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Portland Winter & Spring Places for Younger Kids

December 31, 2012

Money Magazine rated Portland, OR as the best place to live in 2011.  With a temperate climate and many outdoor and indoor attractions, green spaces, and good food Portland is both kid and parent friendly.   Portland is one of our highest rated KidScore cities,  especially friendly towards younger children and toddlers.  Here’s some of our top kid friendly picks for eateries and activities in the Portland Area for the Winter and Spring.

1.  Fort Vancouver KidScore 76 (Kid Friendly)

The park has many activities specifically designed for our younger visitors. Overnight & Day Camps provide both an overnight and day-long hands-on experience inside the fort and neighboring Village. Click here to learn more. In addition to a new Audio Tour specifically designed for families with children, the park features a new hands-on exhibit inside the reconstructed Counting House. This exhibit introduces kids to the fields of history and archaeology through an exploration of the lives of three children who lived at Fort Vancouver. The park also continues the highly popular Junior Ranger and Kids Dig programs each year. For younger kids looking for a place to play, the park has a new playground near the Visitor Center.

Admission: Adults: $3, 15 and under free.

2.  Oregon Museum of Science and Industry KidScore 92 (Kid Heaven)

One of the nation’s leading science museums, OMSI is 219,000 square feet of brain-powered fun. Five enormous halls bring science to life with hundreds of interactive exhibits and displays. Experience an earthquake, take part in live lab demonstrations, see a movie in the OMNIMAX® Dome Theater, explore the universe in a world-class planetarium and even tour a real submarine. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River.

Admission: Adults: $11, youth (3-13) $9, seniors (63+) $9, children 2 and younger free. Parking: $2/car.

3.   Portland Children’s Museum KidScore 100 (Kid Heaven)

One of the oldest children’s museums in the country, this beloved institution is filled with a collection of interactive exhibits where little ones can build, sculpt, and splash in the name of discovery. Popular attractions include the Play It Again Theater, which never goes dark, and the Dig Pit, filled with rubber gravel and located next to the Caterpillar Café.

Admission: Youth and adults (ages 1-54) $9, seniors (55+) and military $8, members and children under age 1 free. Free on the first Friday of each month from 4-8 p.m.

4. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum KidScore 90 (Kid Heaven)

Hands-on, interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family are waiting to be explored at the Discovery Museum. See the forest from a bird’s-eye view or take a wet-free raft ride in Class IV rapids. Climb underneath the forest to see the life below, or try your smoke jumping skills. Round out your adventure with video journeys to Siberia, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Five minutes from downtown Portland via Hwy. 26 or MAX light rail.

Admission: Adults $8, children (3-18) $5, seniors (62+) $7, members and children 2 years and under free. Parking $2/car.

5. Powell’s City Books KidScore 81 (Kid Friendly)

Naturally, the world’s largest independent bookseller, which stocks more than 1.5 million books in nine rooms, spanning three stories and filling an entire city block, includes an amazing children’s section. Young readers can pull up a seat and find new favorite authors among from the packed and lovingly curated shelves.  Note they have multiple locations in the Portland area.

Admission: Free

6.  Mt. Hood Snowshoeing and Tubing

A low cost and active activity for the whole family, breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and surrounding areas with a trail network of over 1200 total miles in the Mt. Hood National Forest.  Old Maid Flats, Salmon River Trails, Wildwood Recreation Area, and the Mt. Hood Sno-Parks all access excellent snowshoe trails.  Stop by REI Portland- KidScore 89 (Kid Friendly) to stock up on gear, outdoor advice, and snowshoe rentals.  If snowshoeing is not fast enough for your kid you can ski or go tubing at the Summit Ski Area on Mt. Hood.

More info:

http://www.summitskiarea.com/

http://www.allmounthood.com/winter_recreation/snowshoeing.php

http://www.mthood.info/recreation/mt-hood-recreation-snowshoe.html

7.  Café Au Play KidScore 100 (Kid Heaven)

Café au Play is a nonprofit coffeehouse and community center with play areas for children and activities for children, caregivers, and the community. The coffeehouse provides a welcoming, comfortable environment where adults and children can gather on a daily basis, develop lasting relationships and exchange resources. Proceeds from the coffee bar help provide funding for Café au Play; patrons design and lead activities; families connect to services and support networks. Café au Play is changing the way the public embraces the needs of families and is a leader in creating family friendly cities.

