Autumn in New York is the quintessential season. With the leaves changing color in Central Park, the steam rising from the subway grates, and the magic of the holidays right around the corner, November is the perfect time for families to crush on the city we call home…before temperatures drop and we can go back to complaining about the weather again. Here are 11 ways to appreciate the great city we live in, with kids in tow.
1.Visit: We have the first children’s museum. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum of Crown Heights has been engaging children since 1899. It’s considered one of the first (if not THE first) museum specifically for children. Obviously, it’s a historic event, when this classic museum opens their first new offshoot. SPARK by Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened for business on Oct. 15 on Pier 1 in DUMBO. The 1850-square-foot space offers semester-long classes and drop-in play (that you can reserve ahead online) for kids 6 months to 6 years old.
SPARK by The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 1 John Street, DUMBO $15 for one hour of play; class prices vary. Passport Members are free: $195/ year. Open play hours: Tuesday: 1-5pm, Wednesday: 1-3pm, Thursday: 1-6pm, Friday-Sunday: 1-5pm
2. Read: What makes a New York City kid? Having a kid in New York City can seem daunting. If you successfully navigate the preschool process and survive the elementary school lotteries, who will your child become in this new New York City? Many parents fluctuate wildly between deciding to move to the suburbs and being content to stay put. Reading this touching New York Times article, “What Makes A New York City Kid?”, where the author profiles a dozen thirteen-year-olds about their daily lives, will make you feel parental pride for the children in this city. These kids are independent and interesting with hobbies ranging from volunteer work to gardening to mime school. They take advantage of the city, attending a philosophy course in a church in Harlem, eating slices of pizza off a paper plate with one hand, and are experts on Broadway shows. It’s a good reminder why NYC parents put up with all the noise and lack of space.
3. Go: NYC streets have inspired generations of artists. Renowned fashion illustrator, Antonio Lopez, was the first to bring the streets of NYC to the world of high fashion. The energy and originality of his work has influenced everyone who came after him, yet his name isn’t a household name. An exhibit at the El Museo del Barrio is hoping to change that, with an exploration of his work that runs through Nov. 26, 2016. Even the youngest art goers will have fun with the Coqui Club event on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 9:30-10:30am/ 11am-noon. Children ages 1-4 and their caretakers are invited for play, storytelling, museum walks and artmaking. No reservations required, first come first served.
El Museo Del Barrio, 1250 Fifth Avenue, Harlem.
4. Vote! Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last year, you are aware that Nov. 8 is Election Day, and you already know who you are voting for (HER!). But the harder question is what should you do with the kids, since they won’t have school? Here’s a good option. Join Construction Kids for a day of building “a simplified Cuckoo Clock.” The project will teach kids how to safely use hammers, nails, wrenches and bolts, and by the end of the day they’ll each take home their own actual clock. The session is appropriate for kids 4-9 years old, and goes from 9am until 4pm for $150; to extend until 5pm is an additional $25. (They’re great for after school classes and birthday parties too!)
Construction Kids, Brooklyn Navy Yard, BLDG 92, 63 Flushing Ave, Unit 130.
5. Go: NYC Kids can take classes at Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center Kids has an unbelievable amount of great programming for little music lovers. Ranging from big events to intimate workshops, there is something for every family. This month try out Meet the Music: Leaping Leopold, where an actor dressed as Mozart’s father will teach anyone to be a musical genius while exploring the music of Mozart. This is appropriate for kids 6 years old and up and is on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2pm, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. And if you arrive an hour early, your kids can take part in a musical instrument “petting zoo” where all the instruments can be handled by eager hands.
All tickets: $10- $30. Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan.
6. Call: We don’t have to pick out our kids’ lice. It’s an unfortunate part of childhood everywhere, that everyone will eventually get lice. Nits are not as traumatic as bed bugs, but they’re still not something most parents want to deal with. In New York City, where you can seemingly pay someone to do anything (Taskrabbit!), there are actually Lice Removal Fairies who will come to your house and magically make lice disappear with natural products. Sisters, Lily and Winnie Huang tirelessly travel Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, New Jersey and The Hamptons to rid the tri-state area of unwanted bugs. Lice checks start at $50 and treatments run from $125- $150.
Lice Removal Fairies, 917-900-2222, available 8am-10pm
7. Buy: New Yorkers can create Turkey Day in a cramped kitchen. There’s nothing more shocking to out-of-towners than that the possibility of preparing Thanksgiving in a NYC kitchen. If you want to really wow your guests, purchase a spiralizer which will turn any root vegetable into a pasta shape. Nothing says fancy like zucchini noodle salad! The best part is, your kids will actually want to help you cook prep. Turning the wheel creates magical shapes, which, hopefully, they will also want to eat! We saw it at a friend’s house and knew we needed one immediately for the holidays.
Available on Amazon, $29.99
8. Read …Or feast at a restaurant and just come home for dessert. Even if it’s possible to create a 10-course meal in your kitchen, why bother when the best chefs in the world will do it for you? That way, you can just concentrate on creating a magical dessert that will literally blow your guests’ (glass) slippers off. Fairy Tale Baking by Ramla Khan is the book my son has been searching for his whole life. With over 50 cakes and desserts all inspired by favorite fairy tales, your kids will be clamoring to cook in the kitchen. Each tale (including Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella) has one show-stopping recipe and two other easier ideas. This would be good for a themed birthday party or to create the most magical holiday confections ever.
Available at your favorite bookstore, $25
9. Go: We have the biggest Thanksgiving parade. Although we’ve never attended the parade or the balloon inflation, this might the best year to finally do it. With warmer weather this fall, it won’t feel so unbearable to be standing outside for long periods, plus it’s the 90th year of this NYC tradition. Gonyc.com has great tips for watching the balloon inflation at the American Museum of Natural History including the best trains to take and best viewing platforms. And in the event that you or your kids aren’t into crowds, you can always read the book Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet and watch the parade on TV with the rest of the real New Yorkers.
10. Watch: “The City” is a character in basically every TV show. The best parenting show ever is the smart and brassy Gilmore Girls, which is getting a Netflix reboot on Nov. 25. But if you’re looking for something for the kids to watch while you lay around in turkey coma, then look no further than The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show, a Netflix original series based on the 2014 film. A genius dog and his human son host a late night talk show where they interview historical figures and then time travel to experience the events. There is potty humor paired with a history class. Best for kids 6 and up. Season Three is now available on Netflix.
11. Make: We can learn to make our kids’ winter wear. “This will be the year I learn to knit,” you tell yourself every November. But there never seems to be a good time to get to a knitting class, and you just can’t comprehend the YouTube tutorials. Woolyn, a new shop on Atlantic Avenue is here to help you. The Woolyn Lifeline ($40) gets you an hour of one-on-one help with whatever project you are working on. It’s up to you if you need to “spend” the hour in one go, or use in 15-minute increments while the baby is sleeping in the stroller. You can either call ahead and make an appointment or stop in and see if someone is available for help. Keep some yarn in your stroller, and you’ll have a baby bunting in time for snowfall.