Not Just for Kids
BEST OF THE BAY
Parents may think they know best, but theyll have to come to you for advice on what really matters: toys, ice cream and good family eating out. Heres the best advice of our readers and editors on some places kids will like.
Best Toy Store
Readers Choice and Editors Choice: Be Beep
You cant argue with success, and Be Beep has for three years in a row won our readers votes.
Be Beeps charm lies as much in whats missing as in whats there. Owners Jeff and Lee Franklin, both former teachers, have taken much care in choosing merchandise that stimulates rather than dictates the imagination. In doing so, they have created a browsers paradise. Theres no blaring music, no over-bright lights and few if any electronic noises croaking from hyper-educational toys.
This is a fun place to be. Its a small store, but not a boutique. We dont specialize. We purchase toys based on merit, not marketing, said Jeff Franklin.
Much like an old general store, Be Beep features just a small stock of todays most wildly popular toys and fills its intimate space with scores of dolls, animal statues and kid-sized tools and kitchen implements, to name a few of our favorites. What better tribute to Be Beeps Annapolis and Severna Parks stores than this: No, honey, I dont want to leave either; but well come back later with your father.
Best Kids Menu
Readers Choice: Chevys Fresh Mex
Its always a fiesta for kids and family alike at Chevys Fresh Mex. As your familys seated, the hostess leaves kids menus and crayons along with a warm and stretchy ball of fresh tortilla dough. And dont worry if your tot takes a bite. This is the same stuff youre using to scoop up salsa, and theres no yeast to rise in that little tummy.
Everythings made fresh to order, even the kids meals, which are a real value, with soft tacos, hamburgers, cheese and chicken flautas and more. All kids meals come with soda or milk and a cone-shaped dessert tortilla filled with vanilla ice cream. On Monday nights you can have all this on the cheap, with the little ones eating for only a buck.
What makes Chevys such a great place for kids, says manager Rafael Munoz, is the good, fast service. Kids need their dinner quick, he said, and that you can depend on at Chevys.
Editors Choice: Macaroni Grill
Anyone with little ones knows that its hard to get out as a family, and in the end the right restaurant makes all the difference. At Romanos Macaroni Grill, all the settings are in place for a good time to be had by all. The atmosphere is sure to keep even unruly rugrats entertained between the crayons and kids coloring menu, the general hustle and bustle and the open, tall-ceilinged dining rooms that turns even the sounds of a squalling baby into a gentle but steady background hum. Perhaps most entertaining are the singers who serenade in Italian, in operatic style birthday boys and girls of all age.
From their own menu, the kiddies can order pizza, cheese ravioli, mini corn dogs, grilled cheese or a rich and tasty fetuccini Alfredo. Kids dinners come with soda or milk as well as a generous serving of ice cream with plenty of fixins at the end of the meal, buying grateful parents that much more time to enjoy their own meals.
Best Ice Cream
Readers Choice: Tastee Freeze
Ice cream on the boardwalk: a summertime classic.
Tastee Freeze in North Beach twists great soft serve with great location for a delicious combination. Its a good place to take the kids and be a family, says owner Heather Kennerly. There arent enough places where you can do that. Tastee Freeze also has clean outdoor and indoor seating, rare among small ice cream stands. This is especially nice in spring, fall and summer, when families can sit outside and look out onto the Bay, just feet from the boardwalk.
What can a customer expect? Quality product, good service and a clean environment, promises Kennerly. See you on the other side of the cone.
Editors Choice: Aroma dItalia
the name rolls off the tongue almost as easily as the cool, creamy dessert. This frozen delicacy, in 30 thoughtful flavors made daily at Aromi DItalia in Annapolis harbor, puts an Italian accent on an old flavor. The taste is more intense, its texture smoother and, with only seven percent fat in the most decadent flavors, it could be called a healthy alternative if youre willing to use some imagination.
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Kids Stuff This Week
Friday, August 29
Zing Wing Flyer
Kids of all ages decorate their own styrofoam Zing Wing Flyer to take flight and take home. noon-4pm @ College Park Aviation Museum, Cpl. Frank Scott Dr., College Park. $2 w/age discounts: 301/864-6029 www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com.
Wednesday, September 3
Kids ages 2-6 bring along their grandparents to listen to stories and create crafts to take home. 9:30 and 10:30am @ Broadneck Public Library, 1275 Green Holly Dr., Broadneck. free: 410/222-1905.
Thursday, September 4
Babies in Bloom
Infants and toddlers (up to 24 months old) gather for stories, songs, rhymes and fingerplays. 9:30 and 10:30am @ Crofton Library, 1681 Riedel Rd., Crofton. free: 410/222-7915.
Party with Sponge Bob
Deadline: Sept. 4Kids ages 2-6 compete for prizes at Sponge Bob Square Pants Party. Children show off their coloring skills in a contest and hunt for seashell treasures. 10:30am-noon @ Southern Community Center, Appeal Ln. (off Rt. 765), Lusby. $6; rsvp: 410/586-1101.
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