8.  Laurelwood Public House & Brewery KidScore 87 (Kid Friendly)

With three convenient locations in the greater Portland area, it’s easy to stop in to Laurelwood Public House and Brewpub for a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner with the kids. The restaurant’s family-friendly staff accommodates families of all sizes spectacularly, and ensures that families with kids of any age have a comfortable dining experience. High chairs and booster seats are provided for the little ones, and a kids area with toys and games keeps kids entertained while they wait for their food. Laurelwood’s affordable kids menu costs $4.50 and the price includes a choice of an entree, side dish, drink and dessert! Upon request, if you order your kids meal early, the restaurant will work to feed the kids first and get their meals out fast. Popular kids meal entrees are: mac and cheese, dinosaur chicken strips, corn dog, cheese quesadilla, buttered noodles and more. In addition to catering well to children, Laurelwood also offers an array of specialty beer and adult beverages for thirsty beer-lovers. The restaurant’s fast service, friendly staff and cheap eats make Laurelwood Public House and Brewpub a great place to dine on any budget.

9.  Salt and Straw KidScore 94 (Kid Heaven)

Portland’s farm-to-cone ice cream shop.  Their ice cream is handmade in small-batches using only all-natural dairy with  local, sustainable and organic ingredients.   Roasted Chestnut, Eggnog custard, bourbon pecan pie, are some of the yummy holiday flavors. In the owners own words “Our ice cream is made with 17% butterfat, very little air in the churn process, and a low sweetness level…so the flavors can really shine through!”

10.  Hopworks Urban Brewery KidScore 85 (Kid Friendly)

Hopworks Urban Brewery is committed to providing guests with organic and sustainable food and beverages. The restaurant serves artisan organic beers as well as a number of gluten-free and vegetarian meal choices. Their color-me kids menu features a coloring sheet and activity page, as well as several organic and healthy meal choices. All of Hopworks’ kids meals are served with a choice of carrots and celery sticks, organic french fries, organic applesauce and a small drink for $4.75. Popular entrees include: hot dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, pizza, PB&J, pasta, grilled chicken and pasta with marinara, butter, or homemade cheese sauce. Hopworks also sells Earth’s Best Organic baby food for only $2. Hopworks sets itself apart by providing healthy and organic foods for a reasonable price, in a welcoming, family-friendly dining atmosphere.

11.  Multnomah Village KidScore 91 (Kid Heaven)

Quaint. Charming. A bit off-center and quintessentially Portland. Call it what you will, southwest Portland’s Multnomah Village is filled with character – as well as dozens of unique shops, galleries, restaurants, a wine bar and a brewpub, professional services, and the rambling Multnomah Art Center. Only about a five minute drive from downtown Portland, Multnomah celebrated 100 years as a business district in 2009. Many of the original buildings are still intact and the compact pedestrian-friendly “downtown” retains the ambience and spirit of that earlier period. But the vibe is decidedly modern Portland that attracts a diverse and ever-growing fan base that has discovered why a decade or so ago the area was sometimes referred to as “Portland’s Best Kept Secret.” Annual events include the Multnomah Days Parade and ensuing street fair on the 3rd Saturday in August, an afternoon Halloween in the Village and the Holiday Gala on the First Friday and Saturday of December. Parking is available on the street as well as at the Multnomah Art Center. TriMet buses 44 and 45 serve the community, and the area is easily accessed by bicycle

12.  Proper Eats KidScore 90 (Kid Heaven)

Proper Eats Market and Cafe is dedicated to supporting local farmers and bringing fresh and organic produce to average families for affordable prices. Their market carries an array of nutritious and locally-sourced foods including bulk items, snacks, juices and produce. The restaurant features numerous gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meal options, as well as a kids menu available to anyone regardless of age: “For the Kids (or the young at heart).” All of the kids menu entrees cost less than $5, and features delicious meal choices such as: organic PB&J, kids grilled cheese (with gluten free bread for an extra $.50), a bean, rice and cheese burrito, and more. The quaint restaurant does get rather busy and crowded during peak hours, but this is to be expected for such a gem of a market and restaurant. The restaurant features a kids table, where the little ones can dine in smaller-sized chairs and a shorter table. Proper Eats Market and Cafe is a great place to shop and eat for families who want to support the local economy and eat fresh and organic foods for an affordable price.

13.  Tin Shed Café KidScore 89 (Kid Heaven)

The line for a table can go out the door, but if you hit it on a non-holiday or weekday, you should be fine to try this fun restaurant with kids. Ask about the ‘Mac of the Day’ (mac and cheese) and ask for a table on the quaint patio…it’s more fun for the kids. Note: the Tin Shed is very dog-friendly. There are high chairs and booster chairs and clean bathrooms.

