Our readers pick their Favorites
When you shop for kids' clothing, you're decidedly practical and not above combing garage sales and thrift shops for bargains. And when it comes to books, you obviously love 'em, whether you find them at independent or chain bookstores, or at the neighborhood branch of the library.
These are some of the trends that popped up as we tallied the results of our first annual ParentMap Favorites poll.
We hope you'll uncover some new Favorite places to go and to shop, and new Favorite things to do, as you read through the results.
To add inspiration, we asked some of our regular contributing writers and staff to come up with some personal favorites, in categories of their choosing. We hope all these "Favorites" will help you explore something new, and engage you and your family in the many places and adventures that the city offers.
Virginia Smyth, Managing Editor
Shopping and buying
Favorite kids' bookstore
Barnes & Noble, the behemoth bookstore chain, has earned many loyal followers who love its comfy chairs, rows and rows of books, large children's section and regular story times. All for Kids Books & Music (2900 N.E. Blakeley, 206-526-2768), the venerable children's bookstore behind Seattle's University Village, got the nod from our readers, along with Hullabaloo (2350 California S.W., 206-937-0599) in West Seattle.
Carrying books for kids from birth on up, All for Kids also features an amazing 26,000 titles of recordings--both audio books and music. And be sure to check out the event room where a wall is covered with the signatures from visiting authors and illustrators. Hullabaloo is a family bookstore with books for kids 0-16 (with an especially good selection of books for preschoolers and early chapter books), as well as books for adults.
Runner-up: Half-Price Books
Favorite mall or neighborhood to shop with kids
There's the covered play yard, the wide outdoor walkways, the whimsical bronze cow sculpture, the fun fountains, the mix of family-friendly restaurants and shops (Johnny Rockets, Atlas, Mom's, Land of Nod, Gap Kids, Sole Food and Kids Club, to name a few). Put all these elements together, and they result in a big thumbs-up for University Village (206-523-0622), named by our readers as their favorite mall.
Runners up: Bellevue Square; Ballard and Wallingford neighborhoods
Favorite consignment store
Kids' clothes are expensive and often worn briefly--so it makes sense to recycle. Whether looking to outfit a child, or dropping off a "gently used" outfit for resale, readers favor A Child's Closet (5025 25th Ave. N.E., Suite 105, 206-985-4402) in the U District.
Runner up: Kids on 45th
Favorite place to buy kids' clothes
Walk into any Old Navy, and it's not hard to locate the jeans and T-shirts, and other basics--all at very reasonable prices. Our readers like what they find at this national chain, which has clothing and accessories for tots through teens, and adults, too. Other favorites in this category were garage sales and thrift shops.
Runner up: Target
Favorite neighborhood toy store
It may be located in an unexciting strip mall in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, but there's nothing dull about Top Ten Toys (104 N. 85th, 206-782-0098), a favorite place for selecting toys. Maybe the attraction is the lack of mass-marketed toys (you'll find no Barbie here), or maybe it's the high-quality product lines, classic toys and the wide selection that appeals to the kid in all of us.
Runners up: Curious Kids Stuff in West Seattle and Izilla in Madison Park
Favorite place to buy a kid's birthday present
You know what it's like when your child goes to a birthday party--the present has to be just right, preferably the latest "it" toy. Where to find such an item--at a price that won't break the bank (especially when there's another party next weekend, and another one after that!)? Check out your local Target--the favorite place to shop for birthday presents.
Runner up: Toys R Us
Families and food
Favorite grocery store to shop at with kids
We're sure that food quality is important to our readers--but so are those carts that entertain the kids! Many readers mentioned that this amenity makes QFC and Safeway a favorite place to shop when the kids are along.
Runner up: PCC
Favorite restaurant to take the kids (that's popular with adults too!)
You'll find both well-embellished and no-frills burgers here and even a few non-burger items on the menu. You could say--in fact you did say by naming Red Robin as a dining favorite--that everyone in the family will find something they like. And do note that while this eatery is now a big chain, it did get its start in Seattle. The original Red Robin is the one by the University Bridge.
Runner up: Atlas in U Village
Favorite restaurant to dine at without the kids
One thing is sure. Seattle has a huge selection of top-notch restaurants. You all have a favorite, but almost everyone seems to have a different favorite. Our top vote-getters: Wild Ginger (1401 Third, Seattle, 206-623-4450) and Palisade (2601 W. Marina Pl., Seattle, 206-285-1000)--but by a lot less than a landslide. Still, you can't go wrong at either of these top eateries; you'll find them on many of the area's "favorite" and "best" lists.
Favorite place to grab a latte with kids
Our readers are, if nothing else, loyal to the homegrown coffeehouse with an outlet on just about every corner! Starbucks is the overwhelming favorite for our readers when they're seeking a hit of caffeine.
In the non-chain category, quite a few readers have discovered the charms of a small new coffeehouse in Seattle's Madison Park area. My Coffeehouse (2818 E. Madison, 206-568-7509), which opened in February, has a large play area stocked with child-size tables, toys and books for kids, and a generous shelf of magazines for parents.
