You're in Central Park with the kids and haven't packed a lunch. What are your food options when hunger strikes? It used to be tough to find much in the park other than pretzels, hot dogs, and ice cream. City food staples? Yes. Healthy or yummy? Not so much. Now, thankfully, there are some better, and healthier, places to grab a bite and refuel in between your playground hopping. Here's a look at some food stops now open around Central Park and some that are coming soon.
Allison Hilton - NYC Writer
Allison loves living in NYC. After working as a TV news producer, she now stays at home on the Upper West Side to raise her son. When they're not traveling, they're enjoying city life and contributing to Mommy Poppins.
More About Allison
What's your favorite place to hang out with kids in NYC?
Any of the amazing parks. There's always something new to discover, and great people watching.
What do you do when you're kid-free?
This year I got to travel solo to China! But usually I like to go to the theater or try some new restaurant, exhibit or other NYC cultural experience I've read about.
What's your best parenting moment?
Whenever my son's face lights up when he accomplishes something for the first time, and says "I did it!"
What's your least favorite thing about raising kids in NYC?
Our extended families aren't here.
Latest posts by Allison
I hadn't been to the movies in 10 months since having a baby and I missed it. I missed debating over the listings with my husband. I missed smuggling in Duane Reade candy and rating the preview trailers. I missed the dark that settles over the theater like few other places in this city, allowing you to escape for two hours, even though you're rubbing elbows with a stranger in the next seat.
Still, while I miss Fandangoing, I have a hard time justifying a babysitter when there is Netflix, so I was intrigued when a friend told me about a local movie theater that not only allows, but encourages, parents to come with their babies, and there are actually several spots around New York City where new moms can arrive with infants and all the gear for a matinee showing—judgement free.
Sleepovers are all the rage (even Governors Island has gotten into the overnight game). And while a night chaperoning a group of small night-owls might not rank high on your to-do list, kids will get a big kick out of sleeping over at one of their favorite cultural institutions. From the Bronx Zoo to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to the new Sharks! exhibit at Coney Island, there's a museum sleepover to fit every kid's interests. And you'll earn some serious cool parent cred—some of these overnight adventures are so extravagant, they landed on our list of NYC splurges worth doing at least once.
When I was pregnant the question I was asked most often—after "What are you having?"—was, "When are you going to move out of the city?" So many people, especially non-NYC dwellers, wanted to know where we planned to put all of the baby's stuff in our small, one bedroom Manhattan apartment. They were shocked to see the baby registry and find out that we planned to get by without so much of the "stuff" they told us we needed.
When does the city turn on the sprinklers in NYC parks? That's a question we get asked every year as the weather starts to heat up. It's getting to be that time when going to the playground can pretty much guarantee getting wet. All of those sprinklers, fountains, rivers and other cool water features will be spouting soon. In fact, we were surprised to find the water already on one hot day recently at our favorite play spot. I had no towel or change of clothes for my son, but try explaining that to a 1-and-a-half-year-old.
Now it's no big deal for kids to play in their diapers, really. But to spare you having to strap a soaking wet toddler into a stroller as I did, here is some information that can help prepare you for sprinkler season.
Eons ago (OK, just five years) we did a post on family meal planning. In fact, it was one of the very first things we blogged about here at Mommy Poppins. But a lot's changed since then, and the rise of smartphones, social networks and a gazillion new websites gives us many new options to chew on when it comes to making meals.
You can't overestimate the importance of sitting down to family meals. Studies show that eating as a family benefits everyone, especially children, who are then less likely to become obese, fall into substance abuse or have low self-esteem. Of course preparing dinner (and breakfast and brunch and lunch) isn't always easy to pull off. Happily, there are a slew of online meal-planning sites, mobile apps and meal swapping tools to help get healthy, budget-friendly meals on your table. Here are some of our current favorites.
Getting a kid's haircut can be hard. They squirm and squeal and refuse to sit still. Have you ever seen a stylist try to snip a moving target? Thankfully, NYC's top children's hair salons pull out all the stops to turn haircuts into a fun experience for families by plying their young clients with balloons, bubbles, cartoons, toys, funky chairs and lots of coddling.
In the past, we've posted about kids' haircutting places in Brooklyn and Queens. Today we're focusing on kid-friendly Manhattan salons. Here's where you can take your tot for (hopefully tear-free) haircuts in Manhattan.
Even once little girls get over the whole princess fantasy, they still enjoy being pretty and pampered. So a spa birthday party can be a real treat, especially for kids and tweens who get a big kick out of dressing up, getting mani-pedis and having their hair styled. (Somehow once you become a mom, these all become chores you can't find time to do!)
If going to an adult spa or salon seems a bit much, there are lots of kid-centric spots that offer in-house party packages, as well as local providers that will bring the whole shebang right to your apartment: nail polish, facial lotions, hair extensions, robes, magazines, the works. Hey, this might be the perfect opportunity for you to get a makeover, too.