Home all summer with the kids and looking for enriching activities that will be gentle on your pocket book and will also provide some fun sprinkled with education? “The Little Bookroom Guide to New York City with Children: Play, Eat, Shop” by Angela Hederman and Michael Berman is hooking you up! Keep reading for low cost summer activities curated by authors Hederman and Berman and of course get your copy to keep your NYC summer adventures from being anything but boring!
#1. An excursion to Governors Island
Open Saturday, Sunday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day) from Memorial Day weekend until the last weekend of September. Round trip $2 (under 12 free); round trips departing between 10am and 11 am Saturday and Sunday free. Ferries depart from the Battery Maritime Building (South at Whitehall Street) in Manhattan, and from Pier 6/Brooklyn Bridge Park (at the western end of Atlantic Avenue) in Brooklyn. The East River Ferry Service also stops at Governors Island. One-way tickets are $4 per person.www.govisland.com
This 172-acre island, formerly a military base, is a 5-minute ferry ride from Manhattan and off the radar screen for most visitors. New Yorkers love its breathtaking views and family-friendly activities (a castle, a fort, a tree house, mini golf, art classes, a grove of 50 red hammocks, a maze of gardens, ball fields, and children’s play areas). Rent bikes or quadcycles from Bike and Roll, located at the southwest corner of the Parade Ground. Food options include a Caribbean food truck, a beer garden, ice cream, and more.
#2. The High Line (Free)
Gansevoort and Washington Streets to West 30th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Access points are at both ends, as well as West 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 26th, and 28th Streets at Tenth Avenue. Elevators are at the West 14th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th Street on/off points.
Subway: 1,2,3,A,C,E,L to stops between 14th Street and 34th Streets
Summer hours 7 am to 11 pm.
Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become one of New York’s most beloved parks. Built upon an elevated rail viaduct not used for transport since 1980, it appeals simultaneously, but in different ways, to both adults and children. Adults are wowed by the design that integrates old track beds with planned-wild gardens and unique views of old and new New York. Kids will find an array of appealing features including the cement bleachers near the 16th Street entrance that, through a panoramic window, overlook Tenth Avenue and its seemingly endless stream of yellow cabs, and the performers and artists along the route. “Curated” food trucks offer some of NYC’s most hip and delicious eating opportunities.
PLACE TO EAT NEAR HIGHLINE:
The Frying Pan
Pier 66, Hudson River Park at West 26th Street
Subway: 1 to 23rd Street; C,E to 23rd Street
This is no ordinary bar, but a retired lightship parked on a barge floating in the Hudson River. If you opt for dinner rather than lunch, go early; it can be swamped at Happy Hour. Tables on the top deck have arguably the most magnificent view in NYC, a panoramic sweep from Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge, but there’s not a bad seat in the house. Place your order at the bar (steamed mussels and littlenecks, crab cakes, burgers, corn on the cob, Old Bay garlic fries, and sangria), take it back to your table, and glory in the surroundings.
More for kids: Next to The Frying Pan is the fireboat John J. Harvey. Retired in 1994, she was reactivated on September 11, 2001, and pumped water for 80 hours until water mains were restored. Bring a copy of Fireboat, The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman with you so your kids can read the inspiring NYC story while looking at many of the buildings (including the Empire State), structures, and scenes pictured in the storyâ€”not the least of which is the heroine herself.
#3. Discovery Center
American Museum of Natural History and Rose Center for Earth & Space, Central Park West at 79th Street
Subway: B,C to 81st Street-Museum of Natural History; 1 to 79th Street; 2,3 to 72nd Street
The magnificent American Museum of Natural History is a must-see, but it’s huge and almost always crowded. Really crowded. If you need a break, the fun-filled Discovery Room provides a place to sit down and regroup. It resembles a fun-filled classroom with plenty for children ages 5-12 to play with, examine, and explore. Upstairs, older kids can handle a live Madagascar hissing cockroach, an African walking stick, and an albino leopard gecko (but not the Chilean rose hair tarantula, although the staff member will be happy to have you watch as he pulls silk out of its spinneret). On Wednesday afternoons, the bearded dragon is given his weekly bath.
PLACES TO EAT NEAR MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY/DISCOVER ROOM:
Island Burger & Shakes (422 Amsterdam Avenue) serves more than 64 options of burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches, called churrascos. From the mild to hot, they include the Bangkok (with Thai Chili, curry, and peanut sauce), the Mike’s Pool Hall (with jack cheese and sautÃ©ed onions on dark rye), and the Crescent City (blackened, bayou mayo, onion, sourdough); beer is served. The perfectly executed New England classics at Luke’s Lobsters (426 Amsterdam Avenue, lukeslobster.com) include a Lobster Roll ($15; with beer, chips, and a pickle, $20), the Taste of Maine (half a lobster, half a crab, and half of a shrimp roll, $20), New England Clam Chowder ($8) and Lobster Bisque. Beverages include Maine craft beers.
It’s hard to find a better deal than the lunch specials at Oaxaca Taqueria (424 Amsterdam Avenue) where the tab for two tacos or enchiladas with rice and beans, half a torta or a quesadilla with a salad or soup is $7. If you’ve never tried elote, an ear of corn grilled with cotija cheese and chili powder, this is the place to try it, and if your kids want it without the chili powder, it can be made that way. Pick up a Corona on the way; you can BYOB, making this the perfect spot for an inexpensive early supper.
Lots of young neighborhood families are big fans of the vegan Peacefood CafÃ© (460 Amsterdam Avenue). Kids favorites include brown rice with cashew cheese ($6) and baked soy nuggets ($7). You’ll find a Mediterranean panini ($11.95), soups, smoothies, juices, and homemade desserts.
#4. Bryant Park (Free)
Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue, 40th to 42nd Streets
B, D, V, M to 42nd Street; 7 to Fifth Avenue
Surrounded by sparkling silver skyscrapers on three sides, and the New York Public Library on the fourth, Bryant Park is nothing short of idyllic. In summer, a pÃ©tanque court is built where children can learn the classic French bowling game using child-sized boules. There’s a picture-perfect carousel; a putting green with free equipment; chess, backgammon, and board games; ping pong; bird watching tours; jugglers, artists-in-residence, a pianist; concerts, and open-air movies.
#5 Staten Island Ferry (Free)
4 South Street, at Battery Park
Subway: 1 to South Ferry; R to Whitehall Street; 4,5 to Bowling Green
Daily, 24 hours. Departures every 15 minutes during rush hour and every half hour at night and on weekends; see website for detailed schedule including holiday changes.
This five-mile, 25-minute ride offers breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Lower Manhattan skyline, and New York Harborâ€”and it’s free. The boat features indoor and outdoor seating on multiple levels and a snack bar. You must disembark at Staten Island’s St. George Terminal, but you may return to Manhattan immediately by re-boarding the same boat.
Organized around places to PLAY, EAT, and SHOP, in “The Little Bookroom Guide to New York City with Children: Play, Eat, Shop” by Angela Hederman and Michael Berman ” you’ll find: A treasure trove of ideas, whether you’re interested in sports, crafts, animation, ballet, magic, history, movies, books, computers, music, dolls, chess, theater, and MORE!