2016 Main Line Parent LOVE Awards: Best for Families Guide
There is a lot to love about our community. So it’s no surprise that when we ask you each year to tell us who some of the most family-friendly, fun, exciting, delicious, and influential businesses are around the Main Line, you have no problem answering. The next time you need … anything … simply turn to this list of amazing and outstanding companies, as seen in our latest issue.
Use the categories below to surf
Best Area Attraction
With acres of displays as varied as misty meadows to intricate, hand-tended arrangements, this celebration of natural beauty is a local jewel. Year-round events and themes keep every visit interesting, and accompanying musical displays, firework shows, and children’s activities keep everyone happy.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square; longwoodgardens.org
Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 N Outer Line Dr., King of Prussia; nps.gov/vafo
786 Church Road, Wayne; chanticleergarden.org
Best Art Classes
There is a place for technique when it comes to introducing children to the fine arts. There’s also a place for free-form, fun, messy, creative madness. At this studio for children aged 1-10 that could be finger painting, cooking, yoga classes, and more. “We like to get messy!” says owner Amy McClements. “Children learn the best through truly getting into their learning. Whether we are painting, mixing or playing in the mud outside, our Clubhouse Community embraces the true meaning of hands on.” Pop into an Open Studio time, sign up for a class, or check out the three-day-a-week playschool program.
16 E. Eagle Road, Havertown; creative-clubhouse.com
Wayne Art Center
413 Maplewood Ave., Wayne; wayneart.org
Main Line Art Center
746 Panmure Road, Haverford; mainlineart.org
Best Children’s Theater
Upper Darby Performing Arts Center
All the world’s a stage, but exposing children to on-stage theatre can open up a whole new world. At the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center families can go just down the road to experience affordable, family-friendly entertainment together. Of particular interest this time of year is the Upper Darby Summer Stage, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful youth theater programs.
“We appreciate the smiles on the faces of the audience members when the lights come on after a show,” says Lauren Stevenson Yacina, marketing director. “It’s very satisfying knowing our patrons are able to put away their cell phones, forget about their worries and to-do lists while immersed in the performances they’ve come to enjoy.”
601 N. Lansdowne Ave., Drexel Hill; udpac.org
39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern; peopleslight.org
Hedgerow Theatre Company
64 Rose Valley Road, Media; hedgerowtheatre.org
Best Dance Studio
If your little ballerina is ready to move from the living room to the stage, check out the every-popular ContempraDance School. With more than 60 classes a week in all genres of dance for children, teens, and adults, professional faculty, and more than 14 years of offering a friendly, comfortable, and nurturing environment, your kiddo will jump for joy – literally. Experienced dancers can audition for the dance company, and all families can check out the critically acclaimed ContempraDANCE Theatre Company that provides performances and family entertainment throughout the year.
“Our students are talented and a pleasure to work with,” says owner Gail Vartanian. “My instructors and I look forward to teaching our students every day!”
375 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; contempradance.com
Studio 180 & Ballet 180
1708 Lancaster Ave. Second Floor, Paoli; ballet180.org
313 Iona Ave., Narberth; mydancexpress.com
Best Day Camp
ESF Camps and Experiences at The Haverford School
The long weeks of summer are supposed to be full of fun, but every kid – and parent – knows that that requires serious assistance. Enter ESF Summer Camps at The Haverford School, the one program your kids need to keep them not just occupied, but learning new things, challenging themselves, and creating new friendships. Ages 3-16 can come for a week or nine and enjoy a classic day camp, sports camp, technology camp, and more.
“In a nutshell, we do everything possible to make our camps unique and memorable, filled with experiences that not only meet, but exceed our families’ high expectations,” says general manager Heather Murphy Monteith.
750 E. Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr; esfcamps.com
Friends’ Central Summer Programs
228 Gulph Road, Wynnewood and 1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood; fcsprograms.org
560 Sproul Road, Villanova, 610 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, and 1140 King Road, Malvern; futurestarscamps.com
Best Drama Classes
Wolf Performing Arts Center
If you kids have a flair for the theatrical, perhaps their talents would be better used on the stage. Turn that drama into star power at Wolf Performing Arts Center, where young performers of all abilities get to take part in the full theatrical experience.
“Every child has a chance to shine through our mainstage productions, classes, summer camp, visiting artist programs, workshops, private lessons, outreach initiates, and more,” says Nikki Battestilli, marketing director. “Wolf Performing Arts Center could not be what it is without the support of our amazing families. Each year over 100 volunteers stack hands to help our programs thrive.”
