Okay. I admit it. I like to hang out at Whole Foods. Being an avid cook and given my propensity for sampling, my organic goods ogling started long before I welcomed Boo into the world. However, the Whole Foods in my town of Glastonbury was one of the first places I ventured out with an itty bitty baby Boo, and it continued to be a favorite haunt even as he entered toddlerhood. So, I thought it was about time I gave this destination its due.
Now, this is not your typical Whole Foods, mind you. It has added amenities like a kids’ play area and a giant food court! Really, if you’re in need of a quick outing with the family, this is one of those hidden gems you’ve probably overlooked because, let’s be honest, who ever thought they could hang out at a grocery store? Well, I am about to change all that… 🙂
When Boo was an infant, I would head over to the Glastonbury Whole Foods to grab a latte and peruse the aisles while Boo snoozed in his stroller. As he got older, once in a while we would stop in to pick up dinner from the salad bar and let Boo putz around the play area for a bit. Then, while Boo and I were enrolled in the Stay & Play class at the neighboring Glastonbury YMCA these past two months, I rediscovered this old haunt as a favorite post-class destination to while away that tenuous time between mid-morning and lunch.
So, a couple weekends ago, hubby and I brought Boo over there on a Saturday morning to see if it would pass the “outing test.” Two hours later (yes, we were there for two hours!), it was clear that this Whole Foods offers a whole lot more than just groceries.
Let’s start with the main attraction for we folk with wee folk: a kids’ play corner. This compact area may not look like much from afar, but it’s stocked with tons of fun toys and books for little ones, lined with benches for supervising adults, and boasts one of those awesome padded floors so you don’t have to worry about your tipsy toddler taking a tumble.
Currently, Boo’s two favorite items are the big tough trucks and the interlocking blocks.
Really, what more could you ask for in the way of children’s entertainment from a grocery store? (Unless you’re into puppets; then you should check out my visit to Stew Leonard’s.)
While Boo played and hubby “supervised” (read as: caught up on his Words with Friends games), I went off in search of a caffeinated treat and to document the vast culinary offerings. When I said this store has a food court, I was not exaggerating.
First stop, the gelato bar to see what seasonal flavors might entice me to take home a freshly packed quart (you can also order a dish to eat right away). Right now the offerings include seasonal favorites like pumpkin, spiced cider, and gingerbread, but they are always rotating their selection.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, from my waistline’s perspective), hubby was not in a gelato mood and let’s be honest, I have to at least pretend like he is the one I am buying that treat for so I can justify bringing yet another sweet into the house so soon after I completely derailed my diet with all that Halloween sugar. So no gelato today.
However, I was quickly consoled when I saw the latte selection at the neighboring coffee counter, which included holiday favorites like gingerbread and caramel, not to mention the white chocolate mocha.
After enjoying our coffees for a bit, hubby and I decided to grab a quick lunch for ourselves and Boo. So many choices!
There’s the ginormous buffet spread where you can find a sprawling salad bar as well as cold and hot food options like pasta and potato salads, fish fillets and chicken tenders, and sometimes curries and chicken wings (LOVE the chicken wings, by the way) and so much more. Everything is priced at the same per pound cost, so you can load up your plate/box/plastic container with anything your little heart, er stomach, desires.
There’s always soup.
And, new to me, there is a hot breakfast bar available every morning until 10:30 a.m. (’till 12:00 p.m. on Sundays) with french toast, eggs, home fries–all your eye-opening faves.
Also available, gourmet panini sandwiches and wraps.
And there’s sushi and dim sum in the center. You’ll find the menu on the counter.
But today, we opted to try out the amazing-looking pizzas fresh out of the honest-to-goodness pizza oven! Don’t these pies look incredible?
I couldn’t resist the white pie that smelled of delicious garlic, and for Boo we played it safe with a slice of cheese.
I should mention that pizza is sold by the pound, not the piece. This is excellent news for those of us with little ones because we can actually order only what we know our kiddos will eat (just tell them how big a piece to cut; you don’t have to order by the pound). And don’t be shy about asking them to cut the pizza into small, kid-friendly pieces for you. Those zippy pizza cutters make quick work of it; cutting those crispy crusts with a plastic knife is a slow process 🙂
Hubby wasn’t in a pizza mood (blasphemy!), so he opted for a burrito. You can find these, plus a variety of quesadillas and other items in the refrigerated case on the left side of the salad bar area. Don’t worry, there’s a microwave in the food court area so you can zap them.
Although you can pay for coffee and gelato at the counter where you order them, for pizza and other items, you pay either at the regular checkout lines or at the special checkout line in the food court. It’s easy to miss since it’s behind all the action, but look for it on the way to the kids’ play area.
Once you purchase your food, pick up any utensils, napkins, etc., you may need. There’s a water cooler too, which is great for refilling sippy cups. You’ll also find a stash of high chairs. Then head for one of the many tables or the high bar.
Boo loves sitting at the high bar (yikes), and I humor him to keep the peace. I don’t mind standing there next to him. It makes me feel like maybe I am burning some of those pizza calories.
Play area, delicious coffee beverages, ooey gooey fresh pizza–do you need another reason to check out this Whole Foods? Well, just in case, here are a few of my other favorite highlights. A make-your-own trail mix bar, a giant cheese counter where there’s always something to sample, olives galore (and more) at the antipasti bar, and of course the pastries. Mmmm. The pastries.
There’s also a candy bar.
And some non-caloric treats too.
Need to pick up a holiday or hostess gift? Check!
And there’s even a restroom equipped with a changing table. (The restroom is located at the back of the beauty section; the changing table is in the handicap-accessible stall.)
Still need a reason? Check out the tasting events every Tuesday and Friday afternoon. Especially those of you with an infant who are looking for any excuse to get out of the house (we’ve been there!)– pop that baby in the stroller and enjoy some complimentary treats. Here’s the schedule for November.
One of the many things that Mandy and I have learned since we became moms and bloggers, is that you can find family fun in some pretty unexpected places. And with its many amenities plus the practical applications–hey, why not pick up your groceries while you’re there too?– I think this offbeat outing takes the cake (and the salad, and the soup, and the pizza, and the coffee, and the burrito, and the gelato… 🙂 )
Whole Foods in Glastonbury
55 Welles Street Glastonbury, CT 06033
Phone: (860) 652-9800
Follow them on Facebook!
Get directions here:
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. seven days a week.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- The play area is always open during store hours.
- Toys include blocks, books, trucks, pretend kitchen items (pots, pans, plates, pretend food, etc.), balls, puzzles, and more.
- The store, including the food court and buffet areas, is very stroller-friendly.
- High chairs are available in the food court.
- Restroom with changing station (in handicap-accessible stall) located at the back of the beauty section.
- Just a heads-up: there are NO CART RETURNS in the parking lot. This can make it challenging to actually go grocery shopping here with little ones since you can’t always load them up in the parking lot or drop the cart in a secure place when you’re done. I’m not sure if there’s a good reason for this oversight, but it kinda bugs me.
- Don’t forget to check their Facebook page for updates on store specials, tastings and other special events.
- Did you know that Whole Foods has a section of their website devoted to FREE recipes? Get some inspiration for this week’s dinners here.
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