$20 Playdates in NYC

     Playdate: East Village, NYC

Little Creative Garden, 6th Street and Ave B
Photograph: Arthur Greenberg
Start your day at the 6th & B Community Garden (6th St at Ave B, 6bgarden.org), once home to the Tower of Toys sculpture featured in the original Broadway run of Rent. Though the piece was dismantled a few years ago, the quiet corner lot is still an urban oasis: Children can meander through the 17,000 square feet of greenery, following winding paths past koi fish and a turtle pond, or take a breather in the garden’s wooden gazebo. Right next door is the equally idyllic Creative Little Garden (E 6th St between Aves A and B,creativelittlegarden.org), where tots can search out a dollhouse-sized Eden complete with miniature buildings, walkways and plants.
Next up: Dinosaur Hill (306 E 9th St between First and Second Aves; 212-473-5850,dinosaurhill.com). The mom-and-pop toy store specializes in whimsical handmade items; little ones will find everything from musical instruments and marionettes to alphabet blocks in a dozen languages. For a cool souvenir, pick up a pair of Peruvian finger puppets located near the back of the store ($4 apiece).
Ready to refuel? Make your final stop Veniero’s pastry shop (342 E 11th St between First and Second Aves; 212-674-7070, venierospastry.com), a neighborhood institution since 1894. Kids will salivate just waiting in line along the glass case packed with cannolis, eclairs, napoleons and fruit tarts. Satisfy rumbling tummies with half a dozen mini-pastries—a steal at three for $4.25.
The breakdown
Entertainment $8
Food $8.50
Total $16.50

Playdate: Chelsea Market NYC

Home to more than 30 cafés and shops, Chelsea Market is the perfect place to keep little ones entertained on dreary winter days. Start at the Ninth Avenue entrance to the block-long building (75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts). There kids can check out walls lined with tins and photographs that pay homage to the space’s early days—the building housed the Nabisco factory in the early 20th century. (Young foodies will be intrigued to learn that the Oreo was invented here in 1912.) As you make your way down the long, tunnel-like corridor, point out quirky architectural details like the original factory floors and the winding, exposed-brick walls. Stop at the waterfall in the center of the market; kids can throw in a coin as they watch the water magically change color (read: illuminated lights).

Playdate: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Start with a free tour of The Harbor Defense Museum (enter at Fort Hamilton Pkwy and 101st St; 718-630-4349, harbordefensemuseum.com) on Fort Hamilton. The U.S. military base dates back to 1776, but it’s still in use today (parents: Be sure to bring a valid ID with you). Kids get a peek into the city’s military history—yes, there was a Battle of Brooklyn—by checking out uniforms and artillery from the Revolutionary War through World War II. Don’t miss the 19th-century canon: Educators are on hand to teach visitors how to load and fire it.
Continued here: http://timeoutnewyorkkids.com/things-to-do/173465/20-playdate-bay-ridge-brooklyn

Playdate: Jackson Heights, Queens

Begin at Travers Park (enter at 34th Ave between 77th and 78th Sts), a community hub that underwent a major renovation last year. Little ones can enjoy tree house–themed jungle gyms and swings; older kids will want to bring equipment to play pickup games of basketball, roller hockey or handball. Make sure to check out the baseball field where Jackie Robinson—who hailed from nearby East Elmhurst—practiced when he was a kid.
Afterward, head to Butula Emporium (37-46 74th St near 37th Rd, 718-899-5590) to indulge wee explorers in the ultimate South Asian treasure hunt. They can look for Indian deities, both in statue form and in comic book renditions of Hindu epics; check out Indian instruments like the tabla drum, sitar and harmonium; or stop to smell the more than 200 varieties of incense. For a souvenir of the day, take home metal bracelets or copper snakes ($5 each).

Playdate: Riverdale, Bronx

Start by taking the 1 train to the 242nd St–Van Cortlandt Park stop. Before boarding the free shuttle to Wave Hill (which leaves Burger King at ten minutes past the hour from noon until 5pm), make a pit stop at the Riverdale Diner (3657 Kingsbridge Ave at 238th St, 718-884-6050) to load up on black-and-white cookies ($2 each). Kids—and parents—will need the sugar rush after spending the day exploring the public gardens and cultural center atWave Hill (675 W 249th St at Independence Ave; 718-549-3200, wavehill.org. $8, seniors and students $4, children ages 6–12 $2, children under 6 free). Make your first stop the Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland; the ten acres of winding paths will remind children of hiking through Hansel and Gretel’s forest. Then check out the koi fish in the aquatic garden and the park’s two large, grassy hills—perfect for rolling down. 

Playdate: Dinosaurs and More, Staten Island

Staten Island Zoo, Feb 26 1:30pm–3:30pm.614 Broadway (between Clove Rd and Forest Ave)
(718) 442-3100statenislandzoo.org
Free with admission, donation suggested
Dino expert Richie Mirissis shares his fossil collection with kids, then teaches archeologists-in-training how to make their own fossil mold. Ages 5 and up.