At Kids Party Central, gaggles of children bounce upon inflatable fortresses, glide down air-filled slides, and splash around colorful ball pits in a nearly 6,000-square-foot recreation center. Throughout the week, open-play sessions reserve for public use the facility's many attractions, including floatable forts embellished with soccer balls, pirates, and animated pals from movies such as Cars. Like particularly classy kennels, KPC requires all guests to wear socks. The center also suggests that kids don nylon pants for maximum speed on the slides and that they abstain from duds featuring zippers or hooks that may scratch play surfaces. Adults are welcome to play as well, although those found not keeping an eye on their miniature companions will be put in time out.
Kids aged 6 weeks to 6 years choose their own adventure at Portside Montessori. There, classrooms are divided into six sections, which correspond with six areas of learning: practical life, sensorial, language, math, cultural, and creative subjects such as art and music. All the class materials for each area are placed low to the ground where kids can reach them instead of perched up high collecting dust. Kids can easily go from area to area based on their interests at the time, exploring abstract math concepts, reading, or playing music. Teachers stand by to guide children along their journey but are careful to allow them a sense of independence.
For more than 20 years, KidsPark childcare centers have helped youngsters aged 2–12 boost their social and motor skills in a safe environment. The staff—certified in first-aid and CPR, background checked, and trained in early-childhood education—keeps a close watch on each kid that explores the open floor plan, where six activity areas vie for attention. In the Creation Station, projects may involve art or cooking, while the Theater promises the sound of music and stories. And school-age kids can join the Blue Crew, where they find homework help, nonviolent video games, and the chance to compare resumés with other children. KidsPark also offers preschool classes.
The Little Gym of Belmont ensconces children in a nurturing, noncompetitive environment conducive to building kid confidence with fitness-focused activities. Youngsters can participate in a jellybean jar of professionally developed classes (a $19.75 value per class) such as gymnastics, dance, karate, and sports skills. Each session is geared toward improving the attention spans, mind and body balance, and motor skills of babbling tots ranging from 10-month-olds to middle-school sages of 12 years. Classes last 45–60 minutes, lavishing small fries in movement, music, learning, and laughter, leaving little darlings with no time to bite the instructor's ankles or write a scathing opinion letter to the New York Times about child ennui. Check out the schedule for a full listing of class times.
Horses graze on the hillsides of the 200-acre valley at Shamrock Ranch, and tail-wagging guests enjoy the coastal breeze during long leash walks. Led by trainer Lisa Nava Rhodes, the Shamrock Ranch team cares for pets while practicing training methods that encourage healthy relationships with owners. The team also hosts overnight stays in their climate-controlled kennels or kitty condos, feeding pets with owner-provided food or Shamrock Ranch's own hypoallergenic treats. Top Performance oatmeal shampoo revives coats during grooming services, and dogs can enjoy brush outs and nail trimmings after getting bathed and listening to gossip about neighborhood squirrels.