Affectionately named D.U.M.B.O., the area “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass” is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. On a recent trip there, the cobblestone streets rumbled underneath our family's car, jostling us with each bump to the sounds of “Woah!” coming from Daniel in the back seat. We passed intact building facades, their insides torn out for new development. The area is a historic district. Builders preserving the past retain the facades, developing for the future from within. 

 

The piers under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges are covered with parks and eateries, each one more interesting than the next. We walked the boardwalk and admired the views as the Brooklyn Bridge loomed large over us. The Manhattan skyline created a beautiful backdrop to our cold walk. Following Old Dock Street, we came upon Jane’s Carousel.

Encased along the waterfront in a glass pavilion, the 1920s carousel and its handsome horses spent more than 20 years being restored in local artist Jane Walentas's studio. The swift movements of the horses as they rise up and fall down, moving toward and then away from the beautiful shoreline, make a striking picture. Tickets to ride are $2 and seem a low price to pay for the laughter and smiles elicited from little mouths.

We walked down Market Street, finding Jacques Torres’s flagship chocolate shop. The warmth from its tin ceilings and well-worn wood floors enveloped us as we entered. The shelves were stocked high with the glittering foils of chocolate wrappers; the bakery case was piled high with cookies. We sat at one of the few tables to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie and a hot chocolate while chatting with the kind and friendly staff. Their products are all handcrafted from scratch, and I could hardly pry the cookie out of Daniel’s hands for a bite.

 

Wandering around the corner, we came across Juliana’s. Owned by Patsy Grimaldi, this pizza place exuded charm not only in its ambiance, but also through its waitstaff. Daniel and I had a mini pizza date while John quietly slept in the stroller next to us.

Ditching the stroller after this yummy respite, we made our way toward the stairs to the Brooklyn Bridge. With John in his carrier, I hoisted Daniel on my hip, and we charged upward. Once on the bridge, Daniel could hardly contain his excitement about the cars and trucks that moved below. He ran as I walked towards the immense pillars between the web-like pattern of cables. Walking the bridge with Daniel, I felt his curiosity and enthusiasm was infectious. We walked until his little legs grew tired before returning to take a long-awaited nap on the way home.

Go for the scenic views, stay for the chocolate and always think outside the box in your adventures in life with your children.