Free kayaking on the Hudson – fantastic family outing

Another New York bucket list item ticked off today – kayaking on the Hudson River. One of our favourite weekend activities is a long walk up the west edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River Park, as the views are fantastic, you don’t have to constantly cross roads, and there are so many family friendly activities (warranting another blog post later this summer). We’ve often stopped to watch the colourful kayaks paddling about on the river. Today we decided to give it a go.

On Pier 26, near the corner of West and North Moore Streets in Tribeca, lives the Downtown Boathouse. Completely free and run by suntanned, friendly volunteers, you can introduce your kids to kayaking with a stunning urban backdrop. The Downtown Boathouse rules are simple – ‘Everything is free. The only thing that we ask for is that you kayak safely.’ Everything is provided, from child size life jackets, sunscreen and ice popsicles afterwards. All you need is to bring a change of clothes and sunglasses, as it can get v dazzling on the water.
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Our favourite playgrounds in Lower Manhattan

In a city where hardly anyone gets a garden, playgrounds are essential. Luckily, they’re everywhere, squeezed into unlikely corners between busy roads or empty building lots. The water fountains have just been turned on, so Summer is just around the corner. (Spring and Autumn are ridiculously quick seasons here). Have now added swimming costumes, flannels and suncream to the general clutter under the pushchair, ready for impromptu drenchings in the fountains.

I love this about New York playgrounds, almost all of them include water play. The kids are entertained for hours, joyfully skipping under the cold water and rushing out again with shocked expressions, before heading straight back in again. B’s nappies get so waterlogged, they drag around her knees. It keeps the kids in one place, too, so much less stressful for me trying to keep track on where each child is at any given moment. On the downside, it’s even harder to get them to leave. Resorted to striding into the water to catch slippery, giggling children and frogmarch them home for supper, covered in wet sand. At home in England I could have hosed them down in the garden, but that’s not possible on the 38th floor. Instead it’s gritting your teeth and holding them in the water stream as you get completely soaked too.
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Exploring Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Schools were closed for Martin Luthor King Day on Monday, so took the opportunity to tick off another Bucket List item – Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Had an unusually smooth ride to Brooklyn on the subway, somebody offered to help carry the pushchair at every single staircase (and there are a lot), and managed not to get lost once. Good job. Have found the secret is to write down in advance exactly which line you want and its final destination, since once you’re on the platform there are no maps or lists of stops. Oh for the London Underground signage system…

The museum is easy to spot as you walk from Kingston Avenue subway station, tiled in the brightest yellow, with crimson walls. Entry tickets cost $9, babies under 1 go free, and the pushchairs can be stowed away for free too, so it’s a pretty economical day out by New York standards.
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High walks – Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line

Continuing the ‘exploring at height’ theme, we’ve recently had two brilliant family walks above street level. Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line are both great family days out, offering exercise, fresh air and world-class views – for free. Continue reading “High walks – Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line”

Schools and statues – two weeks into the move

Big week – both girls started settling in at school and nursery, so finally getting back into a routine.  B had no trouble at all, and T’s first settling in session was probably the most restful hour I’ve had since The Big Move. Continue reading “Schools and statues – two weeks into the move”