Have you heard about CAMP? Billed as a “retail experience for families” (i.e., a store) this permanent Flatiron spot is not only stocked to the max with some of the best toys ever, it’s a place where kids are encouraged to be kids, cool workshops and events happen, and even tons of free fun! You enter via a secret door, and that’s just how the journey starts! Read on for the full scoop on CAMP! (Note: CAMP’s latest theme—it changes every few months—is “ToyLab CAMP.”)
CAMP's 2019 Holiday Season Makeover
CAMP—the magical store/experience that's always changing—has morphed into ToyLab CAMP, an immersive shopping experience (with free fun, too) for the holidays.
ToyLab CAMP is a store/playspace where kids explore the world of toys through play and toy testing. Visitors enter through a “fun-o-vator” from the hustle and bustle of the NYC streets into an immersive world of toys! ToyLab CAMP features a Surprise Room, Game Room, Character Lab, Santa’s Workshop, a RaceTrack and Play Structure, and more.
The Basics of CMAP: More Than Meets the Eye
Located at 110 Fifth Avenue on the Flatiron District, CAMP is brought to you by the people at Buzzfeed (yes, that Buzzfeed). On the "surface", CAMP looks like a corner storefront, packed with tons of cool merch that appeals to kids and adults alike.
You could visit CAMP, pick up a fun toy or gift, and have a perfectly nice visit, but you'd really be missing out. Hang out by the bookcase just opposite the entrance and wait for it to swing open to reveal a secret passageway to the 10,000 square feet of fun beyond. So cool!
You're Not in Kansas Anymore
Visitors pass through a corridor with a woodsy, starlit vibe, enhanced by a magical light mist.
Fun in All Directions
As if you hadn't figured it out at that point, it becomes instantly clear something out of the ordinary is happening. A signpost points in numerous directions, showing the way to destinations deeper in the space: "Camp Bunk", "Dance Hall", "Mail Room", etc. As you're getting oriented, it is likely you child will have zipped off in excitement.
One place you might find them is the old-school station wagon, immediately to the right of the entrance, where kids can climb in and (of course) hang out in the "way way back."
Also nearby is a train table particularly good for little ones, but fun for any kids loco for locomotives.
A little deeper into the space, you'll find "Camp Bunk", a room with a bunk bed-like structure that also happens to be a slide.
Get Down in the Dance Hall
That empties out into the "Dance Hall", a room with an illuminated dance floor, disco ball, and walls made entirely out of that omnipresent sequin flip stuff all the kids are wearing these days. (Our six year old visitor's mind was blown: "IT'S A FLIP WALL!") This room is a big hit with the kids.
Further back in the space—past the musical bridge and a giant canoe filled with quirky stuffed animals and things—is the Radio Lab, where kids can experiment mixing sounds, music and beats, and banging out their own rhythm on electronic drums.
Gather Round for Signings, Singalongs, and More!
At the very rear of the space, there's a small theater with stage and seating. CAMP hosts both free and ticketed events such as performances and readings here (regardless of cost, you need to register in advance). On the day we visited, author Steve Light, pictured here, did a book signing and drawing workshop with kids. Other guests have included popular improv group The Story Pirates, and author Eva Chen.
Get Your Licks In
A stone's throw from the stage area is a Lick-a-Bubble bar, where Willy Wonka-style, elixirs of edible bubbles in a wide range of flavors (from fruity to toasted marshmallow and beyond) are prepared. Grab a bottle, blow, and consume! (We did it, they're actually not bad!)
Get Crafty at CAMP
A sizable area of CAMP is given over to a crafting space, where workshops (again, both free and tickets) take place throughout the day. Camp-themed activities have included Popsicle Stick God's Eye Class with Kid Made Modern, Make Your Own Merit Badge, Marshmallow Animals Sculpture, and Classic Camp Lanyard Weaving. Fees for paid classes are about $25-$35, and appropriate for a range or ages.(Some are a bit more complicated.) Registration online in advance is required.
As mentioned, amid all this free fun are lots and lots of toys for all ages, all for sale.At the end of the day, it is a store, but it's one where it's really fun to hang out! CAMP is well-curated, stocked with fun, engaging, and offbeat finds, as well as major crowd-pleasers. We're talking everything from Notorious B.I.G. alphabet books and active play toys (snowball maker, magic kits galore, cool crafts and games) to early childhood toys for little ones, and some Harry Potter, LOL and LEGO thrown in.
Plus: A New Milk Bar
And, P.S., CAMP is home to NYC's newest Milk Bar location, "Milk for CAMP" so you can drop by on your way in, or out. Naturally, the menu features and exclusive CAMP-themed S'more Sundae, as well as the usual delicious treats from Christina Tosi.
Go to Camp!
Sound overwhelming? It kind of is, but in a good way. A handy map at the entrance will orient you and post what's happening for the day, but we recommend going online and checking out what's scheduled on a day you'd like to visit and signing up as directed (and required). It's possible to swing by and just hang out, but if you want to do an activity, plan ahead.
CAMP helps parents out with some nice, family restroom facilities and a coat and stroller check so you aren't weighed down.
Perhaps the best news? CAMP will change themes every few months, so you can come back with the kids next season for more indoor fun! Whether you need to escape a cold and snowy day, are in search of some great gifts, or just want to experience some magic on Fifth Ave., CAMP is a must-do for NYC families!
Mon.-Fri.- 8 a.m.-8p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
110 Fifth Ave.