Runner up: Tully's
Favorite ice cream shop
It's hard to argue with success. Baskin and Robbins, with its 31 flavors, is still a favorite, fighting off its nearest chain competitors.
In the non-chain category, Husky Deli (4721 California Ave. S.W., 206-937-2810) in West Seattle, which features homemade ice cream, got many nods from readers.
Runners up: --Ben & Jerry's and Cold Stone Creamery
Entertainment and fun
Favorite Northwest getaway
Real estate agents say it's all about location. For a Northwest getaway, the real estate with the most appeal to our readers is the San Juan Islands.
Runner up: Cannon Beach, Ore.
Favorite Seattle summer spot to take the kids
The choice that gets the most nods here is the beach--just about any beach. But if you have to choose one, and many of you did, Alki Beach Park (1702 Alki Ave. S.W.) is the favorite. The long stretch of sand and water in West Seattle, bordered by a pathway, is a favorite summer destination.
Runners up: Seattle and Eastside parks, and the Woodland Park Zoo.
Favorite cheap or free entertainment for kids
There isn't one particular park that stands out in this category, but readers definitely favor parks overall as the place that delivers both value and fun.
Runners up: free summer concerts, Seattle Center Fountain, IKEA (specifically, the ball room!).
Favorite Seattle tourist attraction for kids
You could say it has it all: one of Seattle's most treasured icons, a world-class Children's Museum, lovely grounds to roam around on, a fabulous fountain, community festivals, a rock 'n roll museum and new sci-fi museum - and an amusement park complete with thrill rides. It's no surprise that readers chose Seattle Center (305 Harrison St., 206-684-8582) as their favorite in this category.
Runners up: Woodland Park Zoo, the Pacific Science Center (which just happens to be located at--yes, the Seattle Center)
Favorite place to take the kids for a swim
Readers like the heated saltwater at the outdoor Colman Pool (8603 Fauntleroy Way S.W., 206-684-7494) in West Seattle, which also features a giant tube slide and beautiful beach setting, and the fresh water swimming experience offered at numerous Lake Washington parks, both in Seattle and on the Eastside
Runners up: "Pop" Mounger Pool in Magnolia
Favorite place to hang out on a rainy day
When it's raining, there's no place like home. It's the favorite rainy-day hangout, according to many of our readers.
Runners up: Pacific Science Center, a local library
Services and more
Favorite place to have kids' hair cut
The Hair Chair, located in Kids Club in Seattle's University Village (2676 University Village, 206-525-0499) and Crossroads Shopping Center in Bellevue (15600 N.E. 8th, 425-562-0430), is a reader favorite. Toddlers, prone to the swivel-head syndrome, are sure to be distracted by the salon's novelty seats, toys and brightly painted walls. Haircuts are offered for all ages, but many customers are in the infant to 10-year-old category.
Runners up: L'il Klippers, West Seattle Kids and home
Favorite story time (at bookstore or library)
Story times are obviously a reader favorite--this category got a high response rate. But readers aren't too picky about where the story time takes place--libraries edged out bookstores, but only by a slight margin. The Ballard Library (5711 24th Ave N.W., 206-684-4089) was a favorite in the first category, and West Seattle's Hullabaloo (2350 California S.W., 206-937-0599) in the store category. Along with three regular story times each week, Hullabaloo also hosts several book clubs for kids--and adults.
Bookstore runners up: Barnes & Noble and All For Kids
Favorite public library branch
If the new downtown Seattle Public Library had opened before our Favorites poll ended, it's possible the results in this category might have been different. But as of early May, readers favored King County's Bellevue Regional Library (1111 110th Ave. N.E., 425-450-1765) located in downtown Bellevue. It features a huge children's area with plenty of tables for reading and studying, cozy chairs, a room for story time or projects and a very large collection of books, videos and other library materials.
Runner up: Seattle Public Library's Green Lake branch
Favorite school fund-raiser
Going once, going twice - sold! A lot of readers are sold on auctions as a favorite way to raise a buck for local schools.
Runners up: Gift wrap sales (Sally Foster in particular), old-fashioned bake sales
People/organizations that make a difference
Favorite corporate citizen
We love Bill--Gates that is. At least, he's our readers' favorite corporate citizen, by a landslide. There are no runners up in this category. Bill takes all.
Favorite kids' organization
Day camps, after-school programs, sports programs, swimming lessons. The YMCA (www.seattleymca.org) clearly offers a lot that resonates with local families. It's a favorite with local readers, as is PEPS--the Program For Early Parent Support (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., #324, Seattle, 206-547-8570, ext. 10). PEPS helps new parents, and parents of young children connect with and support each other. It also offers a wealth of resources and information.
Runner up: Boys and Girls Clubs
Favorite unsung hero
While no single individual emerged as a favorite in this category, collectively many of you named your own mother or father, or your spouse, as an "unsung hero." And what could be more apropos?
Runner up: teachers