BEST LOCAL KIDS STUFF
BEST CHILDREN’S DANCE SCHOOL
Dance Creations Dance Studio
1401 E. Cottonwood St., 529-TUTU
Dance Creations Dance Studio is a family-oriented dance studio offering a diverse menu of classes for all ages. Class options range from ballet, point, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical dance, creative movement, move and groove, fitness, music classes, gymnastics and more. The studio also offers birthday party packages which include an age-appropriate dance lesson designed to appeal to both boys and girls, in a variety of themes to suit your child’s interests, plus birthday treats and other surprises for the birthday child and their guests. Much of the studio’s success is attributed to owner Janet Cripe, who has trained for more than 40 years in ballet/lyrical, tap, jazz and hip-hop dance. According to one DCDS dance mom, Janet “mixes the right blend of structure with teaching” and routinely offers pajama parties, workshops and other enrichment and bonding activities for her students.
Runners-up: Dance Arts Studio, Springfield Dance
BEST DAY CARE
My Friends Discovery Center
3301 Conifer Drive, 787-1400
The staff at My Friends Discovery Center prides itself on offering a safe, family-friendly environment for infants, toddlers, two-year-olds and preschoolers. All curriculum is designed to provide the balance of freedom and the structure that children need at each developmental stage. The custom-designed building that houses the center offers separate rooms and play areas for each age group. In addition to caring for children, the center also takes care of its staff, taking steps to hire teacher-qualified leaders for the toddler, two-year-old and preschool rooms. In addition to regular day-to-day services and programming, the center also offers periodic celebrations and activities to emphasize the family-friendly feel of the center, such as the “Author of the Month” program, Dr. Seuss Celebration, Family Fun Nights, Kid Fest, Zoo Night and more.
Runners-up: Building Blocks Daycare, Lake Shore Learning Center
BEST PLACE FOR FAMILY FUN
Knight’s Action Park
1700 Knights Recreation Drive, 546-8881
Readers agree that when it comes to family fun, Knight’s Action Park is the best of the best. With activities that range from the Splash Kingdom which includes the Bermuda Triangle of fast-moving waterslides, paddle boats, the royal flush, the Seal Bay children’s area, bumper boats, the 1,297-foot “Wild River” lazy river, wave pool and more. The park also offers activities for the landlubbers in your family, such as an arcade, batting cages, big wheels, driving range, mini-golf, go-karts, paratroopers and the fun fortress playground. Food offerings include Dippin’ Dots, snow cone station and two family-friendly restaurants serving pizza and American fare. The water park is open annually Memorial Day to Labor Day, while the action park remains open through Oct. 31. The mini-golf and driving range stay open Nov. 1 through Feb. 29. In addition to regular daily activities, the park is also available for birthday parties, corporate outings and other events.
Runners-up: Erin’s Pavilion at Southwind Park, Henson Robinson Zoo
BEST TUTOR/ADVANCED ACADEMICS PROGRAM
Nelson Resource Center
319 Chatham Road, 546-6140
At the Nelson Resource Center, achieving balance in all aspects of life, especially between classroom work and extracurricular activities, is the guiding principle used to help students gain the success skills necessary to move towards the next phases of their lives. The Nelson Resource Center accomplishes this through ACT preparation classes, college application and scholarship programs, private, instructional tutoring that is subject-specific and driven by the student’s specific coursework, plus summer programming designed to help students who have fallen behind or those who’d like a head start in the subjects of math, algebra, geometry, reading, writing and study skills, plus the Freshman Advantage Program, a four-week preparatory course designed for the incoming high school freshman.
Runners-up: Lincoln Land Math Center, Think Center
BEST SUMMER CAMP
Girl Scouts Camp Widjiwagan
71 Wienold Lane, 529-2212
Situated on Lake Springfield, Camp Widjiwagan, which serves the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, is exactly what you imagine when you think of a summer camp. The 67-acre wooded haven offers young women a ropes course, climbing tower, hiking trails, wildness camping, lodges, canoeing and much more. Campers can choose from week-long programs, day-long programs, weekend trips or overnight camping. Themed camps are designed to appeal to girls of all ages and interests. This year’s themes included “Around the World in Five Days,” “Fiction and Fantasy,” “Animal Adventures,” “Hunger Games,” “Mud Pie” and more. Camp Widjiwagan is accredited by the American Camp Association.
Runners-up: Dance Creations Dance Studio Dance Camp, Nelson Center
BEST PLACE FOR CHILDREN’S CLOTHES
2901 S. Veterans Pkwy., 698-0540
When it comes to finding the best selections and deals in children’s clothing, Illinois Times readers voted Kohl’s as number one. The chain offers a wide selection of affordable children’s clothing, including everyday wear, school uniforms, special occasion outfits, outwear, fitness gear and pajamas. Kohl’s carries a wide variety of popular, featured brands, including Carter’s, Columbia, Levi’s, Nike, Mudd, OshKosh B’gosh and more.
Runners-up: Children’s Place, Carter’s
BEST KIDS PARTY ENTERTAINMENT
1320 S. State St., 544-9477
Ergadoozy is Springfield’s leading creative play center for ages 12 and under. During creative play, children use the act of play to open their minds to all possibilities, helping them become better thinkers and doers. With seven creative play stations including a five-story jungle climber, hand-pedal trains, two creative play areas with various toys, a foam ball shooter room, interactive floor games, a younger toddler area, and an educational toy store, it’s no wonder Ergadoozy has become a popular party destination for children. The birthday party package includes two hours of access to a reserved party room for the birthday child and up to 20 of their friends along with juice boxes, plates, napkins and silverware. Parents provide the decorations, cake and pizza.
Runners-up: Skateland South, Wild Times Exotics