East Meadow With Baby in Tow

By Rachel Minkowsky

As a new mom, being able to walk around your neighborhood is key — here are some baby friendly destinations around East Meadow. Load baby into the stroller and go!

A Place to Play:
Speno Park

Located on a residential stretch of East Meadow Avenue, Speno Park is much smaller than it’s well-known sibling, Eisenhower Park. Parking is ample and free. There are three separate play areas: bucket swings for babies, a jungle gym and playground equipment appropriate for children two years and older, and another set of swings reserved for “big kids.” The shaded picnic area is perfect if you’ll be staying for lunch, but you have to bring your own snacks with you; there’s no place to buy food within or immediately around the park. Public restrooms are cleaned regularly. Be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and bottles of water, as there are no trees or shade in the play areas. There is a baseball field and a tennis court for older children (or their parents).

Where: Speno Park
752 East Meadow Avenue
East Meadow, NY 11554

Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park encompasses over nine hundred acres, and it’s actually larger than Central Park. If you want to use that all-terrain stroller given to you at your baby shower, check out the two mile-long fitness trail. Or just ramble around; there are paved paths circling the park and more that meander through the interior. Pack a lunch and have a seat at one of the scattered picnic tables. The larger picnic area (facing Hempstead Turnpike) can be rented for birthday parties, showers, and other get-togethers.

There are three separate playgrounds; one of them has a sprinkler park within it. You’ll also find the usual swings, slides, and newly renovated climbing apparatus for your little monkey. The Olympic-sized pool offers swim lessons for toddlers and children. Tennis courts, mini golf, a driving range, and batting cages are available for the young and young-at-heart athlete. On snowy days, head for “sled hill.” It’s not quite like sledding in the Pocono Mountains, but it’s a lot of fun for a young child.

Where: Eisenhower Park
Parking fields located along Park Blvd, just north of Hempstead Turnpike

Let’s Do Lunch:
Nina’s Deli

Nina’s is housed in a tiny shopping center next to a store that sells picture frames, so it’s easy to overlook if you’re driving by. It was easier to investigate while pushing a baby carriage. One part Italian grocer, one part deli, one part coffee shop, Nina’s is a haven from he chain restaurants that litter East Meadow. This mom-and-pop shop survives by offering an impressive variety on their menu.

Breakfast items are served all day. Check out their specialty sandwiches (my favorite is the Smokehouse). Not hungry enough for a huge hero? No problem – you can get half a sandwich at a reduced price. Their heat-and-eat take-out meals are typically Italian food. Some of their daily specialties include lasagna, stuffed peppers, antipasto, and my daughter’s beloved broccoli frittata. If you’re local, they deliver!

In a refrigerator case, you’ll find freshly made pasta, homemade sauces, and even pizza dough. Basic grocery and drink options line the remainder of the walls. Espresso, teas, and coffee are always fresh. They also offer Italian-style cookies, “imported” from Brooklyn.

Nina’s Italian Deli
Where: 450 Newbridge Road
East Meadow, NY 11554
Contact: (516) 809-7582

Café Boccelli’s

At last count, East Meadow had eighteen pizzeria’s. Since we’re fortunate enough to live in New York, all of them are good, but sometimes “good” just isn’t enough. It took some time and dedication to cull out the best slices in town. After intense study, Café Boccelli’s has been voted the winner… at least, in my house.

Café Boccelli’s is situated in a small strip mall on the corner of Bellmore Road and North Jerusalem Road. Their menu is pretty typical of Nassau County pizza joints, as is the pricing. But it’s the quality of the food that makes it stand out. They clearly use fresh ingredients in their slow-cooked sauce. The “Grandma” pie includes enough garlic to ward off a coven of vampires, but it’s well worth it.

They offer freshly baked pies with specialty toppings, salads, garlic knots, and pasta dishes. Their individual slices are perfect for a quick lunch, while their catering menu is helpful for larger get togethers.

Café Boccelli’s
Where: 2823 North Jerusalem Road
East Meadow, NY 11554
Contact Info: (516) 781-4300

Don’t Forget the Snacks:
Felecia’s Fabulous Cookies

Since the opening of Felecia’s Fabulous Cookies in 2011, residents of East Meadow have been spoiled. Chips Ahoy will never look quite as appealing again. At about $7 a dozen, they’re significantly more expensive than your standard bag of grocery store cookies, but they are absolutely worth it.

