Toby and Anton’s Guide to NYC

Toby and Anton's Guide to NYC

Toby and Anton have lived in New York City their whole lives (which is crazy for this Midwesterner-at-heart to think about), and they’ve fallen in love with certain spots. Here are the 11 places they regularly beg us to take them…


The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Upper East Side)
Toby says: “I love the Met! You can get a map!”
Parenting tip: The whole museum is spectacular, and our boys love the Egyptian galleries. Also, there’s a great library downstairs with children’s art books and story times. A cool exhibit coming this summer: Turner’s paintings of boats and humans encountering massive whales in the ocean!

Natural History Museum (Upper West Side)
Toby says: “My favorite parts are the whale and the glass elevator.”
Anton says: “The dinosaurs.”
Parenting tip: The whale room couldn’t be more relaxing. On warm days, walk up to the roof and splash in the sprinklers! Also, if you buy tickets on their app, you can skip the long entrance lines.

Central Park
Toby says: “I like the hot dogs and soft pretzels.”
Anton says: “The boats.”
Parenting tip: The entire park is magical, but if you’re in a playground mood, check out the pyramid, tunnels and bridges at Heckscher Playground. In the summer, it becomes an epic water park, with cool jets spraying every which way, even inside the tunnels. Also, if your child, like Anton, believes they’re secretly a knight, get them to the Belvedere Castle. (Very castle-y.)


The secret slide in Teardrop Park (Battery Park City)
Toby says: “The slide is so tall that you are basically in the sky. It’s not scary, though, and you go really fast. I keep my arms up.”
Parenting tip: If you’re hungry afterward, walk to the Shake Shack down the street.

Taj Indian restaurant (East Village)
Toby says: “Can we go today? Can we go? Is it okay? Just say yes. The tabla guy lets me play the tabla. Can we go today? The lady is so nice.”
Parenting tip: There’s live music – sitars! sarangis! — every evening (starting at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends). The musicians are so, so lovely and often let the kids sit and jam with them.

Children’s Museum of the Arts (West Village)
Toby says: “The clay bar I definitely like.”
Parenting tip: We love the homemade play dough, kid-sized easels and rotating themed exhibitions. On the weekends, staff members will grab drums and do hilarious music sessions, usually around 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. For lunch afterward, head to Westville across the street.

Brunch at The Odeon (Tribeca)
Toby says: “I got oatmeal with raisins and yummy nuts.”
Parenting tip: Now and again, we’ll take the boys out to brunch as a special treat; when we do, we LOVE the Odeon. Overall, I find that “family-friendly” places can be chaotic, which makes our boys kind of wild and restless. But if we go to a quieter restaurant, they chill out and enjoy it. Odeon — a classic, old-school bistro — is perfect for this.


IKEA (Red Hook)
Toby says: “They have pretend houses!”
Anton says: “We play house with Mommy and pirates with Mommy.”
Parenting tip: On cold winter days, when the boys need a run-around, we head to IKEA. The boys pretend they’re grown-ups (THRILL!) in the fake model apartments, and they try out all the bunkbeds and desks in the kids’ section.

Brooklyn Bridge Park (Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights)
Toby says: “I like riding on the carousel. I go on the up and down ones.”
Anton says: “I go on the staying ones.”
Parenting tip: If you walk along the water (away from the carousel), Pier 6 has the best playgrounds — sandbox village, slide mountain, swing valley. Go bananas! There’s also a great rooftop pizza place with gorgeous views of Manhattan sunsets.

Brooklyn Crab (Red Hook)
Toby says: “I like basically everything.”
Parenting tip: The back garden — which opens for the summer this Saturday!!! — feels a million miles from New York City. Kids can play in the sandbox or on the climbing structure, while you straight chill at picnic tables having crab rolls and beers.

Wonder Wheel Park (Coney Island):
Toby says: “I like the rides, all the rides.”
Anton says: “I like the rides, all the rides, too.”

What would you (or your little ones) add? I’d love to explore Queens more this summer (we love Rockaway Beach), and these movie matinees look cool!

P.S. 8 more activities for toddlers, and our Brooklyn apartment.

