Tribeca with Kids: Top 30 Things to Do for NYC Families
One of New York City's original residential neighborhoods, Tribeca was initially settled back in the 1700s. The area has undergone several transformations since then. In the 19th century, it became an industrial and commercial hub, By post-World War II, it was a ghost town with only a few hundred residents, and block after block of empty warehouses. Thanks to all of that available and eminently affordable loft space, artists and bohemians flocked to Tribeca in the 1980s and by the 2000s it had been reinvented once again as one of Manhattan's most affluent and amenity-filled areas.
Today, this unique neighborhood is in high demand with families thanks to its great public schools, the beautiful waterfront Hudson River Greenway in Hudson River Park, a plethora of locally owned businesses, kid-friendly restaurants and a funky downtown vibe that is quickly disappearing from NYC. The area is also home to the famed Tribeca Film Festival, which was created after September 11 to help spur lower Manhattan's financial recovery. Every spring, in addition to screening a slew of movies, the fest hosts many special events for families, including one of the city's biggest annual celebrations for kids, the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair. Meanwhile, on Halloween, the ritzy stores on Duane, Reade, Greenwich and Hudson Streets welcome trick-or-treaters and hand out some seriously awesome swag.
Tribeca is an acronym for the triangle below Canal Street, and as such the neighborhood has fairly specific borders: Canal Street to the north and Vesey Street to the south between West Street and Broadway. This month, we'll offer an in-depth look at everything Tribeca has to offer families, including our favorites spots to eat, play, shop and our top 30 things to do with kids in the neighborhood.
If you live in the area or are thinking of moving there, join Hudson River Park Mamas (HRPMamas), a terrific social group for downtown families, and bookmark Tribeca Citizen, a website and newsletter that will keep you in the loop about everything going on in the 'hood.
- Visit the heart of family-friendly Tribeca, Washington Market Park, to run amok on its giant play structures and grassy lawn
- Watch the Great Ragidy Supreme perform amazing tricks during French bistro Cercle Rouge's magic brunch on weekends
- Have a special-occasion-only Japanese meal at Ninja New York, the city's only ninja-themed restaurant
- Enjoy brunch and a family-friendly show or film at the intimate Canal Park Playhouse
- Explore the attraction-filled Pier 25 which boasts an awesome playground, a mini-golf course, a skatepark and beach volleyball
- Pose for a pic outside FDNY's Hook and Ladder Company #8, the location used as the Ghostbusters' headquarters in the classic '80s comedy. While the firehouse doesn't offer tours, the fireman are really friendly and usually don't mind letting kids poke around.
- Tour the historic Tug Boat Pegasus and the steam-powered lighthouse tender Lilac, which are often docked at Hudson River Park's Pier 25—check their respective websites for schedule
- Pick up a magic cupcake or other treat at Duane Park Patisserie and then devour it at the bakery's namesake park, one of NYC's oldest green spaces
- Drop in to an open art session or sign up for classes at the esteemed Church Street School for Music and Art
- Learn how to build custom-made robots out of everyday items at Brooklyn Robot Foundry Tribeca
- Peruse a wide selection of educational playthings at Boomerang Toys
- Handcraft a ceramic masterpiece during Tribeca Claywork's weekly Saturday Family Clay Day
- Or paint your own pottery on any day at Color Me Mine
- Drop in for FREE storytimes and toddler programs at the New Amsterdam Library
- Rock out for FREE at Washington Market Park's family summer concert series
- Stroll, cycle or roller blade the Hudson River Greenway
- Experience one of NYC's most immaculate members-only indoor play spots, Playgarden, by signing up for one of its open to the public Project Playdate drop-off parties
- Join neighborhood tot spot Downtown Community Center for access to its indoor pool and gym facilities, plus a ton of cool arts and athletic classes for toddlers to teens to adults
- Catch top-notch kids' theater at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center
- Romp in the nearby Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, a true destination playground.
- Mark your calendar for the neighborhood's must-see annual celebrations: the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair and Taste of Tribeca in spring and the North River Historic Ship Festival in summer
- Get inspired to create at old-school fabric stores Jem Fabric Warehouse and PS Fabrics. Jem Fabric even hosts kids' classes and workshops
- Hang out at the local Barnes & Noble, which has an impressive children's section and hosts storytime and other events for families
- Grab a snack and romp in the kids' play space upstairs at Whole Foods
- Indulge in a shot of frosting, a glammed up sandwich cookie or delectable cupcake at Tribeca Treats
- Shop from a carefully curated selection of trendy baby gear, toys and apparel at Babesta
- Browse silly novelties and playthings at Balloon Saloon
- Check out handmade toys, games and crafts from all over the world at the ethereal Playing Mantis
- Stop in for a free craft session or browse fun and funky Japanese fashions at Bit'z Kids
- Chow down on plates of comfort food and scrumptious pies at Bubby's.
Read all of our posts about exploring Tribeca with kids.