North County: Kids & Pets

Child painting at Paint the Walls
Paint the Walls

best place to let your kids break the rules

Paint the Walls

Keep your house clean and bring the kiddos to this arts-and-crafts heaven where everyone age one and up can paint the walls and draw with chalk on the floors. 11385 Poway Road, Poway

best new kid treat

Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt

A science experiment and dessert in one. The liquid nitrogen dazzles as it turns kids’ creations of cream, yogurt, or almond milk, mixed with flavors, fruit, and candy, into a tasty treat, right before their very eyes. Ask to see the shattering gummy bear trick. Sister locations in Escondido and Carlsbad. 123 North El Camino Real, Encinitas

best family-friendly happy hour


The kids are all right at this sushi joint with a special kids’ menu. Sake-happy mamas can start ordering from the Hapi Hour menu as early as 3 p.m. Specials begin with $1 edamame and $1 hot sake, plus rolls starting at $4, and pitchers at $12. 190 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

Whole Dog Sports
Whole Dog Sports

best canine training

Whole Dog Sports

Got a pooch with a pouncing problem? An out-of-control puppy? Ever dreamed of competing in the ring at Madison Square Garden? Carlsbad now has its very own “dog whisperer,” animal behaviorist Lyssa Noble Dennis, who’s trained more than 12,000 dogs in both obedience and competitive sports. Her 6,000-square-foot training facility is mighty impressive, as are her natural teaching style and classes ranging from puppy kindergarten to agility sports. Ask her about the wonders of Listerine to curb barking. 6241 Yarrow Drive, Carlsbad

best luxe retreat for dogs

Windsong Pet Resort

This 3-acre Ritz-Carlton for dogs boasts spacious 85-square-foot suites with ceramic tile floors, a massive running area lined with ancient oaks, and pool parties for your favorite four-legged friend. Lucky dogs get gourmet “pupsicles” (frozen chicken stew treats) and “paw-dicures.” Bonus: Owners Michelle and Michael Dougherty raise and train dogs—and Michael just judged Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club, so your pup just might learn a few tricks to add to his repertoire. 1412 Windsong Lane, Escondido

Build It Workshop
Build It Workshop

best new hands-on for the kids

Build It Workshop

Got an industrious five-year-old? Put him to work! Owner and “Play Associate” Rudy Gonzales opened this studio in February so kids would be inspired to “become makers of things instead of consumers of things.” Part crafting table, part robot lab. Here’s to the future Jordi Muñozes and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world! 1818 Marron Road, Carlsbad

best cultural education for kids, masked as fun

Aviara Kids Academy

Now parents can hit the links or spa guilt-free, knowing their spawn are unplugged from Minecraft and actually learning while having fun. The academy includes botanical tours, lagoon walks, culinary classes, sports, scavenger hunts, crafts, and even chef-led excursions to local spots like Valdivia Farms and Carlsbad Aquafarm. 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad

Legoland Hotel
Legoland Hotel

best kid sleepover

Legoland Hotel

The ultimate pajama-party palace has arrived in C-bad. What kid wouldn’t love a hotel with more than 3,400 Lego models and 250 pirate-, kingdom-, and adventure-themed rooms? (Adjoining rooms for mom and dad—whew!) There’s smoke-breathing dragons, a castle play area, and Lego palm tree-lined pool. Not to mention special access to LEGOLAND Park. One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad

best zen retreat for kids

Deer Park Monastery

Any overactive kiddos in your life who might benefit from a little lesson in meditation and mindfulness? This 400-acre sanctuary and monastic community that follows “engaged Buddhism” under the guidance of teacher Thich Nhat Hanh offers family retreats in the summer. Children ages six to 12 learn about trust, gratitude, respect for nature, and compassion for living creatures through song, games, and mindful walks. 2499 Melru Lane, Escondido

More from the Best of North County right now


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North County Hall of Famers

These NoCo staples are still some of our all-time favorite places

VG Donut & Bakery, Cardiff
The Besta-wan Pizza House, Encinitas
Fidel’s, Solana Beach
En Fuego, Del Mar
Board & Brew, Del Mar
Sbicca, Del Mar
Jimmy O’s, Del Mar
Naked Café, Solana Beach
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria, Encinitas
Lotus Café, Encinitas
Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, Encinitas
Wild Note Cafe, Solana Beach
Brett’s BBQ, Encinitas
Las Olas, Cardiff
Market, Del Mar
Firenze, Encinitas
Thyme in the Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe
La Paloma, Vista
Pizza Nova, Solana Beach
Venissimo Cheese, Del Mar
Wine Steals, CARDIFF
Moonlight Amphitheatre, Vista
Hernandez Hideaway, Lake Hodges
Brigantine, Del Mar
The San Diego County Fair, Del Mar
The Del Mar Racetrack, Del Mar
Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe
Cafe Secret, Del Mar
Mille Fleurs, Rancho Santa Fe
Kitchen 1540, Del Mar
The Poseidon, Del Mar
Dolce Pane E Vino, Rancho Santa Fe
Casa de Bandini, carlsbad
Fish 101, Encinitas
Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach
Mia Francesca, Del Mar
Pizza Port, Carlsbad
Claire’s on Cedros, Solana Beach
Addison, Del Ma
Prepkitchen, Del Mar
Dallmann Fine Chocolates, Del Mar
Seaside Market, cardiff

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