The secret is out: Long Island City is a pretty cool place to raise kids. So many families have moved to the once primarily-industrial Queens neighborhood, it’s now got its very own play café — a sure sign a spot has achieved kid-friendly status. City Owlets, the creation of local mom Linda Nguyen, is a brand new indoor and outdoor play cafe for infants and young children, as well as a community-gathering venue for families.

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photo: City Owlets

Park, Fuel Up and Go! 
Upon arrival, parents and caretakers will be relieved to find that strollers can be stored in a special “stroller parking zone.” Nearby, the cute and cozy cafe sells juice, milk, water, healthy snacks and more.

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photo: City Owlets Facebook page

Many Ways to Play 

City Owlets’ play area is both adorable and varied, offering many different opportunities for play and stimulation. A series of connected, multi-level play nooks are fashioned as miniature versions of grown-up places.

Areas include a marketplace where kids can “shop” for food; a pizza place; a workbench; a dollhouse and a train table. You’ll also find an art kiosk for crafty kids and a dress-up area for dramatic play.

For less task-oriented diversions, there’s an area loaded with stuffed animals and a “magic carpet” relaxation zone, as well as magnetic boards and baskets of small individual toys tucked in nooks, waiting to be discovered.

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For the Tiniest of Visitors
City Owlets also provides a dedicated space for infants and caregivers. A soothing nook features a foam tile floor, sensory toys, and calming lights that change colors. (Caregivers of babes take note: there is a changing table in the bathroom.)

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photo: courtesy City Owlets

Take it Outside! 
On the day we explored City Owlets, it was a bit too cold to enjoy the outside space, which features a colorful and fun community mural (pictured above) on one wall. But there are toys out there as well — such as a large Connect Four and climbing structures—  ready for play come spring.

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photo: City Owlets Facebook page

How to Pay to Play 
There are a few ways to do City Owlets with the kids. You can purchase a $25 one-day pass for Open Play Drop-in; a ten-pack pass for $200; a one-month Open Play Membership for $175, or a yearly membership for $950.

Reservations are not required and you can stay as long as you’d like, but when City Owlets is at full capacity (roughly 22 kids), employees kindly ask that you give other children a chance to play after you’ve enjoyed two hours. To help expedite the check-in process, you can register your child in advance for Open Play.

Nguyen recommends calling in advance before just showing up — just to be sure the place has room, especially in the mornings; morning play sessions tend to be the most popular and most requested. You can pay online, and set up an account for your child here.

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photo: City Owlets Facebook page

The Nitty Gritty
City Owlets is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (Private parties are held weekend afternoons) Note: be prepared to shed your shoes — it’s socks only here!

Check the website and Facebook page, which is updated daily, for classes, special events, and more.

City Owlets Play Cafe
10-42 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City
718-786-OWLS
Online: www.cityowlets.com

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What’s your favorite spot for kids in Queens? Tell us in the comments below! 

— Rachel Sokol