Whether your child is a nature-lover, artist, aspiring actor, or arcade enthusiast, Bayside has a lot to offer. Alley Pond Park and Crocheron Park are great little escapes from the busy hustle of the city.
Alley Pond Environmental Center, located at 228-06 Northern Boulevard, provides kids with the opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna in Queens. There are numerous trails wandering through salt marshes, forests and meadows where children can see migrating and resident birds, as well as small animals. The nature center has several aquariums and houses other small animals that kids can interact with in any of their many programs. Their programs are geared toward children from 18 months to 4 years old. Just 5 minutes from Alley Pond is Crocheron Park, another little oasis. There are baseball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, tennis courts and lots of open space for both people and dogs to enjoy. There is also a peaceful pond with lots of ducks and geese. For directions, check out their website.
Mommy, Music, & Me, Inc.’s classes give children the opportunity to play instruments along with original and traditional music from a variety of genres. They also introduce children to musical concepts such as tone and rhythm. Together, parents and their little ones explore music passively and actively, fostering a wonderful appreciation for music. For information on their Bayside classes, which are held at NYC Shotokai Karate.
The Samuel Field Y offers not only fun, but support for mothers as well. They have a Drop-In Center for mothers of toddlers and a Mom & Baby group for mothers with babies under 1. The Drop-In Center provides resources for mothers and gives them a place to meet other moms to discuss issues they might be having and to share ideas. While they talk, a trained teacher leads kids through a variety of activities. The Mom & Baby Group is more of a support group with a facilitator who leads relevant discussions. It is another great place for new mothers to make friends and get advice for problems they might be having. Both of these groups meet weekly, and pre-registration is not required. If you are interested in day care and pre-school, the Y has many great options ranging from partial to full-time separation. You can check them out on their website.
Older children will enjoy the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery. This unique gallery specializes in featuring art from contemporary women artists, Hispanic artists, and Africa. The African collection features ceremonial pieces and other objects produced in Africa. There is also a wonderful photography collection. The QCC Gallery prides itself on introducing the community to artists that are not found in some of the other well-known art museums in the City. Even better, admission is free. They are located at 222-05 56th Avenue in Bayside, and you can get more information on their current exhibitions.
If your child is more interested in video games, Peter Pan Games, located at 212-93 26th Ave., is the perfect spot. With over 30 arcade games ranging from Fast and Furious to Dance Dance Revolution, there’s something for every gamer. They also host birthday parties. You can have a regular or private party, and their prices are reasonable.
Theatre By the Bay is a great little theater company, whose mission is to produce family-friendly plays, showcasing the talents of amateur actors regardless of race, religion, orientation or age. Some of their past shows have been “Grease,” “Gypsy,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” They are currently featuring their production of “Oliver!”, which is showing on Saturdays and Sundays through March 25th . Tickets are $20 for adults, and $18 for seniors and children (under 13). They ask that you bring a non-perishable food item that will be donated to City Harvest. If you are interested in seeing “Oliver!”, or you or your child is interested in performing in their next show, “Hello Dolly,” check out their website.
If all of your exploring leaves you in need of a pick-me-up, Bell Boulevard has great restaurant options complete with delicious kids’ menus:
Bourbon Street offers delicious, authentic Cajun classics such as jambalaya and gumbo. They also put a New Orleans spin on their burgers. Their children’s menu caters to the picky nature of the under 12 set with standards like hamburgers and macaroni and cheese.
If you have a taste for Italian food, Trattoria 35 is a great choice. They have a traditional menu, including wood burning oven pizza. They also host private parties, and it is a very elegant venue.
If you’re just in the mood for a solid slice of pizza, check out VI Pizza (4304 Bell Blvd.). It’s fast, and delicious, and they have a great variety of flavors, including a taco pizza.
If you’re in need of a fix for your sweet tooth, stop by Cupcakes in Heels or MaggieMoo’s ice cream shop. Cupcakes in Heels is a chic little cupcake boutique that prides itself on making gourmet treats, though they only have cupcakes available in their store. Each flavor name is inspired by names of famous designers, such as “the Burberry,” a strawberry cake filled with fresh strawberries and topped with whipped cream, and “the Gucci,” a chocolate cupcake topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with crushed peanuts. They also have seasonal flavors, like “the Paul Costelloe” for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a Guinness beer chocolate cupcake, filled with bacon, and frosted with Irish whiskey and Guinness beer frosting . Their prices are a little steep ($3.25 for a cupcake), but they are delicious!
MaggieMoo’s is not your ordinary ice cream store. They have unique flavors like chocolate amaretto and caramel apple and you can choose add-ins to make your choice even more delicious. What’s more, they have ice cream pizza and ice cream cupcakes, which would make great treats for your child’s next birthday party.
The next time you have a free day, check out one or two of these Bayside attractions. This borough is too big and wonderful to just stick to your little neighborhood, so get out there and explore! Next week, follow us on our visit to Whitestone.
By: Megan Ross