Exploring New York City with Curious Kids
August 4, 2012 Leave a Comment
A trip to New York City is a wonderful way to beat the summer doldrums. After asking my 8-year old and 6-year old where they’d like to spend a few days, we landed on New York (sorry kids, maybe next year we’ll visit Dublin or Rome. LOL!). They had both been to New York a few years back and fell in love with the city. This time though, we were going with 3 others. In our group we had 4 children and 3 adults. The question soon became, “What do you want to do?”
After a ton of research and planning, we ended up with a great mix of fun and educational experiences to fill the kids’ curious minds and to ignite their creativity. Here are some of the highlights.
SoHo Chocolate Tour
Kids love chocolate! But, some adults (like me) love chocolate even more. What better way to wind your way through New York than with a chocolate tour? In this self-created, self-guided tour, we stopped at Vosages Chocolates (132 Spring Street) and learned about how they used aromatics, fruits, and spices to create one of a kind temptations like…Mo’s Bacon Bar that combines bacon and milk chocolate.
We also stopped at Jacques Torres Chocolate (350 Hudson at King Street) to sample truffles. They had a glassed-in factory where you could actually see chocolates being made.
But, the best chocolate stop, by far, went to Marie Belle (484 Broome Street). The chocolates at Marie Belle were works of art…literally. Each chocolate was handmade in Brooklyn and painted with edible cocoa butter. Take a look below! And, if you think the tour was just about eating chocolate, think again. We learned how chocolate was made, where it was made, and even how to prepare the best hot chocolate!
If you’ve never been to the SoHo Scholastic Store, think of the entire children’s section of your local bookstore…and multiply it by 10. The Scholastic Store is filled to the brim with books catering to children’s tastes – from the nonfiction section on reptiles my 8-year old fell in love with, to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series my 7-year old nephew couldn’t get enough of, there’s something to suit every kid’s taste.
Many times when you try and think back to where a kid’s passion began, it’s hard to pinpoint. However, if anyone ever asked where my nephew first ignited his passion for reading, I would reply, “The Scholastic Store in SoHo.” He hadn’t really read much on his own up to that point, but when he found Diary of a Wimpy Kid, everything changed. This was the first book he craved and couldn’t wait to read.
My nephew read the book on the train, as we waited for taxis, before dinner, during dinner…basically he read anytime he was able. Actually, I think he was able to fill out the entire month of July in his summer reading log with the amount of reading he did in just one day. Now I know what they mean by “getting lost in a good book.”
Children’s Museum of the Arts
So, you’ve probably heard of a Children’s Museum, but did you know New York City has a Children’s Museum of the Arts? At this hidden jewel (103 Charlton Street, between Hudson & Greenwich Sts) kids get to make art! There’s a “clay bar” where kids belly up to the bar and a “bartender” serves up clay. All of the employees at the Children’s Museum of the Arts are trained artists or are going to school to study art. At the clay bar, our instructor led my 6-year old on a dolphin making lesson. We also spent time painting, making paper arts, trying our hands at a paper mache moons, and creating 3-D pop-up cards. The kids had a wonderful time stretching their imaginations and tapping into their creativity. And, the best part was each child left with a bag of all their creations!
Trapeze School New York
Yes, you read correctly. While we were in NYC, we took the kids to trapeze school where they learned how to “fly.” My husband and I took trapeze lessons a few years back, but I have to say, we looked nothing like the kids. While we had looks of fear across our faces as we climbed up the scaffolding, the kids were well poised for their trapeze adventure and it showed. They grinned from ear to ear (and even squealed with joy). Trapeze school was a great confidence building activity that stretched their comprehension of their physical capabilities. Watching the kids let go of the bar and leap into a catch was exhilarating. It was well worth the trip to the Hudson River Park for Trapeze School.
New York Public Library
A library isn’t just any old library when it’s the New York Public Library! The kids loved hanging out at Bryant Park, spending time at the fountain, and riding the carousel before heading to the piece de resistance – the one and only New York Public Library. And, if your kids think that visiting the library is going to be boring, perhaps you can introduce them to ghost hunting! Did you know the New York Public Library was featured in Ghostbusters? While the kids searched the stacks looking for Slimer, the adults enjoyed the architecture and amazing art work. If you’re interested in taking a guided tour of the New York Public Library, visit http://www.nypl.org/events/tours/schwarzman
Exploring Different Cultures and Trying Different Foods
No trip to New York City would be complete without exploring the many ethnic neighborhoods and living like locals – From Little Italy, to Chinatown, to Koreatown, to Astoria (Greek), to Midwood (Orthodox Jew), to a host of other wonderful enclaves, New York City offers visitors a view into the cultural sights, sounds, and tastes of the world.
When our family visited New York City, we spent time in Koreatown sampling Korean BBQ (Mandangsui, 35 West 35th). The kids loved the cook-your-own concept! We also had dim sum in Chinatown, visited the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St.), and had an authentic Chinese dinner including a sizzling seafood hot pot. Interestingly, we learned our youngest son was quite an adventurous eater. At 6-years old he tried squid, shrimp, and a multitude of dim sum delicacies.
Yet, the highlight of our Chinatown visit was stumbling upon a fruit stall that sold dragon fruit. My son became obsessed with dragon fruit after playing Fruit Ninja on my Android. Soon he began watching videos on where dragon fruit comes from, how to choose dragon fruit, and how to eat the tropical treat.
Well, you couldn’t imagine my son’s reaction when he saw actual dragon fruit being sold on the streets of Chinatown. It was a dream come true. He chose a dragon fruit to take home and became the proud “leader” in instructing us when and how to eat it. Talk about independent learning and sharing what you know. LOL!
I hope you found this article valuable in planning your trip. Wishing you happy travels!