There’s a brief period of time when it’s warm enough to go to the park yet not too scorching to stand outside in the sun. That time is now. Make the most out of May with your kids, and take the ferry to see what’s new on Governor’s Island or Brooklyn Bridge Park. If it’s raining, stay home with a book, see a movie, or a show. Let your kids be inspired by role models like Amelia Earhart or some incredible teen chefs. Any way the wind blows, we’ve got some ideas for you and your family to enjoy the start of spring.
1. GO: Revisit Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is many people’s go-to on a weekend afternoon. Celebrate the weather with these upcoming free activities in between the playground stops. On Saturday, May 5th go fly a kite with the annual Waterfront Kite Festival at Pier 1. In addition to kite flying, there will be STEAM activities like wind tunnels, robotics air propellers, and flight experiments. Or reserve your free tickets now for GlassBarge, which is anchoring on Thursday May 17th and staying through May 28th. This floating museum by Corning Museum of Glass will be offering free glass blowing demos on the deck for attendees. Also, families can look forward to the opening of Pier 3, with five new acres of parkland, including picnic spots and grass for relaxation. And mark your calendars for Saturday, June 9th, when an artist-designed hot dog bus will start passing out free dogs to visitors for the rest of the summer. Along the East River, Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo
2. BUY: [reads] delivery
Earlier this week, I read this Racked article about how consuming life from an algorithm results in a severe lack of originality. I’ve been feeling that to be true, and have felt bored with the movies that Netflix says my family will like, or the songs that Spotify wants us to groove out to. I’m actually insulted by the clothes Stitch Fix recommends. That’s why I’ve become obsessed with a new algorithm-free subscription box called [reads] delivery, that is not based on your current or past shopping habits. You or your family won’t have to fill out a questionnaire when you join. In fact, it’s not personalized at all. Each month, the founders (or the artists/ influencers/ friends of their choosing) will send two kids (or adult) books to your house. “When you go to the bookstore or Amazon, you’re likely to end up with a book that you normally would (of course) pick for yourself. But by allowing others to do the curating, you’re discovering and growing beyond yourself,” the founders, Rachael Yaeger and Emma Stevenson claim on their website. Although it’s fun that our kids have all read the same books as their friends, in this echo chamber that we live, it’s more important than ever to help our kids stretch beyond what they know and aspire towards “human connections more than computer generated algorithms.” The kids boxes come in two varieties: ages 0-4 and 5-9 young readers. Order [reads] delivery one time or monthly; $48.
3. SEE: ‘Tully’
From the people behind Juno and Young Adult, comes Tully, which fits nicely into what seems to be a trilogy about the transition to adulthood. Charlize Theron, who gained 50 pounds for the role of Marlo, captures the overwhelm and unhappiness of motherhood that permeates her day-to-day of adding a newborn to her small family. Ron Livingston (the most underrated actor in Hollywood) plays her husband, and Mackenzie Davis plays Tully, a free spirit who is hired as a night nanny. I haven’t seen the movie but I know inevitably that Tully’s spirit will help bring Marlo back to life, with some sordid twists along the way. I’m excited to see the film, if only to see how screenwriter, Diablo Cody, will give truth to the messy experience of motherhood without the shine that Hollywood usually applies. This might be a good Mother’s Day movie, or just one to watch by yourself on your birthday when you want to cry in the dark about the trials of parenting. (OK, that last part might just be me.) ‘Tully’ opens nationwide on May 4th.
4. GO: ‘Knock’ at BAM
BAMKids has always discovered original and imaginative works to perform for their young theater lovers. In Knock, an ensemble from South Africa called Magnet Theatre will bring stories and animals to the stage in a 45-minute show through May 6th. Kids will get the chance to sing along as they enter the theatrical world of a forest and get treated to a world of rhythm and storytelling. “Knock is an interactive theater experience for curious minds, complete with original songs and limitless acoustic possibilities” according to the show notes. The shorter run time and inexpensive $15 ticket make this seem like this would be a good intro to live theater for young ones. Also, BAM is running “relaxed performances for the enjoyment of neural atypical members” which will eliminate blackouts and lower some of the more jarring sound cues. Knock, BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl., Fort Greene. Tickets: $15. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
5. GO: See What’s New on Governors Island
Governor’s Island is one of the best parts of Spring in New York. This year is going to be better than ever. We rounded up the best of everything new happening on the island, including extended Friday night hours! (Hello, perfect date night.) Families are going to love the addition of mini golf at Adventures at Governors Island, where they already offer ziplining, a climbing wall and an adventure maze in view of Lady Liberty. Plus, a celebration on May 12th from NYC Bangra will present its version of Holi Hai, involving the very kid-pleasing act of getting sprinkled with colored powder. Also, you may have heard that glamping will be available, and like me, you might have heard that tents can cost upwards of a thousand a night. In fact tent rentals start at $200/night and may be even cheaper during the week. While you’re there, look for public art installations and a new waterfront taco spot opening by Memorial Day. Ferries are free the first week the island is open, May 1-May 6, departing daily from the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the weekends. Afterward, ferries from both locations are free until 11:30am and $3 afterward for the round trip ride for adults. NYC Ferry service begins May 14.
