Downtown Bellevue, we thought we knew you. But so many great new family-friendly spots have popped up that we’re taking a second look…

The sweetest news of late has to be the arrival of Cupcake Royale, housed in the funky former IHOP building on Bellevue Way (right next to Rudy’s, the gas station-turned-barbershop).  This cozy, light-filled restaurant features an open kitchen where Littles can watch cupcakes being made before devouring their own mini confections.  Owner Jodi Hall intends to make the space a community hangout complete with concerts; the Not-It’s played at the opening day party!

Once Upon A Time has set up an outpost of its Queen Anne store in Bellevue Square, chock-full of adorable, handcrafted toys, whimsical books and European-styled playthings. Don’t miss the grand opening festivities on November 11! And Bellevue Art and Frame also carries a selection of quality toys, and in addition holds classes for kids in pastels and drawing, or a preschool class designed to familiarize kids with a variety of media.

If you’re visiting The Bravern, make sure stop by the newish Vovito Caffe and Gelato, the perfect place for a snack, after the weekly Wednesday song and story time at Little Bookworms. Another great stop for enriching activities with the littles is Living Montessori, which hosts a bevy of classes in everything from culinary arts to gymnastics or dance.

Don’t miss the newcomers bursting across the local ‘za scene. The wonderful Mod Pizza (loved for its fresh ingredients, speedy preparation, and $1 Hostess Ding Dongs dessert!) is accompanied by Zeeks Pizza, and Pagliacci; the latter has a quaint, new location on Old Main Street. Weekly pizza night just got a lot more interesting…

-Kavita Varma-White