Best Place To Have A Seinfeld Experience

Kohnie's

On Seinfeld, Elaine was so smitten by the Soup Nazi's offerings that she withstood his abuse and capricious behavioral requirements. We won't go so far as to imply a Scone Nazi exists in the Valley, but let's just say you do what you have to do to get what you need at Kohnie's. Kohnie's scones are so good -- they're usually gone by 8 a.m. -- that they tend to inspire irrational loyalty and perseverance in customers. Kohnie, the proprietor, is gleefully unapologetic when he runs out of scones or whatever else you're craving. A "regular" who walks in after you will get served first -- you got a problem with that? And then there's the matter of the no-man's-land time between breakfast and lunch when you can't have either. Just a bowl of granola, please? I can see it from here, sitting in that jar, no cooking needed, you plead. Nope, breakfast is over, Kohnie grunts. Okay, what about a sandwich? No can do, says Kohnie triumphantly; lunch doesn't start for 20 more minutes. Defeated, you walk away. You'd better learn the rules if you want to eat here. (But once you do, it's worth it.)
Looking for a god? Any god? For just $2, you can have your own Buddha -- or choose from a plethora of other gods immortalized in wood, plastic, porcelain and brass at the Oriental Factory Direct. Among the weird statuettes are pudgy, baby-faced kung-fu fighters donning sunglasses and cute little deadly weapons. For quiet but constant affirmation, try one of the "bobble-head" dolls in traditional Chinese costume. Their big heads are on springs, so the slightest breeze sends them nodding every which way. Quirky items are side by side with beautiful silk dresses and intricate jewelry. The outlet also has a robust collection of Asian books, videos, DVDs and music. Whether you're looking for a path to enlightenment or just a cool frock to wear next Saturday night, you'll find it here.

Southwest Institute of Healing Arts
Ancient Chinese secret, huh? Last year, the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts became an officially accredited college, offering diplomas in Therapeutic Massage, Western Herbalism and -- our favorite -- Oriental Bodywork. In the Institute's hallowed halls of healing, you can enroll in classes such as "Chinese Face Reading" and the always popular "Chi Gung for the Spine: Bend the Bow and Shoot the Arrow." Tuition ranges from $800 for a hypnotherapy degree to $8,000 to become a Master Massage Practitioner. Which beats heck -- but only barely -- out of Arizona State University's liberal arts program.

Nothing against Raffi, who surely means well, but his and other children's CDs are really not meant for adult ears. So tell your tiny tot to just grow up . . . because we happen to live in a city with a really topnotch classical radio station. Let your tyke listen to KBAQ. Often. Besides being a lovely and peaceful alternative to Raffi or the Toy Story 2 soundtrack, it's a fantastic source for bedtime lullaby music. And once the kids are about 12, just see who's smarter: yours, or the ones down the street who've been listening to "The Wheels on the Bus" for the last decade.

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.

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