If you have kids in tow, you can either spend your precious family bonding time glued to the Pokémon Go app as you search the streets of Brooklyn for Pokémon or you can put away the smartphone and explore the borough. From the stroller gridlocked treelined streets of Park Slope to the hipster toting parents in Williamsburg; Brooklyn is extremely kid-friendly. In fact, you won't be relegated to dining at the traditional "kid-friendly" restaurants that almost always have a menu filled with comfort food, because most Brooklyn restaurants (even the fancy ones with a Michelin star) accommodate children. From a new indoor mini golf course in trendy Red Hook to an afternoon cuddling with kittens at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe in scenic Brooklyn Heights, check out these ten family-friendly spots around Brooklyn.
Ever wanted to play mini golf in a subway car? Well, you can at Shipwrecked in Red Hook. This extremely inventive eighteen-hole mini golf course, created by theater veterans, is an immersive experience that makes for a truly memorable game of mini golf. The course is housed in a series of themed rooms. Kids will marvel at the theatrics (just to note, you have to buy show tokens for the special effects), and the course is challenging for both kids and adults. Check out their website and Facebook page for upcoming shows. They plan to host magic shows, concerts, and other family-friendly events. It's fourteen dollars for adults to play a game of mini golf and ten for kids.
Brooklyn Cat Cafe
Attention all cat lovers, Brooklyn Cat Cafe, is open for business. Located in Brooklyn Heights on Atlantic Avenue, the Brooklyn Cat Cafe is Brooklyn's first permanent cat cafe. Since it opened a few months ago, I will confess that I've visited the cafe multiple times. After filling out a waiver (everyone has to fill one out to enter the cafe), a five dollar fee will get you thirty minutes of pure kitten and cat love. Spend your thirty-minute visit watching kittens play or indulging in the many treats they sell at the cafe. If you do fall in love with a cat, you can always apply to adopt it. If you can't make it to the cafe, you can watch the kittens at Brooklyn Cat Cafe on their twenty four hour kitten cam. Just to note, if you have younger children who aren't familiar with cat behavior, you should talk to them about being gentle before visiting the cafe and be sure to keep a close eye on them during the visit.
If you feel like a local after a few days at your Airbnb, you should head over the Lark Cafe for their weekly new parent meet-up or if you're exploring Brooklyn with a tot, you might want to check out their schedule of sing-alongs. This cafe, located on Church Avenue near Prospect Park has strong coffee, free wifi, and a play area to occupy your child, which pretty much satisfies almost every parent's needs. After you've had your dose of caffeine, either head to Prospect Park with your tot or walk to Ditmas Park and stroll down the charming streets filled with gorgeous Victorian homes. If you aren't just visiting Brooklyn, but live here, you should peruse the list of classes offered at Lark, which covers everything from parent and me music classes to science classes for the older set.
Superhero and Sci-fi fans will love Action Burger, a Sci-Fi and Comic themed restaurant on Graham Avenue in East Williamsburg, with walls and tables plastered with old comics, film shots, and other memorabilia, the burger joint is decorated similarly to a twelve-year-old comic book aficionado's bedroom. You can order villain food like an Action Cheese Steak or a Super Action Burger. Or order Hero Food, with a menu consisting of an Action Turkey Burger or a Super Veggie Burger. While you wait for your grub, engage in an arcade game or two (it's free) with your choice of three retro arcade games, including Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. You can talk while you dine or perhaps you can focus on the television showing old-school superhero movies. While my kids and I dined on tater tots and other comfort food, I found myself distracted as I watched the original Superman with Christopher Reeve playing on their TV. This is definitely a hit with any superhero fan and even those who aren't obsessed with comics and sci-fi will enjoy a trip to this kid-friendly restaurant.
Gotham City Games
Calling all gamers, Gotham City Games, in Bay Ridge is the ultimate stop for every gamer. If you've got the gaming bug after downloading the Pokémon Go app, your next step is visiting this shop filled with retro gaming consoles and games. From an extensive library of original Atari games to handheld Game Boys from the 90s, this place is a gamer's dream. In addition to scores of hard to find games and a knowledgeable staff, they also allow you to play games at the shop. If you find yourself in possession of a large collection of old Nintendo games and systems, they might buy them from you. In addition, if you've uncovered an old console and it's on the fritz, they'll repair it. After you've spent an afternoon perusing their collection of games and collectibles, head to 86th Street (Bay Ridge's main shopping drag), just a couple of blocks away.
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company
This Park Slope storefront which doubles as the headquarters for 826NYC, a non-profit founded by best-selling author Dave Eggers "dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills," is a must-visit during a trip to Brooklyn. The quirky Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company isn't just a shop, it's an experience. On a recent visit, my ten-year-old son stepped inside the Devillainizer, a cage with a computer, where he took a test to find out if he was truly naughty and a pledge to promise to be good. The shop's contents inspire thought, with a collection of supplies from capes to secret identities that are vital to creating a life as a superhero. Housed on Park Slope's bustling Fifth Avenue, you can dine at the kid-friendly Dizzy's or stop in the many family-friendly boutiques.
Ever wanted to race a Slot-Car? Head to Buzz-a-Rama in Kensington, Brooklyn. This retro shop is a true find. A popular spot on the Brooklyn birthday party scene, Buzz-a-Rama is a true treasure. In a world where kids are obsessed with video games, apps and marathon watching Netflix, it's refreshing to see children excited as they race a Slot-Car around the track. If your child is still looking for some pixelated entertainment, Buzz-a-Rama has an old-school arcade, filled with old school favorite games. Just to note, Buzz-a-Rama is closed in the summer and reopens in September. Also, call before visiting Buzz-a-Rama to make sure the tracks aren't occupied.
Say goodbye to video games and apps and introduce your kids to the joy of board and card games. This "unique, community-based, interactive board and card game center, café and social club" located in Carroll Gardens is a must-visit. Families can drop by The Brooklyn Strategist and choose a game to play. Don't worry if you're not sure how to play it, a member of the staff will sit down with your family and explain the rules. If you'd rather spend an hour drinking a latte alone, rather than partaking in a game with your family, The Brooklyn Strategist offers a few drop off workshops for kids. From Pokémon workshops to Magic drafts, they have various options for kids of all ages. However, I suggest getting a table, picking up a new game and learning it along with your family.
Lace up your roller skates and head to Prospect Park to spend at afternoon at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. This all-weather destination is the ideal family spot. Enjoy rollerskating and boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Lakeside is also home to an enormous fountain--the "splash pad," where tots play as they try to cool down on summer days. For those on a budget, you should note that roller skating is free on Mondays and Tuesdays, if you don't have skates, you'll still have to shell out cash for a rental, but it's still a bargain. Don't bother packing a picnic, you can dine at the Bluestone Cafe, which is located at Lakeside.
Brooklyn Children's Museum
A family-friendly visit to Brooklyn is never complete with stopping at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. If you have a tot in tow, visit the perpetually popular permeant Totally Tots exhibit featuring water, sand and music areas, especially for those under five. Older kids will enjoy playing a shop owner at the kid-size storefronts modeled after real locations in Brooklyn at the Explore Brooklyn exhibit, which gives you a kid's eye view of the borough. The Brooklyn Children's Museum hosts many programs, so be sure to check their calendar for a list of events before you visit. However, even if there isn't a special program, you can easily spend an entire afternoon exploring this fantastic children's museum in Crown Heights.