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There’s another new play space for families in Long Island City; a popular pocket of Queens just one stop away from Manhattan via the 7 train that’s attracting many young families. The all-new Mini Land Play is a cute indoor playground for kids 5 and under. We explored everything it has to offer and were quite pleased with our visit. Mini Land Play is neat, clean, cozy…and has Cookie Monster! (Huh? You’ll see…) Read on to learn more about this charming new hotspot.

Come Play in LIC!
Mini Land Play was founded by Long Island City mom Shu Yeh; she wanted a local, indoor place for her daughters to run around during inclement weather, and decided her area needed an indoor playground.

She lucked out and found a 3,000 sq ft space in a newly renovated building just off a main street. Shu’s older child came up with the name because one day she blocked an area for herself at an outdoor park and called it, “Mini Land.” (Also named due to the fact it’s an indoor space for “mini” people–kids–ages 0-5.)

Originally from Taiwan, Yeh also lived in Japan for many years; thus, she designed Mini Land Play around similar venues she had seen in Asia. At Mini Land, the inside colors are pastel shades of mostly blues, greens, and yellows, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming at all when you first walk in. Strollers are parked in the main entrance, and shoes are stored in cubbies. (Naturally, it’s sock-only inside the play area.) Really, this play space is best described as “whimsical.”

 

Moveable machines
There are 4 large, extremely soft, moving structures in the front part of the venue; three to the left of the open loft; and one to the right. They’re very padded and something we’ve never seen before at any NYC play area. We’ll do our best to describe them–you have to see them for yourself to best  understand.

The first rotating structure is a white padded circle that spins; and in the center is a colorful tower. It reminded me of one of those Sit-N-Spin toys from the 80s, but much larger and softer, and you don’t move it yourself.

The second structure has soft balls hanging off of (cushioned) poles that move around, so you can hug one of these poles as the structure itself slowly turns, or you can crawl around the ball poles. Again, it’s all very soft and padded.

The third moveable structure is a dolphin carousel, super plush. Kids ride one of three colorful dolphins in a circle. Nothing moves too fast, so kids won’t feel overwhelmed or scared.

To the left of the dolphin structure is a see-saw (remember those?!) boat that can hold about 4 people; two adults; two kids; and it slowly rocks back and forth. This is pretty much the only moveable structure that adults are allowed on, although I sat on the first structure for a few seconds to help my daughter climb on it.

Climbing area…and more
In the back, behind the dolphins, is a large climbing structure which has, “everything but the kitchen sink,” as the expression goes. This structure has mazes kids can climb through, a little swing, a trampoline on Tier 2…and next to the trampoline…a room where balloons of brilliant colors blow all around. This was, hands-down, my 4-year-old’s favorite part of the play space.

In the very back of Mini Land, right next to the area with the cool balloons, is a clear “bubble slide” that is quite sturdy, and looks like it’s made of plastic. It reminded me of those inflatable chairs dorm rooms had in the 90s, but quadruple the size.

 

Have a Ball (Pit)
At the bottom of the whole climbing structure is a large, wide ball pit, only a few inches high, with an apparatus that blows ball pit balls into the air. There are also smaller, traditional slides that carry you right into the ball pit. As indicated by a sign next to the ball pit, the balls are cleaned frequently; cleanliness at Mini Play Land is of utmost importance, for obvious reasons.

Have a Bash
At Mini Land, there’s a private party room located in the basement, and it should be ready this summer or fall, as it’s currently under construction. Yeh says before the party room finishes, Mini Land Play is open for Private Party/Event booking, and minimum booking for 2 hours is $500/hour for the entire 1st Floor play area. They’ll shut down the venue from public for private event use only.

For parties, Mini Land will not provide food/ drinks, so guests must bring their own. Also, Mini Land does NOT sell food or drinks, but thankfully there are some yummy restaurants nearby, such as Bareburger, Slice, Dorian’s Cafe, and Casa Enrique, right next door.

Visitors are encouraged to check out Mini Land’s social media page to learn about special events; recently Cookie Monster stopped by the place and even went down the clear slide with some kids.

At press time, nothing has been set in stone, but “guests,” such as Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Peppa Pig will stop by Mini Land hopefully once a week, probably on Thursdays. Again, check the social media pages for more info on special guests, events, and closures.

Pricing and times
All play is drop-in, so come on by and play whenever the mood strikes. Mini Land Play‘s hours are 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily, unless there’s a private party. These are the current fees: $12 weekdays – unlimited play whole day (1 Adult + 1 Child); $15 weekends & Holidays – 2 Hours limited play (1 Adult + 1 Child), $5 / Extra Child, $2 / Extra Adult. There’s also a “Fun Ticket Package,” option: $10/ticket with minimum 10 tickets of purchase. (Six months valid time starting the purchased date of ticket.) Kids 5 months and younger are free.

Mini Land Play is a happy play space for local kids, and proves that once again, while Manhattan may be…well…Manhattan, Queens is starting to rival the Big Apple when it comes to kiddie entertainment.

