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Kids & Pets

The best places in North County to take your kids and pets



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Alga Norte Community Park
Alga Norte Community Park

Best New Park for Kids and Dogs
Alga Norte Community Park
Just when you’ve begun to sweat about how to fill those fast-approaching summer days with your children, the City of Carlsbad gives you Alga Norte Community Park. With swimming pools, a killer skate park, ball fields, a dog park (with a separate area for small pooches), and an enormous playground set atop a beautifully landscaped hill, the 32-acre expanse will make you a hero in your child’s eyes. 6565 Alicante Road, Carlsbad

Best Guilt-free, Kid-happy Dessert
Lappert’s Ice Cream
With a wall of water greeting customers at the entrance and a domed silver-leaf ceiling lit by a 300-color digital lighting system, you may feel like you’ve wandered into a tiny ice cream-themed nightclub in a suburban strip mall. But don’t worry: This Hawaiian-chain transplant is instead the place to try a teetering tower of velvety Dole Whip or scoops of ice cream in flavors that range from guava, macadamia nut, coconut pineapple, and kona coffee. 12265 Scripps Poway Parkway, Poway

Lappert’s Ice Cream
Lappert’s Ice Cream

Best Way to Avoid Being a Soccer Mom
The Rockademy
Complete with a raucous after-school setting (modeled after a green room), the Rockademy is filled with aspiring Eddie Vedders, Katy Perrys, and youngster garage bands dreaming of hitting the tour circuit. Vocals and instruments are taught by pro rockers and local band members. Just rad. 524 Stevens Avenue, Solana Beach

Best Customizable Dessert
Yummy Cupcakes
Get your cupcake in a glass, as a mini, in a truffle pop, or on a train (thanks, Dr. Seuss). The shop also hosts private events and princess parties where guests can decorate their own cupcakes. With unique flavors like churro, banana split, chocolate Merlot, and more, birthdays will never be the same. 1514 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas

Best New Cause
New Pavilion at San Diego Botanic Garden
Hey, NoCo! Pony up $4 million, and you will receive a beautiful, multipurpose pavilion next to the Hamilton Children’s Garden in Encinitas. The proposed project would include classrooms, an amphitheater, and main hall with a retractable roof and glass walls, to accommodate 400 people. We’re seeing cooking classes, kids’ concerts, and big fat weddings in our future. 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Best Kid-Friendly Breakfast
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Opened in fall 2013, Snooze will keep your kiddos well-fed with its popular children’s menu. They’ll also be entertained with balloon artists that make balloon animals, so you can drink mimosas in peace. 3435 Del Mar Heights Road, Carmel Valley

Best Place to Get Their Creative Juices Flowing
Lux Art Institute’s Kids-in-Residence Program
The Encinitas museum runs after-school classes in which students ages eight to 14 study the work of Lux’s monthly artist-in-residence, experiment with similar techniques, and create art of their own. The next installment kicks off March 26 with Finnish painter and sculptor Jarmo Mäkilä. 1550 South El Camino Real, Encinitas

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