Modern Art and Modern Ice Cream – New York City Treats

Genie Davis October 7, 2011 No Comments

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A big city – and New York City is certainly one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world – is full of surprises and treats. Some of them are classic attractions, like the many wonders to be found in the multi-level Museum of Modern Art on the upper East side of Manhattan. Some are hidden gems, like Lula’s ice cream, an East Village delight with, gasp, delicious and healthy ice cream.

En route between the two, there’s the wonderful kitsch of King Kong in the lobby and his favorite perch, the top of the Empire State building.

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Inside the Museum of Modern Art, NYC - a bird's eye view.

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art is a treasure of art, and a great introduction to art for small children and the stroller set. The varied and colorful exhibits ranging from the ultra modern — displays of canned goods consumed over the course of a year in an artist’s life, video art, minimalist abstract pieces, to impressionist favorites such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, will occupy the eye and your over all senses. The spacious layout of the museum also includes a courtyard for a little open air recreation if the children need a break. Rousseau’s naive art style was a particular favorite of my children, and while we were there on a very rainy afternoon with no time built in for an outdoor ramble, the museum more than occupied, it delighted for several hours.

The Museum of Modern Art reaches out to parents and children with some excellent family guides, including website materials you can print out at home and bring with you, as well as guides you can get on site. There are family activity guides, and suggested approaches to art focusing on color and materials. One such guide focuses on looking for plywood art objects in Museum of Modern Art’s design collection. A child-friendly audio guide leads parents and children to kid-friendly art works described in language children will relate to and follow easily. A collection of  characters encourage children to closely examine art works, ask questions about them, and even discover “secret information” about the permanent collection. It’s free, too, and designed for children five and up. Younger children are accommodated too, with a weekly offering for three and four year olds with their parents in tow. These programs are docent led to take children on a close look at up to five pieces of art from the permanent collection. The children are encouraged to participate along with their parents in conversations about the art and the creations of their own art work based on what they’ve seen.

View from the Empire State Building

Kids of all ages will be thrilled with the view from the top of the Empire State building.

Empire State Building

With the skies clearing and night approaching, it was a good time to visit the Empire State building, which gets overwhelmingly crowded on weekends and afternoons. Our kids enjoyed the King Kong display in the lobby, and the kitsch in the gift shop, with Empire State building snow globes the coveted souvenir. But most of all they enjoyed the view, sparklingly dramatic once night falls. Just hold onto your children’s hands, and if they are small enough that seeing over the edge of the viewing area is difficult, be prepared to carry them. The viewing platform is crowded no matter what time of day or night you are there in clement weather; several years ago we were outside on a bitterly windy March night and even then we were scarcely alone. Bearing the crowds and the carrying factor in mind, the Empire State view is a must see, with its great view of the art deco Chrysler building and the spread of uptown/downtown high rises. Times Square looks like a minute glittery toy from these great heights, and the kids will enjoy being shown this landmark if you’ve visited it already, as we had, from ground level.

Lula’s Healthy Ice Cream – East Village

Need a little sugar fix? How about a healthy one. In the less-tourist-traveled East Village you’ll find Lula’s, offering delicious hot fudge sundaes, soft swirl cones, and a multitude of flavors from cookie dough to pistachio. How is this healthy, if tasty? The ice cream is coconut milk, not dairy, the sugar is natural cane, all fruit and nuts are fresh and organic. The vegan hot fudge sundae will knock your socks off, and nothing leaves an overly sweet taste in your mouth. Cones are fresh, salt and preservative free, and the flavors change frequently. The friendly staffers are happy to create your favorite childhood ice cream treat – only better for you – and create new ones for your kids to remember. Limited stool seating inside had us perched on outside benches watching the neighborhood flow by, which is also, frankly, a lot of fun. Lula’s Sweet Apothecary is located at 516 East 6th Street in New York City’s East Village.  This all natural sweet tooth delight is open every day except Mondays from 3pm until late in the evening.

Da Gennaro Restaurant, Little Italy

If you chose desert as a precursor to dinner, or if you prefer to eat in a more traditional fashion, regardless, the place to taxi is the ever-fun Little Italy district with restaurants and shopping galore!  Our new favorite restaurant there is Da Gennaro at 129 Mulberry Street, New York City. This open air cafe has economically priced – caveat, for New York – homemade pastas and salads. I had one of the best eggplant parmesans, delicate and not greasy, that I’ve ever consumed. The atmosphere is festive and small children are coddled with quick service on breads, complimentary bruschetta, and special food requests. Adults will enjoy the house-made fresh strawberry sangria, too, the perfect conclusion to a day of delightful big city treats.  For reservations call 212-431-3934.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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