Worth a Trip!
It’s a play space definitely worth checking out, even if you are coming from Manhattan or Long Island, and a great addition to Queens, especially on a rainy day or after pre-K or Kindergarten. Even neighbor Playday, a mecca for super creative arts classes, is fond of Mini Land–they told us so!

As kids frolic, familiar music, such as Disney songs, play, and it’s not too loud. And, you get a balloon when you leave!

For those with younger kids, there’s a little nook on-site with two changing tables; as well as a large bathroom. Enjoy your visit, and don’t forget your socks!

Please note: Mini Land is not a drop-off venue; all kids must be accompanied by an adult.

5-28 49th Ave
Long Island City, Queens
929-208-2886
Online: facebook.com/minilandplay

 

What’s your favorite Queens play space? Tell us in the comments!

Rachel Sokol

RELATED STORIES:

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This has been a great year for new play spaces in the Q-borough—and we can add yet another one to the list! The recently-opened Peek-A-Booo (yes, with 3 Os) is an indoor playground in the heart of Flushing, Queens, and is a must-visit for kids 7 and under. There was some early buzz about this place, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. Our verdict? When your 4-year-old sobs because they do not want to leave, it’s a good indicator about how much they enjoyed. Check out our review below!

It’s Huuuuuge! 
The 6,000 ft., ground-level Peek-A-Booo was founded by Yiejie (EJ) Wang, a Queens parent who previously operated a liquor store and really wanted to open a business that welcomed kids from all over the city—and was also a place where she could safely bring her son. Wang found the empty retail space in Flushing, and officially opened Peek-A-Booo (which has three o’s simply because, “it’s cute!”) in February.

You park your stroller to the left of the main entrance, stick your shoes in cubbies up front, and enter the very soft, padded indoor playground in just your socks. (You can purchase a pair for $2 if you or your kid forgets them.) Parents must sign a waiver for their kids, and everyone is encouraged to use hand sanitizer at the counter, before entering the space through a gate.

Overall, everything at Peek-A-Booo screams, “fun!”  The place is whimsical, inviting, and safe, with lots to do; it was constructed to meet all New York City safety standards and is also very colorful. (Wang says she wanted to make sure the various colors and overall aesthetic of the place photographed nicely when parents snapped pics of their kids having fun.)

Not One, But Two Ball Pits
The venue’s most popular attractions are its two—yes, two—huge ball-pits. The first one visitors encoutner has an interactive digital “video game” along its back wall that allows kids and parents alike to toss plastic ball-pit balls at the screen to ‘hit’ targets of creatures and emjois. Kids can also ride a purple slide into the mass of yellow, green, and orange balls.

The rear ball-pit features a central house structure in the middle that kids can climb into. There’s also a large ‘treehouse’ next to the first ball-pit with a wide slide that changes color and designs when you and your kids slide down.

Other must-dos include a trampoline with a swing, large, plastic cars to ride, and many climbing structures.

Kids can also play around in a large, closed-in sandpit complete with sand toys in its own little section. (Fancy feature: little lights make it look like little crabs and snakes are inside the sand in a fun not creepy way.)

While there’s a lot to enjoy here, Wang plans to incorporate a new play structure or set of toys every few weeks for variety.

Stay in Your Lane
For younger kids ages three and under, an area in the rear of the space has soft blocks, smaller climbing structures, mini basketball hoops, riding toys, and is also well-padded like the rest of the space.

The separation of the older kids and younger kids is a very nice touch; it prevents excited, older kids from racing around toddlers, and allows for toddlers and younger kids to have their own designated, private area to frolic. Also in the rear of Peek-A-Boo are more climbing structures and animal-shaped, car-like (solid) plastic structures to ‘ride.’

Employees walk around the venue making sure the space is clean and keeping an eye on the kids. But note: This is not a drop-off space; kids must be accompanied by an adult, and children should be seven or younger.

Party On, Kid!
Yes, they do birthdays, and the party room is located right in the center of the space. Packages range from $380 to $799 for kids 7 and under. Celebrations include playtime, food, cake, and your choice of party theme.

Note: When parties are held, either on weekdays or weekends, the space does not close down completely just for the party; instead the birthday child and their young guests are given a special bracelet and/or stamp to be ID’d. (However, just one party is held at a time.)

Basic But Important
Peek-A-Booo has two on-site bathrooms, and one has a changing table. There’s also a little section with tables and chairs for snack time, however, no food or drink is permitted near the ball-pits, climbing structures, and games.

In the future, Wang hopes to incorporate a mini cafe with coffee and teas, but for now the only food available for purchase on site are snacks, juices, and water, so if you plan on spending a few hours at Peek-A-Booo, bring along some food and expect to eat it in the designated snack section.

When we visited from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on a weekday, it was not too crowded at all, but it’s recommended you call ahead to make sure there’s space to play. especially on weekends.

