The riverside neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint have fast become known as New York’s hipster haven but for local families they are are also rich with kid-tempting diversions. Erica Kazior & Courtney Gorman (pictured above with their baby girls Reese and Penelope) who run kumbaya, tell us their perfect weekend with kids in tow.
7am Wake-up with a flat white. If you’ve had the joy of a 5am child alarm clock, only blisteringly good coffee will help – luckily there’s a glut of awesome caffeine pushers in the hood. The light-filled cafe of Aussie roasters Toby’s (housed in a former meatpacking factory) is blissfully chilled first thing in the morning and hemmed in on one side by a vast velvet couch that’s ideal for families to curl up on. We’re also currently obsessed with the new super-sized outpost of Bakeri in Greenpoint.
11am Bounce, bounce, bounce. Kids need to burn off some serious steam? Make a beeline for The Gym Park in Greenpoint. Their brilliant drop-in Open Play sessions ($15) are Monday to Saturday between 10:30am and 12:30pm. Expect a huge 2,800-square-foot play space filled with trampolines, crash mats and rope swings.
3pm Get blown away by the view (and some sweet treats). We never tire of Transmitter Park, a glorious little playground and landscaped green space, perched on the edge of Greenpoint, which looks out over Manhattan. Make a pit stop enroute to award-winning bakery Ovenly, which sits beside the park; they do outrageously good tea time treats (think gooey Montego Bay Bars and arguably the best hot chocolate in the neighborhood – trust us we’ve tried most of them!). Also nearby by is Homecoming, a stylish little florist who do a mean iced coffee and donuts.
6pm Get a taste of the outdoors. There’s rarely a day that we don’t pass through our area’s biggest chunk of green space: 350-acre McCarren Park. Whether we’re heading to one of the two playgrounds on the north side, watching pups at the dog run or exploring the community garden. In the summer the park hosts a Wednesday evening film fest on their ball fields – the 2014 line-up includes kid-pleasers such as Back to the Future and Zoolander. There’s also the parks newly made-over 1930’s olympic sized outdoor pool. A dream on sweltering hot days, but also a surefire hit in winter when it gets frozen over into an awesome ice rink.
10am French toast n’ flowers. Kick-off the day with lazy eats at the new Jimmy’s Diner in Greenpoint. Penelope goes nuts for their oozy french toast and grownups tuck into huge breakfast burritos and spicy Bloody Marys. Nursing a family-wide food hangover, take a 10 minute stroll over to the pretty Farmer’s Market beside McCarren Park to stock up on upstate veggies, Ronnie Brook milk and fresh-cut lilies.
10am Paint up a storm. If the weather turns grim zip over to Art Lab, a genus little craft space on Greenpoint’s Eckfort Street run by local mom Kristin Melkin (who also sidelines as Teaching Artist at the Guggenheim). Their Family Open Studio program allows you to drop-in and explore age-appropriate art projects drawing, painting, sculpture, or collage together.
2pm Three shops worth the stop: First up, for whimsical kid’s clothes, gifts and decor with a Parisian mets Latin American vibe swing by Allegria on North 3rd and Kent. They stock everyone from Bensimon to Blu Pony Vintage. Fair trade-focused Fuego is another must-shop: the owner hunts down colorful homewares, jewelry and doodads from the likes of Peru, Mexico and Cambodia. The result is a total treasure trove – Reese brightens every time we walk inside. And finally a great go-to for nap time is mega record store Rough Trade, housed in a huge 10,000-square-foot revamped warehouse which opens everyday at 9 am and has stroller friendly wide aisles.
3pm Get your bowl on! Local institution Brooklyn Bowl (all in one diner, gig spot and bowling alley) is a godsend when the rain pours. Most of the time it caters to the over 21-set, but at the weekend, kids are welcomed between noon and 6pm. Arrive hungry, the Blue Ribbon-born menu of fried chicken dinners, jumbo buttermilk pancakes and malted milk shakes is irresistible. Kids can burn off their sugar-high zooming around on the empty dance floor whilst parents perfect their strike.
7pm Go south for Eastern eats. Hidden away in the increasingly hip south side of Williamsburg, Zizi Limona churns out flawless Mediterranean dinners. Tiny hands will dig right into their delicious dishes of mini falafel, warm pita wedges and tender chicken shawarma bites. Somehow we always manage to save room for a treat from nearby Cupcake Land for the walk home.
11pm Not a local? Here’s where to all get your zzz’s. We love the Box House Hotel. It’s a bit off the beaten path in an industrial stretch of Greenpoint but the prices are incredible considering most rooms have full kitchens (great when traveling with kiddos), terraces with city views, and they will even chauffeur you to nearby locales in their 1970s checkered cab. Also worth a peek is their equally family friendly, newly-opened sister hotel Henry Norman. It’s also in Greenpoint and sleeps up to four in peaceful pastel-hued rooms, decked with art by Brooklyn artist Kip Jacobs. Even better it has the added bonus of being a block away from pretty McGolrick Park.