Summer in the City: Big Apple Style
by sarah lemblé wolsey
Summer is here, school is out, and “I’m bored” is not an option. As nannies, this is our time to shine! It’s up to us to find, create, and initiate activities for the next three months. While some families flee to summer homes outside of the city, many others remain and depend on us to provide entertainment and continued learning for their precious protégées. Here are some ideas to get you and your charges out and about, exploring new neighborhoods, doing new activities, and creating new memories all summer long.
INDOOR ESCAPES (No Membership Required)
CITY TREEHOUSE (Chelsea)
This boutique play space not only offers children’s classes throughout the year, but is also home to New York City’s largest indoor water play area, consisting of multiple tiers and accessories to splash with. In addition, the space houses an indoor treehouse to climb up, hide within, or slide down from. This open play area suits the interests and abilities of children 18 months to 8 years old. A soft play space for children under 18 months can be found in a separate room, complete with colorful building blocks, plush toys, fabric tents, and tunnels.
Drop in and play by the hour or choose from their unlimited monthly and summer play packages. Prices range from $20 per hour for one child to a monthly family pass for $300.
KARMA KIDS YOGA (Upper West Side, Upper East Side,
West Village, Gramercy, Chelsea, Brooklyn)
Yoga is a great way to stay cool indoors while on the move. It’s also a great way to teach your charges about the way their mind and body are connected. Classes are centered on helping children (from toddlers to teens) develop and control the way their bodies move in a fun-filled way. For the younger crowd this involves stories, puppets, make-believe adventures, songs, dancing, and a little rest. The massage at the end complete with scented lotion is always my charge’s favorite part.
Drop in for $30 per child. Storytime Yoga is free! See their website for full details about rates.
TASTE BUDS KITCHEN (Chelsea)
One of my favorite discoveries has been this indoor kitchen, which focuses on hands-on cooking for children and adults in a fun, clean, kid-friendly environment. They offer camps, weekly classes, or drop-ins for a variety of times and age groups. Yes, it’s fun to cook at home, but there is something extra special about making an outing out of it. Giving your charges a chance to cook in a kitchen that is not their own and make new friends while doing so is a treat in itself. The added bonus: no cleanup or dishes for us!
I recommend the “Let’s Make” and “Cupcake Kids” classes. Each one is a hands-on class in which participants, ages 2 through adult, can make sweet and savory dishes (or cupcakes) in a 45-minute class. One-time drop-ins are $45 per child. Check out their website for more information.
THE ART FARM (Upper East Side)
This adorable indoor petting zoo is the perfect escape from skyscrapers and concrete. Pretend you’re in the country for a day! This eco-friendly and organic facility teaches children about nature, animal care, and responsibility and raises awareness about how we can better care for the planet. Animals you may see include bunnies, lizards, birds, turtles, chinchillas, guinea pigs, fish, and more! They offer classes and drop-ins for ages 6 months on up.
Prices range from $15 for mornings on the farm to $40 for drop offs and the Farm Foodies class. Check their website for more details.
On a budget but still want to take the kids to fun activities? There’s something for everyone thanks to these free activities all around New York City.
Every Tuesday and Thursday from June 11–August 8 your charges can enjoy various children’s artists performing for free! Bring a blanket, sunscreen, and snacks and be prepared to groove to the beat. My charges somehow always end up front and center staring wide mouthed and throwing their hands in the air. Make a day of it and take time for the playground and water area after the show.
I have yet to try this out, but it’s on my list! This activity is sure to bite, in a good way. Borrow from the poles provided and spend an afternoon casting into the Harlem Meer. Fish must be released after catching, but what a great opportunity to teach skill, concentration, patience, and responsibility! This activity is free for families and individuals; reservations are required two weeks in advance for groups larger than five.
For toddlers and preschoolers, options abound. Check out preschool play, soccer, stories and songs, and their young sprouts gardening. For school-aged children, there’s art and games, soccer, basketball, and chess. The fun is offered throughout the summer at various locations.
For full details, see their website.
My most tried and true summer go-to activities involve events at the New York Public Library. It often boggles my mind that these events are free because they are such quality experiences for all ages. Each library offers its own schedule, with an array of options including storytime, tumble time, arts and crafts, Leggo my Leggos, music, movie screenings, and so much more. Check your local library calendar or libraries across the city for all they have to offer.
Spoiler alert: NYC summers are a whole new kind of hot (and humid!). Water play is vital to survival. Here are some clean, fun, and fairly shaded places to let your charges get drenched:
Carl Schurz Park (Upper East Side)
Hippo Playground (Upper West Side)
Hudson River Park Pier 25 (West Village)
Hudson River Park Pier 51 (TriBeCa)
Rudin Family Playground (Upper West Side)
St. Vartan Park (Gramercy / Flatiron)
Teardrop Park (Battery Park)
Tompkins Square Park (East Village)
Washington Market Park (TriBeCa)