Hometown Guide to NYC from Beth Beckman
For first-time visitors to New York City, the Big Apple can be overwhelming. With thousands of restaurants, museums and attractions to check out, you might wonder where to even begin. Luckily, Beth Beckman is here to help. She’s been living in Manhattan for over 16 years, and now that she has a five-year-old son, she’s finding new ways to explore the city with her family all the time. Here she shares some of her favorite spots to eat, relax and play in New York with kids.
HI! COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?
Hello! My name is Beth. I live in New York City with my husband and 5-year-old son. We also have a mini dachshund named Hotdog that has a not-so mini personality (she absolutely thinks she’s human).
WHERE IN NEW YORK DO YOU LIVE? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK?
I live and have lived in lower Manhattan for over 16 years! However, I consider all of NYC my backyard. After a career in Fashion Design I now write and do photography full time. I am currently working on a children’s travel book series, which will be starting in New York City (naturally!).
WOW, THAT SERIES SOUNDS AMAZING! WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD IN NEW YORK AND WHY?
I love the Village. I truly believe it is the heartbeat of the city. There is a creative energy to it that is just inherently “New York.” I love how the neighborhood still has original charms, such as the Chess District and original meat and cheese shops, which now sit next to amazing farm-to-table restaurants. Washington Square Park (and the famous fountain you can wade in) is a favorite.
I love the Village. I truly believe it is the heartbeat of the city.
I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD WADE IN THE FOUNTAIN. SO COOL. ARE THERE PARTS OF NEW YORK CITY THAT YOU DON'T LIKE? WHAT'S OVERRATED?
We stay pretty far away from Midtown. We love the Broadway shows, and the classic restaurants in Restaurant Row, but other parts of Midtown have been bombarded with large scale chain stores and brands trying to make a splash. The area is void of culture and usually, any New Yorkers.
FOR SURE. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT TO TAKE OUT OF TOWN VISITORS?
We love wandering the High Line and exploring the amazing restaurants in the area. The High Line also has a rotating array of art installations and is located directly next to the Whitney Museum—a perfect way to spend a day.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITY THAT OTHER PARENTS MIGHT NOT THINK ABOUT DOING IN NEW YORK WITH KIDS?
Most parents don’t utilize the NYC Ferry! It’s the same price as a subway ride, stroller-accessible and has a bathroom and snacks—all right on board. And did I mention they also have rosé on tap? The Ferry is an awesome (and efficient) way to explore new neighborhoods, and the perfect way to hit the beach in the summer. One of the stops that’s a must-see is Rockaway Beach in Queens (cue the Ramones music!).
The Ferry is an awesome (and efficient) way to explore new neighborhoods, and the perfect way to hit the beach in the summer.
WHAT'S YOUR SON'S FAVORITE THING TO DO IN NEW YORK?
He absolutely loves Central Park and asks to visit often. All seasons, all year-round—the park is one of the most magical places on earth, hands down.
DOES YOUR SON HAVE A FAVORITE PLAYGROUND?
He loves the waterfront playground in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. While it’s best for younger kids, the view from the swings offers an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline and buildings. It’s amazing. Heckscher Playground in Central Park never gets old. A new favorite is also the Todd Otterness Playground (a playground meets art sculpture, that is shaped like a human!).
OKAY, LET'S TALK FOOD! WHERE CAN KIDS FIND THE BEST ICE CREAM?
My son will tell you the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in DUMBO. The views of the Manhattan skyline from the store are enough to win you over. I will tell you -321º Ice Cream Shop in Williamsburg. It’s flash frozen with nitrogen and is absolutely the creamiest thing I’ve ever had.
WHERE SHOULD PARENTS GET THEIR CAFFEINE FIX?
If you’re on the go, head to La Colombe. They have an amazing draft latte on tap that will knock your socks off. For a sit-down cup of coffee with a view, Caffé Dante can’t be beat. It over looks a colorful brownstone block in the Village and is quintessential New York.
OKAY, YOU'RE GOING OUT TO DINNER. WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO RESTAURANT?
We love Móle in the West Village. It’s cramped, loud and always busy—not necessarily “child friendly”—but hey, that’s just the way we like it! Tip: Get the fajitas, they are absolutely amazing. I’ve been going there for years for the fajitas. We also like Cowgirl across the street. Our son is obsessed with their fish and overall quirkiness of the Southwest-themed restaurant. It is a New York institution.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN NEW YORK?
Central Park is chocked full of picture ops. One of our favorites is to (carefully) climb up on the large rock boulder near Heckscher Playground—the city skyline view will take your breath away.
ANYTHING ELSE PARENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR HOMETOWN?
Don’t fear bringing kids to New York City! Yes, it is a large city and it is quite busy, but the people are amazing and New Yorkers watch out for each other. The culture, museums, parks, art—the possibilities and adventures are endless. There is always something new to see and discover in New York with kids. We love it here.
If you’re heading to the Empire State, check out these mini-adventures in New York City with kids.