1240 Montrose Ave., Bryn Mawr; wolfperformingartscenter.org
Limelight Performing Arts Center
319 Westtown Road, West Chester; limepac.com
400 Franklin Avenue #228, Phoenixville; facetimetheatre.org
Best Gymnastics Program
Your kids will do flips for the classes at JK Gymnastics – okay, maybe after a few years of training. This beloved gymnastic facility offers programs for all levels – from the recreational gymnast to competitive athletes – and all ages. Yes, that means you adults looking for strength and conditioning training can sign up, too!
“JK is a unique gymnastic center that strives for full human potential,” says owner Judy Kennedy. “Our children’s success starts with a strong family foundation. Main Line families are a strong unit who focus on education of the physical and mental abilities of their children.”
888 Sussex Blvd., Broomall; jkgymnastics.com
John Pancott Gymnastics Center
284 Lancaster Ave. Malvern; pancottgymnastics.com
Philadelphia Gymnastics Center
26 Portland Road, Conshohocken; philadelphiagymnastics.com
Best Indoor Play Space
When the kids want to play but have deemed your home playroom/basement/backyard officially boring, it’s time for a change of scenery. Hop on over to Lulu’s Casita, a fun, casual, homey hangout space for kids and parents that just happens to be stocked with a ball pit, LEGO wall, craft supplies, and more. You grab an espresso and let the kids loose. While a drop-in is always fun, Lulu’s also offers birthday parties and a calendar of special events like BYO pizza parties and themed brunches.
“It’s all about the welcoming feeling you get as soon as you walk in,” says owner Vivi Zayas. “We treat our customers as family members. We want people to feel they are coming to a friend’s house for a play date and not to a business.”
6 Cricket Ave., Ardmore; luluscasita.com
The Play Cafe
934 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; theplaycafe.com
1032 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken; chattersplatterplaygroup.com
Best Martial Arts Program
Pro Martial Arts Bryn Mawr
Ready to kick your kids’ extracurricular up a notch? First timers will be drawn to the impressive moves of Korean arts like Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, and Hapkido, while parents will be wowed at how their kids begin to strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance, all while learning effective and proven self-defense techniques — programs include lessons on bullying and predator prevention.
There are also programs that help kids master leadership skills. “These interactive programs are designed to provide students with instruction to build character and leadership skills, along with the tools to measure their progress and understanding,” says program director Kyle Wolf. “These programs are made up of short, informational modules, offered to students before martial arts instruction.”
1111 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; promartialarts.com/brynmawr
Main Line United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
74 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore; mainlineunited.com
16 Meadowbrook Road, Strafford; pinkarate.com
Best Mommy-and-Me Program
Magic Moments at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El
Parenting is hard work, and mommy-and-me programs are one small way we can connect with each other, learn from each other, and introduce those little minds we’re molding to the world outside our door. At Magic Moments free play is rounded out with engaging music activities, developmentally appropriate art projects, and healthy snack sharing. While the kids get hands on, parents participate in group discussions, ask individual questions, and even learn from expert guest speakers.
“Our Magic Moments families are our greatest asset,” says Amy Botel, parenting group facilitator. “Each week parenting articles are sent home in advance of the class to create topics for discussion. We work on the premise that each parent is dealing with issues that other families may have already experienced and have discovered useful solutions that can be shared with the group.”
1001 Remington Road, Wynnewood; tbhbe.org
Born to Burpee
A First Foundation
1000 W. Valley Road #70, Wayne; afirstfoundation.com
Best Music Program
Bach 2 Rock
Everyone has an inner rock star, and Bach 2 Rock is designed to help kids of all ages let it out. Sign up of lessons on your instrument of choice, or join a group class to learn the ins and outs of being a part of a band. Little ones can learn music basics by rocking out with maracas, and teens can master the technological chops of the modern DJ. All programs not only grow an appreciation of music and culture, but hone team skills.
226 Sugartown Road, Wayne; b24music.com
Sally’s Music Circle
Best Overnight Camp
Sending your kids off for the summer is sure to pull on your heart a bit, but when it’s a destination like Camp Harlam, you may be more jealous than nervous. Not too far away in the Poconos, Camp Harlam is a Union for Reform Judaism overnight camp that each summer takes over a 300-acre facility and welcomes about 550 campers to turn summer into a vibrant, fun, and caring experience that grows values, independence, and skills.
575 Smith Road, Kunkletown; campharlam.org
865 Bartonsville Woods Road, Stroudsburg; pinemere.com
325 Route 390, Tafton; oneka.com
Best Party Entertainment
As kids get older, planning creative birthday parties gets more difficult – everything has been done! So instead of picking a stand-by and picking up a sheet cake from the market, make creating the cake the party itself. With Sugar Treasures, run by Alexis Braunfeld and Gina Cox, party guests can decorate their own stunning edible masterpieces to enjoy and bring home. The bonus: with cake decorating parties, your party favors are already handled, too!
