Monday, March 23, 2009
Providence, Part 1, With the Kids: The Children's Museum and 7 Stars Bakery
Like many parents, I am aware that my sons have a talent: they really only nap well at day care! On weekends and vacations, "nap time" means, as Raphael recently put it, "Exercise!" (He jumped around in his room for about 1 hour, while singing songs from the Wiggles.) As any overtired parent can understand, the combo of a day without a chance to rest, along with a cranky and fussy filled afternoon is a bit much.
So, when I realized that the kids and I were facing President's Day without plans, I realized that finally checking out the Providence Children's Museum came with a bonus: a guaranteed nap on the way home. The reality is that the day was a complete hit and I am excited about discovering this place. It is brightly lit, clean, and full of engaging activities for kids of all ages. At $7.50 a person (kids under 12 months are free) it is also relatively reasonable for a few hours of fun. It has two floors connected by a long ramp (making it wheelchair and stroller accessible, though a stroller is really unnecessary).
We spent most of our time in the “Little Woods” area, a fenced in space for kids under 4. It is beautiful-using color, light and design to create a true woods with a tree, mountain, and brook. My kids loved the slide, the see-saw, the puppets and dress up clothes. I loved how safe they were while they played. Outside the woods are even more rooms for pretend play: a construction site, a tienda, a ship, a mill and a farm (with a cow!). There are spaces for creative toys and building, too. There are also two large rooms for snack breaks.Downstairs there was a large Lite Bright, more fabulous play structures and an enormous warm room for water play (perfect for a gray February day-just bring a change of clothes.)
The museum isn’t huge and be forewarned, it can get crowded (even at 9:00 a.m.) but it was worth it.
By 11:30 we were starving. Although our lunch site wouldn’t impress nutritionists, we had a blast at The Seven Stars Bakery. The bakery actually has 2 locations. The one at 342 Broadway was less than 5 minutes away from the museum, though the second location on Hope Street is even more family friendly with a long communal table that is great for meeting new folks. Their bread is among the best that I have had and they offer any by the slice! Go and get a toasted slice of their cheese bread, their walnut-raisin, the olive or the semolina. My younger son and I shared 1 of their 3 sandwiches: a buffalo mozzarella with olive tapenade, roasted peppers and arugula. The sweet pastries were also wonderful and decadent offering scones, muffins, cookies in fabulous flavors. The atmosphere was warm and casual and offered enough distraction for my kids to be completely engaged and to eat well. Finally, while you are there, buy some coffee from New Harvest Coffee Roasters. A friend introduced me to it and it is just so good.