Spring break in Gardens: Three free or nearly-free activities for kids and teens

This picture of the carousel at Downtown at the Gardens by Jody Lane was a finalist in the digital manipulation category of Palm Beach Gardens’ first photo contest.

School’s out. Now what?

If the kids (or Mom and Dad) are starting to go stir-crazy, here are some inexpensive things to do around Palm Beach Gardens.

  1. Take a free carousel ride at Downtown at the Gardens: The carousel that’s the hallmark of the outdoor shopping complex at 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens is FREE from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday, thanks to Palm Beach Children’s Hospital. The 27 handmade wooden animals on the carousel include horses, seahorses and flamingos specially designed for Downtown at the Gardens.
    Afterward, if you’re willing to splurge a little, stop by Sloan’s Ice Cream for an ice cream or Whole Foods for a smoothie.RELATED: Find the best summer camp for your kids and score freebies in Gardens

     

  2. Go on an outdoor selfie scavenger hunt: This one’s great for the teenage crowd. Admission to MacArthur Beach State Park, 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive on the north end of Singer Island, costs $5 per carload. A selfie scavenger hunt with quirky, clever clues is posted at the bottom of the Plan Your Visit page of the park’s website. Scavengers are encouraged to take lots of photos and share them to @macarthurbeach’s Instagram with the hashtag #macarthur beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

    Allyson Ehrlich and her mother Diane Ehrlich walk to the beach at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post file photo)
  3. Make a Harry Potter wand or learn to play chess: The library is a great place to kill time and make new friends, especially if it’s raining. Harry Potter trivia and wand-making is 3 p.m. Wednesday for young wizards and witches ages 10 to 17.For the younger set, a chess class for beginners will teach kids ages 8 to 12 the basics of the game 2:30 p.m. Friday before a Kids Chess Club at 3 p.m. Parents should register kids in advance for both the Harry Potter and chess events at the Gardens Branch of the Palm Beach County Library. They can do so by calling 561-626-6133.

Find the best summer camp for your kids and score freebies in Gardens

Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens is hosting a summer camp expo in conjunction with Macaroni Kid of Palm Beach Gardens-Jupiter. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Picking the right summer camp for your kids can be overwhelming, given the number of possibilities from which to choose.

Downtown at the Gardens is hosting a summer camp expo that could help you narrow down the options. You can meet people from more than 45 local summer camps while listening to live entertainment, taking the kids for carousel rides and having their faces painted, according to a news release.

READ: Natural baby store in Gardens launches own earth-friendly line

The free expo is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 1 at Downtown at the Gardens, 1701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave.

The first 150 kids get a backpack filled with summer goodies, and parents can enter to win a free week of summer camp from any of the participating camps, according to the news release. JupiterBounce.com will also be there.

The event is by Macaroni Kid of Palm Beach Gardens-Jupiter in conjunction with Downtown at the Gardens and Resource Depot. Proceeds from the carousel benefit Resource Depot, which collects clean, safe, reusable items that would have gone to landfills or recycling centers and distributes them freely through membership to local teachers, organizations and individuals for use in creative projects, according to the release.

What’s playing and where for the FREE outdoor family movie Saturday?

Photo from Walt Disney Enterprises, Inc. movie, 101 Dalmations
Photo from Walt Disney Enterprises, Inc. movie, 101 Dalmations

The flashback feature playing at Downtown at the Gardens this weekend really is a blast from the past – the original 101 Dalmations Disney cartoon from 1961.

The movie event is 6:30 p.m. March 4 at the Centre Court of the outdoor shopping center at 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave. Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League is the charity sponsor and will be there to promote its Walk for the Animals next Saturday.

READ: Puppy thrown from bridge, now thriving, becomes walk’s mascot

The nonprofit rescue is looking for more walkers and teams to sign up for the walk. Proceeds allow Peggy Adams to offer cats and dogs emergency care, spay and neuter services, food, bedding, behavior training, vaccinations, fostering, microchip identification and homes, CEO Rich Anderson said in a news release.

The pet-friendly event starts 9 a.m. March 11 at Downtown at the Gardens with check-in, live entertainment, free breakfast from Whole Foods and coffee by Paris In Town Le Bistro. Participants will start their one-mile walk around Lake Victoria at 10:15 a.m. Pets are welcome to wear costumes!

 

Natural baby store in Gardens launches own earth-friendly line

Vanessa Tomchik, owner of GreenPath Baby at Downtown at the Gardens, launched a line of cloth diapers called Lighthouse Kids Company. She plans to expand to earth-friendly shoes and accessories later this year. Courtesy photo
Vanessa Tomchik, owner of GreenPath Baby at Downtown at the Gardens, launched a line of cloth diapers called Lighthouse Kids Company. She plans to expand to earth-friendly shoes and accessories later this year. Courtesy photo

The owner of a popular store that sells natural baby products at Downtown at the Gardens launched her own line of cloth diapers Friday.