(New York City photo by George Steinmetz. Photos of Toby and Anton by Julia Robbs. Graphic design by Diana Moss.)

  1. Tom Styrkowicz says...

    Don’t forget the armor at the Met! My son always loved that.

  2. t says...

    Heading to BK with my four year olds this weekend for a week. I knew this post would come in handy. thx!

  3. We’re going to visit family in New York this summer and will not travel with kids. But I will keep in mind these suggestions when we get to the city. We are children at heart anyway and I think will enjoy some of these places. Maybe enjoy the scene at Coney Island and will definitely enjoy some hotdogs and pretzels at Central Park like Toby said :)

  4. I love their precious commentary :) Great guide!!

  5. Oh, this is just the cutest! I’m dying for a trip to NYC now… <3

  6. Amanda says...

    Thank you for this list! My husband and I used to love visiting NYC… before we had a baby. We loved walking around the city and going to museums, but we also went to several plays and ate at fancy restaurants… not kid friendly. The thought of taking him seemed expensive and a little overwhelming. Now that our son is 2.5 years old, I can totally see us doing all of these things and having such a great trip!

    And Anton’s “I go on the staying ones.” Heart. Melted.

  7. I have a one year old and I cannot wait to take her into the city to explore. In another year or two this will be perfect.

  8. Brittany says...

    This is so freaking cute- if I ever go to NYC, this will be my guide. :)

  9. stop it- this is amazing!!! not only because of toby and anton’s comments which are unbelievably adorable, but because there are so many ideas that i can use for dates with my s/o. t & a are so freaking cute!

  10. Lindsay says...

    I love this! Thanks, Toby and Anton! My cousin lives in Brooklyn (Fort Greene) and we are due for a visit… will take these suggestions, especially the food ones!

  11. Rebecca.H says...

    Not long ago, you mentioned starting a regular segment about Toby & Anton’s thoughts on everything & anything. So great to see that segment has begun!! I love the pic of them, and I’m looking forward to seeing more posts ;)

  12. S says...

    Neat choices. Would love an updated Manhattan / BK guide for people with no kids or not necessarily exclusively for kids. Planning my next trip. Remember using your guide years ago on an old trip. (Shopping, restos, coffee, hotels, art, cool places, etc….). I got my blackbook from many trips and ready to add…

  13. HAHA, both of your kiddos are so so sweet.

  14. Kelly says...

    Perfect timing! We head to NYC in one month for our honeymoon (with our 2.5 year old). She’s used to city life and doing things like eating out at nice places – our motto is “if we have to leave because it gets hard, better to have tried”.

    All she wants to do is eat ice-cream when we go to New York!

    I’m writing all these down!

  15. Mary MacDonald says...

    When my son was 7 or so, he lovedLovedLOVED the South Street Seaport. And The Stand bookstore. Go figure.

  16. Kelly says...

    Check out the splash pad at Lakeside in Prospect Park. The outdoor ice rink gets filled with an inch or so of water and tons of sprinklers. Kiddos love it!

  17. Such a great list! I can’t wait to put this to use. Never thought to bring my daughter to Odeon, but love that restaurant, and we’re with you on family -friendly spots. It’s like everyone’s cheering each other on to be hyper and challenging.

  18. Jodes says...

    Our new favorite is the Sea Glass Carousel at the Battery. My kids also love the Intrepid, Brooklyn Boulders, the Guggenheim, Smorgasburg, Lakeside skating in Prospect Park.

  19. surbhi says...

    I love that Toby says “basically” – so cute!!

  20. Brilliant idea! Bookmarking this for the future!

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  21. Stacie says...

    Jo, you and your family are simply the best.

  22. this is so cute.. my son love’s the dancing clock in Central Park. And the boats..

  23. Sara says...

    Sweet Anton saying “I go on the staying ones”!! That’s precious!

  24. Claudia says...

    thank you so much joanna
    i love new york and plan to come with my kids
    this post is super helpful!

  25. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing, Toby and Anton. :)

    • Laura says...

      Please do! We visit LA often with our 3 little kids :)

    • Allison says...

      Agreed! We go to LA from KY often to visit friends. We now have twin babies, and I know it’s going to be a whole new world.

