Winter may seem like a challenging time for grandparents to find things to do with the grandkids, but there are actually plenty of activities in the five boroughs to satisfy both audiences (and, no, we’re not just talking about dessert spots, although we’ve included plenty here). Whether you’re looking for educational fun or just to spoil the kids rotten, New York City provides lots of unique opportunities to indulge in a little family bonding.
The StoryCorps StoryBooth in Lower Manhattan, for instance, allows you to record a 40-minute interview about your life. You’ll receive a free CD of the recording, and the interview will be archived in the Library of Congress alongside thousands of others, adding your unique story to an ongoing oral portrait of American life. (Kids 10 and up can ask the questions, and they’ll probably be surprised by all the cool things they never knew about you.) If you’re more interested in passing down recipes, however, the 92nd Street Y is here to help: the organization’s center offers a workshop called Kids in the Kitchen with Grandparents, a cooking class oriented toward younger palates. (Added bonus: you might discover a future chef in the family.) Or try your hand at making less edible creations at Central Park Conservancy’s Family Crafts Fridays, free every week from 2pm to 4pm through March 27 at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. If you can’t make it on a Friday, stretch your legs with one of the many free walking tours offered a few times each week.
On the more traditionally educational front, kids will actually enjoy a history lesson (for once) at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. GI Grandpas can relive their glory days while exploring the decommissioned carrier (not to mention the 30 aircraft parked on its top deck, including an A-12 Blackbird). Or take a trip to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, which is especially entertaining for little tykes, who will love the Totally Tots toddler play area, and preteens, who will dig the artifacts in the museum’s permanent collection—think ancient toys, masks and an elephant skeleton from Indonesia. And over in Queens, the New York Hall of Science will quench any budding Einstein’s thirst for knowledge with hands-on exhibits and experiments.
Of course, no day with Grandma and Grandpa would be complete without some gifts and goodies. Explore the iconic NYC toy store FAO Schwarz and play a toe tune on the extra-large floor piano (maybe even join the kids in a duet of “Chopsticks” or “Heart and Soul” à la Tom Hanks in Big). Once you work up an appetite, head to the nearby Jekyll & Hyde Club for a meal with a side order of spooky entertainment. Kooky characters haunt the joint, and seemingly inert paintings, skeletons, taxidermy and more animatronic elements of the decor come to life to provide entertainment over lunch or dinner. Or honor the wayward women of the Wild West at Cowgirl with Southern-style cuisine and a general store offering clothes, toys and candy. For dessert, Economy Candy will satisfy your sweet tooth. The saccharine shop is literally wall-to-wall with candy (including rare and foreign brands). Dylan’s Candy Bar is another favorite New York sweet spot, overflowing with popular candies and Dylan’s own treat creations. Or give the kids a taste of home at a specialty café like Peanut Butter & Co., whose sticky menu includes more than 10 varieties of peanut butter sandwiches (believe it or not, some even have bacon), and Milk & Cookies Bakery, where the cookies are almost as good as Grandma’s.
No matter what your tastes may be, NYC is the perfect place to make the memories your grandchildren will cherish for years to come. (And a few souvenirs will help jog their memory, too.)