A trip to New York City should feature at least one fantastic surprise. For me, it was finding out that the iconic children’s toy store FAO Schwarz, which closed its store on Fifth Avenue in 2009, reopened in Rockefeller Square in November 2018 — just a few months before my trip.
Coincidence…or the universe rewarding me for making it to my 40th birthday with three sons and a husband, none of whom seem to know how to pick up socks? You decide.
I can’t be the only child of the eighties who has pined for the opportunity to dance on the giant piano featured in the movie “Big.” But even if you aren’t a Tom Hanks fan, FAO Schwarz has plenty to entertain the whole family for a few minutes/hours/days (yes, I had to drag my six-year-old out after an hour, and there was whining involved). Experiencing this famous toy store is definitely one of our favorite things to do in New York City.
But before you head there, I have one VERY STRONG recommendation for you: do not go there with more kids than adults.
I can’t stress this enough. I go lots of places with my three boys without losing them, but I’m pretty sure if I tried that in FAO Schwarz, I’d only make it out with one child — two if we were lucky. This is a flagship store in Rockefeller Center, which, at this writing, has only been open for six months. It was a zoo.
Oh wait, I forgot, I have another VERY STRONG recommendation for you: decide ahead of time if you are buying anything.
Your kid will want EVERYTHING in here. Trust me. Set some limits!
With those out of the way, here are some things you and your kids shouldn’t miss experiencing (or taking photos for posterity/Instagram) if you are visiting the new FAO Schwarz in New York CIty!
Dance on the Giant Piano
Is it a little embarrassing to be fighting five-year-old girls for a place in line? Yes. But I let my kid play on the piano instead of demanding my own turn, and I kind of regret it, because it’s not like he remembers “Big.” So just elbow those cute kids out of the way (Or, you know, wait patiently. Your call.)
Fly the Rocket Ship
There’s a fun rocket ship at the top of the stairs in the front of the store. Let your kid fly it.
Or don’t, because that’s not free. I tried to hurry my child past this part (hello, we have a Build-a-Bear in our mall at home, but we don’t have a giant piano!), but he got stuck at the part where they stuff the bears. I admit, that part’s really great.
Meet a Transformer
There’s a giant Transformer that scared the bejesus out of me in here. Watch out.
Be Nerdy in the Science Section
You might never get past the Discovery area if you let your child sit down. There are frequently science demonstrations here, conducted by a white-coated scientist (or pretend scientist, whatever).
These sweet babes are just waiting to be adopted under the watchful eye of a patient “nurse” at FAO Schwarz.
Explore the Candy Section
There is basically the most adorable candy store ever on the bottom floor, including candy displays of boats and trains.
Adopt a Baby Doll
There’s a “nurse” dressed in scrubs in this section, patiently retucking the blankets around the baby dolls. If you are looking to adopt a pretend baby, you’ve come to the right place.
Design Your Own Remote Control Car
This is one of the cooler opportunities in the store. I skillfully avoided this whole section, because the opportunity to design your own remote control car? I mean, my son would have LOVED that. I don’t even want to know how much it would have cost.
If anyone in your family has a sweet tooth, you may want to avoid the ground floor, where this FAO Schwarz candy train — and many, many other sweets — will tempt you.
Get Your Nails Painted
There’s a whole beauty salon section. I assume it’s for little kids, but if you’re an adult that likes sparkly nails I can’t imagine they would turn you away. I mean, this place has everything!
Pose with Toy Soldiers
There are iconic FAO Schwarz toy soldiers stationed out front. Don’t miss your chance to get your picture taken with them before you leave!