The Price of Play
For now, pricing is as follows: A monthly membership is $99; Quarterly is $199, yearly is $399. “Punch cards” are also available for purchase for $200; after 10 sessions, you get 3 visits free.

There is a drop-in “all-day” fee of $25 for one child and one adult; it’s an additional $10 per adult. With the $25 all-day ticket, there’s no time limit on how long you can stay and play for the morning and/or afternoon. Hourly, it’s $15 per hour for one kid and one adult.

Cash or credit cards are accepted.

At press time, Peek-A-Booo was still new, so there is no official web site as of yet, but keep an eye on it’s Facebook page for updates and specials. (Prices and hours may adjust in the coming weeks/months.)

Currently, Peek-a-boo is open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., which is nice because if your kid needs to burn off some energy after school, stop on by, it’s worth the subway ride on the 7, or the drive.

135-17 Northern Blvd.
Flushing, Queens
718-888-8866
Online: facebook.com

Have you dropped by Peek-A-Boo? Tell us what you thought in the comments!

—Rachel Sokol

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Listen up, Queens! Located in the heart of Forest Hills is Learning Lab, an 800 square-feet community space that  offers educational opportunities for children to learn and grow, from tutoring to sewing class. They also offer enrichment programs, a summer program, and a wide variety of weekend classes and special events. Co-founded by Queens parents Han-Ching Lin and Jenny Lin, this is a hot spot for learning and creating. One of our favorite offerings: making clothes for American Girl dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, and whoever else a kid loves!

Kid Couture
One unique class offered at Learning Lab is Fashion Design and Fiber Crafts—with an emphasis on sewing—held most Saturday afternoons. (The fee is $30 per class; and you can register online.) The instructor is professional Broadway costume designer Amelia Dombrowski, a Queens mom of three who has worked on shows such as Xanadu, High Fidelity, and A Tale of Two Cities.

One popular class Dombrowski teaches is Doll Clothes Making. Popular with both girls and boys, newbies learn the basics of hand-sewing; more experienced students who have taken other classes with Dombrowski—or elsewhere—are allowed to use one of the two on-site sewing machines to make their doll outfit.

Most kids like to make clothes for their American Girl doll, but some have brought in stuffed animals or even action figures. There are roughly 20 or more kids per class; at a variety of skill levels, and Dombrowski says it’s all very inviting, interactive, and fun. It’s a great way for parents to bond with their kids. During class, Dombrowski walks around helping all the kids who need/ask, and makes sure every child leaves with a completed doll outfit. This is important to her.

What to Bring
Dombrowski provides all the materials kids need to create their doll clothes; including all the felt and various fabrics. The patterns and embroidery techniques are very basic, and hand sewing them doesn’t require too many steps, making it easier for young kids who have never sewn before; and of course, a parent can assist them. Fabrics are cut by hand, and most kids come into Doll Clothes class with no sewing experience, and are excited to leave with a finished garment for their doll or stuffed animal. “Many kids are shocked and proud that they learned to sew,” says Dobrowski.

Children ages 5-6 need to be accompanied by an adult; but children ages 7-15 can be dropped off. All of Dombrowski’s Sewing Crafts classes are 90 minutes; and it’s best to register online in advance.

Not every one of Dombrowski’s classes focus specifically on Doll Clothes Making, so it’s best to follow Dombrowski on facebook to learn when the next Doll Clothes class (which is popular) will be. (Currently, one is scheduled for March 24th at Learning Lab.)


Kids who come almost every weekend to one of her sewing classes have learned to make other items, such as blankets, tote bags, skirts for themselves, and even stuffed animal monsters.

This season, Learning Lab will be hosting some chess workshops for families, as well as some Mommy and Me art and yoga classes on the weekends; and more. Be sure to check out their events online to explore everything Learning Lab has to offer kids of all ages.

Learning Lab
97-16 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, Queens
347-494-4422
Online: learninglab.com

All photos courtesy of Learning Lab

Have you been to Learning Lab? Give us your review in the comments!

—Rachel Sokol

The Ultimate Guide to Flying with Baby

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Flying with a baby requires patience, mental toughness and killer organizational skills. But you’ve got this! Follow these helpful hacks and hints to make your journey a little easier and keep those skies friendly.

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photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr

Timing is everything. Try to book your flight during baby’s nap time. All the new sights and sounds of airplane may be distracting, but you have a better chance of having baby sleep the flight away if you stick to your usual schedule. Bring a special blanket, lovie or story to make the airplane feel more like home, and follow as much of your usual nap routine as you can to signal it’s time for sleep.

Choose your seat carefully. Most airlines will register babies under age 2 as a lap baby, meaning you’ll hold them on the flight. You can also choose to purchase a separate seat and bring a car seat for baby to sit in. Choose a window seat if your child would enjoy looking outside, or if you want more privacy for nursing or more room for your baby’s feet, head, and inevitable wiggles. Go for the aisle if your little is on the move. Pro tip: Before you board, ask the gate agent if you can be moved to a spot with an empty seat next to you. Also, if you’re breastfeeding and prefer to sit next to a woman instead of a man, explain the situation and see if they can accommodate you.

