Child's Play in Chelsea
by Lisa Freedman, Time Out New York contributor, 04/27/2009
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Once a predominantly Irish neighborhood, Chelsea is now known for its gay bar crowd and megashops like Bed, Bath & Beyond and the Container Store. Even so, today’s Chelsea doesn’t look too different than it did long ago; lining its residential numbered streets are 19th-century row houses and tenements—as well as the block-long 1931 apartment complex called London Terrace. Spanning the area from 14th to 30th Streets and from the Hudson River to Fifth Avenue, the neighborhood has a big footprint. Time Out Kids trolled the streets looking for the most family-friendly spots.
Check It Out
Chelsea is easy to get to from just about anywhere; five subway lines take you through or near the West Side ’hood. The 23rd Street stop on the C or E will bring you closest to the Chelsea Art Museum (556 W. 22nd St at Eleventh Ave., 212-255-0719; $8, children under 16 free), which holds family days four times a year.
At the Tada! Youth Theater (15 W. 28th St, 212-252-1619) you can catch New York City kids—ages eight to 18—performing in a professional-quality play. Children can also attend playtime at City Treehouse (129A W. 20th St, 212-255-2050; $30 for an hour of open play; reservations recommended). The forest-themed climbing space and multitiered water table are big hits with tots.
What Local Families Do
New York parents know children are never too young to go into downward dog. The popular Karma Kids Yoga (104 W. 14th St, 646-638-1444; drop-in rates start at $20) has classes designed just for new moms and babies. Free Storytime Yoga sessions are available throughout the week. Children ages two to five gather on mats to listen to animal-themed stories and then assume yoga poses named after the critters. For more vigorous action, head west to Chelsea Piers (Eleventh Ave. at 23rd St, 212-336-6666) to try out batting cages, an ice rink, a toddler gym, driving ranges and more—a $35-per-kid multisport passport grants you access to a number of activities. Little track stars can run around for free at historic Chelsea Park (27th to 28th Sts. between Ninth and Tenth Aves.)—the first playground on the spot was built in 1910. Besides a ton of open space, you’ll find basketball courts and baseball diamonds.
When your crew is hungry, make your way to the indoor mall at Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave.) for a sandwich at Amy’s Bread (212-462-4338). While there, check out the exotic lamps at Imports from Marrakesh (212-675-9700) and the cool children’s clothing at Kico Kids (212-675-5426). At Room to Grow (54 W. 21st St, 212-620-7800), a nonprofit organization that helps babies born into poverty, families can do a good deed by dropping off their gently used clothing, books and toys.
A city institution, Books of Wonder (18 W. 18th St, 212-989-3270) stocks a selection of old and rare children’s books, but it doesn’t skimp on new releases. At L.O.L Kids (22 W. 21st St, 212-929-6521), a new fancy-pants clothing boutique, your little ones will feel like royalty trying on duds from Moschino, Miss Grant and Magil. Across the street, you’ll find Abracadabra Superstore (19 W. 21st St, 212-627-5194); in addition to carrying costumes, the shop hosts free magic shows every Friday at 7pm and a clown act with live animals (a bunny and two cats) every Sunday at 1pm.
Chelsea seems to be home to a disproportionate number of treat shops. Among our favorite sweet rewards are the banana ice cream sandwich and chocolate marshmallow squares at Three Tarts (164 Ninth Ave, 212-462-4392) and the snickerdoodle cookies at Billy’s Bakery (184 Ninth Ave, 212-647-9956). Get your blood sugar back on track with the mac and cheese at Petite Abeille (44 W. 17th St, 212-727-2989); a portion’s big enough to be shared. If you’re in a hurry, opt for a portable egg-and-cheese turnover from Empanada Joe’s (668 Sixth Ave., 917-338-4780). Little mouths can savor a bite-sized empanada mini, in chicken, vegetable or beef. For a place in the sun, grab a seat outside at Cafeteria (119 Seventh Ave., 212-414-1717) and order a bowl of cheese grits. You’ll be in good company—the upscale diner is always teeming with munchkins.
For other kid-friendly neighborhood destinations, visit Time Out New York Kids.