Fall Fun in NYC: An Interview with New Yorker and Mom of Two, Melissa Dewgard Dominguez
What are some lesser-known family-friendly spots in NYC that you've discovered and would recommend to other parents?
We love the Little Red Lighthouse ( West 181st by the Hudson River) in Washington Heights. There’s also a kids festival there in October. The Central Park Carousel, this has been around forever and open year round. This was my daughter’s first Carousel ride as a toddler. Plus, Central Park has the best area to see Fall
foliage as well! Stop by Cricket’s Candy Creations, a super fun kids play space in Tribeca, where you can make your own candy! It has different interactive rooms and themes. Fall is peak season to see whales near NYC and we recommend the Whale watching cruise!
What are your favorite parks for families with young and older kids?
Central Park has so many playgrounds and areas to explore for all ages. We call Central our backyard, but as a bonus every time we go there’s something new to see. It’s great to go anytime of the year!
What are the best family friendly museums?
The American Museum of Natural History, my kids love dinosaurs and I’ve been taking them there since they were babies. I also think this is why my son loves history. The New York Hall of Science in Queens and they have a new exciting exhibit coming this Fall! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, there’s a new kids area we plan to check out soon, so follow along to see what we think. Lastly, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, I took my babies there and recommend!
Favorite recurring events, festivals, or markets that families shouldn't miss out?
We love going to street fairs in the summer. Every week there’s a festival in a different section of Manhattan. I’ve been going with my parents ever since I was a kid, and now I’m making memories at these street fairs with my kids. Get the roasted corn!! It’s our favorite! Another great spot is Bryant Park, their Winter Village is amazing. We love to get hot chocolate and other treats. There’s also ice skating and super fun Bumper Cars on ice.
How can families balance entertainment with education? Are there any places or activities that seamlessly blend learning with fun for kids?
Yes, all museums in NYC have children’s sections that include learning while having fun. Plus you also get a free history lesson just by walking down most blocks in NYC. Every neighborhood has its own story. Kids can learn to count by going up and down the blocks, up and down subway stairs.
Go-to restaurants or cafes that are family-friendly?
Diners in the city are all family-friendly and you can find one in every area of the 5 boroughs. I actually don’t look for “family-friendly” options. I think it’s a matter of getting kids used to going out from an early age. We haven’t come across a restaurant in NYC that wasn’t accommodating to young kids.
What clothing staples should families pack for NYC?
Comfy sneakers because you will be doing a lot of walking! Also a hoodie, you never know if it will be chilly or warm this time of year. Layering is key. It can be chilly in the morning and then warm by late afternoon.
Favorite Meems looks that New Yorker kids would wear?
-Dino Sweater - perfect to wear to American Museum of Natural History.
-Paris Stripe Legging Set - so fashionable, NYC favorite fashion color is Black!
-Neon Smiley Sweatpant & Zip Hoodie - perfect for Fall family walks in the city.
-Crystal Rainbow Hoodie - for chilly Fall days, also fashionable & cozy.
Best NYC neighborhoods to stay in?
The Upper West Side for families! Great huge apartments and fun museums & parks. Washington Heights/Harlem huge pre-war apartments (better prices) and lots of culture. There is also delicious food from many cultures found here.
The Upper East Side has my heart though, I was born and raised here and spent most of my elementary years there.
Advice for parents navigating the bustling city with kids? Any tips, hacks, or strategies to make family outings more enjoyable and stress-free?
Bring a lightweight backpack with water, snacks, tissues, hand sanitizer and small toys/books, especially if you’re traveling by foot or train.
Try to have everyone (yourself included) eat something before you leave the house even if it’s just a protein bar. You never know if there’s delay due to traffic or train delay on your journey and food = less cranky family.
We also try to go out earlier in the day because there are less crowds, and less anxiety. Fun fact, the worst times for train travel with a stroller is 3-7pm on weekdays. Also, a mom hack, check MTA website for train stations that have elevators that are currently working before you head out.
Where can we follow you to get all your NYC inspiration and tips??
Follow me on Instagram @nycmamaplus2 for real life motherhood and raising kids in NYC. My DM’s are always open!
Christine Russell Janis writes about life as a mom of four children, living in Paris, and travel on her life & style website ashadeofrose.com. You can also follow on social media @a.shade.of.rose.in.paris.
So much great info here! Can’t wait to check out the whale watching.