NYC Dining with Kids: Playa Betty's on the Upper West Side

While there are a zillion restaurants to choose from in NYC, and many bill themselves as "kid-friendly," I wouldn't say that's an accurate description for all of them (no changing tables in the bathrooms, I'm looking at you). I suppose we all have different needs depending on what stage of the game we are with parenthood, but with that said, I can share that Playa Betty's hits all the key points for "kid-friendly" status with our fam.

First, it's a big restaurant! That matters, with or without the stroller. Maybe it's just the high ceilings, but room to breathe and unload your stuff without jamming into the person at the next table is a sight to behold in this town.

Second, the crayons and fun coloring sheets. Those are a must for our girls to keep them occupied while we figure out what to eat. Playa Betty's had both and they were super cute.

Menu! So my family and I love tacos, rice & beans and anything in the Mexican food arena. Playa Betty's describes its menu as "California-style beach food," and that's close enough for us. We got guacamole to start, which was fun as it comes with a handful of toppings that you can add yourself depending on what you like. We also got the Mexican corn appetizer... tasty!

The kids menu is $10 across the board, and it includes a drink of choice (apple juice of white or chocolate milk), entree (cheese quesadillas or chicken finger tacos with tater tots or brown rice bowl with chicken, sweet potato & zucchini) and ice cream for dessert. They chose tacos and chicken & rice, which they both enjoyed, though full disclosure, V wouldn't eat the sweet potatoes so I had to jump in there. I love that they offer this healthier option, though. It's such a pleasant change from the normal fries and mac & cheese.

Moving on, Husband got tacos -- YUMMY -- and I got a steak & spinach rice bowl, as I was feeling healthy for once in my life. It was both yummy tasting and filling, and I left the restaurant not feeling like I'd just gained 5 lbs, which is apt to happen when I leave any sort of Mexican-style restaurant.

But back to being unhealthy for a moment... our margaritas were delish (that probably should have gone at the top of my list for family-friendly restaurant qualifications- ha!) and I loved this churro vanilla bean ice cream sandwich. Soooo good. Other points worth noting: bathroom is downstairs and DOES have a changing table, and the restaurant offers high chairs and a delicious brunch menu on the weekends, too.

Worth a try, friends!

Disclosure: We were invited to try Playa Betty's for potential review. All opinions, as always, are my own.


The Thanksgiving Day Parade with Pirate's Booty

There are few annual events more quintessentially "fall in NYC" than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My first year in the city (16 years ago, crazy as that seems), I worked the parade as a Page at CBS News. But like millions of others, I've watched it on TV ever since. This year, we graciously attended as guests of Pirate's Booty. Despite the early hour (we were in our seats along Central Park West by 7:30am), it was a such a fantastic experience to be at the parade again and see all the action live -- this time with a husband and children in tow.

Thanks to Pirate's Booty for our tickets -- this was such a natural fit as the girls LOVE this snack, and it's easy for me to give them guilt-free (their snack bag size is perfect for the subway ride home from school). This is the 3rd time Pirate's Booty has participated in this celebrated tradition (90 years old and going strong!), and its "Treasure Hunt" float, helmed by Crunchy the Parrot, was one of the hits of the parade.

Check out a few pictures (thanks, Husband!) for a peek of the morning's events. So much fun!

Disclosure: Thanks to Pirate's Booty for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.


Skincare for the Time-Starved with #CVSLoveYourSkin

A few months ago, I participated in a series of videos for CVS Pharmacy's "Love Your Skin" campaign. It was such a fun day! Felicia (This That Beauty), Amber (Rouge18), Evann Clingan and I discussed a wide array of skincare tips and tricks with Dr. Mona Gohara, who's an Associate Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology.

My video, "Skincare for the Time-Starved," began airing this week and could not be more appropriate. I really have a difficult time prioritizing myself, even for something as relatively simple as skincare, despite knowing how important it is (I can feel you nodding your heads, moms). Yet Dr. Gohara pointed out some easy tips that even I can squeeze into my busy routine: keeping cleansing wipes handy, moisturizing in the morning and evening, and absolutely not forgetting to apply SPF during the day (bonus if it's already in your moisturizer!)

