- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Manhattan is a blinding, bright star on the family vacation sky. But look or, better yet, travel by subway or taxi to the borough to the southeast and explore the rich offerings of Brooklyn, where kid pleasures are so ubiquitous that within a one-block radius you can find a historic house, a superhero supply store, a playground, a fish-and-chips restaurant and a puppet theater.

Such is the case on the block of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street in the family-friendly Park Slope neighborhood.

Let’s start with the running-off-steam stop: the playground, complete with swings, slides and jungle gyms; also enough concrete slabs to run scooters and skateboards. It’s between Third and Fourth streets on Fifth Avenue and has as its backdrop the Old Stone House, a reconstruction of a 1699 Dutch stone farmhouse with such a rich history that you could spend hours there exploring the house, which is open on weekends.

Inside, visitors can see various exhibits showcasing the house as a major player in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brooklyn and later as the field house for the precursor to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Once children and parents are done swinging and sliding as well as learning about George Washington’s overseeing the Battle of Brooklyn, a food and drink break might be in order. There are two nearby restaurants - Stone Park Cafe (fine dining with a glowing New York Times review) and the Chip Shop (a British, everything-deep-fried joint, also with a favorable mention in the Gray Lady).

If these are too pricey, or you prefer a meal-to-go, the neighborhood has delis galore. A nice place to have a picnic lunch is Prospect Park (four blocks away), with its 585 acres of green space that include a zoo, a carousel, nature trails, ice-cream stands, pedal boats, tennis courts and playgrounds. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the park anchors the Park Slope neighborhood.

But not so fast. You can’t leave the Fifth Avenue block until you’ve stopped by the superhero store and the puppet theater.

Currently playing at Puppetworks is a one-hour performance of “Pinocchio” appropriate for children age 3 and older. The intimate theater, which opened in 1980, is devoted to traditional puppetry, and along the walls hang intricate wood-carved marionettes. “Jack and the Beanstalk,” opens Saturday.

Next stop - because we know children can’t get enough fiction and adventure - is the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., which sells bottles of chaos and antimatter as well as superhero capes and space suits. Buy one of these products and you support 826NYC, a nonprofit started by writer Dave Eggers aimed at supporting and assisting students with their creative writing skills.

Still got juice?

Well, in that case, how about Coney Island, Coney Island Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn Family Theater, the New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (reopening in the fall), the Wyckoff Farmhouse, the Waterfront Museum and the Brooklyn Museum?

The Beastie Boys were right - “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” Better yet, no sleep till after Brooklyn.

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