by Nicole Loughan Utter
Going out with young children is a tough proposition. You always need to have a sippy cup on hand, a trove of diapers and wipes and emergency food. But, there are a few places I love to go because they have made going out with children easy. Places meant specifically and only for kids are usually great like bounce places, little gyms and kids museums. The real trick is the welcome treat you get when you go to a place meant for shopping or getting a cup of coffee and find out that their facilities are extremely kid friendly. I have been unexpectedly surprised at a few stores and restaurants and highly recommend them for a day out without a stress out.
Ikea – Ikea’s awesomeness starts in the bathroom. Every Ikea I have been to has a family bathroom with a sitting area and separate water closet. The sitting room tends to have samples of all of their best baby items, such as a changing table and rocking chairs. Even better they keep the bathroom stocked with free diapers and wipes. They are also great for kids because they have milks with straws, no need to worry about sippy cups and affordable kid friendly food that starts at $1.99. For older kids they have a child watch area. And the fun is free, they have samples of all of their toys out for children to play with, and it’s encouraged. My daughter loves running from room to room and pretending she lives in them. She plays house while I buy kitchen instruments and furniture, it’s a win for both of us.
Wegmans – Wegmans is full of free fun. My kids like watching the live lobster tank and riding the elevator. But even more surprising I like going to Wegmans with the kids for dinner. They have a buffet with every type of meal option from Chinese to Pizza so that you can get what you want and make sure the kids get something they want. The buffet also has fresh fruit and yogurt so you can be sure to get them something healthy. The dining area has both booster seats and height chairs. There is also a kid friendly area with a T.V. and toys for after the meal.
Panera Bread – I used to think of Panera as a place to sit on your laptop and work while you ate a sandwich or grabbed a cup of coffee. When I had kids I found out they had a kids menu that seemed designed by somebody who actually had children. The youth offerings like sandwiches and macaroni come with milk with a straw and yogurt in a tube. There are also options to get an apple with any meal. I have found the staff will bring your food to you if you mention you are with kids, they are usually happy to help you carry your food to the table and make a point to bus it for you.
I love going to these places where I am guaranteed an almost stress-free experience. The only thing that would ensure a perfect day out would be a place that could promise your kids don’t have a tantrum, wet through their pants or fall and skin their knees, but so far I have not found that magical place. If I do I will make sure to share it as well.