TravelswithDaddy

 photo: Rachel Sokol

Make a checklist days before your trip. You won’t forget anything if you start packing, at least mentally, days in advance. As you go through your daily routine, write down everything you use in a day, from baby’s comb and diaper cream to a favorite blanket and sound machine. You may not be able to bring it all, but thinking ahead can help you determine which are necessities.

Pack light. Lighten your load by shipping diapers, wipes, extra formula and baby snacks to your destination in advance via Amazon or Diapers.com. If you’re staying in a hotel, bed-and-breakfast or rental home, ask if they provide baby items such as cribs, high chairs and baby tubs. If not, find out if you can rent them through a local company.

photo: Matt Brubeck via Flickr

Stroll or carry. The choice is yours. If toting baby in a carrier brings them, and you, some comfort, you’ll move quickly through the airport, including security: You’re not required to remove baby from a carrier before you go through. If you need a car seat and stroller at your destination, you can check them with your luggage, usually free of charge. Or you can also gate-check both the stroller and car seat. They should be waiting for you when you exit the plane. But if you have a connecting flight, be aware that you might have to wait a few minutes for them. Don’t want your gear to get damaged? Use Prince Lionheart checkbags for strollers and car seats. They keep them clean and make them easier to carry and identify.

Put must-haves in a carry-on. Pack a day’s worth of diapers, pacifiers, wipes, food, formula, bottles, medications, and an extra change of clothes for baby and yourself. It’s a lot, but that way you can handle spitup or blowouts on the flight and don’t have to rush to the store upon arrival if your checked luggage doesn’t arrive with you. Before your trip, stop by the sample section of any major drugstore for TSA-approved small containers and liquid products that don’t exceed liquid limitations for carry-on items. Put super important documents, such as the plane tickets and personal ID, in a colorful pouch or folder that can easily be spotted without digging around. Call your airline, or check their website, to find out if you’ll need to bring a birth certificate for baby.

Keep ’em busy. To keep baby occupied on the flight, pack a few favorite toys and a couple of new ones. Choose quiet items that boast the most play value, such as sensory books, toys they can manipulate with their hands, and teethers. Older babies may be entertained by a show on the iPad, a kid-friendly app or photos on your phone. And never underestimate the power of distraction that new, non-baby items may have when confined to your airplane seat: a water bottle, a crinkly wrapper, the in-flight magazine and the aircraft safety card can all be fascinating to little ones.

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photo: Kona Gallagher via Flickr

Got milk?
Don’t be intimidated by TSA liquid rules: You’re allowed to bring breast milk or formula for your baby. Pack it in a separate small bag in your carry-on and alert the agent before your belongings are inspected. Always bring more formula or milk than you think you’ll need. If you’re planning to nurse onboard, a shawl offers you privacy, in addition to doubling as a blanket for baby. And that way you can leave the bulky nursing cover at home. At the airport, looka round for a nursing lounge. More and more airports are offering them, and they can be handy during layovers or flight delays.

Stock up with snacks. A hungry baby is never a happy baby. If your little one is eating solids, leave room in your carry-on for favorite snacks. The ideal pick is something that takes a while to eat, like chopped grapes or puffs.

What are your tricks for flying with your baby? Share your secrets in a comment.

—Rachel Sokol

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Just Opened: Mini Galaxy Play Cafe

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Heads up, Queens! You just got a new indoor play space. Mini Galaxy Play Café has landed right in the heart of urban Jamaica, Queens. We stopped by on a recent winter afternoon to explore everything it had to offer, and here’s our report!

photo: courtesy mini GALAXY Play Cafe

To Jamaica By Way of Taiwan
Queens father of two Jason Fang visited relatives in Taiwan, and noticed something during his travels: everywhere he looked (or so it seemed) there was a super clean, super fun play cafe. These spots found kids frolicking in an indoor playground, while their parent(s) enjoyed some “me” time in a cozy cafe with some food, all the while  keeping an eye on their kids in the adjacent play zone.

In a “lightbulb” epiphany, Fang decided to open a play cafe in his home of Queens. Fang wanted one near a subway line in an area that didn’t have many attractions for kids, and that criteria ultimately lead him to the neighborhood of Jamaica. He had the entire climbing structure custom-made in Taiwan and shipped to Queens.

photo: courtesy mini GALAXY Play Cafe

Big, Clean & Inviting
Measuring a sizable 2,200-square-feet, Mini Galaxy is on the second floor of a newly-renovated building. The main entrance is to the right of the building on 178th Steet, and yes, a large elevator will bring you right up to the second floor. (Please leave your strollers in the second floor entrance way!) The venue itself is spotless—this is of paramount importance to Fang—and the cafe is  towards the left side of the loft-like space, while the play equipment is to the right. The space is very cozy and inviting.

