Williamsburg is already one of Brooklyn's most kid-friendly areas, chock-full of fun things to do and funky indoor play spaces. Now the neighborhood welcomes another cool tot spot, Twinkle, a 4500-square-foot drop-in play space for children ages six and under, which just opened this month.
Founded, designed and run by sisters Vanessa Yee-Chan and Mieka John and their father, Victor John, Twinkle is located east of the BQE in a part of Williamsburg that isn't quite as full of family amenities. Vanessa, a longtime area resident and mom to two young children, came up with the idea of opening the space. Housed in what used to be her father's commercial warehouse, Twinkle features fun interactive stations that look like exhibits you might find in a children's museum, all complete with lots of lovingly handmade details.
When you walk into Twinkle, you'll notice immediately that it doesn't look like your average indoor play space. There are lots of unique design touches, like a cloud-shaped light box filled with holiday lights and giant papier-mâché dragon heads. Even the shoe, stroller and coat storage is offbeat: Strollers, bikes and scooters go on a carousel while shoes and jackets hang from suspended hooks and platforms in the entryway.
Of course the main attraction is the play space, which is super fun, interactive and encourages all kinds of imaginative play. When I visited, I saw a bunch of toddlers cruising the room with their adult caregivers in tow (drop-off is not allowed). There are nine separate but interconnected activity areas. The centerpiece is a large "tree" that holds up a fort. Tots climb to the top inside the structure, and a rope bridge leads across the way to a "burning house." Below, a fire truck, outfitted with lots of bells, whistles and buttons, has two fire hoses for small firefighters to point and shoot when "fighting" the flames. (While the fire is fake, the hoses spray real water into a small trough.) On the other side of the space, there's an elevated loft-like disco room with low ceilings that can only be accessed by ladder or climbing up a tube. Inside, kids find fun sensory experiences like pool noodle walls and mesh grates.
Other stations include a play store with an ice cream counter, shelves of packaged foods, crates of fruits and veggies, and even small shopping carts; a pretend salon with chairs, mirrors and wigs; a dedicated water play area, a construction-themed sandbox; and a fenced off farm-themed space for babies. For parents, there's a lounge area with a microwave, bottle warmer, outlets for charging electronics and free Wi-Fi.
Drop-in play costs $25 for your first visit or you can buy a six-session pass for $135. Various membership packages are also available. Birthday parties are offered (there's a private 600-square-foot event room) and classes like kung fu, mad science, sports and silk screening will begin in June.
Twinkle is located at 144 Frost Street between Graham and Manhattan Avenues in Williamsburg.
Find out about other great indoor places to play in NYC.