RELATED: New businesses blooming at Downtown at the Gardens

And that was just the beginning. GreenPath Baby Owner Vanessa Tomchik launched Lighthouse Kids Company Friday. She plans to expand to earth-friendly baby shoes, clothing and other accessories by year’s end, according to a news release.

Vanessa Tomchik, owner of GreenPath Baby at Downtown at the Gardens, launched a line of cloth diapers called Lighthouse Kids Company. She plans to expand to earth-friendly shoes and accessories later this year. Courtesy photo
Vanessa Tomchik, owner of GreenPath Baby at Downtown at the Gardens, launched a line of cloth diapers called Lighthouse Kids Company. This one is a flamingo pattern. Courtesy photo

The Lighthouse Kids line is inspired by the Jupiter Lighthouse and Palm Beach living, according to Tomchik.

The new, non-bulky cloth diapers were able to withstand 12 hours of heavy-wetting, keeping the baby’s skin dry, according to the release.

Amanda Madden, of Stuart, said she had a difficult time finding a nighttime diaper for her son until she tried Lighthouse Diapers.

“It’s been hard to find a diaper that won’t leak overnight for my two-year-old. I was able to use this diaper for 12.5 hours, which is unheard of,” Madden said in the release. “Because of the materials they used, his skin was bone dry in the morning. The design is a game-changer for our family.”

Lighthouse Kids Company opened Friday at GreenPath Baby, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Suite 7108. Five percent of the new company’s net profit will be donated monthly to Hannah’s Home of South Florida that helps pregnant women and babies in distress.

 

Hello Kitty enthusiasts better get in line for truck’s visit to Gardens

The Hello Kitty Cafe will come to Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens Feb. 25. Courtesy photo
The Hello Kitty Cafe will come to Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens Feb. 25. Courtesy photo

You’ve heard of taco trucks, gourmet grilled cheese food trucks and even the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, but did you know Hello Kitty has a ride of her own?

The very pink Hello Kitty Cafe truck will appear 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave. It will be parked between Carl’s Patio and Golf Galaxy. This is its first time in Palm Beach County, according to a news release.

Packaged sweets for sale include a 3-piece Hello Kitty cookie set, a rainbow macaroon box set with a surprise character, a 4-pack of mini cakes and bow-shaped bottles of water. Souvenirs such as a Hello Kitty Cafe mug, pink t-shirt and the signature bow headband will also be for sale, according to the news release.

The mobile cafe has been making appearances at festivals and events since it debuted at a Hello Kitty Con at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles in October 2014. The convention was in celebration of the Sanrio character’s 40th anniversary.

First, the truck is returning to Miami this weekend. It will be at the Dolphin Mall at 10 a.m. Saturday.

If you’re a devoted fan, you can follow the truck on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Last-minute Gardens shoppers, here are tips for keeping your sanity

The Gardens Mall is hosting a fundraiser for survivors of the Orlando shooting and their families. (Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)
The Gardens Mall closes at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. (Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post file photo)

The clock is ticking to find the perfect presents.

There’s no shortage of places to pick out gifts in Palm Beach Gardens, but the shopping destinations will probably be crowded with everyone else who procrastinated. Here are some tips for navigating two of Palm Beach Gardens’ biggest places to shop.

Downtown at the Gardens

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Best time to visit: The best time to come if you’re shopping with kids is during the day, when they can ride the carousel or play at Cool Beans Indoor Playground & Cafe, said Marketing Director Carla Davis. There’s also a light show set to music at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. every day through Jan. 1.

The least crowded time, though, is probably in the early afternoon before dinner, around 3 or 4 p.m.

Where to find parking: The parking garage behind The Cheesecake Factory on the east side is always free, as are the parking lots around the perimeter. There are also three valet parking areas at the south, west and east entrances.

The lights are strung on the palm trees and shrubbery at Downtown at the Gardens, where the Season of Light show premieres Saturday. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)
The lights are strung on the palm trees and shrubbery at Downtown at the Gardens, where the Season of Light show runs through Jan. 1. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post file photo)

The Gardens Mall

Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve

Best time to visit: Avoid crowds by coming early in the morning, said Special Events and PR Director Erin Devlin. It gets a little bit quieter in the evening before closing time, too.

A pop-up shop featuring gifts from almost two dozen stores has moved into the second floor, along with a free holiday gift wrapping suite where you can also charge your phone and watch classic holiday movies.

The mall also launched a text concierge this year to answer shoppers’ questions: 561-440-4440. The concierge staff has been answering questions about parking, the location of stores and the waits at Santa and the Apple Store, Devlin said.