Once your stuff is stored in the cubbies at the front entrance, everyone entering the play area must use hand sanitizer—there’s a bottle on hand for guests—before heading on to the mats.

The play section is socks-only, (you can purchase a pair of socks for $3.00 if your kid forgets theirs) so once you and the tykes are sporting your socks, head on inside and enjoy swings (really!), slides, ropes, and more.

photo: courtesy mini GALAXY Play Cafe

The Ins, Outs, Ups and Downs
The large, heavily-padded climbing structure is arranged like a maze, so there’s lots of spots to explore and get lost in (in a good way.) There are little hidden gems inside the climbing structure, such as a rope floor to climb over, and large, soft rolling mats.

It doesn’t feel very tight or ‘crowded’ inside the structure itself, and the play section also has a (toy) dart board, scooters, basketball hoop, and more. There’s also the always popular ball pit, with clear balls that look like big bubbles. (We see this being a high point for many kids.)

There’s a designated toddler area for younger kids, with scooters and soft blocks. According to Fang, mini GALAXY is best for kids 8 months to 7 years of age.

photo: courtesy mini GALAXY Play Cafe

The Cafe in Play Café
The cafe offers typical kid fare, such as pizza, wings, and waffles. There’s also popcorn, candy, fries, and fresh pastries, which are brought in from a local bakery.

The café section also features a little book nook with kid books and toys, and a children’s movie will always be playing on the two large TV’s. Adults can also sit in the open bar-like cubicles that overlook the play section; this is a nice place for moms and dads to sit with their laptop, especially since WiFi is free.

The on-site bathroom has a changing table.

photo: NYC Mami on the Move

Celebrate at mini GALAXY Play Cafe
Parties are absolutely available at mini GALAXY Play Cafe. In fact, parents have already started booking, so if your kid’s birthday is coming up, contact Fang to arrange a private gathering. mini GALAXY Play Cafe offers various party packages and revelers get the whole place to themselves. There’s a max of three parties per day on weekends, and on weekends when there are no parties booked, Open Play is available. Check Mini Galaxy’s facebook page for weekend schedules.

photo: mini Galaxy Play Café

When to Play
Currently, open play is every weekday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., although this is subject to change, as the play cafe just opened. Check its web site to confirm hours. Weekend hours will fluctuate due to birthday party bookings.

The entrance fee is $15 for one hour, $25 for two hours, or you can purchase special day passes for $30. (All fees are per child.) Specials, such as free bag of popcorn with purchase, and combo tickets are also available—call ahead and ask about those, or check the cafe’s Facebook page. Cash or credit cards are accepted.

Note: This is not a drop-off venue; kids must be accompanied by an adult.

mini GALAXY Play Cafe
178-02 Jamaica Ave.
2nd Fl.
Jamaica, Queens
718-880-2861
Online: minigalaxyplaycafe.com

Where do you go to play in Queens? Tell us in the comments! 

—Rachel Sokol

 

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Back in 2016, we reviewed Kellogg’s NYC, a cereal-themed restaurant in Times Square, which received two thumbs up from our toddler critic. The venue generated tons of press, but skeptics chuckled, insisting Kellogg’s NYC would shudder within months, and that no one would pay for a bowl of cereal, even if it did come with a prize. It didn’t quite go that way. Read on for the scoop on Kellogg’s cafe 2.0!

 

photo: courtesy Kellogg’s

Bigger and better
The doubters were proven very wrong, and Froot Loops fans across the Big Apple can now rejoice. Kellogg’s NYC was so popular the novelty eatery recently relocated to a much larger space (with amazing views!) in Union Square, right next to Barnes & Noble. Prime real estate for prime cereal lovers of all ages.

The second iteration of Kellogg’s® NYC Café is quite impressive. It’s on a second-level, so you walk up a staircase to enter the restaurant. But don’t panic, parents with strollers—there is indeed an elevator at 36 East 18th Street, off to the side of the building. Also, once inside Kellogg’s NYC, there will be a designated stroller area.

And now, grab your spoons and get ready for the Red Tricycle tour of Kellogg’s NYC, Part II.

Lounge-vibe, but still quirky
The new Kellogg’s cafe maintained its trademark personality and charm. The previous location was fun and kitschy, but the new location feels sleeker; like an upscale coffee shop meets niche theme restaurant. It’s five times larger than the previous space. With high ceilings and an open, airy, loft-like feel, Kelloggs NYC was conceptualized by Sandra Di Capua and Anthony Rudlof of Co.create NYC.

photo: Kellogg’s

Sweet seating 
Cereal-loving customers  can sit at the long wooden table right up front, swings that overlook Union Square, traditional tables in the rear, and even on bean-bags chairs. The new location even has a long counter with colorful stools that overlooks a spacious kitchen.