If you happen to wander by, you can smell them baking. That first whiff was enough to lure me inside for a sample. (And sample, I did. I stopped in for one, and went home with a dozen). If every cookie-baking grandmother donated their recipes that had been lovingly cultivated over time, their results might taste as good as Felecia’s. Using all natural ingredients, the staff at Felecia’s craft the best possible versions of homemade cookies. If you can’t eat your entire order in one sitting, have no fear. They’ll stay deliciously fresh for days after your purchase.

Creative flavors abound. Feeling adventurous? Try the Sweetie Pies, a crumbly, cakey, frosted cookie made with sweet potatoes. In the mood for something (almost) healthy? Give the Orange Oatmeal cookies a shot. The citrus flavor is a surprisingly crisp contrast to the mellow oatmeal. Chocolate lover? Taste a Chocolate Diamond, a dark chocolate, soft-baked cookie sprinkled with sugar crystals. Don’t forget to grab a few of the chocolate chip cookies (though you might have some trouble deciding between the different varieties).

If you’re craving a specific flavor, or ordering for a holiday, call ahead and order in advance. Not all flavors are produced every day, and the store has occasionally closed early if they find themselves out of stock.

Felecia’s Fabulous Cookies
Where: 347 Newbridge Road
East Meadow, NY 11554
Contact Info: (516) 809-9370

The next two destinations aren’t as close, but worth the trip!

Indoor Play Space:
Le Play Café

You want to get together with other moms,  but where? The thought of turning a half-dozen mobile infants loose in your homes may be slightly terrifying. Finding something indoors, heated and centrally located is ideal.  It also has to be a place where babies can safely play and moms can have a conversation. Maybe even a cup of coffee. Does such a Mecca for mommies exist?

Yes. It’s called Le Play Café.

Other people’s toys are always more interesting that one’s own, so don’t be shocked if your child runs off the moment you walk into Le Play Café. You’ll find toys appropriate for six month-olds to kindergartners. It’s brightly lit, comfortable, and clean. (Speaking of clean… the communal toys were constantly being sanitized by a staff member, which this germ-phobic mom found very comforting).

Crawling babies are welcome to explore whatever they can grab. Toddlers will love the large slide and play kitchens, castle, and princess tent. Older children immediately head for the costume racks, transforming themselves into firefighters and kittens and whoever else their imagination can create. Disney cartoons are projected onto a wall while your favorite children’s songs play in the background.

A baby gate secures coffee shop, and four foot-high wall runs the length of the remainder of the room. Your child is never out of your sight.  If you’re bringing a baby or toddler, caretakers are expected to monitor them. If your child is older and more independent, sit and relax for a moment and watch them play from the comfort of an overstuffed chair. There is also a private room available for birthday parties and special events.

Le Play Café
Where: 2465 Merrick Road
Bellmore, NY 11710
Contact: (516) 308-7053

Make Some Music:
Music Together

Whether you’re completely tone deaf or the next American Idol, babies love the sounds of their parent’s voices raised in song. They love to be danced around a room. Never mind if your neighbors question your sanity. Tango, lindy, or bounce your baby and sing along to your favorite tunes.

Consider Music Together —  The class was held at the iSchool of Music and Art in Rockville Centre. Their bright purple entryway was almost hidden by the neighboring diner, but we found it. Once inside, locating our classroom was simple; we just followed the sound of giggling babies.

Our teacher introduced herself as Miss Lauren, a recent graduate of Westminster Choir College. Her lovely, trained voice filled the room. The children watched her intently. We started the class with a  “ritual,” a song that’s sung to ease the transition into her class. Lauren informed us that the babies had no responsibility within the class, but the adults did. It was our job to introduce rhythm into our children’s lives.

Miss Lauren clapped, creeped, jumped, and tapped her way around the room; we followed. She allowed us to use maracas, drums, and egg shakers. (When one little boy gnawed on his tambourine, Lauren also reassured us that the instruments were cleaned regularly). We replaced lyrics with “La!” so that the children could better hear the beat.

We sampled a Mixed Age class, appropriate for babies over seven months old. Separate classes exist for younger babies and older children. Pricing varies slightly by the child’s age and class location, but the class I attended would cost $265 for a 12-week series.

iSchool of Music and Art
Where: 325 Sunrise Hwy
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Contact Info: (516) 442-2230

Find a Music Together class in your area
http://www.musictogether.com/Home


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2 thoughts on “East Meadow With Baby in Tow

  1. Felecia Rozansky

    Thanks for listing my shop as child-friendly….because that’s what we’re all about! We really want to be thought of as a “neighborhood place” open and welcoming to everyone! We always welcome mom’s (and dad’s) with little ones…just a way to get everyone to love cookies as early on as possible! We never use preservatives and we have a large nut-free selection. And the shop is always warm…and smells great!

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