Where to find parking: There’s ample parking at all of the lots and valet parking at BRIO Tuscan Grille and P.F. Chang’s.

Where to party with Vanilla Ice this Saturday in Gardens

'90s rapper and Wellington rapper Vanilla Ice will host his annual block party Saturday at Downtown at the Gardens. Flier from Little Smiles
’90s rapper and Wellington rapper Vanilla Ice will host his annual block party Saturday at Downtown at the Gardens. Flier from Little Smiles

Palm Beach Gardens will be “Cool as Ice” Saturday.

Vanilla Ice, the 90s rapper and Wellington resident, will have his annual holiday block party 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday on the lawn next to Dirty Martini at Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave.

The free bash hosted by the KVJ Show will also feature music from EraSmith, an Aerosmith tribute band, and special guest DJs.

Guests who bring an unwrapped kid-friendly gift will get a free drink before 9 p.m. The toy drive benefits the Little Smiles Foundation, which assists children affected by serious illness, homelessness or other tragedy.

Here’s where you can watch “Pretty in Pink” on a big screen for free

Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer (center) and Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink, a 1986 movie. ORG XMIT: MER0506031123010434 ORG XMIT: MER0706121113122452
Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer (center) and Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink, a 1986 movie.

It might be 85 degrees Saturday night, but there’s never been a better time to break out your hot pink leg warmers and jelly bracelets.

Flash back to 1986 to watch Duckie and Blane vie for the affections of Molly Ringwald’s Andie in “Pretty in Pink,” shown on the big screen at the park at Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave. The best part is that the event from 6:30 to 9 p.m. is free.

Leave your popcorn and soda at home, though. There will be music and concessions there. The event benefits the fight against breast cancer through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Real Men Wear Pink.

Whole Foods will serve “Goodwill from the Grill” for the cause, and Perfect Vodka will give samples of some pink drinks, according to the Facebook event. Don’t forget to bring a blanket.

“Retro” movies will be shown every first Saturday of the month as part of the flashback series. The next one Nov. 5 is “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Ghostbusters? Deadpool? Get your Halloween costume at this Downtown store

Renee Schaefer and her husband Curtis Sigretto co-owners of three Halloween Express franchise stores in Palm Beach County at their 7,000 sq ft. Downtown at the Gardens facility Thursday Oct. 01, 2015, in Palm Beach Gardens. Sigretto president of Halloween Express, a nationwide company with 140 stores, started the company in 1989. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)
Renee Schaefer and her husband Curtis Sigretto are co-owners of three Halloween Express franchise stores in Palm Beach County. They’re pictured at their 7,000 sq ft. Downtown at the Gardens facility Thursday Oct. 01, 2015, in Palm Beach Gardens. Sigretto, president of the nationwide company with 140 stores, started the company in 1989. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

You’ve had your first pumpkin spice latte for the season or you’re craving one. Now it’s time pick out your Halloween costume before all the good ones are taken.

Halloween Express has opened in the former Cabo Flats across from Yard House at Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave. The store selling children’s and adults’ Halloween costumes and party supplies is a returning seasonal attraction.

Tequesta resident Curtis Sigretto is president of Halloween Express, which has about 140 franchises in 35 states. He and Renee Schaefer, his wife, also own halloweenexpress.com. They hosted former Palm Beach Post reporter Carlos Frías for a fashion show of the most popular adult Halloween costumes last year.

You can view it, with video, here.

The original Cabo Flats location in Palm Beach Gardens closed last May, amid plans to open in Jupiter and at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. Nothing has replaced it on a permanent basis.

Time is running out to enjoy rock ‘n’ roll summer Downtown

Last year's Downtown at the Gardens Rock N Roll Summer concert series drew hundreds. This year's event runs June 5 to Aug. 21 and will rock tribute bands playing songs from groups like Bon Jovi, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
There are only two concerts left in the summer series at Downtown at the Gardens.

It’s almost time for school to start, and you know what that means – trying to make the most of what’s left of the summer. Here are three things to enjoy this weekend.

Rock out at Downtown at the Gardens, which has two concerts remaining in its summer series 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays. This week is Led-Hed, and next week is a night with the Alter Eagles. You can also “treat” the kids to free carousel rides every Saturday this summer from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meet the songwriter of “Love Will Keep Us Together” during a discussion and book signing 2 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Barnes & Noble at Legacy Place, 11380 Legacy Ave. Her memoir describes childhood in the segregated south, her rise to fame in pop music and her “lonely struggle against the controlling” behavior of her musical husband.

Take care of the shoreline at MacArthur Beach State Park. The park’s monthly beach cleanup is 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday. It’s especially important to keep it free of debris now, because trash can interfere with nesting or hatching sea turtles. Community service hours are provided for school-aged participants. For more information, call Park Specialist Art Carton at 561-776-7449 ext. 109.