Mariko Zapf

Mariko

Mariko Zapf's picture

Mariko was fortunate enough to live in several countries before she turned 10, but no place has felt more like home (or the Moon, depending on the day!) than New York City. She worked in high tech marketing for over 15 years and recently made a long-desired shift to freelance writing. Exploring Brooklyn with her family and getting to write about it has been a dream come true. Mariko loves taking in whatever performance she can get a seat to, eating and running in NYC and most of all, raising two pretty incredible New Yorkers. She lives in Park Slope with her son, daughter, husband and turtle (cat allergy and no dogs allowed) and is thrilled to be a new Mommy Poppins contributor.

Latest posts by Mariko

25 Best Things to Do in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn with Kids

Prospect Heights is a small Brooklyn neighborhood that's in the middle of all the action. Nestled between Crown Heights, Boerum Hill, and Fort Greene, it's brownstone Brooklyn at its best, with tree-lined streets, eateries galore, and a mix of longtime residents and new transplants. Much like the rest of the borough, the community has seen its fair share of gentrification; however, it remains quite diverse, and is a wonderful place for families to live or visit.

An array of kid-friendly cafes, bars, restaurants and shops line Vanderbilt Avenue, and Washington Avenue is another thriving commercial strip. The southern periphery of Prospect Heights features some of Brooklyn’s most famous landmarks: the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (also covered in our Crown Heights guide), along with the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and the northern edge of Prospect Park. Meanwhile, Barclays Center (also covered in our Fort Greene guide) is located in its northwestern corner.

Rockaway with Kids: 25 Things to Do at the Beach and Beyond

Why schlep to the Hamptons? Thanks to its weekend-getaway vibe, Rockaway, Queens, is a popular family staycation destination in summer, and thanks to the new Rockaway ferry, it's now easier to get to.

Its beautiful beaches have soft sand and formidable Atlantic Ocean waves—it's the only shore in NYC where you're allowed to surf. Although this area was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, there's now a brand-new boardwalk, and Rockaway Park has been renovated with amazing playgrounds and water play areas. Read on for all you need to know to get to and enjoy this NYC summer favorite.

Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill: Best Things to Do with Kids

The charming streets of tree-lined Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill are filled with family-friendly dining, places to play, and unique experiences like gaming and drop-in play spaces. It's infused with a mix of cultures, including Italian and French. The spires of grand historic churches mix with the pretty brownstones and numerous parks and playgrounds.

The area is bordered by the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge Park to the west and the charming Brooklyn Heights enclave to the north, with Park Slope and Gowanus to the south and east.

Read on for our top picks for kid-friendly fun in this popular Brooklyn neighborhood.

25 Spring Day Trip Ideas for NYC Families

By the time April rolls around, my family has reached its limits of winter-induced stir-craziness and despite all that our fair city has to offer in spring, we collectively feel desperate to get away, even for the day. Sure, we love joining in on one of the many super-fun Easter egg hunts or spending the day at a nearby spring festival, but nothing signifies the end of winter more than a day trip to greener pastures.

Having this list of 25 spring-inspired day trips at our fingertips gives us something to look forward to, especially with spring break for public school kids on the horizon. From hiking to smelling the blooms to strolling amid sculpture gardens, there is something on this list for everyone.

Note: We have a low tolerance for road trips, so for us, a day trip has to be within two hours of New York City. Find more ideas in our Day Trips Guide or our Family Travel Guide.

Must-See Art for NYC Kids This Winter

Schlepping through the long, cold months of winter in our fair city can feel daunting. While there are loads of indoor things to do to keep the kiddos occupied, winter in my family means museums (many of them free!). Not surprisingly, we found a number of terrific current or upcoming exhibits this season that are absolutely worth a look. Journey to Cuba and Japan without hopping a flight, experience an immersive camping adventure—indoors(!), learn all there is to know about the artistry of Taylor Swift, and so much more.

Read on for highlights of our top picks for museum outings with kids of all ages during the city's coldest months.

Dumbo with Kids: 50 Fun Things to Do for Families

The Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of Dumbo is a draw for both visiting tourists and locals eager to enjoy the water and city views, family-friendly restaurants, shops, and plenty of outdoor activities. Located between the famous Manhattan Bridge (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Brooklyn Bridge, this neighborhood offers stunning views of lower Manhattan, cobblestone streets, and experiences varied enough to keep the whole family entertained.

The neighborhood's crown jewel is Brooklyn Bridge Park—a stunning waterfront park that boasts lovely walking paths, playgrounds, roller skating, kayaking, swimming, and an impressive sports complex at Pier 5—but this eclectic area also offers an abundance of delicious eats, scores of beautiful shops, indoor play spaces for kids, and so much more. Read on for 50 things to see, do, and explore with kids in Dumbo.  

Swale: Floating Food Forest Docks at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Albeit temporary, a brand new installation, Swale, has made its home at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and we are thoroughly impressed. Swale is both a sculpture by talented artist, Mary Mattingly, and a functioning farm located on a barge made from recycled materials. Beyond the beautiful setting is a hands-on learning opportunity showcasing the impact of food sustainability, as well as demonstrating value in reusing our planet's natural resources. Oh, and did we mention that this exhibit is FREE?

7 Easy Fall Family Hikes in NYC

It finally feels like fall in New York City, which means my family is headed to the hiking trail. At least once a quarter, usually coinciding with the change of seasons, someone in the family decides it's time to escape to the woods for a little urban relief. And really, there's no need to head upstate or to the 'burbs to get that outdoors fix.  

Did you know that our fair city is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails through 10,000 acres of unencumbered Mother Nature? We have sampled enough to confidently share this list of trails that vary in length, difficulty, and scenery, including those just right for little legs and spots with water, bridges, and yes, that gorgeous fall foliage. Whatever borough you call home, my boy, who helped to compile this list, and I hope you will have a blast lacing up and hitting the trails. Note: He is too young to share mommy's byline. 

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