Thursday, March 24, 2011

Manhattan for Mommies

My friend Pat will be going to NY sans nanny this April, so she asked me for tips on where to take her toddler around Manhattan.

Then this afternoon, Jenny of Mama Baby Love also left  me a comment, asking how to do New York with her daughter and niece in tow.

Well, since I was a batang kalye back in the day, and often scoured the streets of Manhattan by foot, yes, with Berry, I know how much of a challenge it can be to go around Manhattan if you don't know where to take the little one. So here's a list of my kid friendly places, in the big, bad (and I mean it in a good way!) city of NYC! (Sigh, I still feel a pang in my heart when I talk about NYC)

First things first Mommies, let me warn you that New York City subways are not stroller friendly. I was lucky that when I used to take the subway, Berry was so light that I could lift her and her stroller up the stairs to get to the street. If your little one is young, you are better off with a baby carrier or a baby sling.

I would say it is best to see Manhattan by foot, with a light, very manueverable stroller on hand. This comes especially handy when the little one falls asleep. Make sure it is easy to fold and unfold when you take the cab or need to put it aside in crowded restaurants.

The glamorous Salome Uy pushing Berry's stroller in the Meatpacking District

Since you will be doing a lot of walking, please leave the heels and wedges at home. Make sure to wear comfortable flats, or a pair of sneakers. Real New Yorkers rarely walk around in heels, and will do so if it only means walking a few blocks to get coffee or go down for a smoke. Nobody walks the whole day in heels, because frankly, the streets are a killer to your shoes and your feet. For some reason Manhattan's concrete can really wear your heels down. If you can afford to go around by cab or have a limo driver at your disposal all the time, then yes, you can wear heels.

Now, where to go?

I will start off with the parks - because they're fun, and they're free. I like Bryant Park because it's small and cozy. You may let the little ones run after the pigeons and when they tire of that, let them ride Le Carrousel. The New York Public Library is just a stone's throw and did I mention that Fifth Avenue is right around the corner?

Berry all sweaty after chasing pigeons in the park

Then of course, there's Central Park. Lots of space to run around in. Maybe skip the track around the Jackie O. Reservoir lest you be run over by overzealous bikers and runners. Best to pay a visit to the animals at the Central Park Zoo!

Dada, Berry & I in Central Park West

Then of course, there's Madison Square Park, home of the first ever Shake Shack! Get a table and knock yourselves out with a scrumptious sundae, or heck, OD on milkshakes and greasy burgers! Yummeh! I know I have a picture of those burgers somewhere...

Next up, museums. Not the sort that will bore them silly, but the sort that will keep them transfixed and in awe. The stuff that childhood memories are made of.

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th St.
New York, NY 10024
(212) 769-5100

Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Tisch Building
212 West 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 721-1223
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm

New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring Street
between Varick and Hudson Streets
New York, NY 10013
(212) 691-1303

Childrens Museum of the Arts
182 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941-9198

Now I know that to get Berry to behave, this always works: "Berry, if you're good, we'll get ice cream!". That almost always nips a tantrum in the bud. So that you know what to bribe the little ones with, let's go to tasty treats!

Well, the Lower East Side is not exactly an easy place to get to, but I always find a reason to go there - Doughnut Plant. One bite of these delightful doughnuts, and O.M.G. I have no words. Dean & Deluca sells doughnuts from Doughnut Plant, but I only go there as a last resort. You gotta have to get these doughnuts fresh ya know.

With Aunt Sarj & Aunt Happy

If you can get your kids to sit still, and act like a little lady, then Alice's Tea Cup might just be her cup of tea. It's a tiny tiny little tea shop but Manhattan mommies with little girls in tutus often come here to have tea and scones.

See how pretty?

Stepping into Dylan's Candy Bar is enough to give you a sugar high. When Berry goes inside, she always can't seem to decide if she wants a lollipop, gummi bears, chocolate balls  or candy coated whatnots from the vast number of confections inside! She would flit from one area to another, unable to come to a decision. A sweet dilemma!