But the coolest part of Kellogg’s NYC (besides the food, which we’ll get to…) are the dens. There are 4 themed stations (such as Tony the Tiger and Raisin Bran) arranged in the center of the Cafe that each offer something special, such as a Nintendo or board games inside the coffee table. (There’s also free WiFi.)

photo: Rachel Sokol

Snap, crackle, plop!
The dens are arranged to look like someone’s living area, with chairs, couches, large TVs, and more. The shelves around the TVs are adorned with Kellogg’s merchandise such as mugs with cereal logos,  and familiar figurines such as “Snap, Crackle, Pop.’

Patrons young and old will make a beeline for the dens; especially the ones with video game consoles, so if you and the kids can nab one on a crowded day; kudos to you!

The menu
The new Kellogg’s NYC location will offer a revamped cereal-inspired menu. You can make your own bowl with funky add-on flavors such as sprinkles and yellow cake mix. (There is also regular fruit, of course)  or order a specific bowl off the menu from a red-aproned employee.

photo: Kellogg’s

Need ideas? No problem.
Menu suggestions for creative bowls include Corny Blues (Corn Pops, Lemon Blueberry Jam, Sea Salt), Life in Color (Froot Loops, Passion Fruit Lime Jam, Mini Marshmallows) and more.

Celebrity mom Lauren Conrad created some bowls specifically for Kellogg’s NYC, such as Wake Me Up (Frosted Flakes, Ginger Snaps, Pumpkin Spice, Graham Cracker Crumble) and in the near future other special guests will curate bowls for Kellogg’s NYC.

Currently, straight-up cereal is $1.50, with unlimited toppings, it’s $4; milk is $2 ($3.5 for the special option of the day), and drinks range from $3.50 to $6.00.

All fruit available is fresh; and milk options include  whole, skim, almond and soy.

photo: Rachel Sokol

Other goodies
Additional special treats at Kellogg’s NYC include Make-Your-Own Fruity Pop Tarts or Ice Cream Sandwich Pop-Tarts with Oddfellows Ice Cream ($2 to $6), Fresh-off-the-grill Eggo Waffles with corn-flake crusted chicken ($6), additional beverages from a LaCroix vending machine manufactured specifically for Kellogg’s NYC, and more. Patrons can even purchase one of Kellogg’s newest cereals: Super Mario Bros.

There’s also a photo kiosk where foodies can snap pictures of their cereal-inspired creations (and enhance the pic with Kellogg’s props) and upload their food photos to Instagram. (Don’t forget to hashtag Kellogg’s NYC, breakfast lovers!)

Unfortunately, the lockers from the old location that held a cereal prize inside are gone; but the revamped Kellogg’s NYC will still have many kid-approved surprises. One is Tony the Tiger, who, as an employee told us, will be making appearances at the Cafe; so keep your eyes peeled for him—not that he can be missed!

photo: Rachel Sokol

Birthday Parties
The team at Kellogg’s NYC really listened to customer feedback from the Times Square location, and a major request from parents was birthday parties. Parties are now available at Kellogg’s NYC, and the venue already has a few booked.

There’s an on-site coordinator who can help make your child’s cereal-themed party a huge success, and various sections of the cafe, such as a den area, the bean bag area, or a quieter office-like space in the very back, can be reserved for kid’s parties, and yes, kids, you can request a visit from Tony the Tiger at your gathering.

Older kids may want an after-hours party. Kellogg’s NYC closes at 6:00 p.m.— 4:00 p.m. on Sundays–leaving evenings open for private parties. Keep that in mind when booking one if want the place all to yourselves. Hey, we’ve all had cereal for dinner at some point, right?

photo: Rachel Sokol

Kid and adult-friendly
Basically, as more and more niche places close in New York City, it’s comforting to know some are still kickin’ it–especially ones that cater to something familiar and beloved: cereal!  It’s welcoming for both adults and kids and doesn’t feel gimmicky. When we visited, one local parent commented that it’s a perfect place for her kids to have an after-school snack, and do their homework, before heading home for the evening.

Note: No high-chairs available yet, but soon. Restaurant is credit card only.

For more Kellogg’s NYC fun, follow them on Instagram: @kelloggsnyc

Kellogg’s NYC
31 E 17th St.
Union Square
Online: kelloggsnyc.com

Will you be visiting the new Kellogg’s cafe? Tell us in the comments!

—Rachel Sokol

Just Opened: Two New Literary Spots for Kids

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Just in time for fall and all things bookish, two new spots for little literary fans have opened in NYC. One is a fresh indie book store in Queens, the other, a place for reading enrichment in Tribeca. Read on to be in the know!

photo: Kew & Willow

From big box to little & literary
Queens residents Vina Castillo, Natalie Noboa and Holly Nikodem didn’t just lose their jobs when Barnes & Noble shuttered its last Queens location in Forest Hills in 2015 — they lost their local bookstore. Realizing how valuable a general bookstore was to the neighborhood and the surrounding area, the trio launched The Queens Bookshop Initiative, and made it their mission to open another bookstore in Queens.

