When Northeast Ohio Parent asked readers about their family-friendly favorites around the region, an overwhelming number of moms and dads stepped up to the challenge. Here are the results from our second annual Parent Choice Awards in the “Food & Shopping” theme.
View the complete 2017 Parent Choice Awards winners in our July issue, or click here for winners in the “Things to do with Kids” categories. Click here for winners in the “Health, Learning & More” categories.
Best Family Friendly Restaurant
With a wide-ranging kid’s menu that includes bottomless sides — and healthy options — children love Red Robin. Parents love it, too, for its affordable prices, quick service and family-friendly atmosphere. Don’t worry, adults can get bottomless fries, too, so it’s a win-win.
Family owned and operated Yours Truly has nine Cleveland-area locations and was founded by four siblings who were inspired by their parents’ hospitality.
Sure, its 19 locations offer what’s likely the largest lineup of draft and bottled beer in the area, but “The Wink” also caters to families, Little League teams and the like with its casual atmosphere, extensive menu, free popcorn and arcade games.
It’s no surprise that Applebee’s made the list — this go-to spot has dozens of area locations, rotating food specials, a kids menu and décor from local sports teams and schools.
Kids — and parents — love comfort food, and Bob Evans is one place where you’re guaranteed to find it all day long. Plus, with dozens of Northeast Ohio locations, there’s never one far from home.
Best Ice Cream Shop
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
Owned by two Cleveland-raised brothers, Mitchell’s ice cream is handcrafted one small batch at a time, using local grass-fed dairy and fresh seasonal ingredients. With eight area shops and a penchant for supporting local charities, I scream, you scream, we all scream for Mitchell’s.
Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt
Founded in Youngstown and now with locations in several states (24 in Ohio), Handel’s dishes up dozens of scratch-made flavors daily for humans, plus some frozen treats for dogs.
Honey Hut Ice Cream
Started in a shoe repair shop-turned ice cream store by a husband and wife duo (with flavor brainstorming sessions that included their five kids), Honey Hut is a local legend — particularly its signature Honey Pecan flavor, available at all five area locations.
Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes
With locations in Rocky River and Avon Lake, Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes offers so much more than delectable cupcakes. The sweets and party boutique also sells custom cakes, macarons, cookie sandwiches, party supplies, and more. The treats might seem too pretty to eat, but you’ll quickly learn to dive right in.
Cookie and a Cupcake
Featuring a cupcake flavor lineup that changes weekly and cool, vintage-looking cakes, this sweet spot with stores in Tremont and South Euclid also offers vegan and gluten-free options.
Pandora’s, with shops in Fairlawn and Cuyahoga Falls, is a go-to spot for cupcakes, cake pops, marshmallow pops and chocolate covered pretzels. The bakery begins gluten-free Fridays in August.
Best Place to get a Pizza
This Lakewood staple is ranked as one of the most successful independent pizzerias in the U.S. and has won “best pizza” in several other local award contests. Aside from choosing your own toppings for a custom creation, the pizzeria features a menu with more than a dozen options, from classics like fresh veggie and Hawaiian to outside-the-box pies like seafood, Acapulco BBQ, and baked potato.
Three Greater Cleveland/Akron locations each offer more than 12 unique pizzas, plus the freedom to create your own. Added bonus: the company’s DewMore non-profit collaborative of employees supports local causes through fundraising and volunteer work.
What began as a dream for two Tallmadge brothers has grown into a franchise with more than 40 locations throughout Northeast Ohio. Traditional and unique pies are joined by Italiano Fried Chicken and more for meal options that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
The Italian Eatery’s first spot in Rocky River has grown to seven area locations, each of which features Frank & The Rat Pack menu selections, tasty pizza and pies, and much, much more.
Best quick family dinner on the go
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, this step up from the typical fast food spot will please parent and kid palates. If you’re really in a hurry, you can skip the line by ordering ahead using the One app.
For fast, fresh Mexican food without added colors, flavors, or preservatives, stop into any of the dozens of Chipotle restaurants that blanket Northeast Ohio. The Kid’s Menu offers quesadillas or a Build Your Own option.
For soups, salads, sandwiches and more that are sourced from responsible farms and free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors, visit one of the area’s many Panera locations.
