It’s been almost a week since I found out I won “Best Local Blog” on Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect website, and the victory celebrations are just winding down.
In the meantime, I’ve been looking at some of the other Parents Connect winners. I listed them all below…
Best Art Class: Young Rembrandts – I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds appropriately ambitious. It’s in Nottingham, MD, however, and I don’t even know where that is—although I hear the sheriff is quite the scoundrel…
Best Birthday Cake: Cold Stone Creamery – I love Cold Stone Creamery as much as the next ice cream lover, but I’m philosophically opposed to the ice-cream birthday cake. For one thing, it’s a pain to transport and it has to be eaten so quickly—too much pressure for a birthday party! We celebrated Jack’s 3rd birthday last weekend and, after looking around a bit, I ultimately settled on a custom birthday cake from the Giant (left). They had an awesome Sesame Street scene with Elmo and Big Bird toys that Jack got to keep and play with. The cake itself was pretty simple and standard sheet cake, but, they’re three years old. It’s cake. They love it. Anything fancier and it’s really for the adults, not the kids.
Best Bookstore: Red Canoe Children’s Books and Coffee House – I’ve been hearing about Red Canoe constantly since we moved back to Baltimore last year, but I still haven’t been there. It sounds like a lovely and enchanting place.
Best Breakfast: Double T Diner Company – I like the Double T, but it’s pretty much indistinguishable from the many great diners around town (Nautilus, Towson Diner, Broadway Diner, Valentino’s, New Town Diner—I consider myself a diner afficianado). As I described in an earlier post, there are a couple breakfaast alternatives to the standard diner. For easy, simple breakfasts, including several healthy options and free crayons for the kids, we like First Watch, next to the Giant in Pikesville. For something a little more refined—but still very kid-friendly—try Clementine on Harford Road.
Best Dance Class: Arts ‘n Motion – As with the art class, I’ve never heard of this place. It’s in Odenton, which is closer to DC that Baltimore, and very far from our house in northwest Baltimore City. I wish they’d have kept the winners a little closer to the Bmore metro area.
Best Summer Camp: Walters Art Gallery – I don’t know much about the summer camp, but the Walters is a wonderful, suprisingly kid-friendly place. We wrote about the Chamber of Wonders in our 2009 City Guide, under “Cool Things to Do With Your Kids.”
Best Dentist: Dentistry for Kids
Best Family Photographer: Kim Flores Photography
Best Farmer’s Market: Baltimore Farmer’s Market, under the JFX – I absolutely agree.
Best Haricut: Salon 36 Kids – This is where we take Jack for haircuts and, while I haven’t been anywhere else in town (though I have been elsewhere in New York and New Jersey), it’s hard to imagine a better spot. The barbers there are experts in subterfuge and distraction—Dara is our favorite. There is a great train table for kids to play on while they wait and each haircut station has a DVD player primed with Dora, Sesame Street, and any other kid favorite. Jack is the worst haircut “patient” I’ve ever seen and they handle him with ease.
Best Ice Cream: Rita’s – Never been there, but I’m anxious to try.
Best Indoor Playspace: Port Discovery – Love it, as explained in this previous post.
Best Kids’ Clothing: The Corduroy Button – I’m not big on clothes shopping for the kids—nearly all of Jack and Ben’s clothing is gifts from Grandma and Grandpa—but I actually do know and like this Fells Point boutique. For more run of the mill—but totally decent—stuff, we go to Target.
Best Kids Party Place: The B&O Railroad Museum – I’ve actually never been there, although Jack and I had a great time at the Streetcar Museum on Falls Road around Christmas last year (when you can ride a real 1950s streetcar to the “North Pole” and meet Santa). He loves trains, so we’ll have to try the B&O.
Best Blog: Learning to Crawl – You’re here baby!
Best Martial Arts Class: American Kenpo Karate Studio – At first, I typed “Best Martian Arts Class”—that, i’d sign up for. My boys are still too young for karate, though.
Best Museum: Geppi’s Entertainment Museum – I’ve actually not yet been, but I hear it’s great. We also wrote about it in the 2009 City Guide, in the Bizarre Museums section.
Best Music Class: Music Together By “It’s Groovy Baby” Music – We are HUGE fans of It’s Groovy Baby and, in particular, of the primary teacher, Miss Bettina (who we also wrote about here). She led a music class for Jack’s birthday party this past weekend (left) and it was great.
Best Party Entertainer: Eric Energy – Probably not his real name.
Best Pediatrician: Cross Keys Pediatrics – I voted like crazy for our fantastic pediatrician Dr. Ralph Brown, but he was bound to lose to a practice that had several doctors’ patients’ voting. That said, I’ve heard lots of good things about the doctors at Cross Keys, and there’s something to be said for choosing a practice, where doctors can fill in for each other in case of emergency.
Best Pizza: Pizza John’s – I’ve neer been to this place in Essex, which looks lovely, but we love Matthew’s in Patterson Park, and have been served well by our neighborhood pizza place, Mt Washington Pizza and Subs (which also has surprisingly good Indian food).
Best Place for a Parent Date Night: Todd Connor’s
Best Playground or Park: Roger’s Forge Tot Lot – I love it and wrote about it here.
Best Preschool: The Montessori School
Best Shoe Store: Nordstrom – Really? We’re all about Target.
Best Swim Class: Meadowbrook Aquatic Center – I’m sure this place, Michael Phelps’ stomping grounds, has great classes.
Best Theater of Theater Group for Kids: Pumpkin Theater – I’ve never heard of this, but am very anxious to try it out.
Best Tourist Spot: National Aquarium in Baltimore – We’ve had great times at the Aquarium, as I wrote about here, but I’m not sure we’re as into it as other families are. Lots of beautiful fish and aquatic life—and the dolphin shows are great—but we prefer things a bit more interactive. And I’m moderately offended at how expensive it is: $24.95 per adult, $14.95 per child, not including dolphin or 4D immersion shows. Unfortunately, those prices put a trip to the aquarium out of reach for a lot of local families.
Best Toy Store: Barston’s Child’s Play – Haven’t been there. We’re big fans of Amuse, which has locations in Fells Point and in the Quarry Lake shopping center in Pikesville.
Best Tutor or College Prep: Sylvan Learning Center
Please, please, leave comments with your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions about any and all of the categories. I’d love to know what people think…