  26. eg says...

    There’s another really excellent playground on the north end of Union Square Park. And right across the street from AMNH is the New-York Historical Society, which has a mini children’s museum in the basement and currently a Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, etc….) exhibition on the second floor.

  27. eg says...

    re: AMNH app – you will have to pay the full suggested admission price if you buy online! Admission is pay as you wish (like the Met) except for some special exhibits (and the planetarium).

  28. This is my favorite post ever! As a native Queens girl, I would love to see you guys explore the borough. We love the Queens Museum (your little dudes might love the Panorama of the City of NY, and they have an awesome Ramones show up right now) and there are endless choices of amazing food throughout our borough (the most ethnically diverse county in NY). Also, Eddie’s Ice Cream Shop is a little out of the way, but a big treat for ice cream lovers. I could go on, there are a million things to do!

  29. I love this perspective of New York City :) Central park and the Met are some of my favorites as well!!

    xx, Hannah

  30. Geny says...

    I wish I had this list when I visited NYC with my girls (5 & 3) last summer!! We’ll have to go back :-)
    They loved:
    – Central Park Zoo
    – Ferry to Governor’s Island (perfect for a hot summer day, we LOVED this visit)
    – The Highline

  31. f says...

    The NY Hall of Science in Queens is really great! My almost 3 yr old loves it, you can make giant bubbles and there’s a whole DIY crafting level. Fun for all ages!

  32. Colleen says...

    so cute!

  33. jen says...

    Loved this post. Would love to see more city / travel tips from your boys.

  34. Linda says...

    The boys have such wonderful taste! My husband and I were able to go to NYC this past summer. I’d love to take my 2 boys someday! Such an amazing city!

  35. Lana says...

    It’s been said one-thousand times over, but this graphic is the best thing I have ever seen.

  36. I love Toby well rounded comments and Antons very straight to the point two phrased comments. It’s too cute! And when I’m cold I head to ikea too and spend a $100 lol. Growing up in New York is why I have such a well rounded view. I am from the Bronx off the concourse and I always thank my mom and aunt for allowing me to grow and see and taste different things because they were raised there. Even now that I am in DC and lived in many places I really can’t ever shake the love for New York I mean who wants to !! Can’t wait to move back. I say city kids are the most open minded.

  37. Joanna, what a wonderful post! It really makes me want to take the kids to NYC as soon as humanly possible! I am curious about something, though, how do you get them around the city? We are going to visit Chicago soon with a 2 and 4 year old and I have no idea about cabs and car seats, I don’t understand how it could possibly work! Do you just walk or take public transit? I’d love to get the scoop!

    • Caitlin says...

      Ergo it! & maybe an umbrella stroller. Car seats are technically not required in cabs but there’s plenty of other ways to get around.

    • Thank you, Caitlin! That’s good information about the cabs (although weird, right?) I wonder if there is Uber for people with kids, all cars come with car seats :) I’m hoping we’ll be able to mostly walk and use the El. I’ll just have to do my research.

    • Mariana says...

      We used Uber X with the car seat option: $10 extra. So handy!!!

  38. yael steren says...

    I’m definitely taking my niece and nephews to the secret slide! I’ve never heard of it before and I think they would love it! Thanks so much for the recommendations!!! xx yael

  39. AWESOME POST! Makes me miss NY so so much.

  40. Jody says...

    “I go on the staying ones.” This list and the boys’ input are so adorable!

  41. Lisa says...

    I am THRILLED that you mention the Nolen Library at the Met! I worked there for many years and read at Storytime. It’s a wonderful, free resource for families and educators. And you don’t have to pay admission to go there! Just use the 81st St. entrance on 5th Avenue.

  42. Have you ever taken the boys to Panna II or Milon?! Tandem Indian restaurants both with crazy decor (LOTS of string lights) and I think it’d be so cool for little kids!

  43. Celine says...

    I wish I had these guidelines back in fall ’15 when we took the kids to NYC for their very very first time.
    I was pretty much blank on where to take them and had a very short prep time for this trip. We ended up ice skating at Rockfeller Center, and spent a whole day at the Natural History Museum – both a hit !
    Next time we fly across the pond, I’ll remember to bring your boys’ guide along – promise !

