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Bay Ridge with Kids: Top 30 Things to Do for NYC Families

As my husband and I discovered when we decided to move from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn to accommodate our growing family, Bay Ridge is an amazing place to raise kids. The perfect compromise between city and suburban living, Bay Ridge is ethnically diverse, relatively affordable and easily accessible. There are quaint town houses on its side streets, and lots of cute ma-and-pa shops and good restaurants on its commercial avenues, plus a strip of big chains on 86th Street. Though many of our neighbors have cars, one isn't necessary (as I can attest). Everything we need is just a short walk away, and the R and N trains offer a direct commute to or from Manhattan, so it’s a great place to visit, too.

Bay Ridge also boasts plenty of places for kids and adults to run around and commune with nature. While there are lots of small playgrounds tucked away throughout the neighborhood, Shore Road Park and Owl’s Head Park are the major green spaces. The former features fantastic views of Staten Island, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the water beneath. Meanwhile Owl's Head Park is well known for its sledding hills, annual family events, and awesome views of New York Bay and lower Manhattan. Local families stay connected through the Bay Ridge Parents Group

Throughout the month, we'll be taking an in-depth look at everything Bay Ridge has to offer families, including our favorite places to play, eat and experience. For the purposes of our posts, our geographical boundaries are 65th Street to the north, Seventh Avenue and Grimes Road to the east and the water to the west and south. We kick off our coverage with a list of the top 30 things to do in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with kids.

  1. Explore the 24-plus-acre Owl’s Head Park, which includes two playgrounds, a popular skatepark, great sledding hills and gorgeous views of lower Manhattan and New York Bay
  2. Or bike along the waterfront, play basketball, tennis or baseball, or romp in view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the 58-acre Shore Road Park
  3. Check out lesser known neighborhood romping spot Russell Pedersen Playground, one of my family’s favorites
  4. Too cold or rainy to play outdoors? Drop in to the family-owned play space Play Days and Parties
  5. Stop and smell the flowers at the volunteer-run Narrows Botanical Gardens, which hosts FREE outdoor movie screenings every summer and a Harvest Festival in the fall
  6. Bring your camera to the 69th Street Pier (officially named the American Veterans Memorial Pier), where you can fish, watch the boats go by, pose in front of the downtown Manhattan skyline or check out the recently opened eco dock, which offers direct access to the water
  7. Indulge in homemade egg creams and ice cream at Hinsch’s, an authentic old-school soda fountain that was recently revamped under new management
  8. Or scream for more quality ice cream: Bay Ridge is also home to Anopoli Ice Cream Parlor, Brooklyn Scoops and Uncle Louie G’s
  9. Browse the carefully curated selection of toys and kids’ gear at the locally owned Kaleidoscope
  10. Learn how our armed forces defended our waterways at the Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton, NYC’s only U.S. Army Museum
  11. Who says there’s no such thing as a FREE meal? Kids eat for nothing at the local Uno Chicago Grill and Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse on specific days of the week with the purchase of a full-price adult meal
  12. See art created by local kids at the gallery at the Art Room, which offers classes for children ages 3 and up
  13. Put on your best costumes and hit Third Avenue for the annual Ragamuffin Parade in early fall, a neighborhood tradition since 1967
  14. Speaking of neighborhood traditions, every October 31 local families head to Owl’s Head Park for its big annual Halloween Haunted Walk & Fairytale Forest
  15. Drop in and decorate pottery at The Painted Pot
  16. Pick up comics or pop-culture collectibles at Mutant Mania III
  17. Peruse cute clothes and gear at recently opened boutique Baby Mama, which also offers classes for tots and parents
  18. Make new friends at playgroups at the Union Church of Bay Ridge and Christ Church—both offer organized and affordable options
  19. Try to pick just one treat out of a wide array at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop, which has delicious vegan options
  20. Enjoy storytime and a well-stocked children’s section at the Bay Ridge Library
  21. Take your kids on a culinary world tour without leaving the nabe: Bay Ridge has got Japanese, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian and other ethnic restaurants, all delicious and family-friendly
  22. Cheer on the marchers and listen to the bagpipers in the super-family-friendly Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  23. Check out a wide variety of FREE outdoor fests every summer, including the concert series at 79th Street and Shore Road, Summer Stroll, the Holy Cross Greek Cultural Festival, the Greater Bay Ridge 4th of July Picnic and the Bay Ridge Arab American Bazaar
  24. Peruse the children’s section, or check the calendar for kids’ readings and activities at the indie bookshop BookMark Shoppe
  25. Debate who serves the best local pizza: Vicolo, Espresso or Nonno’s
  26. No doughnut debate: Mike's Donuts & Coffee serves some of the best fried treats in NYC
  27. Gawk at the swanky mansions on Shore Road between 80th and 83rd Streets and the nearby Gingerbread House at 8200 Narrows Avenue, which has been on the market seemingly forever
  28. Although not as over-the-top as neighboring Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge residents put up some pretty extravagant holiday displays
  29. Hit the 86th Street strip for serious chain shopping at Century 21, the Children’s Place, T.J. Maxx, Gap Kids and many more
  30. Go locavore at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket every Saturday from May through November—my kids love the free apple and tomato tastings

Read all of our posts about exploring Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with kids.


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