Want to explore another neighborhood? May we suggest a perfect day in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn – Carroll Gardens? Tucked alongside the historic stoops are quaint shops and cafes – and we challenge you to find a city neighborhood that’s more kid friendly. Read on to find out where to play, eat and shop along with why we promise it’s worth a trip on the F or G train.
On a sunny day, take the kids to Carroll Park. It spans an entire block between Smith, Court, Carroll and President streets. You’ll find equipment areas for kids of all ages including separate playgrounds for the 5-12 set and the 0-4 set. Be sure to take advantage of the photo opp as your kid will certainly want to climb on the park’s resident elephant statue. Plus, sporty kids will love the huge basketball court. In the summer, be forewarned that your kids will want to cool off in the sprinklers, so bring a change of clothes if you’re hoping to do anything afterwards. If the weather is looking foul, try something more artistic with a session at the Painted Pot on Smith Street between Carroll and President streets.
Since it’s almost impossible to walk down the street without tripping over a stroller or kid on a scooter, it’s to be expected that Carroll Gardens has some great kids stores. While you might not want to hit all 5 shops, here’s the run down on what to expect, and possibly where not to walk if you’re not in the mood to deal with the gimmes! Try Area Kids (331 Smith Street) for unique clothes, shoes and toys, and Pizzazz (271 & 281 Court Street) for everything you could possible need for babies, or toys for kids of all ages. You may also want to stop by Kidville, the members-only playspace that recently opened their doors at 380 Court Street. They have a range of art and fitness classes for kids, plus a super-cute boutique with unique toys and kids clothes. Your last stop for toys and games is the adorably named If I Were Toy store (369 Court Street).
If you go in the morning, start with breakfast at farm-to-table restaurant Prime Meats (465 Court Street). If you’re there for lunch, our food pick is Brooklyn Farmacy (513 Henry Street), a restored 1920s pharmacy. The Farmacy is home to egg floats and one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches you’ll ever eat. You’ll also find a retro singalong for kids on Thursday mornings at 11:00 am, where tots clamour to mob singer Aaron Jones (or Mr. Aaron, as the kids call him) of local kids’ band, the Jitterbugs.
For snacks, check out neighborhood fave, the Treats Truck Stop (521 Court Street), where kids can watch goodies baking before they indulge in something amazing (hello, ice cream cupcakes!), and the Momofuku Milk Bar (360 Smith Street) for a slice of crack pie or cereal milk-flavoured soft serve. Sugar highs will follow.
End the perfect day at Lucali’s (575 Henry Street) for what’s often called the best pizza in New York. Lucali’s is famous for not taking reservations and making you wait a long time for a table in their tiny restaurant. Plan to arrive when they open at 6:00 pm to score a seat straight away – the timing probably works perfectly for the kids’ bedtimes anyway, right. Make sure to call before you go, as they’re sometimes shut when you need a pizza the most.
Get there: Take the F or G to Carroll Street station.
The Zone: Carroll Gardens is bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the west, and the Gowanus Expressway on the south, and roughly Smith Street on the east and Degraw on the north.
What’s your favorite way to pass the time in Carroll Gardens?
Photos courtesy of Christine Knight