Every Friday here on Go Ask Mom, I feature a place to take kids. It might be a new playground, a special exhibit at a museum, a yummy bakery or some other spot that kids and families will love. In the headline, you'll usually see "playground review" or "destination."
As part of that weekly Friday series, I'm adding a new feature to the series - "Hidden Gem." These will feature those little hidden gems that might get passed over on a trip to a museum or a park or along a trail, for instance. We're starting with the newish backyard grill section added to Marbles Kids Museum's Healthy Kitchen exhibit.
The entire Healthy Kitchen, on the second floor in the bigger Power 2 Play space, got a refresh in June thanks to support from the Goddard School. Here, little kids spend countless hours cooking up stews of fish and strawberries - or whatever pretend foods will fit in the little pots.
The upgrade included new wall graphics to promote healthy food choices, upgraded food prep appliances and kitchen tools. But the biggest change was the new backyard grill section that is designed to encourage families to cook, eat and enjoy the outdoors together. There's a big "tree" that shades a grill area and a collection of Adirondack chairs.
My seven-year-old seemed to be aging out of the kitchen. Power 2 Play is, by far, her favorite place at Marbles. But she rarely ventured over to the cooking area. With the new grill, there's a renewed interest in serving me random plates of plastic foods.
It might be because the grill is better suited for her height. We also grill a lot at home - and, until now, she hasn't had a chance to pretend grill on a pretend grill until now.
I love it - and so do the countless other parents I've seen lounging in those comfy chairs. It's a quieter little corner of Marbles where kids are happy to hang and parents can relax (a little bit) as their kids play. In fact, I've seen more than one parent pull out an actual book and read while her kids serve her meal after meal.
Healthy Kitchen is free with admission to Marbles, which is $5 per person. Marbles is in downtown Raleigh.