There’s more for kids to explore in Lower Manhattan than the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Indeed, this neighborhood offers tons of things to occupy, dazzle, and delight the wee ones in your life, from parks to playgrounds and museums. Read on for our five favorite kid-centric activities. By Jessica Allen.
Rockefeller Park has loads of lawns, a Children’s Garden (where participants get to grow their own produce), ball fields, esplanades with great views of New York Harbor and New Jersey, the moving Irish Hunger Memorial (honoring both victims of the Great Irish Famine and those suffering from hunger today) and really interesting, complicated playgrounds for tiny tots and older kids alike. We’re also big fans of “The Real World,” a climbable sculpture by artist Tom Otterness.
Because it’s never too young to teach a child about the power of words, Poets House has its own very special children’s zone. The Constance Laibe Hays Children’s Room features (totally adorable) antique school desks and card catalogs, manual typewriters and, of course, row after row of kid-focused verse by such notable poets as Langston Hughes, A.A. Milne and Shel Silverstein. Check the calendar for special events, including author and illustrator signings, poetry readings and sing-alongs.
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An extraordinary feat of engineering, the SeaGlass Carousel makes you feel as if you’ve left land and splashed far, far down into the ocean. Shaped like a nautilus, the carousel features LED lights that change colors to mimic water’s bioluminescence, along with oceanic music. Rather than horses, kids ride on butterflyfish, angelfish, clown triggerfish, Siamese fighting fish and other creatures of the deep. It’s as popular as it is magical. Note the carousel’s Facebook page for info about weather-related closures.
From the outside, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub looks like a giant white bird about to take off. Inside the heart of the newly-opened center is the Oculus, a great tribute to architectural innovation. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the glass-and-steel construction harks back to a very remote past, when religious buildings had an “eye” open to the sky (the most famous example, perhaps, is the Pantheon in Rome). At any rate, kids will love running around something that looks straight out of the future.
Budding architects in your life will appreciate the Skyscraper Museum, devoted, as the name suggests, to the city’s most defining feature: its tall, tall buildings. The museum spotlights the architects, planners, projects and history of the city’s various skylines — with exhibitions that can be digested in an hour or two. Child-centered programs range from building a structure for your favorite furry friend, to using materials from nature to create a unique skyscraper or drawing the city on the sidewalk.