Various Locations (We like the one in Woodinville) 18025 Garden Way N.E., Woodinville, WA
Admission: N/A Ages: 18 mos.+ Hours: Sun-Sat 9am-10pm
Food: C Cleanliness: A Chaos Level: A Maintenance Level: C- Diaper Station: Yes
Minor national holidays, like Presidents Day or Memorial Day, are awesome if you get the day off work or love to shop, but as a new stay-at-home-mom, I find them kind of awkward. None of our regular activities are running; the library and the community centers are closed, and all the other you-can-safely-take-your-kid-here places usually over-run with parents who have the day off and want to take the kids out somewhere special.
That's why I love Barnes and Noble. Because it is not marketed strictly to parents, people don't usually think to hang out there with kids, but the place is a goldmine. Granted, it's not the library, so I do get a few sideways glances from people while trying to keep Amani from chewing on the books, but it's the BARGAIN section for crying out loud. I think if you are going to buy an entire compendium of ancient gods for the low, low price of $5.99, teeth marked pages are just part of the deal.
Barnes and Noble has a lot of really great things going for it that make it a great kid-friendly hang out. First and foremost is the kids' books section which is usually located somewhat apart from the other portion of the store so you don't interrupt too many child-free patrons. Obviously they have all types of Children's books, including ones that the library usually skips, like the touch-and-learn kind, or the kind that make noise, but you can also find book themed stuffed animals, toys, and games. Plus, it is staffed by easily amused older women who don't mind toddlers pulling out and trampling on the merchandise. If you're lucky, you may even wander in during story time. Actually, if you are the type of mom that does the whole scheduling thing, you can probably just check the store's website to find out when story-time is. Being generally schedule deficient, Amani and I tend to free-form, which works as well.
Curiously located outside the children's book section is the toy and game section, with a Lego table, hand puppets, and shelves of high quality toys; think Melissa and Doug/Leap Pad kinda stuff. It's actually a small wonder that anyone visits any other section at all, what with all the fun toys right in the middle of the store.
And of course, in just about every Barnes and Noble there is a Barnes and Nobel Cafe, which offer high chairs, baby friendly ala carte items, and cinnamon scones which, when enjoyed with a coffee is honestly reason enough to make the trip.
Pro tip: In the Barnes and Noble in Woodinville there is both a train table and a little stage in the children's section.
I know! How this place not crawling with yoga-pants wearing, messy-bunned stay at home moms is beyond me, but hipsters had better get used to teeth-marked pages, because it is just a matter of time.