14.  Laughing Planet Café KidScore 88 (Kid Friendly)

The Laughing Planet Cafe serves families delicious and affordable food with extremely fast and courteous service. This family-friendly restaurant features a team of kid-friendly staff and a relaxed, welcoming dining atmosphere. The restaurant utilizes fresh and organic ingredients in their Mexican-inspired cuisine and nutritional fruit smoothies. Entrees from the kids menu cost $3.25 each, and include gluten-free and vegan meal choices. Kid’s love Laughing Planet Cafe’s gluten-free Taters and Cheese, vegan/gluten-free Rice-N-Beans, and gluten-free beans, cheese and chips entree. Other kids meal entrees include a Mini Burrito and Mini Quesadilla. Laughing Planet’s fruit smoothies are made from fresh fruit and unsweetened fruit juice only, with no additives, sweeteners, extenders or ice. For less than $5 per smoothie, parents and kids can enjoy a healthy and nutritious liquid meal. The restaurant’s quick service, healthy ingredients and extensive gluten-free menu choices make The Laughing Planet Cafe the perfect place to get a light meal with the kids.

15.  Columbia River Brewing Co KidScore 83 (Kid Friendly)

Columbia River Brewing Company serves up delicious artisan beers as well as delicious American cuisine. The restaurant’s kid menu is both affordable and extensive, with kids meal entrees priced at $4.99 per entree and includes a fruit cup as well as a choice of beverage. Popular kids menu items include: chicken strips with fries, personal pizzas, PB&J, Kraft Mac and Cheese, buttered noodles and more. The spacious dining room allows large families to dine in comfort, with plenty of room for high chairs, stroller parking, and large families. The dining atmosphere at Columbia River Brewing Company is casual and welcoming, and the restaurant sometimes has a live musician to serenade diners. Affordable food, a decadent beer selection and a team of family-friendly staff makes Columbia River Brewing Company a great place for families to dine.

Have you been to one of these or have another top place, share your thoughts by writing a review at:  http://www.kidscore.com/writeReview

Happy New Years!

The KidScore Team.

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Promote Your Business With Free KidScore Window Decals.

December 17, 2012

We’ve created KidScore window decals for the best kid-friendly places and for a limited time sending them free to businesses with KidScores above 65 (Kid Friendly and Kid Heaven).  To get your free KidScore window decal simply e-mail us with a link to your KidScore listing.  We’ll have it in the mail within 5 days.

Kidscore final window decal

Furthermore email us an image of the decal on your business window and we’ll tweet it and post it the image to our Pinterest account.

Ali Alami

KidScore adds color coding to help distinguish levels of kid friendliness

December 12, 2012

Thanks to several moms including a designer mom for making the suggestion to add color coding to our kid friendly scale meanings and balloons.  Last week we rolled out the new colors in web and mobile.  When searching for places you can easily distinguish the kid friendliness by balloon color.

 Here’s some images of the change

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Colors on KidScore Map:

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Scale in Search Results:

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Don’t hesitate to send new feature ideas to info@kidscore.com.

Thanks,

Ali Alami

Choosing the Best Toys this Holiday Season

October 16, 2012

Almost everyone can look back on their childhood and remember a toy that made a positive impact on their lives. Whether it was a train set, stuffed animal, building blocks or baby doll, toys helped you learn and play as a child. As a parent, selecting the right toy for your child isn’t as simple as visiting the store and grabbing something off the shelf. These days, some toys contain harmful and toxic chemicals like BPA or lead, and other toys present choking and safety hazards for the youngest children in your home. The best toys are healthy, safe, durable and enable kids learn and explore the world around them. Follow these simple guidelines the next time you visit the toy store to ensure that you purchase the right toys for your children.
1.  Buy Healthy and Safe Toys.  Even though you can’t control everything your child is exposed to in the outside world, you can control what your child plays with at home. Many toy companies use toxic additives such as: PVC, phthalates, and BPA in their manufacturing process. These toxic chemicals present health risks to children of any age and have resulted in numerous toy recalls throughout the years. The easiest way to eliminate toxic toys from your home is to purchase toys from reputable stores (see our list below), and check toy recalls.
            Another thing to keep in mind is the age-appropriateness of a toy. Many families have more than one young child in their home, and although a toy may be appropriate for an 8-year-old, it could present a choking hazard for an infant, toddler or child. Be careful about which toys you allow your youngest kids to play with, and keep in mind these tips when choosing toys for your youngest kids:

Infants to 1-year-olds

  • Since this age group is notorious for putting toys in their mouths, make sure all buttons or small parts are dull and securely fastened. It is also important to remove any ribbons or strings from these toys as well.

