ENJOYING NYC: Cool Stuff to Do With and Without Kids by Robin Gorman Newman

School break is always a busy time for us.  I enjoy spending time with my son and coming up with cool activities for some mommy and me fun.  The following are great ways to enjoy NYC, whether during the holidays and beyond. 

Photo credit: Tony Muia/A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

Photo credit: Tony Muia/A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours


 Started in 2006, the 3 1/2 hour A Slice of Brooklyn Christmas Lights & Cannoli holiday bus tour features Dyker Heights, the Italian-American section of Brooklyn that takes on the nickname “Dyker Lights” every December. That’s when over 100,000 people flock to the area to see the most amazing and over-the-top Christmas decorations. From 15 foot tall animated Santas, to animatronic figures to life size Nativities and millions of lights, it’s no wonder that the area was voted the #1 destination for Holiday lights in the United States in 2012!  It is a virtual winter wonderland…a feast for the eyes…and a MUST SEE at holiday time.

dyker2You have the opportunity to depart the bus twice to walk around and take photos of the gloriously illuminated homes.  Also included in price of the tour is a stop for a decadent cannoli and hot chocolate from an authentic, Brooklyn neighborhood pastry shop….and an opportunity to purchase delicious slices of brick oven pizza.

On the bus, there is an entertaining multimedia presentation featuring vintage Christmas variety specials like Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, etc. 

dyker3The tour departs from Manhattan in the Union Square area, and transportation is provided to and from that location, in a comfortable coach bus with an experienced driver.

Angela Christensen was a lively, informative and friendly tour guide, and she was fun to chat with.

Aside from the holiday tour, the company has a variety of year round offerings including a Pizza Tour and Neighborhood Tour.

Visit A Slice of Brooklyn.  The tours are well run, and whether you’re a New Yorker or visiting from out of town, you will experience Brooklyn in a new, fun way and on the holiday tour, you also have some beautiful views of the city at night, especially the bridges.



Build-A-Bear Workshop® Opens Newly Imagined Store at FAO Schwarz® Fifth Avenue in New York City

buildabearfaoBuild-A-Bear Workshop® recently opened a shop within the FAO Schwarz® Fifth Avenue flagship store in NYC. The new location is the first Build-A-Bear Workshop store-within-a-store in the United States, allowing the company to extend its reach to new customers and offer existing guests access to its all-new store experience.  My son had a blast here, and we now have a new family member, the uber-soft and adorable Coco the chimp (named by my son).

While visiting the store, guests can participate in the hands-on Build-A-Bear Workshop stuffed animal-making experience, which has been enhanced with innovative, digital technology. The company worked with Microsoft, Samsung, and other leading technology companies to create the engaging store design, which includes:

  • A touchscreen storefront display that allows Guests to interact with the brand by playing and exploring the latest Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friend collections.
  • An interactive “Love Me” station that enables Guests to customize their stuffed animals by giving personality traits such as brave, silly and smart to the red satin heart which is added to their animal at the “Stuff Me” station.  
  • A “Hear Me” station where popular music and special sounds can be added to personalize their stuffed animal. Guests can also record their own voice to further personalize their stuffed animal.
  • The “Fluff Me” station where customers can play with a sensory effects digital bath tub with virtual bubbles.  
  • The “Name Me” station which allows Guests to reveal the personality traits and customized features that were added to their stuffed animal throughout the bear-making process. At “Name Me,” Guests also create a one-of-a-kind birth certificate to take home with their new furry friend.
    Name Me Station: where you can see the attributes inside and name your furry friend

    Name Me Station: where you can see the attributes inside and name your furry friend

About Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc.

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is the only global company that offers an interactive make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience. There are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide.Brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball® mascot in-stadium locations, and Build-A-Dino® stores. Build-A-Bear Workshop extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award winning virtual world website at bearville.com.Visit buildabear.com®.

