In the life of every new mom there comes a time (or 2 or 3 or 300) when she finds herself thinking, for any number of reasons, I have got to get out of the house RIGHT NOW. This happens to me so often that I have composed a song to accompany our mad dash out the door. Sing with me to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:
We’re getting in the car
We’re getting in the car
I don’t know where we will go
We’re getting in the car
Yup. It’s times like these that I am most thankful for Stew Leonard’s grocery store in Newington (other CT locations include Danbury and Norwalk). If you are a mom like me, there is always something on your grocery list. So why not run an errand AND provide your child with endless entertainment at the same time? Stew Leonard’s pretty much defies description, but if I had to try I’d say it’s like Stop & Shop meets Trader Joe’s meets the mall food court meets the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney. And yes, I mean there are puppets. Lots of puppets: singing, dancing, whirling, twirling, flipping, skipping puppets. Did I mention there are puppets?
Boo and I made our most recent trip to Stew’s on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s a bit of a ride from my house, but it’s worth the trip. Weekday mornings/afternoons are great times to go. The place can get pretty hopping on the weekends. The main problem with a crowded Stew’s, besides the lengthy wait in the checkout line, is that there are only two cart returns in the vast parking lot. As all moms know, it is infinitely easier to load everything (including baby) into a grocery cart right next to your car than to try to carry everything (including baby) into the store and then load a cart. So weekdays offer the best odds of getting that coveted spot right next to the cart return.
The store is set up almost like a hay bale maze (minus the hay, of course), where you enter at the produce section and wind to and fro until you exit at the pizza oven. Yes, I said pizza oven. We’ll get to that later. There are shortcuts and ways to bypass certain sections, but I usually enjoy the culinary adventure start to finish. Besides, if you are looking to run in and run out with one item, you are missing the point completely.
I loaded Boo in the cart, floppy seat, toys and all, tossed in the diaper bag and headed for the wide sliding doors. To tell you the truth, today I don’t even know what I am going to get, I just know that I needed to get going.
First stop: the singing, dancing beverage diorama. Does that sign say coffee? Sign me up!
Next we meet the nice Chiquita Banana lady in the produce section. Push the button and she’ll sing for you. Boo was captivated by her performance.
I’m a sucker for pretty produce, so I couldn’t resist the beautiful mangos. I’ll think of something to do with it. Or Boo will.
We meandered among the produce bins and through the displays of fresh baked goods. Along the way we met Clover the cow. She Moos. LOUDLY.
Don’t get too close or this might happen.
Yikes. Moving right along. The cheerful singing chickens put Boo back in a good mood. Well, the chickens and his favorite teether.
Around the next corner or two, I can’t resist perusing the amazing cheese selection. Good thing there are also lots of distractions for Boo. Puppets, puppets everywhere!
But today Boo only has eyes for his new favorite snack.
And whatever he is looking at here. Sometimes it’s hard to tell in this place!
At last my nose tells me that we have arrived at the maze exit. I smell cheese and tomato sauce and delicious baking crust. Of course, pizza is just one of a vast variety of ready-to-eat options available throughout the store. Stew’s also has all kinds of heat and eat foods. So you can come by to grab lunch and pick up a week’s worth of (no cook) dinners too. Be on the lookout for all the free samples.
Older kids will love the soft-serve ice cream and slushy counter.
Stew’s also has a fully stocked wine, beer and liquor shop right there in the store, but I would probably save this for a time when you aren’t pushing a baby around in your cart. Unless you don’t mind some dirty looks.
It’s been another successful trip to Stew’s: I found something for dinner (Asian chicken pot stickers) that requires no more effort than pushing the buttons on my microwave, and Boo got to visit with his favorite puppets. After all, we know shopping with our little ones can be a world of laughter or a world of tears. Whenever I can, I choose laughter.
3475 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT
Check out the Stew Leonard’s website for additional CT locations, more product information and weekly specials: http://www.stewleonards.com
Get directions here:
Tips & Things to Bring:
- For your smallest shoppers, bring a grocery cart seat cover to keep baby comfy for the ride.
- See one of our reader’s comments below about a fabulous loft eating area.
- Stew Leonard’s also offers a variety of fun, free events for children like Easter egg hunts, trick-or-treating for Halloween, and various other holiday events. Be sure to check their website for upcoming activities.