After watching the video, you'll find a $1 off coupon to use at CVS on any two Simple®, Dove or Vaseline products -- woohoo! Interested in learning more? There's a #CVSLoveYourSkin Twitter party happening tonight, 11/15, at 8pm EST. You'll learn additional skincare tips and be entered for a chance to win a bunch of fun prizes! Follow @CVS_Extra and #CVSLoveYourSkin for more information.

I was thrilled to have this opportunity with CVS, especially weighing in from the "mom" perspective. And I will say this -- I've been so much better about remembering to moisturize since being a part of this discussion. Here's to taking care of our skin, ladies!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Mirum Shopper. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City!


The Adventures of Sara Sadie

It's been quite a week, to put it lightly. There is a great amount of uncertainty in our country at the moment, and I find myself filled with anxious energy // sadness // dread, you name it. As we all struggle with this new normal (and brainstorm ways to make positive change), I wanted to spread a bit of love and creativity on my little corner of the Internet.

One of the things I enjoy most about Instagram is being introduced to all the talented, artistic people in my industry and elsewhere. There are a whole lot of amazing creators out there, and one of them is Kate Vallon, the creator of Sara Sadie.

An   industrial designer and artist, Kate was inspired to create the characters of Sara Sadie and Gran based on her relationship with her own grandmother (who happens to live just a few blocks away from Kate here in NYC). Each of her drawings are hand-painted, scanned then digitized on photos Kate takes around the city. And what adventures they have together! Why Sara Sadie has even had tea with Millie before (see last photo)... 

Over coffee with Kate a few weeks ago, I was excited to learn that there is more in store for Sara Sadie and Gran beyond Instagram. Methinks you'll be seeing a lot more of Miss Sara Sadie in the future... In the meantime, though, we'll enjoy seeing her on Instagram (and don't forget to check out the free printables that are currently available on her website). Too cute!

Her whimsical nature, curiosity, smarts and flair for fashion make Sara Sadie one of my favorite feeds on Instagram. Check her out!


Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Coming Up!

Why does Halloween suddenly feel like the unofficial start to the holiday season? Isn't that dreadful?! Though I can say one good thing about this timing: I start paying attention to the toys my kids are talking about and what's really entertaining them, so that I can keep it in mind for Christmas shopping in another month and a half (because let's face it, I will be doing all of this at the last minute).

As  we gear up for the holiday season, I wanted to share some fun news: Saturday, November 12th marks the 7th National Neighborhood Toy Store Day! This annual celebration by independent toy shops kicks off the holiday season with special events like face painting, live performances & more to introduce consumers to the benefits of shopping local.

While shopping local supports the community by creating jobs and preserving neighborhoods, the benefits only continue. Local toy stores source products from both big brand manufacturers and small entrepreneurial companies, introducing children to a world of toys that aren't available elsewhere. Many store owners participating in National Neighborhood Toy Store Day have earned the ASTRA Certified Play Expert (CPE) designation, so rest assured, your shopping experience will be in good hands.

Vivian with her Fuzzeez Husky
Check back in a month to see if we've conquered this Rubik Cube!
Loving this balance game! Thinking of getting one for Vivian's classroom... 

The gals are loving playing with some of this year's top toys for kids, so I've officially begun keeping my eyes and ears open for this year's Christmas shopping -- which I'll be doing locally, of course! To aid in your holiday shopping, see the below list for top toys of 2016, and if you need help finding your local toy store, try HERE.

2016 ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award Winners:

Active Play:

Kidoozie Counting Pogo Jumper
International Playthings

Slackers Ninjaline Intro Kit
b4Adventure - Brand 44 LLC

Choose Your Own Play:

Rock and Roll It! - Piano
MukikiM Toys

Sneaky Cards
Gamewright, a div of Ceoca

Classic Play, O-7 Years:

Rat-A-Tat Cat
Gamewright, a div of Ceoco

WOW Flip 'n' Tip Fred
Reeves International, Inc.