  44. Kristine says...

    Love this list! My husband and I will be visiting in the summer (first trip without the kiddos) and I wonder how the list would change for an adult-only trip? Any grown-up recommendations we shouldn’t miss?

    • Heather H says...

      I’ve pinned several of Joann’s guides to NYC for the kid-free tip I’m planning – search her site!

  45. Tricia S says...

    This is a fantastic list! I travel to NYC often for my business. I took my 10 year old last September and she loved it.

    I will say this. Last time I was there, I had Ippudo, the Ramen Noodle place with the best pork sticky buns on the planet. I literally crave it weekly. Ippudo will always be a restaurant I frequent when I visit.

  46. This cover image is so sweet!
    Another kid-friendly museum is the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. Our nephews and niece (all under 5 years old) adore it; they love “driving” the bus and running through the old subway cars.

  47. Sil says...

    I love Anton’s comments!

  48. Rosalind says...

    Awesome post, thanks! Have pinned this for the future :-)

  49. Lauren E. says...

    That graphic might be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

  50. This is so wonderful! Would you ever consider doing a series for other cities?

    • Alex says...

      I was thinking the same thing; I’m in Philadelphia and would LOVE a list like this for our family!

    • Emma Thomas says...

      Great idea! Could be cities all over the world… I can do Oxford, UK!

  51. Chantal Rancourt says...

    This is perfect. Thank you for this!

  52. Samantha says...

    Joanna, we are coming to NYC next month from the UK on a short stopover on our way to Orlando. My 8 year old boy and I love reading about Toby and Anton and he will want to try out everything your boys have suggested!
    He also wants to see all the places he’s seen in films / cartoons, including Empire State Building & the Statue of Liberty
    I might suggest he emails about what he’s enjoyed doing… Just to practise writing & typing!

  53. Ok this is the first post to make me laugh out loud just from the top image AND the boys share some great tips! Great for kids of all ages!! Awesome job :)

  54. Love uptown–not to mention 5th Avenue windows.

  55. Rue says...

    I am a NY native [stranded] in the midwest, and I am over the age of 5, and this post makes me homesick in the best way! Cannot wait for my next trip back this summer. Crab rolls!!!

    Also, when I was little, my dad turned the Natural History Museum into this exciting treasure hunt. We had a list of our favorite old school animal dioramas, and we had to find them in those winding exhibit halls, which I still cannot navigate as an adult. The anticipation of trying to find the wolf and then coming around the corner and seeing the wolf against that twilight light and he was running towards you — still gives me chills!

  56. Chiara says...

    Thank you so much! I’ll be in NYC in august with a seven years old kid and your sweeties’ suggestions will be useful!

  57. Mariana says...

    Dear Jo,

    I was just about to write to you to thank you so much for your old post “NYC Guide: 8 Favorite Activities for Toddlers”. We just got home to Paris after 9 days in NYC, and we did almost everything on your list. It was simply wonderful. I wanted to high-five you so many times, such as when my 2.5yo was chowing down so happily at Hampton Chutney Co. after a fun morning at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, or while we were playing at Pier 25 on Sunday in the gorgeous sun, or while at the drop-session at the Children’s Art Museum going nuts on the bongos, or at the Natural History Museum looking at the famous dioramas… In short THANK YOU!

    Love you, love your blog.

    Mariana xx

  58. I don’t have kids yet but loved this post cos it’s so charming & different :) Have been reading you since you moved in with Alex!!! And still your blog manages to be relevant & interesting ! Thank you! Xx

  59. Suzie says...

    If you want to check out kid friendly Queens, head to the Queens County Farm: also Gantry Plaza Park has an awesome playground, but is also great to just chill out and picnic.

  60. Allison says...

    Totally agree about “family friendly” places. We specifically avoid the cafes with play areas as I’d rather my kids learn the difference between a restaurant and playground and I find the atmosphere does lead to winding them up so it kinda backfires on being relaxing for us.

