Reviews & Photos
May 09 2013
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Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar - Downtown Disney
1580 S Disneyland Dr # 106,
Downtown Disney District,
"Fancy meets family-friendly"
Catal is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Disney, just steps from the entrance gates to Disneyland and California Adventure. My husband and I went on a Friday night while we were visiting Disneyland. Since it was a special kid-free dinner, we ordered and ate slowly! Bread and drinks were brought to the table as soon as we sat down. We enjoyed the bacon-wrapped dates and split the Manchego salad for appetizers, and both ordered a special for dinner. I had a delicious pea-mint risotto with morelle mushrooms and my husband had fish, which was fresh and cooked perfectly. Other menu items range from the familiar (steak and pasta) to the exotic (suckling pig and paella).
The service was attentive, and while the restaurant was not crowded (it was still quite early, about 6 p.m.), I noticed a variety of diners, including couples in resort wear, couples in elegant attire, and families with children of all ages. Being a Disney restaurant, they seemed more than willing to cater to children with an excellent kids' menu, high chairs, and crayons.
They also have indoor and outdoor seating. If I could do it over, I would have sat outside. The view was beautiful, and the people watching was excellent, but the air conditioning was freezing! We would have lingered if we hadn't been so cold.
April 24 2013
1 family found this helpful
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
1201 Lake Washington Boulevard North,
"Beach fun with a few caveats"
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, on Lake Washington in Renton, can be a great place to take the family on a warm, or even cool day. When it's warm, of course, you can better enjoy the beach/lake area, but on exceptionally nice weekends and holidays, it can be crowded and parking difficult. You may want to check the water quality before you decide to swim at the King County website. (http://green.kingcounty.gov/swimbeach/)
On weekdays or when it's less-than-ideal beach weather, you can enjoy the playground, the picnic shelters, and the trail with gorgeous views. There is now an Ivar's and Kidd Valley Burgers if you want to grab some food.
We have also attended a March birthday party for a three-year-old at Coulon Beach Park. The kids were in jackets but had a blast running around, and the picnic shelters were convenient.
April 15 2013
2 families found this helpful
Great Wolf Lodge
20500 Old Highway 99 SW,
"Careful planning makes for a great stay!"
What do you do for Spring Break in Western Washington, when it's still 50 degrees and drizzly, and you don't have the time or money to fly the whole family to Costa Rica?
You drive down I-5 to Grand Mound, WA and stay at Great Wolf Lodge.
We took our kids, ages 10, 8, 4, and 1 to GWL for one night. First tip: one night is plenty. You can enter the water park as early as 1 p.m. on your first day, and although you have to check out of your room by 11 the next morning, you can stay and play in the waterpark until 9 p.m. Thirty two hours is plenty.
Second, if you are budget-conscious, plan carefully. The rooms are already expensive. Look for discounts through your employer or online deal websites. Consider going in the middle of the week. We went on a Tuesday/Wednesday and enjoyed thin crowds. Save money on food by taking your own. We took tons of snacks and used the mini-refrigerator in the room (string cheese, squeezable yogurts, juice boxes, baby carrots, apples).
We ate dinner the first night at Burger Claim, which has fresh, family-friendly food for a fraction of the price inside the Lodge. In the morning we ate oatmeal, bananas, and granola bars in our room, and made sandwiches for lunch. The only food we bought from Great Wolf Lodge was a large pizza, which was reasonably priced.
The waterpark itself is quite small, but heaven for a young family. The lifeguards are super attentive. There are stands for lifejackets everywhere (although we brought our own puddle jumper). The slides are tame with the exception of one slightly violent ride, the Howlin' Tornado. There's also a wave pool, baby area, and huge water playground with slides at the top.
Our 10 and 8 year old almost immediately went off on their own. Because the lifeguards were so attentive, we let them as long as they stayed together. Our 4-year-old, tall for his age, was a yellow bracelet, meaning that he could ride everything but the Tornado. And ride he did. That kid must've climbed 100 flights of stairs to go down those slides.
Our toddler, slow to adjust, initially sat and watched, and by the end of day two was going down those baby slides over and over and over again.