1 to 3-year-olds

  • Children in this age group are reckless explorers and have no regard for danger. Therefore, close supervision should be standard while these children play.
  • Choose toys made out of cloth or other soft materials to avoid accidental injury. Make sure any pull-string toys do not have strings longer than 7 inches, and building block toys are too large to swallow.

3 to 5-year-olds

  • Choking on small parts is still an issue with this age group, so choose large building blocks and sturdy toys that do not have small removable parts.
  • This age group loves to play dress-up, so beware of costumes with sharp fasteners that could fall off or get caught in your little ones hair.

5 to 9-year-olds

  • At this point, parents can begin to introduce more complex toys with smaller parts (still beware of choking hazards). Legos, Polly Pockets, Light Brite, and Link-N-Logs are popular among this age group, and depending upon the child, these toys are now age appropriate.
  • Care should be taken to keep younger children in the home away from these “big kid” toys, as they present numerous safety risks. If your younger child is adamant about playing with these “big kid” toys, allow them to do so under strict supervision and teach them how to play safely. Care should be taken to ensure that “big kid” toys aren’t left lying around the house as curious youngsters may be tempted to play when you’re away. This is a great opportunity to teach the older kids about responsibly picking up after themselves.

2. Select Durable Toys that Aid in Learning and Exploration.  The best toys are created from organic materials like wood, metal and cotton. Not only are these toys less likely to cause health problems, they are durable, easy to fix and may be passed down for generations. Flimsy plastic toys are often poorly made and easily broken. Remember that kids can be rough with their toys, and the best play things should be built to withstand a few years of rough treatment. Accidents happen, and fragile toys are rendered useless if they’re dropped on pavement, run over by a car, or left out in poor weather for too long. When these toys break, they can shatter into hundreds of sharp pieces, or simply make a child upset that they have to throw away one of their favorite play things.
Durability, health and safety are important when choosing a toy for your child, but the most important aspect of a toy is the lessons it can teach your child. The most useful toys on the market combine learning and fun. Try to select toys that encourage education and entertainment, such as read aloud books, memory games, and building blocks for spatial learning. Your child’s brain is hungry for knowledge and everything you allow your child to play with can have a positive impact on their development.
In the end, the truth is that everything your child encounters may be interpreted as a toy. Their brains are hungry for knowledge and full of imagination, so an empty box becomes a spaceship, and a wooden spoon can transform your little one into a world-class drummer. Kids will try to play with anything they can get their hands on, so it’s important that you supply them with toys that enhance their learning, but are also safe, healthy and durable.
To Encourage Shopping Locally Here’s Our List of Some KidScore Top Toy Stores:

Seattle

Bay Area

Portland

New York

Austin

Most stores are up to date on the latest recalls, if you buying online you should check  toy recalls before purchasing a new toy: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/

Got a favorite toy store in your city you’d like to see on the next list?  Write a review on KidScore to tell us more.

How To Choose a Family-Friendly Hotel for your Next Vacation

October 1, 2012

Traveling with kids can be stressful. Regardless of where and why you’re traveling, it’s difficult to relax when you’re worried about packing and hauling luggage, entertaining kids on the plane, checking bags and securing transportation to your hotel. Families can avoid a lot of hassle and ensure that the stress of traveling doesn’t carry-over into the rest of their vacation by doing a little research and understanding the importance of choosing a family-friendly hotel. Booking the right hotel may be the best way to ensure a stress-free and entertaining vacation for you and your kids.

While many hotels only provide your family with a place to sleep and bathe, family-friendly hotels cater to parents by offering kid-friendly amenities and services that help you cut costs and keep your kids amused while on vacation. Keep reading to discover what makes a hotel family-friendly, and what services and amenities to look for before you book your hotel.

Look for Kids Stay for Free, Adjoining Rooms and Discounted Rates.  Many hotels have policies in place that allow children to stay in their parent’s room for no extra cost, so long as they use pre-existing bedding.  Some hotels don’t have these policies, and you may end up paying an extra $20-$50 per night for each of your kids. Find out if your kids can stay for free in your hotel room, and make note of the cut-off age. Some hotels allow kids 17 and younger to stay for free, while others have a much lower cut-off age, typically 12.

For larger families, sometimes hotels don’t provide affordable rooms that are large enough to accommodate the entire family. To amend this problem, many family-friendly hotels offer adjoining rooms, or second rooms for children at half the cost of regular rates.  These rooming options are also a good choice for parents who want to spend some alone time in their hotel room during vacation. With adjoining rooms or ½ price rooms for kids, adults can enjoy their privacy without sacrificing their child’s comfort or supervision.

