Last summer I wrote a post about our family’s day in Astoria, Queens. The post mentioned our “signature” move of combining a kid-friendly activity with nearby adult-friendly eats or drinks. This weekend we took that same move to neighboring Long Island City, Queens and had a colder, but equally awesome day in Queens with our kids.
Kanga’s Indoor Playcenter
The name says it all: Kanga’s Indoor Playcenter is a godsend for parents in cold weather. This HUGE drop in play area opened its doors in Long Island City last fall and so far, so great. Once you sign the waiver, pay your entrance fee and get your kids’ security bracelets on, you walk past a small cafe and up a staircase to a giant room, roughly half of which is taken up by the biggest and most exciting “play cube” you have ever seen.
Leave your shoes in the cubbies outside the cube (Note: wear socks or else you’ll have to buy a pair there) and get ready to explore. Even parents are encouraged to join the fun inside the play cube and this parent DID just that.
There are mazes to run through, ball pits to jump into, toy cannons to shoot balls out of, swings to swing on and zip-line from and - my personal favorite - huge slides to slide down.
And Kanga’s offers even more than just that enormous play cube. There is also a beautiful looking three-part climbing wall suitable for ages 5 and up. There is a small bouncy house. There is a gated toddler area for ages 3 and under (check out that awesome “water slide” inside!) Last, but definitely not least, there is a spinning teacup ride! My girls, especially my 4 year old, had an absolute blast!
If you’re not the type of parent to want to climb into that play cube with your kids, Kanga’s has a ton of tables and chairs right outside the action, where adults can relax while their children play nearby.
The space offers drop in play time daily from 9am - 6pm. Entry costs $19.99 per child over 38 inches ($16.99 on weekdays that are not holidays); $15.99 per child between 30 and 38 inches ($12.99 on weekdays that are not holidays); and $4.99 per adult. Babies and children under 30 inches are free. All of the above activities are included in your entry fee and guests can stay as long as they like. The $4.99 adult charge includes a free brewed coffee, iced coffee, tea, iced tea or fountain drink at the cafe. No outside food is allowed in Kanga’s, but that onsite cafe serves a full menu.
Kanga’s Indoor Playcenter is located at 32-15 37th Avenue in Long Island City. On our visit the play space was incredibly clean and note that in order to leave Kanga’s with your children, the admissions desk must confirm that the number(s) on the ID card given to you at the entrance match the ID number(s) on your kids’ security bracelets. Finally, the Kanga’s website notes that it is suitable for ages 0-11, but I think the place is best for kids 8 and under.
Once your kiddies have worked up a proper appetite from all that activity at Kanga’s, put them back in the car or stroller and head to Casa Enrique, a Michelin starred Mexican restaurant in LIC and one of my absolute favorite restaurants on earth.
Casa Enrique is a beautiful, airy, white-walled cantina space that is certainly appropriate for an adult meal, but the service is so warm and welcoming, that you will also see plenty of kids and baby carriages there, at least at lunchtime. Casa Enrique recently expanded its space with a beautiful second room extension; and in the warm weather, they also offer a covered patio dining area.
Food-wise, I think everything is insanely delicious. But I have ordered the same exact things on my meals at Casa Enrique - Crab Tostadas to start, Chicken Enchiladas in a Salsa Verde as my entree and the special Mojito of the day (it was guava on this weekend’s visit) - because I seriously want to marry each of those things. Next visit, I will push myself to finally try their hyped molé. On this past weekend’s visit, our girls split a Quesadilla with Oaxaca cheese and we also ordered them guacamole (albeit mild) to start. My husband raved about his spicy Huevos Mexicanos.
Casa Enrique hits all the marks for me, and I’m not alone in thinking that. To that end, advance reservations are a must at Casa Enrique. It’s very popular and almost always packed.
PRO TIP: If you have really little ones in your group, stop by Mini Land Play, just a few doors down from Casa Enrique (instead of Kanga’s - unless you’re really dedicated to your kids). This neon colored kiddie play space looks adorable from the pictures I have seen on Instagram. Alas, my girls are too old for this 0-5 babies and toddlers only spot.
One More Very Worthwhile Stop
Before you skip town, also consider a visit to LIC Beer Project, an incredible craft brewery and tasting room that’s only a 5 minute drive or 15 minute walk from Kanga’s. The beers here are so darn good and well regarded, the staff is super friendly and the tasting room is pretty spacious for a city brewery and very relaxed. There are a bunch of board games to entertain the kids (we saw several kids on our visit) while you drink. And when we popped in this Saturday afternoon, Pig Beach BBQ was also onsite crafting some tasty looking sandwiches.
The Taproom is open 4pm to 11pm on Tuesdays through Fridays, from noon to midnight on Saturdays and noon to 10pm on Sundays.