So, sometimes you have to do things with your kids. Sometimes you can't pawn them off on a playdate and go out and do adult things by yourself. But that's fine! That's great. The whole reason you had kids was to spend time with them and raise them to be interesting and worthwhile people who can contribute to and learn from society in a meaningful way. And that's all amazing. But also, sometimes you just don't know what the hell to do with them. It needs to be something that they enjoy, sure, but it also needs to be something that won't make you, as an adult, want to crawl out of your skin from boredom. And, maybe, this isn't even your problem. Maybe you just love spending time with your kid, even if it's at Chucky Cheese. So use this list for the other adults in your life. Adults who have no choice if they want to do things with you, than to also do things with your kids. And you don't want these adults to crawl out of their skin with boredom. So do these things for them. Do these things for all of us. Even the kids, those spoiled little fuckers.
Bird Watching (and other nature-y stuff)
If you want to spend a day doing something that kids will love and that you will love too, get yourself over to Marine Park. This park is actually Brooklyn's biggest and includes a "Forever Wild" nature preserve that is home to an incredibly diverse amount of birds. Birding might sound like something that only retired second-grade teachers or Jonathan Franzen would do, but that's not true at all. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Birding is a great way to spend a day. You'll be out in nature and you'll really be interacting with it. Kids will love identifying new species and it will expand their minds to the fact that there's more to avian life than the common pigeon. Plus, you can also go canoeing and hiking in the nature preserve, so we're talking hours of fun. Hours!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Alright, is this pretty cheesy and touristy? Sure. But kids love that stuff. And when was the last time you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? And I do mean walked it. Not jogged it. Or biked it. But walked it with a kid who will marvel at New York Harbor spread out before him, ogle the thick cables that hold the bridge up, insist on reading every commemorative plaque about the bridge's construction. It's pretty great. Plus, you can end the trip with a visit to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, because that's the civilized thing to do.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory; 97 Commercial Street, DUMBO
Buzz A Rama
There aren't many places to go slot car racing anymore. In fact, this might literally be the only place to do it left in Brooklyn. The Times reported on the spot a few years ago noting, "Slot cars, which drivers control with a hand-held throttle, go fast — some upward of 100 miles per hour — but getting them to that point demands slow, intensive, hands-on labor. Enthusiasts spend their free time taking the cars apart, tinkering with the motors, shaving down the tires for better balance and adjusting the gears." Amazingly, this place has stuck around for decades, despite competition from things like computers and video games. So go with a kid and indulge in a little bit of old Brooklyn. YOu won't regret it.
Ice Cream Sundaes
In this time of artisanal everything and never-endingly ambitious cuisine (which, admittedly, we kind of love) it can be nice to step back and enjoy the simpler things that the culinary world has to offer. Namely, ice cream sundaes. Ice cream sundaes are the kind of indulgence that adults just don't allow themselves that much. But if you've got a kid with you? You're gold. Pure gold. So head over to Brooklyn Farmacy, which has a real old-timey vibe and get one of their amazing sundaes. Also? Get an egg cream. Go crazy.
Oh! Look how pretty Prospect Park is. It's so pretty when it's clean. But it needs help to stay clean. So you and your kid should volunteer with the Prospect Park Alliance to help out around the park. A great thing about this is that it's actually pretty hard to find volunteering opportunities where children can be involved. This is the perfect chance to show your kid that every person who helps can make a difference. So go make a difference with your kid. You'll probably be pretty into it too.
Ok, so this obviously just sounds like something that a grown-up would straight up enjoy, but that maybe is a little illegal for a kid? But no! You just have to go to the right bar and at the right time of day. Head over to Greenwood Park in South Slope and have some beer and watch your kid go crazy over the bocce courts. Are they called courts? I guess I'm not really sure. Anyway, you'll get a nice buzz on, your kid can eat a burger and soon, you'll both be playing bocce to your heart's content. It'll be a perfect day.
Now, don't do this on the weekend or on any national holiday, but definitely take a kid up to the Museum of Natural History. It's always surprising to me how many childless adults haven't been there, but it's even more surprising to me when adults do have children, but still haven't gone. The dinosaurs are great and all, but the really fun parts are the dioramas in the Hall of African Mammals and the Hall of North American Mammals. The backgrounds are so exquisitely rendered and these animals will open up a much more interesting dialogue with your kid than any other stuffed animal would. End your visit in the Hall of Ocean Life where the light is dark and blue. Lie down with the kid you're with under the enormous hanging whale and then scare the shit out of him by wondering out loud what would happen if it fell on you both.
Science Is Fun!
The New York Hall of Science is one of those places that is a huge pain in the ass to get to if you don't have a car. But if you do have a car, it's totally worth it. It's an interactive museum that encourages the adults in attendance to be as hands-on as the kids. It's just really fun? And you learn stuff? I have yet to meet an adult or a kid who wasn't completely enamored of this place. It's well worth the trip to far-out Queens and few other things are.
Fun and Games
So, this is something that kids will pretty obviously enjoy, and you'd have to be a monster not to love it too. Head out to Coney Island and have some fun. But don't blow all your money on rides. Rides are great. Rides might even be the greatest but they're also crazy expensive. Instead, play a bunch of the games and try and win a big, ugly, probably carcinogenic stuffed animal for your kid. If you time it right and aren't there when it's really crowded, you'll find that you're almost guaranteed to win something. If you want to extend your night, take your kid to a Brooklyn Cyclones game. Minor league ballparks are the best because they're so small. And there are usually so many foul balls that you have a great chance of catching one. And wouldn't that just be the best? Yes. It would.
Go Fly a Kite
No, seriously. Did any adult ever look more like they were having fun with their kids than George Banks at the end of Mary Poppins? That scene is amazing. So wait for a day with just the right amount of wind, grab your kid (and a kite) and head out to an open area to just enjoy life. It's kind of just that simple.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen