What are some Toddler-friendly places in Manhattan?
January 21, 2013 9:26 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are taking my nearly 2 year old on her first trip to New York. We're going to be there to buy books and fabric, but this will take less than a day out of our three day trip. We've been to New York dozens of times, but never with a kid in tow. We'd like some suggestions for toddler-friendly shops, sites, and restaurants that we can use to break up our errands.

She's a well behaved kid, well-versed in visiting museums and sit-down restaurants, and is pretty good at handling new things, but she's still a toddler and thus unpredictable at times. We're trying to avoid breakables, long lines, and places where the occasional toddler tear would ruin the atmosphere.

We will be staying in Chinatown and our errand destinations are mostly in Midtown, the Garment District, and Soho. If the weather is friendly enough we will visit the Central Park Zoo or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. She would probably enjoy a good toy store if the weather is poor. Foodwise, she is one of the least picky eaters I know and likes to try new things.

On one specific note, I would pay good money on a casual Izakaya in the Midtown area, one with tatame-mat cubicles where you can close the door for some privacy.
posted by Alison to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I can think of plenty of Izakaya, but none with tatami rooms.
posted by JPD at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2013

Apparently Riki Restaurant aka Box Snack Riki (141 E 45th St between 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave) has a few tatami rooms. The other places I can think of aren't izakaya, are more upscale, and/or are not in midtown.

I'd definitely call ahead to inquire about the size and make a reservation. Here are some photos of Restaurant Riki on the NY Mag site.
posted by kathryn at 9:41 AM on January 21, 2013

aburiya kinnosuke isn't really an izakaya, but its robata - which still pairs well with booze - and they have small tatami rooms and are in midtown.
posted by JPD at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2013

Books of Wonder in Chelsea is toddler-friendly if shopping for kids books is on the agenda.
posted by cazoo at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

The American Museum of Natural History was great success with our kids in addition to the great playground in Central Park.
posted by zeikka at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Two Boots, for food, is kid-friendly and has a number of locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:13 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: The Children's Museum of the Arts was good fun when our kid was that age. Basically an indoor playground, which can be a boon in the winter time.
posted by monospace at 10:18 AM on January 21, 2013

If you do walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, definitely check out Brooklyn Bridge Park once you're done. There's a working antique carousel, gorgeous views of lower Manhattan, and a playground that makes me wish I had a kid just so I could play there, plus a great ice cream shop.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:27 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: I've taken my nieces and nephews around the city a few times, and these were big hits when they were toddlers:

Teardrop park near World Financial Center; Balloon store in Tribeca; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Temple of Dundur; Grand Central food hall; NYC Transit museum.
posted by lyra4 at 10:30 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: Mommy Poppins is the go-to site for kid events and listings for theater, indoor play-spaces, etc. It has everything!

The aforementioned Children's Museum of the Arts is great. It's not actually an indoor playspace, but an open-art museum with paint and clay and sticker and flubber workstations. They have a yoga-ball-pond for boinging around. Check their hours for drop-in stuff in the "wee" room -- there are some classes during which that room will be closed.

If you go to the aforementioned children's bookstore Books of Wonder (18th st and 5th ave), across the street is City Bakery, a cafe/lunch place that has a grimy little play kitchen for children's amusement. In that same neighborhood (on 20th st and 6th Ave) is City Treehouse. They have a water table, a slide, a cave, a toy room, etc. for $20 an hour.
posted by xo at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2013

If you're inclined, Brooklyn Farmacy would be a hoot!

I also think walking around Chinatown can be fun. Remember to get some Soup Dumplings. (Om, nom, nom!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2013

Children's Museum of Manhattan on Upper West Side, but near the Natural History Museum.

NY Transit Museum. Set underground in an old subway station. Romp through old-timey buses and subway cars set on the rails. In Brooklyn, about 20 minute walk from the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn bridge.
posted by hhc5 at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

When my kids were wee uns, they loved to ride the tram round trip to Roosevelt Island. We would eat lunch at Serendipity afterwards. My kids were also totally amazed by just walking around Times Square. The amount of video boards, lights and other sights was a sensory full load for them.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2013

Oh, I just remembered the "ride" angle:
Toys R Us in Times Square has an indoor ferris wheel.
In Bryant Park (42nd and 5th Ave), there's a tiny French carousel where the kids can sit on a frog, a bunny, a cat...
In DUMBO, Brooklyn, there's the restored Jane's Carousel, encased in glass. I think this is a great trip, because you can also watch the boats going by on the river, throw stones in the river, and watch subways cross the bridges overhead. It's a kid-friendly neighborhood and most restaurants will have high chairs. From there (or to there), you can also ride the East River ferry to the east side of Midtown or to other neighborhoods in western Brooklyn.
posted by xo at 11:07 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There is the Scholastic Bookstore at 257 Broadway, in SoHo, just north of Chinatown. And yes, Books of Wonder is pretty cool.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2013

The toys r us in midtown has an indoor ferris wheel. I took my nieces there last month & it was an absolute nightmare. They loved it. Bryant park is great for exploring from shop to shop w/bonus fresh air if it's warm, ice skating if it's cold.
posted by headnsouth at 11:19 AM on January 21, 2013

Whoops - Scholastic is 557 Broadway (not 257)!
posted by R. Mutt at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: We just got back from our trip yesterday and it was a great success. We managed to get to all of our errand destinations and our daughter fell in love with the big city. She did well with the low temperatures, though there was one miserable night of cold, snow, and no cabs. However, she woke up the next day, climbed in her stroller, and yelled "Go! Go!"

Children's Museum of the Arts was just perfect for our daughter and she loved the hands-on art studio, especially the stickers. However, somehow I ended up with the former address on Lafayette. It's currently located much further west on Charlton Street.

We made the mistake of going to FAO Swartz. I hadn't been there since I was a kid and forgot that it is staffed by evil monsters who are excellent at getting children to fall in love with toys. "I think this puppy wants to go home with you!" We were fortunate to escape with only one $25 stuffed animal.

For restaurants, we had amazing pho and spring rolls at Pho Viet Huong and enjoyed the dim sum at Golden Unicorn. Our daughter loved the ramen noodles at Momofuku in the East Village and inhaled the soft serve. Doughnut Plant was also a hit, but it's hard to make a donut unlovable.

Mommy Poppins was a great resource and helped us find some of the above child-friendly restaurants. I will be consulting it for all our future trips. It also introduced us to Papabubble and a few other candy stores that we will be saving for when our daughter is older.
posted by Alison at 6:13 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

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