About  FAO Schwarz

Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has been a brand synonymous with quality and innovation, offering an unparalleled selection of one-of-a-kind toys that have enchanted generations and cultivated a loyal clientele. Visit FAO.com

FAO Schwarz is a beautiful store, and it’s well worth the visit if you’re in NYC, and certainly stop by the Build-A-Bear Workshop area on the second level, for a fun, memorable, interactive experience.


newmuseumburdenThe New Museum is presenting “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures,” the artists first major exhibition in the U.S in over 25 years. Spanning a 40-year career and moving across mediums, the exhibition presents a selection of Burden’s work where physical and moral limits are called into question. It’s on display until January 12, 2014. My son and I had the opportunity to visit…our first time at the museum….and the exhibit is innovative and thought-provoking. Occupying all five floors of the Museum, “Extreme Measures” offers an opportunity to examine the ways in which Burden has continuously investigated the breaking point of materials, institutions, and even himself. The exhibition also features an ambitious installation of two iconic works on the exterior of the Museum. Twin Quasi Legal Skyscrapers (2013), each measuring thirty-six feet in height, is erected on the roof of the building. The two structures speak of the constantly evolving nature of the urban landscape while also evoking the lost Twin Towers. Ghost Ship (2005), a thirty-foot double-ended vessel originally designed to sail a four-hundred-mile unmanned voyage guided by computer, hangs on the Museum’s façade like a lifeboat at the ready. Burden’s exterior sculptures will remain on view for a year as part of the New Museum’s ongoing Façade Sculpture Program.

Over the past four decades, Burden has created a unique and powerful body of work that has redefined the way we understand both performance and sculpture. His early works of the 1970s remain some of the most extreme and influential performances of the era. These iconic works continue to inspire artists through Burden’s radical approach, not only to the body but also to issues of power, control, desire, and repression, and their connections to larger social and political concerns.

burden2At the New Museum, the exhibition features a selection of Burden’s work focused on marvels of engineering, such as buildings, vehicles, war machines, and bridges, consistently engaging with the representation of masculinity and the destructive potential latent in engineering pursuits. The Big Wheel, a pivotal early work marking the artist’s transition from performance to sculpture, presents a six-thousand-pound cast-iron fly wheel that becomes activated by a motorcycle. When the motorcycle is accelerated at full throttle, the fly wheel spins to a maximum speed of two hundred rpm. Three examples of different bridge models are also featured in the show, including Mexican Bridge, built through a laborious and intricate process with Meccano and Erector metal toy construction parts, and two new works, Three Arch Dry Stack Bridge (pictured with my son), ¼ Scale, where the cinderblock structure is held up without mortar by the force of gravity alone, and Triple 21 Foot Truss Bridge, a fifty-nine-foot-long cantilever bridge. L.A.P.D. Uniforms, made in response to the Los Angeles riots that followed the beating of Rodney King, speak to Burden’s critical engagement with authority figures, the military, and those occupying positions of power. These themes are also explored in a dazzling construction composed of 625 miniature cardboard submarines (pictured with my son) that, when it was created in 1987, fully represented the piece’s title: All the Submarines of the United States of America. Since the early 1980s, Burden has used materials common to childhood playtime activities (such as action figures, toy trains, and construction models) to create miniaturized yet monumental models of buildings and environments. A Tale of Two Cities (pictured) is a particularly remarkable example of these large-scale tableaux, depicting two city-states at war. The massive installation is made out of over five thousand toy and model pieces, live plants, and heaps of sand, taking the child’s war game to another level of complexity, obsession, and absurdity. These works are presented along with documentation of Burden’s early performances, video works, and other ambitious installations that rigorously test the artist, the viewer, and the institution, and challenge our beliefs and attitudes about art and the contemporary world.burden3

Chris Burden (b. 1946 Boston, MA) currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He attended Pomona College and received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine, in 1971. He had a major survey exhibition at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA, in 1988 and at MAK–Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, in 1996. His work was presented in the 48th Venice Biennale and at the Tate Gallery in 1999. In 2008, the Public Art Fund presented WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME, one of his skyscraper sculptures, at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

About the New Museum
The New Museum is the only museum in New York City exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists from around the world. From its beginnings as a one-room office on Hudson Street to the inauguration of its first freestanding building on the Bowery designed by SANAA in 2007, the New Museum continues to be a place of experimentation and a hub of new art and new ideas.  Visit newmuseum.org.


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