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If you haven’t taken a peek at Bethany Ciotola’s Instagram feed, including her stories, we suggest you head over and check it out stat. Bethany and her two insanely gorgeous boys, Kai and Rowan, are as photogenic as they come. But don’t be fooled, because this mama is so much more than a pretty face; she’s hilarious for one and her love for her two littles is off the charts. She gained such fandom from her feed (110k followers and growing!) that she launched her blog, Bethany & Her Boys earlier this year and she loves taking her readers along for the crazy ride as she navigates the world of mom-blogging while living in New York City. It’s no small feat to keep two dragons entertained while playground-hopping under the hot summer sun, so we just had to ask her to share her secrets with us. Read on to hear Bethany’s tips for the perfect day venturing around her Upper West Side neighborhood with the family, and how she keeps both herself and the kids’ skin protected while staying active…

What part of New York City do you live in? Do you have any favorite neighborhood places to go with your kids? 

We live on the Upper West Side near Columbia University. It’s one of my favorite spots in the city because it really feels like a little neighborhood, and we are right in between both Riverside Park and Central Park with an endless number of playgrounds to choose from.

You have 2 adorable boys! Where do you like to go so they can run and get their energy out?

We love Sakura Park. It’s a hidden little park that’s nestled right underneath the beautiful Cathedral that makes up Riverside Church. It’s small enough that my husband and I can set up a picnic and let the boys roam free because we can always keep an eye on them no matter which direction they take off in.

What are some of their favorite things to do outside?

Kai is in a full-blown scooter phase. We can’t leave the house without his green scooter and dinosaur helmet. Rowan is into anything that his big brother is doing, so he’s constantly entertained.

What’s in your bag when you’re heading out for a day in the city or to the park?

Bottled water, a wide range of snacks for the boys, a few small toys, hand sanitizer, a metrocard and Supergoop!’s Mineral Sunscreen. One of the most important things for me in a sunscreen is also how it feels and smells. Supergoop! is lightweight and oil-free, making it ideal for sensitive skin, and it has a clean, almost refreshing, non-chemical smell. There’s nothing worse than having an over-powering sunscreen!

The sun in the city can be just as damaging as at the beach! How do you protect you and your family on a day out?

I always apply sunscreen on the boys before leaving the house to have one less thing to worry about while we are out and I then only need to bring a small tube with me to reapply later. I love how the Supergoop! products come in both large and small sizes. The small mineral sunscreen is the perfect size for me to throw in my bag when I know I’ll be out and about in the city all day. I also keep small foldable baby hats in my bag for the boys, and I just bought them both adorable matching sunglasses!

What is your favorite New York memory while enjoying a day outside?

We have a beautiful pier near our apartment on the Hudson River. Last month, on one of the first beautiful summer nights, my husband put Rowan on his shoulders and chased Kai up and down the pier for what seemed like hours. Both of the boys loved this and you could hear the sound of their laughter a mile away. We attracted a lot of attention from Rowan’s shrieks of joy, and I’ll never forget his face — he couldn’t have been smiling any wider. I love seeing them have so much fun while being active.

Do you have a secret, or not-so-secret spot, in Central Park?

In the spring when the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom, there is a little spot near 88th street that has this big beautiful cherry blossom tree. It’s usually empty and we’ve taken the boys there for picnics so many times. We started going there before the boys were born when we lived on 88th street, so it holds many special memories for us.

It can be challenging having kids in different stages. How do you keep them both satisfied when you’re out for the day? Do you have have a secret weapon for meltdowns?

It’s incredibly hard to keep them both satisfied because they have such different needs. I try to have them interact and entertain each other as much as possible, but sometimes they just need their own favorite toy or snack. Kai’s favorite snack right now is fruit gummies, and Rowan pretty much loves anything I give him.

How do you get around town?

If I’m hanging around my neighborhood I will use our double stroller, but If I have to use the subway or bus, I’ll bring an umbrella stroller for Kai and I’ll wear a carrier for Rowan. Getting around the city with a 1-year-old and 2-year-old is no joke!

When you leave the city, what’s your dream destination?

Ogunquit, Maine. If I could have a summer house it would be there. Ogunquit Beach is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to — I’ve visited there every summer since I was 3-months-old.

What do you love about New York City in the summer?

I love when the city empties out during the summer holidays and long weekends. You can snag restaurant reservations, the subways are less crowded…the city just becomes magical.

What would you say is your kids’ favorite summer treat?

Ice cream. Kai would live off of ice cream alone if he could. There isn’t anything more dangerous than an ice cream truck within Kai’s eyesight!

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