“I love to see everyone’s face light up accomplish a new decorating skill,” says Braunfeld. “We love working in our community.”
Social Cube Photo Booth
Best Place for Birthday Parties
Philadelphia Rock Gyms
Party-goers earn their pizza and cake when they spend the party scaling and rappelling (all while wearing a secure safety harness, of course) in this massive indoor rock-climbing facility. Aside from getting points for a unique party venue, you’ll love that the wow-factor is matched by skill building and confidence boosts for each young climber.
“We love getting to know families and growing with them,” says Director of Sales Lauren Caporizo. “What starts as a one-time visit to the gym for an afternoon of climbing fun often turns into an ongoing relationship where kids join our programs. We have been around for over 20 years, so we get to see them grow and develop into healthy, confident young adults, and aid in that process along the way!”
122 Mill Rd E-520, Oaks; philarockgym.com
Jumpers Fun Center
5117 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; funatjumpers.com
555 S. Henderson Road, King of Prussia; getairkop.com
Young ones thrive, grow, and learn through the organic Montessori experience at this Villanova favorite for children ages 2-5. Adhering to the traditional philosophy, parents and students will find welcoming classrooms, natural materials, and an open environment. Full- and half-day classes are available, as well as early and late care.
“Our commitment to the Montessori philosophy and dedicated teachers definitely set Ithan apart,” says Director of School Melanie McGinn.
536 Conestoga Road, Villanova; ithanmontessori.com
Berwyn United Methodist Nursery School
140 Waterloo Ave, Berwyn; bumns.org
Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge
1630 Thomas Road, Wayne; mchvf.org
Best SAT/College Prep Program
The stress that can come with standardized tests is avoidable – with proper preparations. Educations Services works one-on-one with students – from 4.0 scholars looking for a competitive edge to struggling students hoping for test skills to help them advance. The program also offers a performance guarantee.
“We often receive calls from previous students who worked with us 30+ years ago because they want to enroll their children!” says Director of Operations Julia Taunay. “We enjoy catching up with those clients and learning about how our services helped to propel their education and careers.”
531 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids; prepwithes.com
Main Line Test Prep
MJ Test Prep
756 Haverford Rd, Bryn Mawr; mjtestprep.com
Best Special Needs Program
Pinwheels DTS provides developmental services for children with special needs, including speech, occupational, and physical therapies, as well as specialized instruction and social work. With a focus on early childhood, the team offers a series of infant-toddler early intervention programs and classes in their outpatient therapy center.
“Building relationships with families and across professional teams is what drives us,” says Megan Reilly Keeler, president. “Our focus on intervention and support in early childhood is unique.”
700 S. Chester Road, Swarthmore; pinwheelsdts.com
The Timothy School
973 Old Lancaster Road, Berwyn; timothyschool.com
Best Sports Program
You want to provide your kids with the basic athletic building blocks, but do it in a no-pressure, have-fun way. At Young Sports, the team focuses on creating a lifelong love of physical activity in every child. In their 3000-square-foot center featuring industry-leading equipment, coaches lead kids in 20 different classes year-round, including a popular summer camp.
133 Old Sugartown Road # B, Wayne; young-sports.com
Next Level Sports
224 County Line Road, Wayne; yscsports.com
Best Swim Lessons
ISR Southeastern PA
Future Olympic dreams aside, the reason most parents enroll their children in swim lessons is safety. ISR – Infant Swim Rescue – focuses primarily on that: teaching children how to float face-up or get to the edge of a pool should they ever fall in accidentally. With one-on-one classes held daily, these classes offer practical lessons that, while intense, have won rave reviews with amazed parents.
The Episcopal Academy Aquatic Club
1785 Bishop White Drive, Newtown Square; nxtatea.com/swimming
Malvern Prep Swim School
418 S. Warren Ave., Malvern; malvernswimming.com/school
Best Tutoring Program
Little Ones for Literacy
A little extra help can mean a world of difference to a child, and at Little Ones for Literacy, a group of passionate and highly trained educators are just waiting to provide that extra push. Using an individualized, hands-on approach to teaching that instills confidence, encourages interaction, and helps children develop their literacy skill set, plus small student-teacher ratios, the LOFL program makes learning and reading fun.
“LOFL is a firm believer in, ‘One size does not fit all’ when it comes to education,” says owner and teacher Brooke Choate. “Through initial literacy inventories we create customized instructional plans to meet the needs of each student in a highly interactive and engaging learning environment.”
203 North Valley Forge Road, Devon; littleones4literacy.com
Writing on the Walls Tutoring Solutions
Between the Lines Tutoring