  61. Keri says...

    Cute! Nice to see a list of kid friendly places in such a big city.
    I would love to hear from you and the family on a christmas guide to NYC -as an outsider, christmas in new york seems so magical :)

  62. Lindsay says...

    I had no idea about the rooftop sprinkler action! Can’t wait to take my nephew there this summer. Thank you!?

  63. Claire says...

    Fantastic list! Makes me miss living in New York. I used to teach first grade there and ran an excursion camp in the summer. A few of the kids’ favorites were:

    1. Socrates Sculpture Park
    The kids loved interacting with the huge sculptures in a park setting and made puppet stages and puppets with the teaching artists. I believe the run kids’ workshops. It’s also a lovely place for a picnic!

    2. Queens County Farm Museum
    The kids loved getting to pick vegetables and feed goats and taste fresh honey from the bees there. They have a plethora of educational programs to learn about food and farming etc. (not sure if they are just for school groups or if they are available to families too). This is a little further out from towards Little Neck and probably less convenient to get to, but… city kids on a city farm makes for an adventure!

    3. Guggenheim
    The building was always fascinating for the kids – the fact that it spiraled all the way up and down! This really depends on the exhibition(s), but my first graders had a blast learning about Kadinsky, observing shapes, lines, color and different mediums. They then got to create their own sculptures in the musuem’s studio!

    4. Wave Hill
    This is a little further out, but provides a fantastic respite from the city. Lush flora and fauna beautifully landscaped.

    5. Fort Greene Park/ Prospect Park
    This is totally because I taught in Brooklyn, but the parks have really great education programs led by rangers (along with fantastic facilities). You find out things like the fact that there are resident hawks at Fort Greene Park and will always look out for them after!

  64. Gretchen says...

    My train obsessed boys loved the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. My favorite part was the old advertising in the train cars.

  65. jessica says...

    Don’t forget about ice cream! Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain (Carroll Gardens) is so fun, as is Ample Hills Creamery (Prospect Heights). One of my favorite things to do with babies is visit Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene) for sing-a-longs and readings. Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is great to do with kids, although the no picnic blanket policy is kind of a bummer. We also like the trails in Prospect Park and frequent Pratt’s campus (Clinton Hill) pretty regularly for meandering, climbing on the statues, and picnics. Also, the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free!

  66. Sara says...

    I’m so curious to know what your kids eat at the Indian place! I’d love to take my little guy, but am not sure what his 5 year old taste buds would find appetizing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      They share tandoori chicken and rice and a mango lassi :)

  67. Kathrine A. says...

    this is the most charming and BESTEST list for NYC ever.

  68. Ashley says...

    This is one of the BEST CoJ posts ever! Love those sweet boys. Thanks for sharing!

  69. I love Diana’s graphic that’s featured here!

  70. I enjoyed this so much, and I don’t have children:) Really sweet to hear Toby + Anton voicing their opinions (“I go on the staying ones.”)
    Great post!

  71. Hi, Joanna! So I wanted to tell you, my husband and I are finally expecting a baby! I’ve been reading your blog, like daily, and backlogs, ever since I realized I wanted to start a family. So it feels appropriate to share with you :-) thanks for all the realness & fun! Xoxo from Texas

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Congratulations, Lauren! That is so exciting! I’m touched that you told me :)

    • Tina, nyc says...

      Congrats Lauren!!

  72. Jael says...

    This post is awesome! Thanks Joanna!

  73. Charlotte K says...

    About a zillion years ago when I was a kid department stores all had rooms set up like Ikea does now. I used to LOVE to go with my parents while they looked at furniture. My sister and I would play grown-ups and imagine ourselves in all the different settings. I love that your kids like to do that too!

  74. omg the kids’ commentary is so adorable! I’m missing NYC so much after reading through this post. I’ll wear my America socks from to compensate lol. Love your blog, read it everyday!!

  75. This was an irresistible read!! It didn’t matter one bit that I have no immediate plans to visit New York, with/without kids! Thanks for posting!

  76. Lindsay says...

    The comments from the boys cracked me up. They make my heart melt!

  77. “The staying ones.” So sweet.

  78. Rachel says...

    Love this post!!!!

  79. I love this! New to the city and always wanting to know where to start with my kids – it’s overwhelming. Anton’s comment about the carousel – precious!!!

