In 1976, Joan Barnes?a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time?took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree?s founding, Joan?s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children?s? cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
At Shrewsbury Lanes, 10 white appendages await punishment from careening spheres at the end of 24 polished alleys. Automatic scoring screens keep count at every lane so that rollers can concentrate on picking up seven-ten splits, savoring hot eats from the snack counter, and grabbing cold beers or daily happy hour cocktails from No Bul's Bar. During birthday packages, revelers can bounce between bowling alleys and party rooms, which are stocked with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Shrewsbury Lanes also hosts leagues for bowlers who enjoy more serious competition or nostalgic adults who were raised inside trophy cases. The roar of ransacked pins echoes throughout the facility until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Framed memorabilia, celebrity caricatures, and TVs line the walls at Weber's, a neighborhood pub that takes pride in its chow and sociable setting for taking in the game. Topping the expansive menu is the pork tenderloin ($8.99), made of tender-cut, juicy meat that's flame-broiled and lovingly basted in your choice of Cajun or Jamaican spice sauce. Spice up lackluster stickball championships with the hot, meaty chicken wings ($8.99 regular, $11.49 platter), or start your own stickball game with cheese-stuffed Bosco sticks ($6.99). Sandwich artists can build a burger (starting at $7.99) or nosh the Mardi Gras burger ($8.99), which bedecks a charbroiled ground chuck patty in shrimp sauce, Cajun spice, and a rhinestone jumpsuit. Your Groupon is also good for drinks; Weber's offers an array of beers on tap and by the bottle.
The multitalented team of instructors, which includes trainers certified in Agatsu Kettlebell and Commando Krav Maga, helps to strengthen hearts, bodies, and minds during self-defense, fitness, and fight courses. Instructors lead beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of kettlebell fitness, a class that incorporates fundamental swings, cleans, snatches, and Turkish getups to simultaneously work several muscle groups at once.
The team also helps to build endurance by leading participants through Latin dance steps in Zumba and through a tapestry of kicks and punches in cardio kickboxing. Additionally, trainers helm courses in krav maga, a form of martial arts designed to increase confidence, protection, and Bruce Lee comparisons. Following a functional warm-up, instructors run through drills to teach students how to escape from chokes and disarm an opponent using lighting-quick pressure and weakness-point attacks.
Llywelyn's menu introduces an impressive assortment of traditional pub classics to salads, flatbreads, wraps, and ambitiously portioned sandwiches. Start with an order of Welsh potato chips ($3.95); flaky, fried Irish pies ($7.95); beer-battered fried pub pickles ($7.25); or the much-talked-about chicken chili ($4.95 for a bowl). Then wrap mouth muscles around fish and chips ($10.25): two beer-battered and fried cod fillets served with house-made tartar sauce. From meaty chunks of lamb, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans swimming in Guinness-Jameson stock ($9.95) to shepherd's pie ($10.95), the selections side well with a sudsy sip. The beer menu includes an exhaustive library of selections by the draft or bottle. Llywelyn's also offers a menu of kid-friendly fare.