Manhattan’s Upper West Side is such a Mecca of kiddie-oriented facilities and amenities that to single out even a dozen inevitably means leaving out dozens more. Odds are, any place you stick your finger on a map stretching from the bottom of Central Park West at 58th Street to the top of the park at 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway and all the way over to the Hudson River, you’ll find a cool spot to shop, eat or play with your kiddos – maybe even all three! But, if you’re looking for the best of the best, check out some of Red Tricycle’s favorites.
Where to Shop With Kids on the Upper West Side
Find a little of everything at Ivan’s Pharmacy. At this upper 90s hidden gem you can get your prescription filled and stock up on various household necessaries, all while your kids browse through a terrific collection of LEGO kits, dolls, stuffed animals, books and more.
Get a haircut at Cozy’s Cuts for Kids. While you could just trim your kiddo’s bangs with a pair of manicure scissors while they lean over the sink, this UWS spot also offers ear piercing, nail bejeweling, toys and even birthday parties. They also offer a 1st Haircut Special, which comes with a racing car to sit in, a video to watch, bubbles, lollipops, a free toy from the goody basket for your kid and an official certificate to mark the occasion for you.
Buy a toy that gives back at A Time For Children. Here, 100% of the profits go to The Children’s Aid Society of New York. Some of the teens from that program even work at the store, on track for a career in retail sales.
Go food shopping at Fairway. It’s like no other market and even you don’t go in hungry or in need of anything, you can almost guarantee you’ll walk out with a bag of goodies your kids want to try right away. Hint: the aisles are narrow and packed – so leave the stroller at home.
Stock up on craft supplies at Michael’s, the art supply store that has everything you ever wanted – and everything you never knew you wanted – for the crafty kid (and their parents who really do intend to put those photos in an album… soon).
Where to Eat With Kids on the Upper West Side
Looking for a bite to eat? From lunch to dinner and even sweets, favorite family destinations on the Upper West Side include:
Grey’s Papaya: You’re not a true New Yorker till you’ve popped by for a hot dog and a smoothie here. Plus, it’s perfect on-the-go food for when your kiddos aren’t in the mood for sitting through a lengthy restaurant meal.
Sugar and Plum: On the other hand, if you’re brave enough to go upscale with your small fry, Sugar and Plum offers a Kid’s Menu fit for royalty including black angus beef mini corn dogs. They’ve also got an ice creamery, bake shop and candy store on the premises.
Chocolate Works: If dessert made on site isn’t good enough for your kids, how about a chance to mold their own? Here, every kid can be Willie Wonka, and enjoy a chocolate vat, chocolate fountain and colored chocolate to decorate with.
The Shake Shack: The line here is reportedly shorter than at the mother ship location in Madison Square Park.
Dallas BBQ’s: The prices are reasonable, the portions generous, Wet Naps are provided… and so is an extra shot for your Texas-sized Daiquiri (but only if you need it).
Artie’s Delicatessen: They’ve got pastrami, egg creams and booster-seats. What else do you need out of life?
Big Daddy’s: Crayons on the tables keep kids busy while you wait for your all-American diner fare, plus the pictures on the walls allow you to educate your kiddos in such key historical figures as Mork, Rerun and The Fonz.
Where to Play on the Upper West Side
Visit a world class museum. You’re probably aware of, or maybe even have gone to the Upper West Side specifically to go to the array of wonderful museums – The Children’s Museum, The American Museum of Natural History and The DiMenna’s Children’s History Museum to name a few. And even Lincoln Center.
Drop-in to play on Saturdays at The Jewish Community Center of Manhattan. If you’re a member, you’ll be able to use the facility’s gorgeous pool, roof-deck and gym, but even non-members can play in the gym and participate in special activities every Saturday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm during the Shabbat R&R program.
Burn off energy at a favorite playground. You’ll also find dozens of playgrounds on the Upper West Side including the oldest one in Center Park, Heckscher – nearly redone for your pleasure (if it was good enough for Peter Thatcher in Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing it’s good enough for your SuperFudge) and Hippo Park along Riverside Drive, which not only has hippos, sprinklers, swings and monkey bars, but also a cool little playhouse that you can rent for birthday parties. Just don’t confuse it with Central Park’s Safari Playground, which also has hippos. (Many a birthday bash has been tragically derailed by clueless parents going to the wrong spot.)
Get there: Go west, young man! Or take the 1, 2, 3, B or C train to a stop between 66th Street ad 110th Street.
What’s your favorite spot on the Upper West Side?
– Alina Adams