Classic Play, 8+ Years:

Snap Circuits
Elenco Electronics

Rubik Cube 3x3
Winning Moves

Constructive Play, 0-7 Years:

Robot Engineer
Thames & Kosmos

Thames & Kosmos

Creative Arts Play, 3-7 Years:

Craft-tastic Kindness Kit
Ann Williams

Fuzzeez™ Husky
The Orb Factory

Creative Arts Play, 8+ Years:

Peacock Silk Painting

Sew Mini-Treats

Early Play:

Fat Brain Toy Co.

Game Play, 3-5 Years:

Little Red Riding Hood

Balance Beans

Game Play, 6+ Years:

Happy Salmon
North Star Games

Game Play, 8+ Years:

Dr. Eureka
Blue Orange Games

Learning Play:

Code & Go™ Robot Mouse Activity Set
Learning Resources

Pretend (Doll Play):

Folkmanis® French Bulldog Puppet
Folkmanis® Puppets

Pretend (Fantasy Play):

The Irish Fairy Door
The Irish Fairy Door Company / License-2-Play

Pretend (Role Play):

Calico Critters Seaside Ice Cream Shop
International Playthings

Scientific Play:

Hot Ice Crystals
Thames & Kosmos

Happy (local) Shopping!

Disclosure: I am a Neighborhood Toy Store Day Blogger Ambassador. This post is part of a sponsored campaign. I received compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own. 


Growing Up NYC: A New Parenting Resource from the Mayor's Office

A couple weeks ago, I attended a blogging event at City Hall with NYC's First Lady Chirlane McCray (#FLONYC) and members of her team to discuss a new initiative for city parents. Growing Up NYC is an online tool aimed at helping make the hurdles of city parenting easier by putting information at our fingertips on everything from your child's developmental milestones to events and programming happening citywide. 

Geared at ages 0-12 (with expansion through the teenage years in the planning stages), the website will also be made available in handbook format at libraries in the 5 boroughs. Have a question about pre-k? Want to find a story time in your area? Curious about what's happening in Central Park this weekend? You can find all of this and much more on Growing Up NYC.

I was so happy to learn about this new website, in addition to the enthusiasm from staffers as they bring it to the public. Parenting is hard, but there's no doubt that city living can present a few additional challenges here and there. Growing Up NYC is now available to help us along the way, and I encourage you to bookmark the site as it continues to develop content.


A Pumpkin Patch Day Trip with Enterprise Car Share

This post is sponsored by Enterprise Car Share. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City!

I look forward to many things about fall, and a day out of the city for pumpkin picking and taking in nature's changing colors is at the top of the list. And while we do own a car, it's quite old and not exactly reliable for longer drives, so I was more than happy to learn about an easy replacement for the day: Enterprise's new Car Share program, which is available here in NYC and other cities around the country (including my hometown of Charleston, SC)!

The process for using Car Share is quick and easy. After becoming a member online (you'll need to submit a photo & your driver's license), you'll then receive a card in the mail with a unique member ID number. Download the Car Share app to scan available cars in your zip code, and book using the app -- it only takes a few moments! When you arrive at a garage to pick up your car, as I did, just swipe your membership card over a sticker on the drivers' side windshield. The door will unlock and your keys will be inside.

Vehicles are parked in designated spots all around the city, giving you 24/7 access. Should you need a car at 3am, you can find one! And reservations can be as short as 1 hour or up to 7 days. Enterprise Car Share is determined to make the ability to enjoy a day out of the city or a quick trip to the grocery store as easy as possible.

What a gorgeous fall day, and it was made SO much easier by the use of Enterprise Car Share. And guess what? Exciting news. Enterprise would like to offer Baby Meets City readers a special promo. With this link, you can sign up for the Car Share program for $0, get your first year membership for $0 and receive $20 in driving credits. And remember, you don't have to save Car Share for roaming around the countryside. It's great for grabbing groceries (we love the parking lot at Fairway on 125th Street!), a cool furniture find on Craigslist or picking up a friend from the airport.

While you mull over the convenience of 4 wheels, here's a few more pics from the pumpkin patch...

Disclosure: I was compensated for this review. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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