Berry with a bag of gummi bears, but still eyeing these colorful candy coated chocolate balls

Little boys will get a kick out FAO Schwarz. Remember the movie Big, where Tom Hanks's character played on that giant keyboard? This is where it's at, baby!

I'll be honest, I have never been inside American Girl Place because Berry was still a baby then, and she wouldn't appreciate dolls yet. My Mom was telling me to go anyway and buy a doll for Berry, but we never found the time for it. My friend Naomi says its so easy to get caught up buying dolls and doll clothes and accessories there, so many cute things! There's a cafe inside too, which I am sure the little girls will adore!

Of course, Mommy has to shop too right? It can't be just parks and museums, toys and gumdrops! Heehee!

While Barneys, Bergdorfs and Saks are pretty much kid friendly and equipped with clean washrooms and elevators and such, I've always had a joyful time browsing BG Kids at Bergdorf Goodman

But really, you can't go wrong with Bergdorfs, Saks and Barneys. All are lovely places to browse, kill time, dream and indulge!

And because I am a downtown girl at heart, I heart heart heart SoHo! Not the most kid friendly place if you consider tourist-filled Broadway and the cobblestone streets, but still! I love SoHo. Just stay away from Broadway and keep yourself at Mercer, Prince, Broome, Grand, Greene, ok basically SoHo except Broadway, hahaha.

Berry in UNIQLO SoHo

So there, I think these places will keep you pretty busy if you stay in Manhattan for a week or two. There are more places I have in mind, lots of little kid-friendly  nooks and crannies of cafes and shops to discover, but I don't want to overwhelm you. All in all, New York may have a reputation for being a big and heartless city, but it is a very baby friendly place really. When kids cry, you won't get a stare down from strangers. New Yorkers will help you carry your stroller up the stairs, will run after you when your kid loses one sandal,  SAs will cluck cluck and amuse your little one while you shop. Really, they just adore babies there! Wish I can say the same for the place where I am at now you know. Sigh, I miss New York. I am pretty sure Berry does too.

- instead of a diaper bag, pack all of the little one's essentials in a reusable tote. Much lighter.
- I used to breastfeed in dressing rooms or inside St. Patrick's
- Just walk so you don't have to be bothered with taking the subway or a cab


Jamie-Lee Burns said...

Oh I might have to ask you where to go shopping in NYC, I'm heading there later this year

incarnadine29 said...

omg, Berry is SO cute in that last photo! My little boy actually smiled and waved at her when he saw the photo, too :)

I've been looking for a dependable pair of sandals for my one year-old and Berry's black sandals caught my eye. Would you mind telling me where you got them? :)

kelly said...

I'll take note of these places when we visit NY later this year :) In the meantime, i have to ask you something of utmost importance - shoes! :D I, with my family, will be going to the US during winter, and I need comfy but stylish footwear. Any recommendations? :)

cd_mfo said...

Hi Jamie! Sure will do a New York shopping list too! Let me know if you have particular items to buy in mind! =)

Thanks Malou! Those are Saltwater sandals! I got them in the States, but they are now available in the Philippines - just don't know where, I will ask around!

Hi Kelly! I find that closed shoes with no slip soles are the best for winter! If you don't want to spend, oxfords with rubber soles, or even just regular sneakers will do. If you want something that you can use apart from winter then get Doc Martens. Only invest in boots if you feel you will be wearing them year after year. Hope this helps!

incarnadine29 said...

Thanks so much! I did some research online and apparently the Saltwater sandals are already available in Greenbelt 5. Will definitely go check :)

Jenny said...

will print and bring ;) for the museums i think we'll save those for DC - museums there are free :D bhphoto is on our list - mandated by Stan!
thanks for this tin!

Vanessa said...

I must say, with every visit to this blog, I secretly hope there are Berry shots! Hahaha. She's one stylish baby. Berlin is one other baby- and kid-friendly city. Prenzlauer Berg, my neighborhood, used to have the highest birth rate in Europe. You'd be sharing the sidewalk with babies on strollers and kids on training bikes.

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