It takes a village, etc. etc., but villages don’t fit into New York City apartments very well. Which is why  while we all enjoy the coziness of home, hosting your parenting group meetup at your place is often unrealistic. And when it’s cold or wet outside, finding in indoor space that is big enough and also kid-friendly is essential. Good news! There are lots of places in New York City where your mom group can meet (or your dad group, or your parenting posse). Better news: many are free to hang out in as long as you buy a coffee or a bite—and we’re guessing that’s just fine with you. We’ve rounded up the best indoor meeting spots for parenting groups that are sure to please you, your little one, and your whole crew.

Le Pain Quotidien

From pretty much the moment you walk into any of the Le Pain Quotidien many locations around NYC, you are greeted by a warm environment perfect for grabbing a coffee for yourself and a light lunch for the kids. The long, communal rustic tables which can seat at least 20, are perfect for gathering with other parents, be they transporting the child via Ergo or K'tan or stroller. Le pain Quotidien (which translates from French to “the daily bread”)  is also good for bigger kids who need something to keep them busy: before the adults even get a menu, jars of crayons appear on the table along with a kids menu that is also a coloring/activity book. Most of the locations are spacious and the staff there are pretty used to strollers, strewn scooters and kids running toward the glass case of yummy deserts. There are also lots of gluten free options as well. You might get so comfortable here, you’ll forget you’re not home!

7 a.m.-10 p.m., daily

 Tribeca
81 W Broadway

UWS
50 W 72nd St

Midtown
7 E 53rd St

Online: lepainquotidien.com

photo: CAMP

CAMP

The toy store/experience known as CAMP, which opened in the Flatiron District last year, has expanded to three New York locations. (You'll now also find one at Hudson Yards, as well as Downtown Brooklyn's City Point.) A retail experience that changes its theme every few months, CAMP is a place where the kids are expected to run a little wild, so it takes the pressure off a bit. In addition to different areas to explore and lots and lots of fun toys, kits, books, etc. CAMP offers a variety of crafts and activities such as creating your own glow in the dark slime to making your own flashlight. (Some activities are free, others have a fee.) There is also open studio time where you set up your kid with a craft and stand back while you chat with your pals, and there's a new Milk Bar location at the Flatiron store for a sweet treat for you or the kids. Now for the best part: if you want to book a large playgroup at a set time and location with just your besties, you can do that now through an online form on their website. CAMP is also super great when it comes to the indispensable parent amenities such as family restrooms and a coat and stroller check.

Mon.-Fri.- 8 a.m.-8p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
110 Fifth Ave.
Flatiron District

Mon.-Sat., 10am-9pm, Sun. 11am-7pm
20 Hudson Yards Fl 2
Hudson Yards

Mon.-Thurs.- 10am-7pm, Fri.-Sat.- 10am-8pm, Sun.- 11am-6pm
City Point
1 Dekalb Avenue
Downtown Brooklyn

Online: camp.com

The Shops at Columbus Circle

Calling all multi-taskers! If you want to go grocery shopping, fit in a little play date, grab tickets for an upcoming kids jazz show and then stroll home through the park, this might be your new go-to place. Spanning four floors, The Shops at Columbus Circle houses a massive Whole Foods, Jazz at Lincoln Center (this is where those amazing kids WeBop classes take place) and large public spaces where the kids can run around. We think the choice spot is the public seating outside of Bouchon Bakery on the third floor, where there is plenty of room to sit and park your strollers while the kids munch on their cheerios and you enjoy a pastry or coffee. If you have older children, you also might find yourself popping into the Amazon Book store (also on the third floor) where they have a large selection of picture books that kids are more than welcome to peruse.

Monday to Saturday: 10:00am – 9:00pm Sunday: 11:00am-7:00pm
10 Columbus Circle
Midtown
Online: theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Berg'n

What's not to like? Huge space, big tables, room for strollers—plus tasty food and a beer if you want one. (We loved it when it opened back in 2014.) From the people who brought you Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea, this massive Crown Heights food and drink hall gives your group options and room to spread out. Berg'n serves morning coffees and pastries, too if you want to meet up early. The place is so kid-friendly, it even hosts singalongs during weekend brunch sometimes. Note that Berg'n is closed on Mondays and tables are first-come, first-served. 

Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m. – midnight
899 Bergen St.
Crown Heights
718-857-2337
Online: bergn.com

Tavern on the Green

We know you are probably doing a double take reading this, but this storied, fancy, landmarked place in Central Park is actually very kid-friendly. The main dining room has tons of seating and room for strollers and is surrounded with floor-to-ceiling windows giving you a beautiful view of the patio. Head outside and you are met with plenty of running space for your little ones and even more seating. And don’t worry about the cold months; the outdoor patio has heating lamps to keep everyone warm. For food, you're covered, Tavern on the Green has a kids menu with all the classics like mac and cheese and chicken fingers. In addition to being a little oasis for moms and dads to sit down and catch up with the kids, its location is right across the road from Central Park's Adventure Playground, for even more fun before or after you gather. 

Mon-Tues., 11 a.m. –9 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.–11p.m.;Sat. 9 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun.,  9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Central Park-Entrance on W. 67th St.
Upper West side 
Online: tavernonthegreen.com

Ample Hills Creamery 

Looking for some extra mommy points? Meet up in an ice cream shop!  The popular Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn's Gowanus is an ice cream shop that also houses a small kids area. One of the largest Ample Hills locations, the shop has two floors and a kids area with  a play kitchen and some books to keep the kids entertained. With three large booths and counter seating, this is a great place to hang with other parents and in the summer, you can head to the roof deck to enjoy the views while you sip your milkshake.

Sun., Noon-11:00pm; Mon.–Thurs., 1:00pm-10:00pm, Fri. & Sat., Noon-11:00pm
305 Nevins St.
347-725-4061
Online: amplehills.com

photo: Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place

In addition to hosting one of our favorite Saturday morning family to-dos (the free, Saturday Morning Show with music, magic and more) Brookfield Place has the perfect setup for a meetup. Grab a bite from one of the many vendors at the deluxe food market Hudson Eats and then gather in the large seating area, or convene in the lovely Winter Garden, which also has lots of open space, tons of light and great views of the Hudson River and North Cove Marina. (Also, 16 40-foot palm trees taking in all that natural light.) 

230 Vesey St. 
212-978-1673
Battery Park 
Online: bfplny.com

 

photo: A Free Bird

Barnes & Noble

Kid area: check. Coffee: check. Lots of places to sit: Check. Plus lots of toys, an elevator, restrooms, room for strollers, etc.  Barnes & Noble has pretty much got you covered when it comes to that perfect indoor space to catch up with other parents, and you'll find stores all over the city, in neighborhoods like Tribeca, Union Square, the Upper West and East Sides, Park Slope, and beyond.  Hot tip: these stores often host kid lit book readings and character appearances, so check out your location's event calendar to see if there's one coming up for a free bonus activity. 

Online: barnesandnoble.com

 

photo: Brooklyn Public Library/Philip Greenberg

New York Public Library

According to a 2020 Gallup poll, last year Americans visited the library more than they went to the movies, live sporting events, and even museums. So it’s no wonder that we’re recommending the library as a top go-to for parent meet-ups and small playgroups. The Children’s Center at the Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue is a hub for kids of all ages. It has ample seating with tables, plenty of stroller parking and that feeling that you can make yourself at home. There are daily programs at this location for various ages including storytelling, musical and theatrical performances, and guest appearances by authors and illustrators. But you don't have to head to midtown; libraries throughout the city host events for kids of all ages, and you can find what's happening at your local library online. Click here to find your branch in Manhattan, the Bronx, or Staten Island; click here to find your local Queens branch, and here to find your local Brooklyn library.

Mid-Manhattan Library
476 Fifth Ave. 
Online: nypl.org

 

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Hudson Yards

A recent addition to Manhattan’s Midtown West, Hudson Yards is almost like a little city spanning four blocks and containing everything from a supermarket, to a nail salon, a gym and even a cultural center. (Not to be missed is of course the climbable Vessel, a venture for warmer weather.) The shops at Hudson Yards makes a great spot to meet up with fellow parents with kids in tow. In addition to virtually endless square footage that ‘s perfect for running about, Hudson Yards is home to food market Little Spain, where you’ll find a plethora of Spanish delicacies and seating, as well as the previously mentioned outpost of CAMP. FYI: There's also a Dylan's Candy Bar here and a Micro Scooter store with an actual track for test-driving. 

Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
30 Hudson Yards (10th and 12th Avenues from West 30th to West 34th Streets.)
Online: hudsonyardsnewyork.com

— Vanessa Shuster-Raizberg

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