I wouldn't pay for Great Wolf Lodge if I didn't have a child over 42'' tall, but if you have babies to go with your big kids, the babies won't be bored, either.
Some important tips: outside food is not allowed inside the waterpark area. People are walking around with ice cream cones and corn dogs, but if you open a bag of baby carrots, they will politely ask you to take your picnic just outside the waterpark. It's not a big deal. And still worth it to take your own snacks, especially if your kids eat constantly like mine, and you prefer healthful foods.
When you check out on your second day, make sure you have a bag of clothes to change into for the car ride home. The locker rooms have showers and bathing suit dryers. Some water shoes are helpful, as well, both for the showers and the waterpark, which can get a bit slippery. Hold your toddlers' hands.
There are other attractions at Great Wolf Lodge besides the water park, and it's a good idea to research them and decide ahead of time what your family will participate in, otherwise you might as well write your children a blank check.
Although we decided we weren't doing any extras on our first trip, I did cave and buy our kids a Magiquest want on our first night, when Daddy was in the hotel room getting the baby to sleep. Like the mean, cheap Mommy I am, I made my three kids share ONE wand. Despite the slight squabbling over who got to hold it, they had fun running around the stairwells and main lodge area, finding the Harry-Potter-esque clues in their scavenger hunt instruction book. The wand was $16 and the game was $12 for a total of $30. The game takes 4-6 hours. We did not finish and can take the wand back the next time we go. When our kids finish the game I purchased, we can buy another one. The kids loved it so much I would do it again, but if you are budget-conscious and have multiple kids, consider having them share.
Speaking of Magiquest, if you are assigned a room with the last numbers 00-10, I would request a transfer if you don't want kids running around your room constantly. Those are the rooms closest to the stairwell and will get a ton of traffic. In fact, if you like a quiet room (which we do), get a room as high up and as far away from the main lodge as possible. We were in 5031 and it was perfect.
By the time we left the lodge, around 30 hours after we had arrived, we felt like we had been there forever. We were all exhausted and our kids were sad to leave. We are looking forward to our next visit, which will be sooner than later if the kids have their way.
April 15 2013
1 family found this helpful
20320 Old Highway 99,
"Delicious burgers next to Great Wolf Lodge"
Before our first visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA, we read that the lodge food was overpriced and not very tasty. So for dinner on our first night, we headed to Burger Claim, next door in the parking lot.
The restaurant is clean (including restrooms), the service is fast and friendly, and the kids' cheeseburgers are $1.59. The beef is freshly ground on site, the buns and toppings were fresh, and the sauce was tasty. We ordered four kids' cheeseburgers, two generous quarter pounders, fresh-cut fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a chocolate milkshake. We fed a family of six for $30. It's tough to do that inside Great Wolf Lodge.
I thought my burger was delicious and there were no complaints from the kids. My husband thought the fresh-cut fries were greasy, but we all agreed the sweet potato fries were amazing and they came with a yummy honey/vanilla dipping sauce.
We will go back the next time we visit Great Wolf Lodge or are driving down I-5. They also serve breakfast, salads, and fish, but I suspect the burgers are the main attraction.
April 09 2013
0 families found this helpful
Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center
6535 Ravenna Ave NE,
"Hidden gem in Ravenna neighborhood!"
We ventured into Seattle to pick up a new-to-us bike off craigslist. After 45 minutes or so in the car, we asked the seller where the nearest playground was so we could burn off some energy. She told us about the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center, just around the corner, and it was fabulous!
First, there was ample parking, which is always a bonus when you are in city limits. We visited on a non-rainy day, and there were two huge playgrounds with structures for all ages of children. There were two large wooden structures, one for school-aged and one for toddler-aged kids. There were baby swings, regular swings, and those special large swing for kids with disabilities. A large metal sculpture-like climbing structure was fun for my eight-year-old, and there were bonus spinny things (what are those called?) A huge field was surrounded by a paved path, perfect for bicycles. The Ravenna Community Garden was located on the other end of the field.
The community center also hosts open play for toddlers in a nursery area and in a gymnasium, for rainy days.
We will definitely visit again when we are in the area. If you are visiting University of Washington or Seattle Children's Hospital and need a playspace, check it out!