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New York

Surprise Package

Who would have thought the headquarters of the American-Scandinavian Foundation would be so kid-friendly. True, for the adults there’s Icelandic art and Estonian cello music, but the children’s area is filled with such Danish favorites as Legos, model ice caves and volcanoes, and mirrored floors. During the year there are concerts in honor of Pippi Longstocking, Saturday mornings with the Hans Christian Andersen Storytellers, puppet theaters, and more. For the sophisticated palette there’s the AQ café, operated by the ever-smart Aquavit restaurant.
58 Park Ave.
212-779-3587
www.scandinaviahouse.org

Animal Magnetism

Not only do the goats, cows, and sheep get in their licks at Central Park’s Tisch Children’s Zoo, but so does the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. For only 25 cents (deposited into one of the several, handy food dispensers), you’ll literally have your favorite pet eating out of your hand. Afterwards, rub the bronze sculpture outside each pen to hear the native noise – be it a squawk or an oink – of the inhabitants. Finally, wing it over to the Enchanted Forest and its giant spider, primeval oak tree remains, and, best of all, its captivating aviary. Talk about flying high.

64th St. & 5th Ave. (in Central Park)
212-439-6500
www.centralparkzoo.com

Siren Call

In an old SoHo firehouse with towering stone arches and red-brick walls, the NYC Fire Museum teaches the art of – you guessed it – firefighting. Off-duty firefighters staff this fascinating repository of information and artifacts, answering any question a kid can come up with. Indeed, the smaller set tends to go wild over the various fire engines, uniforms, and different vintage equipment. Talk about hot.
NYC Fire Museum
278 Spring St.
212-691-1303
www.nycfiremuseum.org

Landmark Reclaimed

More than just a fantasy structure, Belvedere Castle maintains a real belvedere – architectural lingo for “observatory” or “tower.” Part Roman temple, part Goth castle, and part Greek edifice, this Central Park landmark was once only a fake front with open windows and doors overlooking Turtle Pond, the Great Lawn, and one of the famous park’s original reservoirs. Now a total building, the Belvedere is home to the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, where naturalists give off-the-cuff lessons using telescopes, microscopes, feathers, and even skeletons.

Mid-Park, at 79th St.
212-772-0210
www.centralpark.com

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