like space is filled with nostalgia and serves up hand-cut fries, mile high pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs with all the fixins’. It is an easy place to bring a child as the service is quick and there is ample seating. Katz’s still uses the same “ticket” system that they used when they opened back in the day… there are several meal stations to go to pick up your food and you pay on your way out. (Image from Flickr.)
Nearby Playgrounds: 1st Street Park (1st Avenue and 1st Street) and Tompkins Square Park (8th Street and Avenue A)<

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Art, food and a place to sitLiquiteria — It’s clean-up time everybody!Veselka — Ukranian 27/7

The best of Soho’s children’s boutiques

Soho has exploded over the last ten years into THE major shopping hub of the city, and while the chain stores have taken over the area, the smaller boutiques are still holding strong and hiding out on the side streets. The neighborhood happens to be a haven of small and beautiful boutiques for children – all within walking distance from one another. Here are a few of my favorite haunts:

1.)Les Petits Chapelais –This bright and cheery little store feels like you are stepping off the streets of NYC directly into Paris (where the original store is). The tiny space carries a wonderful selection of cool French designs and trends towards more eccentric and funky looks for young kids. As always, the French know fashion, so you are bound to find something unique and stylish in here. They also carry a large selection of Petit Bateau basics. Located at 86 Thompson Street, NYC 10013.

2.)Bundle NYC – This is the store where I found one of my new favorite brands, Neige. Bundle is a wonderful little shop for newborn/toddler clothing and carries a well edited selection of comfy basics for kids like Ella Moss, Tea Collection and Egg by Susan Lazar. Also worth noting is that they also have a decent sized selection of shoes. Located at 128 Thompson Street, NYC 10012. (more…)

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The Highline

You can’t help but LOVE New York City if you take an early evening stroll on The Highline. Not only is the people-watching fantastic but the whole experience will just make you feel cool. The Highline was the old elevated subway system in NYC and after years of sitting dilapidated and unused it has been transformed into an uber-chic above-ground promenade. The park itself snakes up 10th Avenue and not only offers amazing city views but also tons of places to sit and relax. Although there is not a playground up there they do offer programs for children and have just launched “Wild Wednesdays” which offer free programs for kids ages 5 and up (be sure to check out the stuff for Adults as well). And as if it couldn’t get any better, New York’s coolest bars and restaurants line the streets underneath. I would highly recommend Sunday brunch or drinks at the Standard Grill which sits just at the starting point of the park. It would also be a great date spot fyi!

(image from Flickr)

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The Limelight Marketplace

In the 1980s, early ’90s, The Limelight was perhaps the most popular nightclub in New York City. Known for its wild parties, weekly drug busts, and all around freakiness, the club closed its doors long ago but the space itself has recently been transformed and re-opened as a…gasp…mini-mall.

The old cathedral space is now The Limelight Marketplace and it is filled with a variety of cute, higher-end food and fashion stalls. New York has never done the “indoor mall” thing well — and most have failed miserably — but this one is actually kind of nice. I especially liked the mini food court which felt a bit like a shrunken down poor man’s Harrods – there are a few delicious bake shops, a fromagerie and a beautiful outdoor farmers market. There were also a few child-oriented stalls: Hunter Boots for toddlers, Silly Souls which makes ironic onesies for newborns like this, and a cute little children’s gift basket service called BookSmart. Overall it is unique, if cramped, but definitely worth a visit. I actually hope this one lasts.

Image from flickr (more…)

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