In the last year, Williamsburg/Greenpoint’s population has continued to spawn. As the babies boom, so do the cool places to take the kids—whether it’s for a mixed-media art class or a scoop of pretzel-flavored ice cream.
The much anticipated next step in punk rock chef Sam Mason’s career (Empire Mayonnaise, WD-50, Tailor, Lady Jay’s) is, thankfully, an ice cream store on Kent Avenue, opening in May. The co-owners of Odd Fellows are a local couple—she fell in love with Mason’s pretzel-flavored ice cream while pregnant with twins. Now we can expect Chorizo-caramel, made with real sausage, among the 100 potential inventive flavors. Of course, everything will be made in-house with locally sourced ingredients, and there will be homemade soda, baked goods, candy, and other treats.
Cookie Road, started by local cookie-making artists, opened in 2009 and has become a go-to place for families to meet for fresh sandwiches along with their famous pastries and decorated cookies. And their birthday cakes are gorgeous. 94 Franklin St./659 Manhattan Ave.
Nearby, at 727 Manhattan Avenue, is another all-time favorite: Peter Pan Donuts, which continue to inspire great lust in both kids and adults.
PLACES TO PLAY
Although the opening was a bit delayed, the much anticipated citywide New York Kids Club plans to open its first Williamsburg outpost this fall. Located on the first floor of Northside Towers, it will no doubt be a spectacular space with yoga, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, a dance studio, a culinary institute, and an outdoor playground.
The most impressive playground to open this year is Twinkle PlaySpace—a family owned and built 4,500-square-foot wonderland that draws on ideas from children’s museums around the world. There’s a princess salon, a firehose that actually squirts water, and a life-size treehouse, among many other creative, hands-on exhibits. It’s a bit pricey and closes too early, at 5pm, but there is magic here, plus tons of stroller parking.
Hosh Kids is an “arts on a budget” nonprofit offering affordable classes (many are $5) in dance, yoga, and movement for toddlers, kids, and adults.
With backgrounds in arts and education, two Brooklyn moms started Playlab (now roving but looking for a home) to inspire young minds. They host creative sessions that aim to engage kids’ imaginations with new spaces, materials, and sensory experiences. www.blog.playlabbrooklyn.org
With 2,000 square feet dedicated to performance art, fitness, and therapeutic wellness for the area’s artists, Breakin Boundaries also offers classes for ages 3-5: ballet/tap, Zumbatomic, hip-hop, yoga, acrobatics, and musical theater.
Launched in 2008 by two artists/mothers, Lemon Sky is a fiber arts education program for local kids. The classes in knitting, sewing, weaving, etc., help kids develop dexterity and conceptual thinking while enjoying the fun and pride of making their own products.
Go solo or have a party at Baked in Brooklyn, Brooklyn’s sweet ceramic studio where kids can design and then bake their own pottery. There are lots of great designs (starting at $4), and you can drop by and stay as long as you like.
Soundance, the multifaceted arts organization that sponsors art lessons in many public schools, now hosts kids’ classes (ages 18 months to 9 years) in creative movement, modern dance, and drama at their avant-garde theater/performance space, The Stable.
Even if you don’t have the willpower to push a tire up a hill, it doesn’t mean your kids don’t. Crossfit for Kids, which was recently made part of Crossfit at the Brooklyn Barbell Club, introduces anyone under 18 to fun and varied exercises specifically designed for little bodies. This will hopefully teach them the fun of keeping fit.
Also designed to make stretching fun are the new kids’ classes at the lovely Kula Yoga.
Four years old is not too early to hit the courts, according to BumbleBee Tennis, a citywide program that recently came to McCarren Park. Their afterschool classes and summer clinics, for ages 4 to 10 years, include practice in footwork and hand-eye coordination and introduce budding tennis players to the game.
Super Soccer Stars sponsors drill-filled, non-competitive classes and camps for toddlers all over the city—including locally at Frolic, Williamsburg Northside Preschool, and Bushwick Inlet Park. www.supersoccerstars.com
At age 4, kids can join the (less expensive) American Youth Soccer League’s local chapter, the Greenpoint Williamsburg Youth Soccer League (GWYSL). Parents are coaches and managers, and kids (in lovely, brightly-colored uniforms) practice on weekends at Bushwick Inlet Park. Afterwards, hit this year’s even more fabulous and sweets-loaded Smorgasburg (try the Alchemy Creamery!) just a field away. www.gwysl.com
Last summer’s greatest debut was the McCarren Park Pool, a 37,950-square-foot mega-swim, which originally opened in 1936 and closed in 1984. Last year’s growing pains—long lines and a few isolated incidents—should be cooled by this year’s season (starting June 28), but make sure to consult the rules (only bathing suits allowed) and hours (11-3; 4-7) before embarking on your boisterous splashathon.
The new river-front Transmitter Park is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite place to play. It’s near Greenpoint’s East River Ferry (another great new way to travel with kids). There’s plenty of green space and a small but high-quality jungle gym where kids control the sprinklers, for better or worse.
