New York City with kids, part 8–Milk Bar

My kids are huge fans of the tv show Masterchef Junior, which is a cooking competition for kids 8-12. One of the judges on the show is Christina Tosi, who is the owner/chef behind Milk Bar in New York.

Milk Bar is a desserterie with nine locations in New York City as well as locations in DC, Las Vegas, and Toronto (Canada). I have their cookbook, and please let me assure you that none of their desserts are easy–they require a lot of preparation and practice.

What can you get there? Cakes, cookies, cake truffles, ice cream, and milkshakes.

One of the things they’re famous for is cereal milk flavored items. The idea being that the best milk is that milk left after your cereal has leeched out some of its sugary goodness into it. My friend J got a cereal milk milkshake. She said it was yummy if overpriced.

Rhi and Ellie opted for cookies. Rhi is holding a confetti cookie, which she really liked.

I got the crack pie that they’re also famous for. It is gooey and decadent and definitely worthy of the name because a month later I’m craving another piece!

If you’re near one, I suggest going in and trying it out!

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New York City with kids, part 7–The Bronx Zoo

There are multiple zoos in New York City, but I’d never been to the Bronx Zoo because it was a nightmare to get to without a car. Since I had a car, we picked a day and we drove to the zoo.

The zoo has strollers, wheelchairs, and mobility aids for those who need assistance, and for the most part the zoo is very accessible. The one bit that we found very confusing was how to follow accessible paths to the penguin enclosure. Apart from that, they make a point of ensuring the zoo is accessible.

The exhibit Rhiannon was most excited to see was the Snow Leopard. I don’t know why apart from their school’s mascot is a leopard? I don’t have a picture of that because my camera phone pictures are blurry. But we saw it, and while it was asleep when we got there, Rhi made us wait so long that we eventually saw it get up and move. Points to Rhi for her persistence.

The tigers were another big draw. Above you can see me taking a picture of Rhi taking a picture of the tiger.

After the tigers, the kids spotted a quest you can do in the zoo. At various spots marked on the map, kids can do an activity and get a stamp on their passport. After x stamps (3? I don’t remember) kids start getting stickers for completing activities.

Above is one of the exhibits in the bird section. The woman was talking about different nest building materials and why different birds use different materials. They also learned about how bad plastic straws are for the environment.

We also saw the American Bald Eagle, which is the symbol of the US. Rhi had learned that in Kindergarten and was very excited to put her knowledge into practice. They’re not very common in most of the country but are more common in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska (in parts of Alaska, they’re actually considered a pest).

We skipped a lot of the zoo as it is very big and there got to be a point where the kids were tired, hot, and just done. Again, rather than forcing the issue, allowing them to decide when we were done made my life easier. If Ravi had been with me, we might have made the effort to see one more animal, but it was just too much for me and the nerve pain all the walking over the past few days had caused.

 

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New York City with kids, part 6–The Jekyll and Hyde Club and Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

 One of the things I was told by people in the know was that I had to take the girls to the Jeykll and Hyde Club restaurant at 91 7th Ave. After the Met, we decided to have dinner there.

This is a restaurant where you do pay for the experience. It’s not more or less expensive than other sit down restaurants, but the food isn’t something to write home about. You also need to make sure you have cash or be ready to use their ATM.

They advertise that something spooky happens every ten minutes. We found it to be more frequent. There’s a mixture of animatronics on the walls, like the werewolf, and live entertainment.

Here is one of the live entertainers with a  pet spider she introduced to the children. He’s a laboratory experiment, she told them, but he likes to meet the humans. She also checked them with her ghost catching net to see if they were posessed. Another actor led us in the pledge to join the club, and walked up and yelled BOO! making us jump.

While they note that there is an entertainer fee added to your check, it’s only three dollars per person. I highly encourage you to tip the staff directly. (Remember that tipping is a thing in the US.)

While Jekyll and Hyde has desserts, we elected instead to go across the street to The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. They make soft serve ice cream, usually covered in a topping. They also have the option to eat your ice cream plain or to get a popsicle.

I got vanilla ice cream with a chocolate and pretzel topping. It was delicious.

I think this was a great way to close out our day.

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New York City with kids, part 5–The Metropolitan Museum of Art

With the exception of toddler, I highly recommend going to The Met with your kids. If you don’t think they’ll handle actually being at the art, stop by and have a snack and people watch from the steps, a common practice made famous by Gossip Girl.

We met up with my friend J and her daughter A for our trip to the museum. We stopped and did a wefie–but you can tell who was into this idea and who wasn’t.

Here is my advice for the museum with kids. Give them a notebook and some crayons or colored pencils and let them sketch. No, you won’t get to hit many exhibits (we did the costume institute and the Egyptian stuff) and no, you probably won’t stop and stare at the things you might most want to see, nor will they necessarily be interested in what you’re interested in.

If the goal is to get your kids into museums and for them to have fun, let them drive the bus so to speak. The girls focused on this random bit of temple with hieroglyphs and the statue of Sekhmet below.

They managed a good two hours in the museum before hunger and boredom started to kick in, and we got them out of there quick.

Things I wanted but did not actually see include the impressionist gallery. If you want to really explore the Met, get a sitter and strap on your walking shoes and still accept you won’t see it all.

As a heads up, there was no obvious park access from the Museum that I saw. Don’t plan to go to the park directly from the museum–it’s a long walk down 5th Ave to get to an entrance. There also isn’t a great kid’s section of the Museum gift shop–there are some kid books, and in a separate gift shop closer to the coat room there were some toys, but overall I found the gift shop disappointing for kids.