6. CELEBRATE: Mother’s Day
There are two theories surrounding Mother’s Day (which btw is Sunday, May 13th.) There are those moms that want to make a reservation for a fancy brunch place and spend QT with their husband, kids and in-laws—and those that want to be rewarded on this day with some serious ME TIME. Or maybe you fluctuate from year to year. Hands down, the best traditional brunch is at New Leaf Restaurant at the Cloisters. Did you not make a reservation? Nibble & Squeak, a family friendly extravagant food group is throwing a brunch at the award-winning The Modern that will run you almost $300/ adult and $50 per child. (Remember, the amount you spend equates how much a mom is loved!) Our family likes to keep it low key at Brooklyn Crab, where there’s no Mother upcharge, the bloody marys are solid, and the classic games in the yards occupy kids for hours. Then again, there is a pretty solid case for boycotting the whole holiday. New Leaf Restaurant, 1 Margaret Corbin Dr, Fort Tryon Park; The Modern, 9 W 53rd St, MOMA; Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed St, Red Hook.
7. DRESS UP: Book a Transformations Shoot
Instead of splurging on that Mother’s Day brunch, spend your money instead on an amazing experience that you can print and frame as a keepsake: a Transformation photo shoot with Kristin Reimer. The photographer will help you look the part of whatever persona you’re feeling—warrioress, goddess, mermaid, fairy—and do the same for your child if you like, for a mother-daughter or mother-son portrait like no other. (She’ll be offering the same package for Dads in June.) The package is $325 and each additional person is $50, for the month of May only.
8. GO: Protest Songs Sing-Along
If your kids are more likely to resist going to another march than to resist current gun laws, then a benefit concert might be just the way to re-involve tiny protesters. Hootenanny Art House, Park Slope’s favorite music class, is also known for throwing a fun all-ages fundraiser. Their previous show raised around $5,000 for ACLU, the IRC and 350.org. The Small But Mighty Hootenanny concert on Sunday May 20th is a sing-along for the whole family featuring Pete Sinjin and special guests, and all profits will go to Moms Demand Action. There will be art-making, dancing, and special surprises in store for the day. Let kids stand up for what they believe, while dancing, singing, and creating the day away. Sunday May 20th, 11am- 1pm. The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Gowanus. All ages. Tickets are $15. Kids under 1 are free.
9. EAT: Eat the Young (or just buy their food)
Teen chefs are having a moment. Blame Top Chef Junior, but kids these days are quickly taking over the culinary scene. The cute-as-a-button, Flynn McGarry, 19, has won over rabid fans with his recently opened restaurant, Gem, on 116 Forsyth St. Although he’s young, his age isn’t a gimmick, and reservations consistently sell out by patrons who probably never learn his age. Now, Brooklyn has a teen chef of their own: Jack Greenleaf, a 14-year-old freshman at Loyola School, has set up shop at Smorgasburg on Saturdays in Williamsburg. Bread and Monkey, his banana bread company, is served up in classic or chocolate chip flavors. The loaves are baked fresh by him in the morning, and usually sell out by the afternoon. For those who can’t wait for the weekend to get their fix, Jack hand delivers throughout parts of Manhattan during the week. (You have to place your order a week in advance though, because he bakes each loaf himself and, well, he’s kind of busy with high school.) If your kids are inspired, sign them up for cooking camp.
10. GO (OR DON’T): Immersive Instagrammable Installations
If you’re old enough, you may remember those SAT analogy questions (which were removed in 2005). I recently thought of a good one: Traveling is to Disney World, as Museums are to Immersive Instagramable Installations. Although you board an airplane to get there, Disney World does not offer the benefits of traveling. And a trip to an experiential pop up developed by an ad agency does not offer the benefits of art. But you can fill you IG feed with photos of “eggcited” babies in a ball pit at The Egg House (which runs through May 20th, 195 Chrystie St., Manhattan, $18 per person) or children glowing in a hallway at the Dream Machine (which runs through May 31st, 93 N. 9th St., Brooklyn, $38 per person.) These kinds of installations are developed by advertisers and marketers. It’s a new kind of vapidness, art without substance, and solely for the Instagram photo. Instead, wouldn’t you want to teach the value of art that actually means something? There are outstanding museums in our city (at a more affordable price, I might add) and better places to take a selfie. Or not. Maybe you just want a cute photo of your baby hatching out of an egg. Go for it.
11. GO: Planes on a Boat
A show about airplanes will take place on a boat in this interesting floating performance space. Fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls will be interested to see the life of one of their favorite extraordinary women come alive on stage with Amelia & Her Paper Tigers, an adaptation of Amelia Earhart’s life which will take place on the deck of The Waterfront Museum barge in Red Hook. Using acrobatics, song, dance, and primary sources about Amelia’s life, the stage is set for Sunday May 20th at 2pm and is appropriate for all ages from 0-100. Word is still out if they will confirm the Bermuda Triangle’s existence or not. The Waterfront Museum, 290 Conover St., Red Hook. Purchase tickets here or call the Smarttix box office at 212-868-4444. Advance: Adults: $15, Kids under 16: $13. At the door if available: Adults: $20, Kids under 16: $15.