Thursday, April 16, 2015


{ Central Park aerial, Gray Malin }

Like me, most of my friends here in New York live pretty far from their hometowns, and their parents. Naturally, it's an exciting occasion when they come to visit—but it can also be quite stressful.

Planning more than a day's worth of meals and activities that are simultaneously impressive, parent-friendly and unikely to insight an arguement that reminds everyone of your terrible teen years is no small feat. The last time both of my parents were in New York we had a wonderful time, and same goes when my mom and I had a girls weekend the following summer. Still—I struggled to come up with creative ways to fill our time together that felt special and memorable. (At right, please note that I brought my mom to Meghan's rooftop birthday party at Berry Park and we had a blast.)

The hard part about selecting "parent-friendly" spots in New York is that all of our parents are different. They are different ages, have different interests and different levels of noise tolerance. Additionally, if you're galavanting around with just one parent instead of both, your options shift further. Perhaps you'd love to take your mom to your favorite fitness class, or snag two stools at a dive bar for a whiskey neat with your dad.

With my own mom flying in for a visit today (yay!), I figured now is the perfect time to collect all the best parent-friendly restaurants, bars and activities New York has to offer—as recommended by my most city-savvy friends.



ROSEMARY'S: "Rosemary's in the West Village is a great spot to bring your parents (or anyone when visiting NYC) because it provides a cool, relaxed atmosphere, it has great, competitively priced food, and is in a phenomenal area. I'm an East Sider so I'll typically have my parents meet me at my apartment, grab a coffee, and roam through NoHo on the way to the West Village. Afterwards you can tour through the West Village or head up to the Highline to walk off the delicious pasta you just had. Also--they don't require or take reservations so you can pop in, grab a drink at their hightop tables, while you wait." — Jerry // parents live in Seattle, WA

GEMMA: Of all the restaurants in a hotel lobby with a lot of chatter around them, you have to give Gemma—located in the chic Bowery Hotel—props. For brunch or dinner, you can pretty much always pop by Gemma without a reservation and either be seated right away or wait less than 20 minutes for a table (they actually don't even take reservations!). Even outside. Additionally, their menu is a consistent delight, with amazing pizzas, well-mixed cocktails and a decent wine list. If your family loves Italian, they will love Gemma. Plus, it's more likely than not that you'll spot a B or C list celebrity (or two!).

CHELSEA MARKET: "One of my favorite things to do with my parents is take them to Chelsea Market (on a weekday). I feel like the restaurants in there are always changing or offering new things, so it never feels old. The people watching is top notch and my parents get a kick out of picking up food at the fish and produce stalls so we can make dinner that night. It's always fun!" — Alyson // parents live in Delaware

LE FRENCH DINER: This place holds a special spot in my heart. I've been exactly three times, once with dear friends from  my semester abroad in France, once with my mom, and most recently on a date. For a small party of two or three, this place is ideal. It's tiny, dark and filled with the rich smells of broiling escargots and sizzling hanger steaks. Come here for an intimate, homey catch-up over delicious French wine and seasonal dishes with that certain je ne sais quoi. Le French Diner doesn't take reservations, so just show up. If you have to wait, they will come retrieve you after you grab a drink across the street.

MARY'S FISH CAMP: "My mom will not leave NYC without getting a lobster roll at Mary's Fish Camp. We think it's the best ever. Usually we'll split it as a snack..." — Alex R. // mom lives in Seattle

UPLAND: It seems that Upland is the only restaurant anyone is talking about in New York right now. From The New York Times to The Infatuation, the reviews are exceedingly glowing. Send your parents home with a meal worth bragging to their friends about. (I'm taking my mom for lunch this weekend.)


THE GRAMERCY TAVERN: Classy and classic—that's how I'd describe the vibe of this legendary Flatiron spot. It's hugely popular and pretty much always crowded, so either make a dinner reservation or try your luck at the bar if you're just two. The cocktails are heavenly and pretty pricey, so this is either a great excuse to be treated by your parents or treat them to something special. 

McSORELEY'S: "Definitely not easy, but if you can get a good spot locked down at McSorley's, I think any parents will love the history/atmosphere. My dad and I spent 5 hours in there the first time he visited me." — Alex Z. // parents live in the Bay Area, CA

RUE B: Stop by Rue B after dark for a cocktail, light bites and live jazz. This unassuming little spot on Avenue B is low key, and your parents will appreciate the reasonably-priced menu and well-made drinks. True, it's kind of a romantic spot, but that also means it's chill and sophisticated, which is totally parent-approved.

BRANDY LIBRARY: "My dad is a big whiskey and scotch fan, so every time my parents are in town, I take them to Brandy Library in TriBeCa. We like that you can get adventurous and try new booze and cocktails. It's rather upscale and lounge-y (though not clubby, whatsoever), which makes it an appropriate place to bring our 60-70yr old friends." — Dave M. // parents live in Chicago, IL


THE ROOFTOP @ THE MET MUSEUM: The Met is a tourist standard of course, but you'd be surprised how many people have no idea that there's a bar on the roof. Open early May through October, this is the place to enjoy an adult beverage, a fabulous outdoor installation and nearly 360-degree views of Central Park and Manhattan. (Keep in mind this is seasonal and weather-permitting.)

NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN: "My favorite place to take my parents is the New York Botanical Garden—it is a quick and easy train ride out of the city, and you can experience some really glorious nature.  Excellent for walking and taking in some fresh air, and having an inexpensive but tasty lunch outside – plus they have rotating/seasonal installations that are always unique.  Right now the Orchid Show is on through and it is breathtaking.  It is fun and it tricks your parents into thinking you’re going places other than the bar around the corner…" — Alex D. // parents live in Virginia Beach, VA

SECRET NEW YORK: "Tim [my husband] and I have gotten really into this book called Secret New York. By neighborhood, it lists out some really interesting historical sights. Something from here would be a great thing to do with parents because you can spend the whole day bopping around..." — Alex R. // mom lives in Seattle, WA

BARRE CLASS: "I'm horribly obsessed with barre classes thanks to Classpass, so I think one morning I'll drag my mom along to Exhale in Soho, then hit up Jack's Wife Freda afterwards for breakfast. Their grilled haloumi rocks my world." — Megan // parents live in Wisconsin

THE ORIGINAL GREENWICH VILLAGE FOOD & CULTURE TOUR: "[The OGVGCT] is top-notch.  They feed you along the way (of major importance to me) so you get to learn about the history and culture of NYC whilst snacking. Pretty killer combo." — Alex D. // parents live in Virginia Beach, VA

CENTRAL PARK: "I would take my mom to my favorite spot in NYC—Central Park! We could walk the loop and spend the afternoon with a bottle of rosé plus wine + cheese in Sheep Meadow. Lots of time to catch up over beautiful scenery." — Lexi // mom lives in California

MAGIC JEWELRY: "Magic Jewelry in Chinatown offers aura photography (not totally sure if that's what you call it, but...) and I've always wanted to go. My folks have been out enough times by now that they've walked the Highline, seen a few Broadway shows, taken the Circle Line tour, so I think this could be something fun and different—and definitely an activity we've never partaken of in Wisconsin, where I'm from." — Megan // parents live in Wisconsin



  1. this is going to be so useful for me on the future, thanks!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Good list, thank you. I'd add MOMA and lunch at the Modern there is a good activity. Drinks at the bar at Del Posto is parent-worthy. Comedy Clubs (Comedy Cellar is my favorite). Chelsea art galleries and tapas or pizza on 10th Ave, or finishing at Chelsea Market which you listed is a must. Consign shops in Soho if your parents would appreciate that, otherwise just Soho.