Shopping with kids in NYC doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, with all the awesome stores with cool interactive activities it can actually feel like fun. And during the summer, the city's many pop-up outdoor markets make for more destination family shopping. You get to enjoy the nice weather as you peruse a wide variety of locally made goods. Plus most markets are located in or near parks and playgrounds, so you can plan a day-long outing around them.
While most people already know about long-running markets like the Brooklyn Flea, there are three new ones this season you may not have heard of featuring eclectic eats, handmade wares and even special kids' activities. From a brand-new bigger location for an old Williamsburg favorite, to a fresh Long Island City flea to a new outdoor shopping spot at the South Street Seaport, here are three cool new NYC markets to hit with the kids.
LIC Flea & Food – Long Island City
5-25 46th Avenue at Fifth Avenue
Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm
This brand-new Long Island City market debuted in June and runs through the end of summer. Around 75 vendors set up each day, a few rows of food and a few of flea, with a handful of picnic tables spread throughout as well as a seating area with a shade covering.
Wander the aisles stocked with antiques, furniture, art, and Queens memorabilia like totes and T-shirts. The food vendors offer a variety of cuisines. Be prepared to wait on an inevitable line at Luke's Lobster for the sought-after lobster rolls, get some rocket fuel at Sweet Leaf or try some South African grub. For dessert, there are cake pops from The Chocolate Swirl (including alcoholic ones for grown-ups), homemade ricotta cheesecake from Mia Famiglia, gourmet marshmallows from MitchMallow and doughnuts. You can often score free samples, too.
Since different vendors set up each weekend, every visit is different. Often there is live music, giveaways and even art activities for kids. Sign up for the email list to stay in the know. Afterward, head one block west to play or picnic in Gantry Plaza State Park or check out other Long Island City fun like museums and a soon-to-close graffiti mecca.
Smorgasburg – Williamsburg
East River State Park, 90 Kent Avenue at North 7th Street
The Brooklyn Flea's giant all-food market isn't new, but it's got a much bigger location this year in the waterfront East River State Park. Every Saturday through November 23, you'll find 75 to 100 vendors selling all kinds of tasty eats from every culture and country imaginable. My family tends to hit the Latino booths like Bolivian Llama Party, Palenque Homemade Colombian Food or one of the several Mexican food stands. There are also plenty of veggie options, wings, ribs, lumpias, oysters and other seafood. Too exotic? There are kid staples like mac and cheese, shakes from the Milk Truck and franks from Asia Dog, plus plenty of dessert options including ice cream. Check the website to see a list of vendors on the day you plan to visit.
Grab some grub and sit on one of the benches or stroll into the park and stake out a spot along the water for a picnic. The view of the Manhattan skyline is lovely! Afterward, stick around and explore all Williamsburg has for kids and families.
Not so into food? On Sundays at the same spot you'll find the Williamsburg Flea with 150 vendors selling antiques, jewelry, maps and prints, vintage clothes, records and furniture.
SmorgasBar – South Street Seaport
As of summer 2014, this has been replaced by Dossier Outpost, a rotating selection of pop-up shops housed in repurposed shipping containers.
Front Street between Beekman and Fulton Streets
Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday 11am-11pm
This smaller-scale version of Smorgasburg recently opened at the South Street Seaport as part of the effort to revitalize the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged neighborhood. You'll find 10 food vendors, two bars and a few pop-up shops built from repurposed shipping containers in the area's pedestrians-only zone. Good bets for kids include the Landhaus Maple Bacon Stick, Asia Dogs, grilled cheese from the Milk Truck or a Pizza Moto individual pie baked in a portable charcoal oven. Parents can relax with a beer or drink from the Kelvin Slush company at the picnic tables while kids practice their hula-hoop skills or blow bubbles on the small AstroTurf lawn. For a sweet treat, the pop-up shops include Magnolia Bakery, Pinkberry and IT'SUGAR, and you'll find Blue Marble Ice Cream and gelato carts.
After you eat, stroll to Imagination Playground or, if it's overrun, try the lesser known Pearl Street Playground. You can also take a ride on a water taxi or marvel at the historic ships in the harbor. Bonus: There are free flicks and concerts on select evenings. Check the South Street Seaport website for the complete schedule.
Find out about other awesome seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.