If all you imagine when you think of Lower Manhattan is men and women in suits scurrying from one high-power business meeting to another, think again. New York's downtown area is packed with exciting, entertaining activities for a much younger crowd. Kids are dancing, singing, tumbling, boating, learning, and so much more in each of Lower Manhattan's neighborhoods. Here are some ways your family can join in the fun.
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy (BPCPC)
In the shadow of Lower Manhattan's skyscrapers, Battery Park City contains more than thirty acres of permanently protected open space, much of it playing fields and playgrounds perfect for romping children. BPCPC, a private, non-profit organization, operates and organically maintains the space. Between May 1 and October 31, BPCPC hosts free weekly recreation, art, and sports activities for kids and families as well as frequent kid-friendly concerts, fishing festivals, family dances, and storytelling hours. Call or visit their website for a seasonal program calendar.
2 South End Avenue
Phone: (212) 267-9700
Children's Museum of the Arts
New York City's only hands-on art museum for children, the CMA gives kids ages one to 12 a chance to dabble to their hearts' content in the visual and performing arts.
Phone: (212) 274-0986
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 12 to 5 p.m., Thursday 12 to 6 p.m.
Admission: $8 per person (one to 65 years); pay as you wish Thursday 4 to 6 p.m.
East River Park
East River Park, located along FDR drive, has a track, basketball courts, and fields for soccer, football, softball, and baseball. A popular destination for kids and families, the park also offers great views of the East River and the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
Along the FDR from Montgomery Street to 14th Street
Felix Millan Little League
Located on the Lower East Side, Felix Millan Little League has been in operation for 25 years, providing recreational services for neighborhood children. To learn more about registration for the next baseball season, please visit the organization's website. Games, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays as well as during the week, are played at the FDR Drive fields near East Houston Street.
For more information, contact Manny Rodriguez.
P.O. Box 83 Stuyvesant Station
New York, NY 10002
Phone: (212) 228-3821
Forsyth Conservancy Garden
Children can frequently be found playing ball and enjoying the wildlife and activities in this garden. Not far from Chinatown, the garden has a strong Chinese influence, and many people bring their Wah Mei birds in cages, filling the space with beautiful music.
At Delancey and Forsyth in Sara D. Roosevelt Park
Henry Street Settlement and Abrons Art Center and Playhouse
Here young artists take to the big stage to perform for friends and families. Henry Street Settlement also runs summer arts camps full of creative activities in dance, theater, music, and the visual arts for kids ages six to 12.
466 Grand Street at Pitt Street
Phone: (212) 598-0400
This dance and creative movement program helps kids build self esteem and confidence through motion, music, tumbling, and song. Classes include modern and ballet dance, as well as a "Mommy and Me" series where mothers can move right along with their children.
Phone: (212) 431-8489
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
In a tenement building that was home to an estimated 7,000 people from more than 20 nations from 1863 to 1935, this museum presents a variety of immigrant and migrant experiences in an effort to promote tolerance and historical perspective. The museum features several programs and tours especially designed for families and children. In one program, focused on a particular family in 1916, visitors are met by a costumed interpreter playing a young girl in the family and are encouraged to touch things, try on period clothing, and talk to the guide about her life. Also great for kids: the Getting By tour, the Tenement Inspectors' tour, and the Guided Tenement Touch tour.
90 Orchard Street at Broome Street
Phone: (212) 431-0233
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Admission: Adults $15, students and seniors $11
Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA)
This museum, the first of its kind, is fully dedicated to presenting the history and culture of the Chinese and their descendants in the Western Hemisphere through historical and visual arts exhibitions, walking tours, school and public programs, and extensive archives. Specifically geared toward kids, the museum offers two themed programs for groups of as many as 30 children -- one focused on immigration and another dealing with Chinese customs and traditions.
70 Mulberry Street (at Bayard Street)
Phone: (212) 619-4785
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.; Friday, 12 to 7 p.m.
Admission: Adults $3, seniors and students $1 (suggested); Friday, free for all
New York City Fire Museum
Pre-Civil War hand-pumped fire engines and horse-drawn vehicles on display in this museum's collection highlight how very far the profession of fighting fires has come over the centuries. Special draws for kids include opportunities to dress up in fire gear, talk to real firefighters, and play with fire-themed toys. The museum also offers a birthday party package complete with a personalized fire truck, scavenger hunts, games, and cake
278 Spring Street
Phone: (212) 691-1303
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5, children 12 and under $1, students and seniors $2 (suggested)
New York City Police Museum
Weapons, police shields, and fingerprinting and forensic art stations are just a few of the things on display in this collection, capturing the past and present of the NYPD. For younger visitors the museum frequently hosts exhibits of children's art, arts and crafts activities, and weekend family activities.
100 Old Slip
Phone: (212) 480-3100
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5, seniors $3, children six and up $2, children under six free
The River Project
This marine biology field station, dedicated to the preservation of marine species and their habitats, has a long list of events designed to provide education and hands-on experiences to the city's residents, much of which is appropriate for children.
Pier 26 at North Moore Street
Phone: (212) 233-3030
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Masks from the Northwest Coast of North America, pottery and basketry from the southwestern United States, and archaeological objects from the Caribbean are just a few things on display here in celebration of the Native populations of the Western Hemisphere. The museum also features an "Especially for Kids" series of videos, which are screened daily.
1 Bowling Green
Phone: (212) 514-3700
Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except December 25th, Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
South Street Seaport Museum
Established to promote the preservation of ships, this museum offers a display of historic ships, changing exhibits, tours, films, and harbor sails aboard 19th-century schooners. There is also a Children's Center, which offers a wide variety of activities for kids that range from learning to tie knots and raise sails to going on an overnight sailing trip.
South and Fulton Streets at Pier 16
Phone: (212) 748-8600
Winter hours, Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; summer hours, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Adults, $8; seniors and students with IDs, $6; children five to 12, $4, children under five, free
Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Each year the center hosts Family Folk & Fairytales, a family performing arts series of classic children's tales set to music, as well as music, dance, and acrobatic performances geared toward young audiences. Suggested for children ages three to 10.
199 Chambers Street, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Phone: (212) 220-1459