As the proud descendant of a long line of Brooklyn-ites — all the way from Carroll Gardens to Canarsie — I take my two kiddos into the borough as often as I can. If you’re looking for a great day out with the whole fam damily, here are some of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn with kids…
1. First stop is — of course — the Brooklyn Bridge. (Little-known fact: it’s actually not for sale.) If you start off on the Manhattan side, take the 4, 5, 6, J or Z subway lines to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop. From City Hall, you can cross Park Row and begin your walk across one of the most famous bridges in the world. Walk along the pedestrian path and prepare to be amazed at the views. It’s a 1.3 mile walk across the bridge, so bring a folding stroller for little ones so they’re not too tired out. (Dads have no excuse. Tell them to zip it and keep going.) Be sure to keep an eye out for zooming cyclists and stay on the path. Turn the kids around along the way for one of the most breathtaking views of Manhattan. Ever. Then take lots — and lots — of pictures of your family, smiling and laughing and pointing at the city skyline. Your kids will tell their kids someday about the experience. I guar-on-tee it.
2. Once you’ve crossed the bridge into Brooklyn, descend the stairs and make your way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. A newly developed open space along Brooklyn’s waterfront, it’s an ideal place to flop down after that long walk and watch the kids spin in circles until they get dizzy. The views of the city are spectacular. Bike rentals are available through Bike and Roll NYC at the Pier 1 entrance, and there are several really fun playgrounds in the park for children of all ages. Kite flying is also highly recommended here. (Highly.) Some sections of the park are closed while the area recovers from Hurricane Sandy, so check the website before you visit.
3. Enough with the spinning and the viewing and the bike riding. The kids are starving and your husband is whining. Walk under the Brooklyn Bridge and visit Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, which some NYC natives swear is the best pizza in town. You can’t get slices here, but you can get pies with divinely crispy, smoky crusts, fired up in their very own coal-brick-oven. Dessert? That’s easy. After you’ve wiped all that yummy pizza sauce from your face, visit The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a sweet, little ol’ fireboat house on the Fulton Ferry Pier. (Somebody should write a children’s book about that fireboat house. That’s how cute it is.) The ice cream is made right there on the premises, with all-natural ingredients. Go ahead. Get two scoops. Be crazy.
4. Wanna walk off that ice cream? Then walk over to the Brooklyn Flea, a superfab weekend flea market that offers hundreds of vendors selling antiques, jewelry and watches, artisan crafts, vintage clothing — you name it, they got it. If all that browsing and shopping makes you peckish all over again, then sample some of the yummy — and very fresh! — food available at the Flea, too. In warm weather, the Flea takes place outdoors along the waterfront in Williamsburg. In the wintertime, you’ll find the Flea in the former Williamsburg Savings Bank, a gorgeous landmark building with the original bank vault still located on the lower level downstairs. (How cool is that for kids to explore?)
5. Little (and big) train lovers will enjoy a stop at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. Located in a decommissioned subway station, the museum offers an interactive experience with historical — and super-cool — artifacts from New York’s public transportation system. Learn about the history ofNew York’s trains and buses, step inside a vintage subway car, and jump a turnstile without getting arrested! Your kids will love it. I promise.
6. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Prospect Park is always a fun — and very kid-friendly — visit. Stroll the grounds and be amazed at this natural oasis right in the heart of Brooklyn. (Hint: trees definitely grow here.) Sign up for hands-on workshops with the kids, or visit the Children’s Garden, and get up close and personal with all kinds of nature. The Cherry Esplanade is a can’t-miss experience if you’re visiting during the month of April, when the cherry tree blossoms are in full, glorious bloom.
7. The Prospect Park Zoo is home to pandas, baboons, and kangaroos (oh, my!) — as well as a host of other animals. Feed the sea lions, chat with the zookeepers, and, you know, talk to the animals. Learn their languages. Maybe take an animal degree. (Oh, no. Now I’ve got happy feet. I’m dancing. Somebody stop me.)
8. If you’re in Prospect Park, walk through Grand Army Plaza, where you’ll see the Soldier’s and Sailors’ Arch built to honor “The Defenders of the Union” during America’s Civil War. Just one mile away is the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the first museum created just for kids back in 1899 (how cool is that?) It’s chock-full of totally fun exhibits, art workshops, and multimedia activities for you and your kids to while away the hours. And maybe even learn a little something while they (and you!) are having fun.
9. My Brooklyn-born father swore off baseball forever, once the Dodgers left Ebbets Field in Flatbush, but why should you? On a warm summer night, take the D, F, N or Q subway lines down to the last stop in Coney Island, and see the Brooklyn Cyclones play at MCU Park. Just make sure you stop at Nathan’s onSurf Avenue for a hot dog and crinkle-cut fries beforehand. It’s illegal not to eat a hot dog at Nathan’s if you’re in Coney. It just is.
10. Last stop? The Brooklyn Brewery. (Go ahead. You’ve earned it.) Visit on Sunday afternoons when it’s completely kid-friendly. Free brewery tours are available almost every hour from noon – 6 pm (Hey! Beermaking is scientific AND educational!) There’s even a mini-foodfest in the brewery’s Tasting Room, when some of Brooklyn’s coolest chefs take over and host Smorgas Brewery. Which means that dinner is now officially taken care of, and you haven’t had to cook once today! Your tummy — and your family — will thank you. Trust me on this.
Now g’wan. Get outta here. Scram.
Still want more to do in Brooklyn? Click for ten other mom approved spots!