On Wednesday, JC and I went to New York City. You would think, seeing as how we don't live so terribly far away, that we would do this on a regular basis. But no, going with all three kids always turns into a production. So going with one kid? Easy peasy.
It started out a vague plan of "let's wander around Greenwich Village", but the night before I actually sat down and figured out some places we might want to go. SO glad I did. Having some destinations was a good thing - we might have walked a little more than otherwise, but we found some really cool places.
#1 (highly recommended) The Evolution Store
Oh. My. God. (sorry, there's no other word for it). In the heart of SoHo, this store specializes in "natural specimens". Um, yeah, what? Think skeletons, taxidermy, bugs, minerals, fossils, and all manner of cool, slightly creepy stuff. Tiny place, jam-packed (there's a taxidermied alligator attached to the ceiling, upside down. JC dubbed it "spider-gator"). Wanna buy a Utah raptor claw (replica)? Whale vertebrae? Human skeleton (either real or replica)? The cave bear skull (real, not a replica) will only set you back $7995!
We spent a long time there going through the whole place. If you have kids that are creeped out by taxidermy or skeletons, they might not like it, but we loved it. Can't wait to go back with William (not sure if Rachel's going to like this one).
#2 The Strand Bookstore
For kids who have grown up on a suburban diet of large chain bookstores, this is a wonderful opportunity to see what else is out there. It doesn't quite have the ambiance of a cozy little neighborhood bookstore (the place is HUGE!), but when they have a whole table of "odd books" including V is for Vampire and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, it's a winner. They also had classic book t-shirts (we got Fahrenheit 451 for JC and A Clockwork Orange for John) and really neat tote bags and all sorts of other stuff. We could have spent even longer in there, but I spent enough money as it was!
#3 Molly's Cupcakes
This was complete serendipity. We were walking from Christopher Street PATH station towards the Evolution Store, which is a bit of a hike. It was right about that "mid-morning need a pick-me-up" time, and Molly's was in the right place at the right time. Absolutely fun decor (shelves of board games for you to play!) and very friendly staff (not a given in the City). I had the 7-layer bar, which was classic and huge and I couldn't finish it. JC had the cake batter cupcake, which actually did have a soft center of cake batter (he said it was fabulous), and they have coffee too, of course.
#4 Union Square Greenmarket
When I saw we were going to be near Union Square, I looked up when the market was open. We didn't buy anything except cider for JC (he was thirsty), but if I lived nearby I would TOTALLY shop there. Everything looked gorgeous and delicious.
#5 Washington Square Park
We just walked through, but if you're a people-watcher, it was fabulous. Didn't hurt that it was a warm, beautiful day near noon. And for a WTF moment, this:
#6 recommended BareBurger
This was lunch, and it was yummy. JC had an elk burger piled with stuff, I went classic beef with just grilled onions, and my friend (who came with us) had turkey burger with Mediterranean flavors. Great onion rings and fries with interesting dipping sauces (curry ketchup, chipotle mayo, etc.). Not too crowded, pleasantly cool, interestingly funky. And the bathroom was clean.
Sorry this got long, and there are a couple of other places we stopped, too. But these were the standouts - if you're going to NYC and going to be down in the Village/SoHo/Flatiron district looking for something to do, check 'em out.