We love the fact that Pure Style Kids is just across the breezeway from Three Dog Bakery -- a shop offering the ultimate indulgences for Fido. Those of you making the transition from Dog Mom to Real Mom will find it much easier after a trip through Pure Style Kids.

This place is enough to cure any new mother of the worst postpartum depression -- until she gets the Visa bill. That's why we recommend the baby gift registry, so others can do the buying for you.

The small store is packed with every infant (well, mommy) indulgence imaginable, from vintage fabrics to original artwork to hand-knit booties -- each item perfectly detailed, in impeccable taste. There are even sections devoted to stationery and gardening, for those moms who have everything else under control. Hard-to-find, top-of-the-line brands such as Amy Coe, Clacone and Steiff are featured.

Even Martha would approve.

How can one small person require so much stuff? Traveling with an infant requires more gear than a rock concert -- babies should have their own roadies to help them set up when they arrive for a vacation at Grandma's house. With Baby Boom Rentals, a visiting entourage can bring just the bare essentials. This company delivers equipment across the Valley for daily, weekly or monthly use. Everything is fully sterilized, of course. They've got the basics: A full-size crib, high chair and deluxe stroller are $49 per week. They've got the extras, too: baby bathtubs, bouncy seats, swings, potty chairs, toys and rocking chairs. We particularly like the safety items Grandma is sure not to have: safety gates, car seats and monitors. It sure makes having a baby -- anytime, anywhere -- a whole lot easier.

A small but hip section of this unassuming strip mall comes alive on Friday nights with teens and preteens sporting big shoes and baggy shorts. In addition to the 24-screen AMC theater with valet parking, there's Coffee Society for non-alcoholic, caffeinated refreshment. As You Wish can keep artistic hands busy with a paintbrush and a piece of unfinished pottery. Barnes & Noble Booksellers offers a literary escape from the dizzying trendiness outdoors, and Neo Tokyo and Rubio's Baja Grill serve up fast-but-fulfilling fare even for a teen with a tiny allowance. Security guards usually hang by the misters to help keep everything cool while kids sip sodas and gawk at each other's new roller-shoes, and the whole shebang shuts down by a parentally pleasing 11 p.m. on weekends.

Whether you're partial to that sweet young thing from the '80s, Ms. Pac-Man, or you need to burn up a little testosterone with Virtua Cop 2, you can conquer the universe of your choice at Video Roundup, an independently owned video arcade that's been around for more than a decade. Novice players will appreciate the back room full of old-school games, while serious gamers will find the most current recreational technology. Non-video-game heads can play at the Tetris or Solitaire stations; pinball wizards can get a finger-flipping workout on an impressive array of machines; and for a more aerobic experience, there's air hockey, foosball or billiards at one of 27 pool tables. We dare you to have more fun for so little money.
We chose Kidstop after rigorous scientific testing, which can be duplicated by anyone with access to a 3-year-old. Simply turn the child loose in any toy store while you shop for another kid's birthday present. If the range of merchandise is good enough and the staff is helpful enough, you'll end up with a well-occupied young shopping companion. Kidstop gets it right on all counts, with an impressive selection that includes a huge section of toys for infants -- an often-neglected constituency in toy stores. The shop is divided into areas of interest, from trains to musical instruments to art supplies, each with its own cozy play corner where the staff helps to entertain the kids. There's even a teachers' resource section, with stuff parents will use, too. Most important, Kidstop gift-wraps fast and for free, and its signature gecko-print paper will put to shame the other Pokémon-wrapped gifts at any party.
Golfland Family Entertainment Center
New attractions here have turned a fun but standard amusement park into the ultimate kiddy attraction. Golfland/Sunsplash is a one-stop entertainment center that will manage to please vanloads of multi-aged kids with different interests. Golfland, which is open all year and charges fees in the neighborhood of $4 to $6.25 for each activity, has old standbys like miniature golf (three courses), bumper boats, miniature race cars, a 200-game video arcade and laser tag. Sunsplash, with 10 water slides, a 450,000-gallon wave pool and a river ride, is open only in the summer and charges $17 for adults and $14 for kids 4 to 11 (free for ages 3 and under). Adults can pay $5 and a refundable $12 deposit for a "spectator" ticket if they're just chaperoning the little ones.

As soon as you walk in the door, you can tell that Cowtown Skateboards is run by a bunch of skateboard-loving purists. What gives us that notion? Ah, could it be the unavoidable wall-o-boards, covered from floor to ceiling in colorful, shiny new decks? Everything else in the store is secondary to the amazing array of skateboards on display. No inline skates here, baby. Of course, you could also try on a badass tee shirt or a pair of sturdy sneakers made for grinding. You could crash out on a couch in the back and watch skate videos, or buy one for your personal collection. The hipsters behind the counter would be happy to recommend a good set of wheels and dole out hardware advice. And don't forget to look up to admire the shelf of battle-worn, old-school boards on exhibit like pieces of pop-culture archaeology.

Parents can get a bite in edgewise at Chevys because the kids will be happily occupied with an assortment of activities. Chevys goes beyond the standard crayons-and-placemat handouts, throwing in a ball of raw tortilla dough (sometimes the crayons are stuck in it) that doubles as Play-Doh when the placemat coloring is finished. If the little nios are still antsy, they can go watch tortillas being made or play with complimentary balloons. Generous kids' plates come with French fries, mini ice cream cones and a serving of fresh fruit. A healthful kids' side dish? What a concept!
Never having another kid's birthday party at home, even if the stains did come out of the rug after the umpteenth cleaning? Looking for something more memorable and, God forbid, more meaningful than cardboard pizza and head-splitting video games at the usual locales? For little ones 10 and older, this north Valley shop will host a "Bubblemakers" Party, a terrific and carefully supervised introduction to scuba diving for $250 for up to eight children. It all takes place in the shop's heated indoor pool, with the kids donning gear and experiencing the thrill of hanging out underwater. Partygoers get a "skill certificate" at the end of the day, which is almost as exciting as the obligatory cake, cookies and other goodies provided.
This wonderful store with the awkward name (most patrons just call it "Piggy" and leave it at that) has the funkiest, hippest collection of clothes for the preschool and grade-school set. Grown women have been heard requesting some of the more fashion-forward girls' items in grown-up sizes, but the real test of a kids' clothing store is what it's got for boys. And "Piggy" delivers: no drippy Little Lord Fauntleroy getups in sight, no precious Mama's boy ensembles that only a grandmother would love (or buy). The store's buyers have clearly scoured the market for the most colorful, imaginative and coolest duds for both sexes. A big bonus for beleaguered parents dragging around uncooperative offspring is the bounty of toys the store also sells, and the cozy playroom where kids can sample these wares -- not to mention the cheery staffers who don't seem to mind restoring order to the occasional toy explosion.

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