  80. This is a god guide for next time I’m in town with my niece and nephew!!

  81. This post is amazing. Love it!

  82. Aidel.K says...

    Staten Island Ferry, but we had a friend to visit on Staten Island. Fun post!

  83. Meg says...

    Your timing is perfect! We are a family travelling from Australia to NY with two boys aged 2 and 5 for 3 weeks over Christmas and NYE. This gives me the much needed confidence that we can do this!! Still stressed about the 25hour flight over though, yes we are mad!

  84. Sara D says...

    I love this! We just got back from a trip to the city last week but our girls (4 and 2) have never been. I found myself telling my husband “the girls would love this!” many more times than I would have thought. Something about their wonder and amazement at everything.

  85. Olivia says...

    Joanna, you are awesome. Great reminders of classics and lots of ideas for new activities. And thank you for all the insider tips!!

  86. Natalie says...

    My heart!! This is so adorable. The kid in me wants to visit every single place!

  87. THE most precious post of all time. Love, love, love and I don’t even have kids. (I did just book a flight for my first ever NYC trip, so I’m taking notes on where to go!)

  88. Daniela says...

    If I ever have kids apparently I need to move to NYC, this is awesome!

    Ps it’d be so fun if you all did a post on what the day to day looks like at Cup of Jo!

    • Claire says...

      Seconded! I’ve wanted to read a day in the life of the Cup of Jo writer’s post for ages!

  89. Marney says...

    What a great idea for a post! I wish this had been around when my inlaws lived in the city! It would have made visiting with our little guy way easier!

  90. Trish says...

    “I go on the staying ones ”
    Oh so sweet

  91. This is too cute, I absolutely love the idea :) my suggestion? Madison Square park – who doesn’t love a playground adjacent to a Shake Shack? Sign us up!!


  92. emily says...

    this is adorable! i simultaneously want to have babies and visit NYC!

  93. This is too cute! I don’t have kids, but I love the idea of a travel guide from their perspective.

  94. Forwarding this link to my friend with a toddler in Brooklyn-who should already be reading this blog!

  95. Love the image with the creative!

    I loved going to coney island as a kid. Now that I live in NJ and try to be #Adulting I don’t get there as much anymore. Now with Wahlburgers I really want to visit!

  96. Katie says...

    You should head over to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to explore everything they have to offer. There’s the Queens Zoo (with a petting zoo right outside,) a small amusement park, the New York Hall of Science (with playgrounds and great hands-on things for kids,) the Queens Museum with a panorama of New York City and new Ramones exhibit, plus plenty of green space to run around. You can check out the Unisphere, and other World’s Fair-era statues.

  97. Liz says...

    Any recommendations on things to do in NYC for a couple? It’s been 3 years since we’ve been to NYC and we are hoping to pack in lots of things on our short trip next month!

    • Amy says...

      I know you weren’t asking me :) but I highly highly recommend getting tickets to a show at the Comedy Cellar! Always great standup and frequently big names makes surprise appearances,

  98. jeannie says...

    I love this post! Those music sessions at the Children’s in the West Village are iconic! Great guide.

  99. Libby says...

    headed to brooklyn from pdx for a week on saturday… i like the rides, all the rides too ;) thank you for this!

  100. This is just the best!! And those scooters in the graphic look nice – what brand are they? Thank you!

  101. OMG I loved this! Thanks Toby and Anton! We are contemplating a move soon…my husband works in Brooklyn for 2 weeks+ a month, and my kiddos and I live in Seattle, which is not super sustainable :) This list could be super handy as we navigate a new city!

    Also, I hope you took Toby to Taj!

  102. Jill says...

    This is one of the cutest/best/helpful things I have eva’ read! You should do this every year!

  103. Sarah says...

    “I go on the staying ones” – so cute and dear! Thanks for a great guide!

  104. Kim says...

    This is officially my most favorite Cup Of Jo post EVER!!

  105. I can’t wait to check out these places when my babe is a little older and walking. Although that slide sounds pretty rad that I may have to take her on my lap, for my personal enjoyment too. Thanks for sharing!

  106. Alice Quin says...

    Omg that top image! High five ladies!