love our beaches and parks, can't get enough of Seattle Center and
actually favor buying toys for your kids at our local independent toy
stores, over the national chains.
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
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
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
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
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