Not only should the hotel be up to modern codes but have safety features for younger children.  Are the windows safe to leave open? Some older hotels have windows at floor level (or 6” up) that when open a child can fall out of.  Does the pool have a fenced off area?  Can a small child slip his/her head between the balcony rails, including rail end where it connects to the wall?  Rail spacing should be no more than 4” at any point.  Does the hotel offer parents the ability to check out outlet covers? Are the cribs up to standard and not on any recall lists?  These are all items parents should look into.

Rails should not have spaces larger than 4″ at any point so children can’t fit through them.

Look at a hotel’s KidScore.  KidScore factors in most of the above amenities and features in its algorithm.  The higher the KidScore the more kid friendly!  Here’s a list of top kid friendly hotels in the USA:

Kids Amenities and Kids Club Programs can make the difference.  While some hotel’s kid-friendly amenities are limited to a heated swimming pool, other hotels cater to their younger guests spectacularly. Check to see if the hotel provides free amenities such as: children’s bathrobes, coloring books, board games or toys, an in-room gaming console, or children’s room service menus. For families with infants and toddlers, a family-friendly hotel will provide guests with complimentary cribs, bibs, outlet covers, bandages and no-tear shampoos. Further, check to see if the hotel has a game room or arcade on-site for your older children.

Exceptional family-friendly hotels provide Kids Club programs for kids and teens, and a babysitting service for younger children. Although these services often cost extra, they are well worth the expense for parents who want to spend time alone without sacrificing their children’s safety. Many Kids Club programs will keep your kids entertained and safe with activities and local excursions.  Kids Clubs provide professional supervision as children have fun completing activities or learning a new skill, while  their parents get a chance to enjoy some alone time together.

Free Meals, Entertainment or Family-Friendly Concierge help save money.     A truly family-friendly hotel will provide a complimentary continental breakfast each morning, which does wonders to help cut costs during travel. Additionally, kid-friendly hotels provide a kids menu in their dining establishments, and may even offer promotions where kids eat for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Most family-friendly hotels also offer free or low-cost entertainment like movie nights or miniature golf. Don’t forget the pool area! The best hotels allow parents to choose rooms with a view of the pool so they can watch children who are old enough to use the pool on their own. Also, many hotels provide pool toys or swimming lessons for their younger guests.

Don’t forget to visit the concierge service in your hotel, where staff should be able to help you locate kid-friendly attractions in the surrounding area, and may even supply you with coupons to enjoy food or entertainment for a discounted price.
Don’t settle for less or pay more than you have to entertain you entire family during vacation. The best family friendly hotels will cater to your children in the same way they cater to their adult guests. Research your hotel before you book and look out for hotels that offer low-cost dining and other kid-focused amenities. If you choose the right one, staying at a hotel will be relaxing and fun for everyone.

Are you a parent, are there other kid friendly features you’ve observed or would like to see in KidScore?  Let us know by writing to info@KidScore.com.

Top Kid Friendly Places in Texas

September 8, 2012

We just scored 9000 places in Texas. With several excellent BBQ and Mexican restaurants that are full of flavors, great for adults, and got high KidScores.  Here’s our list of favorite places from top cities around Texas:

San Antonio

Austin

Dallas:

Houston:

Corpus Christie:

Know Texas well?  Share your thoughts on top eateries and attractions at www.kidscore.com

The KidScore Team!

Top New York City KidScore Places

August 30, 2012

The KidScore team is constantly adding new places.  We’re about to pass 120K listings of places in KidScore.  We’re also launching in 10 new markets in the next month.  Today’s launch includes KidScores on 4500 places in New York.  Here’s our picks of some Top Kid-Friendly New York eateries, hotels, and attractions:

  1. Serendipity 3 (KidScore 99)
  2. Nanoosh (KidScore 96)
  3. Olive Garden at Times Square (KidScore 96)
  4. Brasserie 360 (KidScore 95)
  5. Ink 48 Hotel (KidScore 95)
  6. Cowgirl Sea-Horse (KidScore 94)
  7. Landmarc Restaurant (KidScore 94)
  8. Central Park (KidScore 91)
  9. 70 Park Hotel (KidScore 90)
  10. Beacon Restaurant (KidScore 89)
  11. Eventi Hotel (KidScore 88)
  12. Cold Stone Creamery on Houston St. (KidScore 89)
  13. Blue Smoke (KidScore 89)
  14. Ideya (KidScore 87)
  15. Southern Hospitality BBQ (KidScore 87)
  16. Ditch Plains (KidScore 85)
  17. Hard Rock Café (KidScore 85)
  18. Central Park Zoo (KidScore 79)
  19. The New Victory Theater (KidScore 75)
  20. Governor’s Island (KidScore 75)

Have a favorite kid-friendly place to recommend?  Let us know

The KidScore Team!