Its name doesn’t conjure up a particularly warm and fuzzy image, but Sunset Park’s Industry City has become one of the most kid-friendly spots in an already very kid-friendly borough. After all, in Brooklyn, “family time” is itself a big industry.
And I don’t mind one bit that the Industry City bigwigs know exactly how to lure Brooklynite parents to their relatively remote revamped Bush Terminal warehouses: with the promise of daytime drinks (I’ll take a brewed-on-site draft cold sake, please), avocado-heavy dishes, nonsaccharine kid-friendly music, cornhole, and a spacious, sunny arcade (A well-lit arcade? Unheard of!) that includes a mercifully short indoor mini golf course.
Live Motown and Vintage Toys
The waterfront complex is worth a visit any day, but Saturday is particularly suited for the littles. Just walk five minutes from the 36th Street N stop to Second Avenue and look for the courtyard between the buildings on 37th and 38th Streets. This urban oasis is where you’ll find the outdoor Brooklyn Flea (it moves indoors when the weather turns cool), where kids can browse through bins of vintage toys—Troll dolls, Hot Wheels cars, and Garbage Pail Kids cards—while you get that promised drink at the Bell House Outpost Bar just feet away.
Move further down the courtyard, past the racks of vintage dresses and minimalist jewelry, to the stage in the back. At 12:30 every Saturday through August 29, the Rock and Roll Playhouse hosts a family concert series (best for kids 10 and under) with great musicians, cover songs that adults like—and, of course, bubbles. This Saturday’s theme is the the sounds of Motown, which makes for a great background soundtrack even if your kids are older and won’t be dancing in the pit with the toddlers. The courtyard is adjacent to Industry City’s Food Hall, which has something for even the pickiest of eaters: tacos, sushi, ramen, burgers, pizza, smoothies, ice cream, and all the avocados you can eat at the Avocaderia.
Foosball and Ping-Pong
Next, head to another courtyard about a block down, between buildings 5 and 6, where the Frying Pan Brooklyn lobster shack has set up a sweet game room with ping-pong tables, air hockey, Pop-a-Shot, Skee-Ball, shuffleboard, mini golf, and—best of all—zero plastic “prizes.” My kids met a friend here the other weekend and spent two full hours playing the old-school games (5 bucks buys you a wristband and free rein in the room for the entire day) without complaining. Score! Did I mention that this game room is light and airy, so you won’t feel like you’ve spent your afternoon in an underground baby casino?
An Immersive-ish Art Exhibition
Don’t let the “art” word scare you; older kids might like the trippy M.C. Escher exhibition at Industry City, on view through February 3, 2019, that includes plenty of photo ops for selfies and Instagram fodder.
5 More Fun Things to Do This Weekend if Sunset Park Is Not in the Cards
- If you’ve never been to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (the site of the 1964 World’s Fair), having kids in tow is the perfect excuse. Watch the races, listen to Chinese music, and eat from food trucks.
- The Metrograph theater on the Lower East Side has a new family matinee series called Playtime, which features quality kid-friendly classics. It’s kicking off with the film that had children across the country licking their kitchen wallpaper (or was that just me?), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The one with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp, of course.
- Zip-line down Centre Street, compete in an obstacle course, and play games (of both the analog and digital variety) during Summer Streets, when the city shuts down seven miles of prime Manhattan thoroughfare to traffic and opens it up to general pedestrian frolicking.
- See how the Colonials did magic “without the use of pockets, bags, or sleeves”—via a living historian in traditional garb—at the New-York Historical Society’s Summer of Magic. The NYHS is a fascinating, beautiful, and, most important, manageable museum. The promise of magic might be just the trick to get the kids to go.
- Let the kids (ages 6 and older) play in what amounts to an abandoned construction site—complete with old tires, hammers and nails, and mounds of dirt—at the Play:groundNYC’s Yard at Governors Island. Adults not allowed. What you don’t see won’t hurt you.