If you live in the city you surely know that New Yorkers are incredibly passionate — and borderline competitive — about their neighborhoods. I’ve gotten into arguments with complete strangers about how my local prix fixe brunch is deserving of a James Beard award, and take it as a point of personal pride when the local food co-op gets a new celebrity member…and I don’t even belong. Once a baby comes into the picture, there’s nothing you won’t do to convince other current or prospective parents of how great your hood is to raise kids, even if it’s partly a ploy to get other like-minded parents to move close by.
As the “Expert Moms” for the app Mommy Nearest, Kaity and I love sharing our parent-friendly recommendations around the Big Apple, and especially from our own neighborhoods in Brooklyn. So when we heard about the Mommy Nearest Summer Challenge — a summer-long contest that rewards members for adding their favorite kid- and pregnancy-friendly spots — we thought “Brooklyn is the clear winner.” We then remembered the other awesome Expert Moms we’ve recently met. Stiff competition. So we asked them to tell us about their neighborhoods.
Get inspired by their passion — ok, and their competitive spirit — and check out the Mommy Nearest Summer Challenge to spread the word about your own neighborhood. Prizes include $1,000 cash, iPad minis, free kids classes, babysitting (yay!) and more. And if you have a mommy group that weighs in — and wins — as a team, Mommy Nearest has $5,000 to give away to help your whole neighborhood become even greater.
May the best neighborhood win.
CHELSEA, MANHATTAN: Lauren Patterson, founder of Little Swappies.
A perfect weekend day is a family day. We love to go to brunch at Tablespoon, and if it’s a nice day out, go to one of the local parks. We love the children’s playground at Madison Square Park which has a water spray, and during the summer months, the lawn is usually open. If we have a lot of energy, we’ll hit the Museum of Mathematics, which is a nice air-conditioned respite and has wonderful exhibits appropriate for all ages. Nighttime is usually eating at home with two little ones, but we like the Breslin in the Ace Hotel for a nice date-night restaurant. littleswappies.com
ASTORIA, QUEENS: Stephanie Barnhart, founder of Football, Food and Motherhood
A great day in Astoria would start with a morning walk on the waterfront of Astoria Park. We’d stop at the swings for a quick little session, then keep walking up 23rd Ave. to grab a coffee and bagel at NYC Bagel and Coffee House. We’ll pop in Raising Astoria for an open-play session or class, then while Maximo naps, I like to grab some amazing sushi at Watawa. Since it’s scalding outside, we’d also stop for a little dip in the free Astoria pool. Finally, we’d grab a snack before heading home at Agnanti Cafe on the corner of the park. footballfoodandmotherhood.com
RIDGEWOOD, N.J.: Marissa Zitka Abruzzo, president of Hip & Healthy Kids.
A favorite day in my hood starts with brunch at Raymond’s where I enjoy the old-fashioned diner experience adorned with soda siphons while my son colors his menu. We eat our delicious meal and walk the streets of picturesque Ridgewood. After our downtown excursion, we drive to our hangout, Abma’s Farm to feed the farm animals and shop just-picked produce to make for dinner later. We prepare our fresh veggie dinner, enjoy a family meal, then just maybe Mom can head back to Ridgewood for an organic, non-toxic pedicure at Karma. hipandhealthykids.com
BAY RIDGE, BROOKLYN: Heather Tomoyasu, owner of Miny Moe
Bay Ridge has an amazingly tight-knit parent community. A typical day in Bay Ridge for me is a morning stroller caravan with six or so moms to the local library’s Babies & Books Class, followed by yummies at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop, some shopping at baby/mama, and finally hitting the awesome Owl’s Head Park spray showers in the afternoon for a cool-off! miny-moe.com
FOREST HILLS, QUEENS: Sarah Chang, founder of The Stroller Ballet
We love Forest Hills because it’s such a friendly place. People really look out for each other’s children. I’ve met so many friends at the various playgrounds around the area, including Yellowstone Park, Hawthorne Park, and Ehrenreich-Austin Playground. thestrollerballet.com
Illustration (by Jenni Sparks) from here.