Best candy store
b.a. Sweetie Candy Co.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in this 40,000-square-foot candy superstore, chances are you don’t need it. When your family is done perusing the 4,500 items, including national and regional brands, hard-to-find candies, bulk bins and nostalgic selections, check out the newly added Sweeties Soda Shoppe.
This third generation, family-owned confectionery is synonymous with Cleveland. Its 22 locations offer candies, nuts, popcorn and more, many of which are made with the same special-recipe milk and dark chocolate used since day one.
Best thrift/consignment for children’s clothing
Once Upon a Child
With several locations in Northeast Ohio, Once Upon a Child carries brand name, gently used apparel, footwear, baby gear, furniture, toys and games, and more. You also can make some cash cleaning out your kids’ closets, as the company buys new inventory from area families.
Rhea Lana of Medina
This biannual consignment event takes place in the Akron area and features gently-used, name brand children’s clothing (newborn through teen sizes), toys, shoes, books, baby gear, plus maternity items and much more.
Find pre-owned baby and child items at deep discounts while supporting a great cause at one of the many area Goodwill Industries locations.
Lil’ Frog Fashions
This Cuyahoga Falls children’s resale shop carries gently used brand name clothing, toys, books, videos, infant equipment, infant accessories and shoes, plus an attractive selection of maternity clothing.
Best bike shop
Eddy’s Bike Shop
Ohio’s largest Trek and Specialized dealer, Eddy’s operates four locations in the greater Cleveland area that are staffed with knowledgeable employees who are also bike enthusiasts. In addition, the stores offer bike service and rentals, host special events, and more.
Three Northeast Ohio locations serve cyclists of all ages and abilities with a focus on customer service, professional bike fitting and assembly, and supporting the community through local charities.
Marty’s Bike Shop
Marty’s is a full-service bike shop located in Stow that offers bikes, gear, repairs and service for local riders.
Best place to go for children’s books
Barnes & Noble
With a handful of locations in Northeast Ohio, this national chain bookstore offers a wide selection of children’s books, toys, games and more, plus lots of room to spread out and play or read. Most sites also feature a café, and each location guarantees thousands of both the latest and classic titles to explore.
Half Price Books
Three area locations offer a wide selection of new books at a discount; they also are heavily involved in supporting the community through various charitable efforts.
The Learned Owl
This locally-owned bookseller in Hudson offers three floors of books for all ages and interests. If a certain book is not in stock, it can usually be ordered; the store also offers an out-of-print search service.
Best place for Baby Registry (tie)
Baby registries at Target are convenient for parents-to-be and their family and friends, as the retailer’s vast inventory means most people are going to shop there anyway. Stocking the shelves are baby products from major brands and Target-only brands like Cat & Jack — and an even more extensive lineup is available online. Those who register get a free welcome kit and 15 percent registry completion discount.
Babies R Us
This baby product megastore has all that expectant parents need to prepare for their new bundle of joy. Babies R Us offers a one-on-one registry consultation, a 10 percent completion discount to purchase remaining items, up to 10 percent back on purchases made from a registry, plus easy returns for up to one year.
Buy Buy Baby
Newer to Northeast Ohio, Buy Buy Baby offers a wide selection at its Warrensville Heights location, and even more options online. Registry perks include a Goody Bag, a referral program, Free Shipping Rewards program, and more.
Best kid-friendly shopping area
Parents love the nearly 100 retail stores, while kids love the splash pad and wide open green spaces throughout this shopping destination in Westlake. When everyone’s worked up an appetite, choose from more than 30 eateries and restaurants that cater to every taste and price point.
Aurora Farms Premium Outlets
Aurora Farms encompasses more than 70 designer and brand name stores, so families can find great bargains, then take a break to let kids feed the ducks or burn off some energy at the playground.
Shop, eat and play at this Beachwood hot spot, which also offers great family-friendly events like live music, touch-a-truck days, Food Truck Mondays, and more.
Best place to buy a family-friendly vehicle
Ganley Automotive Group
The Ganley Auto Group consists of 34 automotive franchises throughout Northern Ohio. Founded in 1968 by Tom Ganley, nearly 50 years later the company is now Ohio’s top automotive retailer and one of the largest privately owned dealer groups in the country. Shop its 16 different makes for your next family-friendly ride.