It’s impossible to resist Laurie Berkner. If the undisputed Queen of Kindie Rock doesn’t win you over with her bouncy attitude and curls, she’ll definitely have you with the can’t-stop-singing-'em songs that even grown-ups love. So, needless to say, we were thrilled at the opportunity to spend a whole day buzzing around New York City with Laurie.
Laurie has lived on NYC's Upper West Side since 1997. “My daughter has so far spent her whole life living here. There are so many things to do,” says Berkner.
Come along as Laurie Berkner shows us around her neighborhood. Discover her top UWS destinations, which shop owners she calls by name, her favorite place to spot celebrities (on stage, just like the rest of us) and the best place to pick up gluten-free treats for her daughter. Bonus: Download a FREE song from the Laurie Berkner Band's new album, Laurie Berkner Lullabies.
9am: Laurie’s weekends always start with a trip to the local greenmarket to drop off her compost and say hi to the farmers. “Composting has led to a lot of discussions about conservation (and also some complaining about the smell) ” says Berkner. “But we’re committed to doing our part to help the environment.”
9:30am: Next stop is Sugar and Plumm, Laurie’s favorite brunch spot. “It’s easy to get out of the house when there’s a candy store on the other side of the restaurant,” says Berkner. “Eating brunch here is the best. I can get amazing pickles and a delicious salad; my husband can get chicken and waffles, and my daughter can get gluten-free crepes.”
10am: When girls need to get their glam on, there's no better place for a haircut than Cozy’s Cuts for Kids, where children can watch a DVD and go home with a balloon, beads in their hair, and a small toy. “When Lucy was younger and I was more strict about her TV watching, she used to ask to get her hair cut every three weeks or so,” muses Laurie.
11am: A favorite weekend activity is popping over to Symphony Space for its Just Kidding family entertainment series. “We've seen Elizabeth Mitchell and Justin Roberts,” swoons Berkner. “We even saw Brady Rymer here before he started playing in the Laurie Berkner Band!”
12:30pm: It’s time to refuel with some homemade Middle Eastern fare at Samad’s. “This is the best baba ganoush I have ever had!” says Berkner, dipping into the smoky, creamy eggplant spread.
1:30pm: We venture out of the Upper West Side to hit one of Laurie’s favorite museums, the Museum of Mathematics. Learning about math has never been as fun, as we jump on the light-up floor and stand in front of a projector that made our human limbs looks like many tree limbs. Who knew Laurie was a math geek?
3:15pm: Back uptown, we pop into Creative Health to say hi to Chuck, the neighborhood health store owner, and pick up some homemade snacks. “I love Chuck. He’ll make you and your kids an amazing vegan smoothie,” says Laurie.
3:30pm: We duck into West Side Kids to pick up a gift for a birthday party the following day. “It's almost always my first stop for present-buying,” says Berkner. “You will often find me there with Lucy the moment it opens on a Saturday or Sunday. We buy a great gift and have it wrapped just in time to get to a morning weekend birthday party!”
4:00pm: We head across town to the Upper East Side's Loop of the Loom, where we meet owner Yukoko, who explains the Saori weaving technique. “Sa means everything has its own individual dignity. And the ori of Saori means weaving,” says Yukoko. Laurie has been coming here with Lucy since she was 5 years old. We zen out, focused on our weaving in the tranquil room lined with beautiful walls of colorful yarns. “It's so great because there are no mistakes!!” exclaims Berkner.
What a big day we had! I don’t know where Laurie gets her energy from. Maybe it’s that pig on her head.
Laurie is performing on NYC's Upper West Side this Saturday, May 17, and you can check her tour page to find out when she'll be playing in your neck of the woods. To celebrate the release of her new album, Laurie Berkner Lullabies, she is offering Mommy Poppins readers a FREE download of I Gave My Love A Cherry, a traditional bedtime tune featuring Laurie singing with her adorable 9-year-old daughter, Lucy. Download the song here.
Check out our Upper West Side Family Guide to find out about other cool things to do with kids in the neighborhood..