Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Playthings in Madison, WI

Playthings is a toy store with high quality toys, not the kind of toys that have television cross promotions with six restaurant chains.

Playthings carries costumes for dressing up, dinosaurs, dolls, sailboats, and science experiments pretending to be toys. They also have more recognizable characters like Thomas the Tank Engine and a huge Playmobil selection. You can't go wrong giving a kid a toy from Playthings.

702 N Midvale Blvd
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 233-2124

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fireman's Park in Verona, WI

This is the best swimming beach close to Madison. It's a converted quarry, not a natural watershed destination, so there is no significant residential or agricultural fertilizer runoff that makes most of the other lakes algae-ridden.

It's a little pricey for non-Verona-residents ($4 for adults, $3 for kids), but it has a concession stand, lifeguards, a diving board, two water slides (a big one and a little one) and a playground.

Fireman's Park
570 Bruce St
Verona, WI

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Madison Children's Museum in Madison, WI

I've also gotten the annual membership. I found it's busiest just before lunch, so early or late both work best.

There are plans in the works for a major expansion of the museum, taking over a building on North Hamilton.

Madison Children's Museum
100 State St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 256-6445

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Roman Candle in Madison, WI

A pizzeria and ice cream shop. I've taken the kids there many times and they've always enjoyed it, but since I work downtown, I've often gone there for lunch just for me.

They can be fairly quick if you order by the slice, and they have free wi-fi. They've also been known to host birthday parties, and when I had them host a birthday party for my child, they helped me arrange for a magician, as well.

Roman Candle

1054 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 258-2000

They have another location in Middleton:
Roman Candle
1920 Parmenter St
Middleton, WI
(608) 831-7777

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)

Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, WI

About a two hour drive from Madison, the Bristol Faire is a great day of renaissance fun for the whole family. Unlike a lot of renaissance faires, there's lots of trees and shade. You can go in street clothes, or dress up in costume, as you like.

Kids can enjoy a variety of rides and treats, grownups can enjoy a wide variety of shopping, and everyone can enjoy a bunch of open air performances, shows, and jousts.

Wear good shoes, the faire is BIG, and there's a lot of walking to be done. Bring an all terrain stroller for the wee ones, and sunblock for everybody.

Use a two-for-one coupon from a Bucky Book, and catch it on a kids' free day, and you can save quite a bit of money on admission. The faire is seasonal, open on weekends during the summer, so check the website for the schedule.

Bristol Renaissance Faire
12550 120th Ave
Bristol, WI

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)

Zuzu Cafe in Madison, WI

Zuzu Cafe is a nice rest stop after visiting Henry Vilas Zoo across the street. They have a train table for toddlers and yummy sandwiches.

Zuzu Cafe
1336 Drake St
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 260-9898

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Pasqual's On Monroe in Madison, WI

There are always piles of kids at Pasqual's at dinner time. It's open, seat-yourself atmosphere and cheesy food appeals. They lack a changing table in the bathroom, however.

Michael's Frozen Custard and Wingra Park are right across the street for post-dinner activities.

Pasqual's On Monroe
2534 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 238-4419

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Aikido of Madison in Madison, WI

If you're interested in getting your kid into a martial art, you might strongly consider Aikido. The dojo, located on Atwood, is very friendly, and the philosophies of Aikido are just enough different from some of the other martial arts that parents who have reservations might find it a more appealing choice.

Aikido of Madison
2219 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 231-3935


(Thanks for the review Media Ninja)

Sequoya Library in Madison, WI

This is the self-proclaimed busiest branch of the Madison Public Library system. They have a large children's book and video collection plus frequent storytimes for younger kids. The are comparatively few activities for older kids.

The library is undergoing a major expansion due in 2008, but that has not impacted the existing building except for parking.

The new library is now open.

Sequoya Library
513 S Midvale Blvd 4340 Tokay Boulevard
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 266-6385


(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Wingra Park in Madison, WI

Wingra Park is a Madison city park on Lake Wingra. Through a private company, they rent canoes, kayaks, pedalboats and sailboats and offer concessions. They have a large field for soccer, etc. plus basketball hoops and a playground. They recently removed all of the swings (except two baby swings) from the playground -- I have no idea why.

It does not have a public shelter, so it's not considered a "major" park.

Wingra Park
2425 Monroe St
Madison, WI
(608) 233-5332

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Gymfinity in Madison, WI

Gymfinity is a fun indoor gym. They have classes, but I've just visited their open gym. They have two foam pits, a springy track, climbing pads, balls, balance beams, etc. The open gym gets pretty busy in the cold-weather months, so arrive early to get in before they fill up.

6300 Nesbitt Rd
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 848-3547

Ginza of Tokyo in Madison, WI

If you have kids who are somewhat adventurous with food, I recommend Ginza of Tokyo restaurant. A Teppanyaki-style establishment, if you sit at one of the large hibachi tables, they prepare the food in front of you with a fair amount of theatricality. (My kids are especially delighted when they make an onion volcano while cooking.)

The hot meals they make on the hibachi are good, and if you want to supplement it with some sushi, it can add just the perfect adventurous touch.

For sushi for kids, my kids recommend the following varieties:

Good starter sushi:
- Smoked salmon (tasty, and smoked, so not really raw.)
- Tamago (egg sushi, cooked like an omlette)
- Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese.)

And for the more daring children, some really tasty sushi made of things that might make other kids go "ewww!".
- Ikura (Salmon caviar, very salty.)
- Unagi (Cooked Eel in barbecue sauce, very yummy.)

And finally, for someone who just has to try something raw:
- Negihama (raw yellowtail fish with green onions in a roll.)

Ginza of Tokyo
6734 Odana Rd
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 833-8282

The restaurant has other locations in Madison as well:

Ginza of Tokyo
4802 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI
(608) 661-8890

Ginza of Tokyo Inc
122 State St
Madison, WI
(608) 251-2171

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)