2017 Long Island Bestie Guide: Parenting Resources Winners

10/8/17 - By Margaret Hargrove

Long Island families, you have spoken! We asked you to weigh in on the Long Island's Besties—the best family businesses across 24 categories ranging from restaurants to party places, swim schools, and more. With all the great family fun experiences and resources on Long Island, it was hard to narrow down to just one winner per category, but you were up to the task. In the pages that follow, you will get to know our Besties, the most highly regarded Long Island businesses that live to serve, entertain, teach, and enrich the lives of your family.

We can't thank each of our 236 finalists and their fans enough for participating in our contest. We'd also like to extend a special thank you to our Besties Sponsors, and our congratulations to the four lucky voters who were picked at random to enjoy some amazing prizes. You made our contest awesome, and we love you.

And now, without further ado, Mommy Poppins proudly presents your guide to the best of family friendly Long Island, the 2017 Long Island Besties! Because 24 is a lot of winners, we've divided them into three groups: Family Fun, Parenting Resources, and Enrichment Programs. Enjoy!

Best Family Fun WinnersBest Parenting Resources Winners | Best Enrichment Programs Winners


Best Parenting Resources Winners

Best Birthday Party Entertainer: Darlene Graham

There’s nothing like being in the comfort of your own home when it comes time to host your kid’s birthday party. If you’re open to having an at-home concert, Darlene Graham will bring the party to you! Music lovers will enjoy Darlene's fun and interactive musical entertainment, which includes live guitar, instruments for kids to touch and try, parachute play, Miss Lucy the puppet, and a bubble machine. These musical parties are perfect for kids of all ages. Parents have the option to book additional musicians to create a duo, trio or even Darlene’s full band, Shades of Green. 

Best Local Kids’ Dentist or Group: Kids-Smile Children’s Dentistry — Smithtown

Your kid will actually look forward to going to the dentist if it means a trip to this kid-friendly practice. The team of pediatric dentists, dental hygienists, and office staff cares for children and their teeth from infancy through the teenage years. No dull waiting room here! The colorful space includes toys, TVs, and a pretty awesome fish tank designed to put your child at ease and create healthy and happy smiles.

Best Local Pediatrician or Group: Happy and Healthy Pediatrics — Mineola

When your child is sick, you want someone you can trust. Happy and Healthy Pediatrics roster of pediatricians is beloved by local parents for their depth of expertise. The practice offers extended hours as well as Saturday morning appointments. An in-house wellness center hosts mindfulness workshops for kids, infant and child CPR classes, as well an on-site behavioral analyst providing parenting seminars and coaching.

Best New Business or Family Spot: Teeny Tiny Tushies Photography — Rockville Centre

Until you try to take a great photo of your newborn for a birth announcement, you just don't realize how difficult it is. Photographer Natalie Gallagher has got it down to a science. The images she produces of your little angel in adorable repose are beautiful, fun and fresh. The babes —  which Gallagher typically photographs in her brand new Rockville Centre studio when they are just six to 10 days old — are sometimes swaddled in delicate knitted wraps, and others wear just their birthday suit. Want a shot of a baby in a bucket or wearing a headband? She does that too.

Best Place to Learn How to Swim: Saf-T-Swim School — Various Locations

Offering aquatics programs for little ones as young as two months old, this popular franchise operates 12 locations across the island. Lessons are held in pools heated to a warm and comfortable 88 degrees. Baby & Me classes for tiny tadpoles and small-group lessons for guppies ages 4 years and up focus on floating and submersion for new swimmers and build up to survival techniques and different strokes. Swim teams for kids over 4 encourage friendly competition and team-building.

Best Place to Shop for Books and Toys: Matty’s Toy Shop — Various Locations

One of the largest independent toy retailers in the country, this nearly 30-year-old family-owned business operates several locations in Floral Park, Hewlett, Manhasset and Rockville Centre. Behind its bright and welcoming storefronts, Matty’s is jammed full of popular toys, from a large selection of dolls and figurines to board games and even outdoor toys. You can’t go wrong here — there’s not a dud in sight. Shopping for a last-minute birthday gift? Matty’s excellent customer service includes free gift wrapping. 

Best Place to Shop for Kids’ Clothes and Baby Gear: Attelia Baby — Port Washington

Attelia Baby is truly a one-stop shop when it comes to all things green for babies. They carry a huge selection of cloth diapers and organic baby and maternity care products, as well as eco-friendly baby toys. You’ll also find big-ticket items, like car seats, strollers and high chairs, on display for sale in this warm and earthy store, with exposed brick walls and a dazzling skylight. Sure you can shop for green baby products online, but the benefit of heading to this inviting little shop is the knowledgeable, friendly staff. They are happy to answer any questions and make you feel completely at ease whether shopping for your own baby or a baby shower gift.

Best Preschool or Alternative Program: Buckley Country Day School — Roslyn

Selecting the best preschool for your child is no easy task. If what matters to you most are small class sizes, an inclusive community, and a creative curriculum, the look no further than this private Pre-K to 8th grade school, according to our readers. The toddler and pre-kindergarten program provides a loving and nurturing environment to ease the transition from home to school. Language and listening skills are honed through interactive storytelling. The curriculum  also includes music, arts and sports.. A low student to teacher ratio ensures your scholar gets tons of hands-on attention, and the beautiful, 28-acre campus features four playgrounds to give students the opportunity to explore the world around them in a safe environment. 

Best Social Media Mom or Dad on the Island — LIFamilies 

Join a growing community of other Long Island families on the LIFamilies blog. Use the forums to post your concerns, seek solutions, discuss dilemmas or just blow off some steam. You'll receive real-time advice or just hear what your neighbors have to say. Check the blog often for local restaurant reviews, family travel ideas and a business directory of local parenting resources.

Favorite Mommy & Me Class: Gymboree Play & Music — Various Locations

Beat the chill and head indoors to this indoor playspace mecca. Gymboree offers a wide variety of enriching, multi-sensory classes that are appropriate for ages 0-5 years. Parent and baby classes also include parent discussion time to help you learn about your child's development. Traditional play and learn classes take little ones through a seven-level program at their own pace. They also have music, art and sports classes. Don’t forget about School Readiness which caters to 3, 4, and 5 year olds and helps them gain a solid foundation for future learning. 

Best Family Fun Winners | Best Parenting Resources Winners | Best Enrichment Programs Winners