They weren’t looking to duplicate the Forest Hills Barnes & Noble (nor could they); instead, they wanted to create a personal and cozy shop with a “community” feel, and cater to both kids and adults. The support they received from locals was overwhelming, and the women raised more than $72,000 via Kickstarter.

photo: Rachel Sokol

Introducing Kew & Willow
The result, is the new bookstore Kew & Willow. (“Kew” is a nod to the neighborhood Kew Gardens, and “Willow” is a Harry Potter reference that the women say die-hard fans of the series will get.) Note: as the new store shifts to the official Kew & Willow name, some social media accounts and signage still reference “The Queens Bookshop.”

Owned and operated by Castillo, Noboa, and Nikodem, the 700-square-foot store will sell kids, teen and adult books, notebooks, small toys, tote bags, and more.

After a soft opening this summer, the bookstore is now open weekends, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store will eventually be open during the week, days and time are to be determined.

photo: Kew & Willow

Storytime, and other fun
Kew & Willow will hold storytimes both in the store and off-site, and the shop itself includes a designated kids area. The store will also host author events for both adult and kid titles, poetry readings, crafting events, and more.

The bookstore is easily accessible via the Long Island Railroad (Kew Gardens stop) and after you spend some time shopping for new (or old!) reads, take the kids across the street for lunch at the Village Diner and then grab some sweets at nearby Pink Lily Bakeshop.

Kew & Willow
8163 Lefferts Blvd.
Kew Gardens
Online: thequeensbookshop.com

photo: via Book Nook Enrichment Facebook page

The Book Nook Expands to Tribeca
Manhattan entrepreneur, educator and mom Rina Collins wants locals of all ages to know that despite its name, Book Nook Enrichment is not a traditional bookstore — it’s a literacy learning studio for children ages 6 months to 7 years old.

Collins and her husband opened the original Book Nook on the Upper West Side back in 2012, and September brought the debut of an additional location in Tribeca. The new, downtown Book Nook is an inviting, 1,800-square-foot space bursting with books for all ages, with a large, leafy tree as its centerpiece.

Collins is an early childhood educator and reading specialist, and designed the classes offered at the Book Nook. (She also teaches some of them.)

photo: via Book Nook Enrichment Facebook page

Membership and drop-in
Book Nook’s classes are geared toward developing skill sets necessary for educational growth and success. Classes are age specific, and feature a curated book list and curriculum created to meet kids’ current needs and learning styles

Classes for kids include Baby Hoots (six to 17 months), Lil’ Hoots (18- 30 months), Early Hoots (30- 40 months), Pre Hoots (40-48 months), Kinder Hoots (48-60 months), & Wise Owls (six to seven years). Each age level has a defined curriculum

photo: via Book Nook Enrichment Facebook page

Extra in Tribeca
Unlike the Upper West Side location, the Tribeca Book Nook Enrichment offers a daily “Learning Lounge,” where kids can parents can learn and explore together. The facility includes the library, a writing lab, puzzle station, drawing lab, block lab, and fine-motor station. All learning stations are designed by certified early childhood education teachers.

Families can use the facility with their children, even if they aren’t currently enrolled in a Book Nook Enrichment class. (Check the online calendar to for dates and times; calling in advance to make sure there’s space is recommended.)

The Tribeca location will also host storytime and crafts events for all kids of ages, and birthday parties are available at the space, too.

Book Nook Tribeca
23 Warren St.
Tribeca
646-649-5917
Online: booknooknyc.com

Upper West Side
167 West 81st Street
New York, NY 10024
​212-873-2665
Online: booknooknyc.com

What’s your favorite book spot for kids in the city? Tell us in the comments below!

—Rachel Sokol

Give Them a Hand: NYC’s Best Puppet Shows

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If you haven’t noticed, puppets are kind of a big deal right now. From a permanent exhibit celebrating one of the masters of the form, to tons of new productions, and perennial favorites, NYC is a real puppet town this season. No matter your child’s age or puppet preferences — colorful and fuzzy, classic marionettes, funky and fun —  there’s a place to catch a high quality show. Click through to see some of NYC’s top spots for puppets!

For Feel-Good Fun with a Retro Twist: The Joshua Show Episode 2

If you're feeling glum, Joshua Holden just might be the guy to turn that frown upside down. The whimsical puppeteer is closing out a run of The Joshua Show: Episode 2 at HERE on September 30, but he's been knows to pop-up around town at venues like Symphony Space and Lincoln Center. With his main man, the grumpy Mr. Nicolas and a cast of other puppetry wonders, Holden brings joy with a retro a flair to the art. (Meet Joshua and Mr. Nicolas here!)

Sept. 30, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20
HERE
145 6th Ave.
SoHo
Online: here.org/shows

photo: The Joshua Show/Jennifer Grob

 

 Have a favorite puppet show we missed? Let us know in the comments!