The popular Infant and Toddler Center, part of Williamsburg Northside Preschool, will move to N. 6th Street and Kent Avenue in fall 2013. And WNP, perhaps the most beloved (and expensive) private school in the neighborhood (preschool through grade 2) is expanding and also relocating to a new building for 2014. www.willnorth.org
Williamsburg Montessori will open for nursery and preschool this fall with traditional Montessori education in a school near the water. Classes are open to children all over Brooklyn, and year-round extended hours (7:30am–6pm) for working parents are available. Pre-registration is ongoing.
The national chain of daycare centers Bright Horizons will open shop on Kent Avenue this summer. With a cheerful facility and a trusted curriculum, the pro teachers will care for children from almost newborn through preschool.
They have yet to find a director, but the Kings Bay YM-YWHA, a JCC-based daycare, is planning to open in North Williamsburg in fall 2013. Having been around for years, the Greenpoint YMCA is one of the most popular places for daycare, preschool, and summer camp. Join early to increase your chances of enrolling in these cheap yet stellar classes. (Many current students were on the waiting list before they were born!)
You can get all the coveted gear at Wee Babe (owned by moms), but their highlight is a pro selection and great advice, particularly about what to buy and how to use it, including strollers, breast pumps, carseats, etc. www.weebabe.com
The husband and wife owners of Willie’s Toy Box hand pick the classic toys for their charming store. As a result, all the blocks, dolls, puzzles, and games are smart, subtle, and unique, like the gorgeous retro Vanilla Scooter from the French toy company, Janod. www.facebook.com/Willystoybox
The two South American designers who opened Allegria last year hand pick their one-of-a kind items from around the world. The toys, clothes, art, and diaper bags in their tiny boutique are gorgeous and original—soft/sweet with vibrant color. The owners will also help you design parties and spaces, and will soon host classes.
Every parent is constantly on the lookout for kids’ shoes—which seem to always need replacing. DNA and Shoe Market have a hip but small inventory for little feet, and the awesome Soula carries Pumas, Campers, and a large selection of infant styles. Now, there’s a new shoe store on Metropolitan Avenue called Wonderwolf, which was opened by two local women—French native and mom Marie Pesquet and her friend Naoko Tkobayashi, from Japan. They choose high quality brands from around the world—like Australian Old Soles, Danish Lucky Boy Sunday, and Spanish line Avarca—that are “cuter” than the average kids’shoe.
One-year-old Cute Attack carries Brooklyn-chic (i.e., edgy and locally made) organic clothing for infants to 5-year-olds. Owner Liza Dare thinks “kids should look like kids” but also like the princesses and superheroes they see in themselves.
Greenpoint mainstay Mini Me carries high-end but affordable clothes and toys by Angel Dear, Condor, Maximo, Petit Canard, Ike Behar, Deux Par Deux, Us Angels, and many other fine brands. www.minimestore.com
The once-doomed rental store Videology—that ingeniously evolved into a 35-seat theater with full bar—also caters to kids. The Kids Club, at 12:30 on Saturdays (free), presents children’s movies that you probably haven’t seen in a decade. And Thursdays at 4pm are old school Sesame Street reruns ($2/family).
The Greenpoint Library holds playgroup and storytime sessions for babies and toddlers. On Mondays at 10:30am is Read and Play (0-5 years), and Thursdays at 1:30pm is Babies and Books (0-18 months). Note: the events can get super crowded, so grab a number in the morning to reserve a spot for later that day.
Because of high demand, the neighborhood go-to, Tribeca Pediatrics, is opening a Greenpoint office this year. The influx of young families has also led to several new, kid-friendly dental offices. The super sleek and modern boutique Williamsburg Dental Arts seconds as an art gallery. The staff is incredibly friendly and there’s a treasure chest of toys at the end of a fluoride treatment. Williamsburg Smile Design, in a beautiful, minimalist cave, accepts all PPO plans and has individual Netflix screens. Another luxury dental place, called iSmile Dental, also makes the experience a little less scary with their high-tech tools.
Perhaps the most useful new resource for local parents is Motherburg, a parent consulting company headed by superstar local moms Jessica Glorieux and Donna Ladd, who know everything you need to know about having a kid (newborn to 3) in this neighborhood, including what to buy, who to ask, and where to go. This year they launched Brooklyn Babyfest—a packed expert expo of kid resources (from Baby Bodyguards to Ikea) all in one manageable space. Check out their blog for an amazing daycare/preschool guide and fun recipes. www.motherburg.com
One of Babyfest’s vendors was Stroller Spa, a service that every stroller-wielding parent should know about. These guys (the New York franchise is owned by two Brooklyn moms) will pick up your stroller and service it for repair and/or cleaning all the snot and cheerios
out of the cracks, for a reasonable fee. Call them to arrange an appointment. www.strollerspa.com/new-york-city
Because we live online, there are also some great local-parent–fronted resources on the web, including: Brooklyn Based Kids, www.brooklynbased.net, www.willybmum.com, www.williamsburgbaby.com, www.williamsburgtopia.com, www.thehipstermom.com,and of course… www.motherburg.com
See Shana’s first installment of Kids in the Hood ’12