The Met has a suggested donation, but you can go for free which makes this not only a great cultural experience, but an affordable one as well.

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New York City with kids, part 4–Playing in Central Park

After we had lunch at American Girl, we rode a  pedicab (bike taxi) to Central Park. Be wary–the pedicabs can charge drastically different prices and it can get crazy expensive very fast. Confirm their rates and if they take credit cards (like ours did).

We got dropped a little inside Central Park, and the girls immediately ran to the giant rocks near where we were. I sat and enjoyed a peaceful half hour or so.

Central Park should not be missed. It’s a massive park in the middle of the city, and just like there are parts of the Botanical Gardens or Gardens by the Bay where the sounds of the city fall away–the same is true of Central Park.

With kids, I recommend the Central Park Carousel spring/summer or Skating Rink fall/winter, any of the twenty-one playgrounds, any of these suggestions, or the simplest solution–walk into the park and find a place to chill. Bring a ball, or a frisbee. We walked a bit up the path from the Plaza hotel where the horses go, and just hung out. The kids found a way to play and could’ve happily stayed there longer.

Now, of course, a classic Central Park experience is a carriage ride. However, it is not a practice without controversy. Nor is it cheap. The fifteen minute price sounds good, but the reality is that you barely see anything. Go for a longer ride if you want to see more of the park. Or, of course, you can go up a stop on the subway and explore another part of the park.

After our carriage ride, the driver let the girls feed a carrot each to Diablo, the horse.

Attractions near or in the park include the Central Park Zoo, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Natural History Museum, all of which are good with kids. We only went to the Met on this trip (future post), but I did the Natural History Museum with Elanor in 2013 and she had a blast.

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NYC with kids, part 3–The American Girl Store

If you have a kid who loves dolls between the ages of roughly three and eleven, you can’t miss the American Girl Flagship Store at 75 Rockefeller Plaza. (You can take a virtual tour of the store here.)

The first thing we did at the AG store was to get girl/doll manicures. They use different nail polish on the girls and the dolls that is non-toxic and safe. The girls loved being pampered, and seeing their dolls get pampered, too was super fun for them.

Then the dolls got their hair done, too. The salon at the store can also do child hair, but we couldn’t get a convenient appointment.

This is the finished style that Elanor wanted. Worth noting that the doll’s dress was designed and sewn by Elanor during her sewing classes.

Then we had lunch at the cafe. The food was surprisingly good for a restaurant where you’re really paying for the experience. The dolls get their own seats, and it’s fancy in a child-friendly accessible way.

The newest doll is Luciana, who wants to be an astronaut. Here’s her special cotton candy milkshake, complete with stars and moons candy confetti. I loved my iced strawberry lemonade.

For dessert, the girls did the special girl/doll decorate your own cupcake. They got bare cakes, frosting, and toppings. Both girls went all in on it, and had a blast.

Does the frosting go on the cupcake or straight into the mouth?

The retail store is two floors and has everything American Girl. The Truly Me dolls (the dress that is wearing the dress E made is Elanor’s Truly Me doll that is the closest in appearance to her) and the new contemporary dolls like Luciana are featured on the main floor. If you go down a level, there is a large amount of floor space dedicated to the historical dolls (complete with kid friendly interactive displays), as well as a book/dvd section, and a Bitty Baby doll section (Bitty Baby is the baby doll line, like Rhi is holding above).

You can get the dolls, clothing and accessories, and some of the dolls have matching child outfits, as seen above. Rhi wanted to get an outfit that she and Lovely Rosie could both wear.

 

 

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New York with Kids, part 2–Broadway

Happy fourth of July–aka America’s Birthday! I’m writing this in advance, so I’ll write about our 4th in a post or two.

So, New York City with kids. Anyone who has read my blog knows I’m obsessed with theater, especially musicals. So taking my kids to NYC automatically means that Broadway shows were on the menu. Shows open and close at any time, so keep that in mind when I’m discussing specific shows.

Each of my girls saw their first broadway show around the age of 5/6. However, I’d been taking them to children’s theater since they were really little–like 2/3–so they were familiar with the idea that when we go to shows we’re quiet and sit still and all that jazz. I highly encourage you to do this to familiarize them with theater.

There’s always a Disney show or three to go to on Broadway–at the moment The Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen. They’re specifically meant for kids, and are a good bet, especially with the little ones.

I chose Wicked (which Elanor had seen with me in Singapore, and Rhi was jealous that she hadn’t seen) and Anastasia (based on the animated movie). On a previous trip to NYC Elanor had seen Phantom of the Opera (the 25th anniversary had been on Netflix, and E had become obsessed with it) and Cinderella (which isn’t on Broadway anymore).

When you take your kids, there are seat boosters for the kids. If you can’t find them, ask an usher.

Ironically, Rhi fell asleep during the intermission of Wicked and slept through most of the second act due to jetlag. But she enjoyed what she saw. I think Elanor appreciated Wicked on a different level than she did at 7, and I’m sure she’ll appreciate the more adult themes that go over her head even more later.

Anastasia was a really great musical for the kids. The sets are exciting, as are the special effects. The performers were good, although we did see a matinee on Tony Awards day so we missed the headline performers.

Matinees are better for the younger kids, but you know your kids well enough to decide if they can handle a 2.5 hour show that starts at 8pm.

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