When living in New York City, you tend to forget all of the great things there are to do in this fabulous area. We are so busy running around and keeping up with life (i.e. our kids, kids’ school, kids’ activities, kids’ play-dates… you get it) that we forget to take advantage of all the amazing adventures we can have in our “own backyard.” My family and I love to explore the city on bikes, whether we are heading off somewhere familiar or stumbling upon something new. If you are looking for some new family adventures of your own this summer, here are some of my family's favorite things to do.
Sea Glass Carousel- If you find yourself in the financial district or the Battery Park City area, a fun place to check out is the beautiful Sea Glass Carousel. This is not your traditional carousel and instead of riding on animals, you sit inside one of the 30 different fiberglass fish. “Internally illuminated with color-changing LED light fixtures and outfitted with integrated audio systems, each fish is designed to recall the bioluminescence found deep in the ocean.” This will only take a small bit of time but Battery Park City has a lot of other great activities such as great playgrounds, parks and great food at Hudson Eats in Brookfield Place.
Roller Skating- Many of the ice skating rinks in NYC turn into roller skating rinks for the spring and summer. At Lefrak Center at Lakeside in Brooklyn, you can roller skate under the covered rink and then cool off in the giant splash pad. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can take a paddle-boat out on the lake or rent a bike and ride around Prospect Park.
Pier 2 Roller Rink is another great place for family skating and it’s free! In addition to skating, you can enjoy bocce, shuffleboard, handball, basketball courts, picnic tables, and a half-acre of play turf. Riverbank Skate Roller Rink located in Harlem is the only skating rink in Manhattan and in addition to roller skating, you can also have fun at the playgrounds, the educational greenhouse, the water splashing area, and the little carousel.
Domino Park- Williamsburg is the “in” place to go these days. Not only for great restaurants and eclectic shops, but also for this fabulous riverside park. Not only does it have a seriously fun playground (my family’s new favorite!), but you can also play volleyball, run through the water fountains, play bocce ball and ride on their newly added dirt bike course (for you adventure seekers!). You can easily get there from Manhattan by taking the East River Ferry to the South Williamsburg or North Williamsburg stop. Don’t forget to grab some tacos at Tacocina before you leave.
Camp Toy Store-this toy store is more than just a toy store…it’s a family experience where you can spend hours exploring. This is a theme based toy store where themes change every few months. Right now, their theme is Cooking Camp where kids can learn about food through amazing toys, games and books. When you first walk in, you may find yourself feeling a bit underwhelmed. However, there is a whole other world to explore behind the set of secret doors. Check out their website to see their current activities, concerts, and exhibitions.
Governor’s Island- One of the coolest destinations in NYC. Take the ferry from downtown Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan and within 5 minutes you will feel like you are out in the country. You can rent a bike to explore the island or bring your own. They even have surrey bikes for the whole family to enjoy. Be sure to stop at Hammock Grove, Slide Hill or one of the many playgrounds on the island as well as the food trucks and cafes. Check their website to see the various events and art exhibits throughout the whole summer.
The High Line- though the High Line can become quite crowded, it is still a must-see New York City sight. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the High Line is a public space built on the historic, elevated freight line where you can walk through gardens, look at art and see the city from a totally different perspective. Starting at Gansevoort and Washington Streets, you can walk all the way up to 34th and 12th where you can then check out Hudson Yards and the infamous Vessel. Along the way, you will find super tasty food and treats.
Some things to look out for:
*Pershing Square Beams - Basically a play area for kids built out of silicone covered beams where they are encouraged to run, climb and play!
*Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck - Located between 14th and 15th streets, you will find a fun water feature during the summer months. This wet deck is surrounded by oversized wooden lounge chairs for the grownups to rest while the kids play.
Free Museum Days - It is a well-known secret that many of NYC’s museums offer either “pay-what-you-wish” admission or free admission on certain days. Check out the complete list here. Here are just a few of the ones that might be of interest:
*Whitney Museum of Modern Art offers pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 7:00-10:00 PM.
*American Museum of Natural History is pay-what-you-wish every day
*Guggenheim Museum offers pay-what-you-wish on Saturdays from 5:45-7:45 PM.
*Brooklyn Museum is free the first Saturday of every month from 5:00-11:00 PM.
Central Park - I could not end this article without mentioning Central Park and all the amazing adventures you can experience there with your children. Did you know that there are 21 playgrounds in the park? Each one has their own theme with their own special design, structures and equipment. There is also the Central Park Zoo, the Carousel, row boats and Belvedere Castle…just to name a few. To stay up to date on all the activities going on at Central Park, be sure to check out their website. For some off the radar Central Park adventure ideas, check out these suggestions from Mommy Poppins. For older kids, there is Watson Adventures and their Central Park Scavenger Hunt Challenge.