This is Why You'll Love The Mint Chip Mama
Stacey Gish Wallenstein, aka The Mint Chip Mama, is a stay-at-home mom who knows the best of what to do in the NY metro area.
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What’s your favorite place in the New York City area to bring your kids?
I just can’t narrow that answer down to one, so I’ll go ahead and name 50…we have annual traditions like going to the New York Botanical Garden for the Holiday Train Show and going to the New York Aquarium and then Coney Island (where my kids swear the chocolate ice cream is the best on Earth) in the summer. We go to the Bronx Zoo in the Fall, and to a Broadway show in the Spring. We often visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art for Start with Art and the American Museum of Natural History to visit the dinosaurs and Teddy Roosevelt statue. The New-York Historical Society is a recent favorite and, of course, no one can overlook the absolute perfection of a leisurely stroll through Central Park on a nice fall day.
My daughter and I love going into Brooklyn to glass-blow at Urban Glass. My sons love feeding the animals at the Queens Zoo. Heading out of the five boroughs and into Nassau and Suffolk counties, we love the Nassau County Firefighters Museum in Garden City, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, and the Long Island Carriage Museum in Stonybrook. We’ve spent hours watching the ducks at Heckscher Park in Huntington, stealing snails to become our pets at Tobay Beach in Wantagh, playing in the Outdoor Nature Explorium at The Middle Country Library in Centereach, and walking on The Green Belt trails in Plainview.
We’ve also spent great days at Adventureland in Farmingdale, Splish Spash in Calverton, and riding on the Long Island Live Steamers in Brookhaven. We’ve fed the fish at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and traveled back in time at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration. We have also fallen in love with Greenport (on the North Fork of Long Island), which has become our annual summer vacation, as is a visit to Harbes Family Farm and Magic Fountain Ice Cream in Mattituck. I always try to pair an attraction with a unique mom-and-pop local restaurant. This could mean funky grilled cheese, crepes, or any old-time luncheonette we can find.
What is the best thing about raising kids in the New York city area?
I love that in a crazy expensive city there is so much you can do for free, and that you can provide your family with the most cultured life regardless of your income. From pay-as-you-wish admission to museum passes from the library, the possibilities are endless.
For years my parents have given us a zoo membership for the holidays. One of my favorite phrases is “memberships are the gift that keep on giving.” When we lived in the city, we frequently visited the same museums. Since I’m a lover of longitudinal studies, I started taking pictures of my kids in the same spot every time we visited. I’ve developed quite the portfolio! It’s fun to look back now and see how the kids have grown and how our family has grown. But New York has stayed (mostly) the same.