— Rachel Sokol

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Whether you’re in the market for some fun back to school fashions that won’t break the bank, or you’ve got some gently (or never) worn clothes the kids have outgrown, your next stop should be one of NYC’s fine consignment shops. Get cash for those like-new pieces and pick up a few items for well below retail. Here’s where to head to stretch that dollar!

photo: via Flying Squirrel Facebook page

In Greenpoint, Brooklyn: Flying Squirrel

The vibe:
Organized, inviting, and the go-to neighborhood spot for in-the-know mamas

What they accept: In this airy, open shop, new clothes are sold in front, while items on consignment can be found in the back of the store and online. Donated clothing for kids must be clean and in excellent condition — no missing buttons or stains at all, especially for items for kids under 24 months of age. The store’s most popular premium brands are Splendid, Mini Rodini, Bobo Choses and some Gap and H&M items may be considered.

How it works: 50/50 split between the store and seller; a price is negotiated between the shop and seller based on the brand, and if it can sell for $20 or greater. Payment is available in the form of a check or store credit.

How to drop off items: Drop off times are Mon. – Thurs., 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., or by appointment.

Need to know: Items move fast here. (You might say they “fly” out the door…) So if an item on consignment item catches your eye, jump on it —  it might not be there next week. (Follow the store on Instagram to get a peek at the latest, cutest goods.)

87 Oak St.
Greenpoint
718-218-7775
Hours: Mon. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Online: flyingsquirrelbaby.com

photo: via Jane’s Exchange Facebook page

In the East Village: Jane’s Exchange

The vibe: Bargain-oriented customers young and old set the tone in this whimsical shop

What they accept: Children’s clothing (infant to size 12), children’s furniture and accessories (baby carriers, car seats in mint condition no more than five years old, etc.), games, toys, books, DVDs, portable cribs, highchairs, swings, excersaucers, maternity and nursing clothing, and other parenting goods.  No more than 20 items per drop off will be accepted. Clothing must be in good condition, and is bought by season. Check out the list of baby gear they are looking for before dropping off items, and be sure to call the store before dropping off large pieces.

How it works: Consignors receive 30% of the sale price of all items under $100.00 and 40% for items $100.00 and over. Money earned must be used as credit to buy other consigned items at Jane’s Exchange.

How to drop off items: You’ll need to make an appointment by calling, emailing, or stopping by the store.

Need to know: The consignment period is 60 days. After this period, you’ll need to collect unsold clothing or it will becomes the property of Jane’s Exchange.

191 East 3rd St.
East Village
Phone: 212-677-0380
Hours: Mon – Fri.,10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat. – Sun., noon – 6p.m.
Online: janesexchangenyc.com

photo: Clementine Consignment 

In Greenwich Village: Clementine Consignment

The vibe: Cheerful and inviting downtown bargain spot

How it works: You receive 40% of the final sale price of the items you consign. Checks are distributed quarterly, but sellers can pick up the balance owed to them at any time in the store; payment in the form of store credit is also available. Clementine prices its merchandise at a 50-80% discount from current retail prices, with costs varying based on the condition of each item. Prices are lowered at season’s end.

What they accept: Designer maternity, infant and toddler clothing up to children’s size eight. Make sure to check out the list of brands and clothing types that they don’t accept before taking in clothes. Clementine Consignment also accepts hats, diaper bags, booties and new or almost-new shoes; it doesn’t accept toys or gear.

How to drop off items: You can drop off consignments at any time during store hours. Sellers can read and sign the store’s consignment agreement online. Consignment by mail is also an option.

Need to know:  The store accepts items for all seasons at any time. Your consignment period will begin the day your merchandise is put out for sale. If an item hasn’t sold after 60 days, the consignor has the choice to either pick it back up, or have the shop donate the item to Room to Grow.

39 1/2 Washington Square S.
Greenwich Village
Phone: 212-228-9333
Hours: Mon. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun.: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Online: clementineconsignment.com‎

photo: via Wyatt Lily Facebook page


In Westchester:
Wyatt Lily

The vibe: Hip, trendy and fairly high-end transplant from the Upper West Side in Westchester. (For years Wyatt Lily served Manhattan on Columbus Ave. You’ll now find it’s chic new and used fashions in Scarsdale — but they do ship!)

What they accept: This boutique includes a small consignment section that is stocked with high-end attire. Wyatt Lily accepts unused and lightly-worn items for boys and girls sizes zero to six years of age. The store considers the following brands for consignment: Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, Milly Minis, Chloe, Moncler, Fleurisse, La Miniatura, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Hermes Little, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and many others.

How it works:  40% of the item’s sale price goes to the customer.

Dropping off: Drop off times are Mon. – Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Need to know: Anything not sold after two months is donated to a worthwhile children’s charity such as The Salvation Army, or you can choose to pick it up.

1 Chase Rd.
Scarsdale, Ny
Hours: Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
914-472-1930
Online: wyattlily.com

 

Where do you go for new-to-you kid’s clothes? Tell us in the comments below!

— Rachel Sokol

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