Best Of Hudson Valley 2011: Best Kids Programs and Pet Stores in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Best kids programs and pet stores in the Hudson Valley PLUS: Readers’ Picks, including Best Toy Store, Baby/Children’s Boutique, Pet Store, and Place to Eat with Kids

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Photo captions:

run wild  Kids — and adults too — get a real workout at the Little Gym in Kingston

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mommy-toddler workout spot

The Little Gym Kingston
Moms from all over the mid-Hudson area know that the best place to get your ya-ya’s out year-round is the Little Gym, located in the Kings Mall Plaza. This romper room franchise offers developmentally appropriate Mommy & Me classes for kids aged four months to three years. Children are encouraged by the enthusiastic staff to take safe risks, be it first steps or a spin on the uneven bars (spotted, of course). With all the running, skipping, dancing, lifting, and other silly shenanigans, moms get their heart rates up, too. The gym also does birthday parties, and offers classes for older children in gymnastics, dance, and sports skills.

eco-friendly baby boutique

The Bee’s Knees  Hudson
After the Towne Fair kids’ shop closed in 2000, lifelong Columbia County resident Amanda Hummel saw a niche in the blossoming community of Hudson that needed to be filled. In December 2010 the former elementary school teacher opened her dream store on busy Warren Street to the delight of hip parents everywhere. In addition to all the green baby accoutrements a modern parent could need — cloth diapers, amber necklaces, Moby wraps — the store is stocked with stylish clothes (newborn to size 12); developmentally appropriate, earth-friendly toys; and a vast array of locally made items, like christening gowns, wooden swings, and custom room décor. “Buying local is a great way to be eco-friendly,” says Hummel. The store also is a hub for local families, hosting monthly La Leche League meetings, sign language and music classes, and playgroups.

Place for your little one to get lithe

Children’s School of Yoga Monroe
Increased focus, flexibility, and overall better health are some of the benefits of teaching your child yoga. This yoga school aims to provide both kids and their families the necessary steps to practice yoga, both in the class and in their home environment, offering the chance for bonding through healthy lifestyle choices.

healthy pet supplies

The Natural Pet Center Gardiner
Pet owners often consider their furry, feathered, or scaly friends to be members of the family, and it’s important to keep them just as healthy as any other relative. This supply store offers organic pet food, eco-friendly toys and accessories — such as recycled kitty litter and doggy backpacks, a few locally made products, and more. If you have questions, the staff is quite knowledgeable; a salesperson even helped one of our editors discover her cat’s allergy to certain foods, then offered samples of healthier alternatives. (And Susie is now much healthier and happier.)

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pet groomer

Little Tin Tub  Wappingers Falls
Wendy Stinson — a onetime graphic designer turned certified pet groomer — operates this equivalent of an animal day spa on Route 9. A rabid (pun intended) dog lover since girlhood, Stinson offers a lengthy menu of grooming services — haircuts, coat stripping, nail care, flea and tick treatments, de-skunking — for Fido in a cage-free environment. (That’s right: your peekapoo can romp around with Bowser and the other big dogs while waiting to be coiffed.) Other services include overnight boarding, doggie daycare, open gym sessions, even Reiki treatments. Cats are welcome, too. “I’ve even groomed rabbits,” Stinson says. “Working with animals is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

children’s performer Uncle Rock Phoenicia

Loved by both the young and the young-at-heart, Uncle Rock, aka Robert Burke Warren, has been playing family oriented folk-rock tunes around the Valley for years. Formerly a world-touring bassist and songwriter, Warren took a break from performing to become a stay-at-home dad, which led to a teaching assistant gig at his son’s preschool. There he began writing songs geared towards children that are also parent-friendly. Now, with the release of three acclaimed CDs and a DVD, Warren’s fan base has extended across the U.S. — but he still gets kids of all ages shaking their hips on Valley dance floors, too.


Place to Eat With Kids
Northern Spy CafE High Falls.

Toy Store
Enchanted Toys
New Paltz. 845-255-1429

Baby/Children’s Boutique
Quackles Baby and
Children’s Boutique Poughkeepsie.

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Pet Store Paws of Distinction
New Paltz. 845-255-3991

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