Carlos Thomas, left, and Joi Heyward from Queens have dinner...

Carlos Thomas, left, and Joi Heyward from Queens have dinner together at Viaggio Italian Chop House in Rockville Centre. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Whether looking for some downtown activities, a wide selection of eateries or the perfect gift for someone special, Rockville Centre has it all. The vibrant South Shore village offers a little of everything … even dinosaurs. Here are some places to visit if spending the day in RVC.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

Center for Science Teaching and Learning

See an animatronic Ankylosaurus at the Dinosaurs! exhibit at the...

See an animatronic Ankylosaurus at the Dinosaurs! exhibit at the Center for Science Teaching & Learning Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Dinosaurs walk the earth in Rockville Centre, kind of. This learning center features robotic and skeletal life-size dinosaurs that help take visitors back to prehistoric times. There are also live animals, including goats, snakes, emus, owls and turtles. Situated on the 17-acre Tanglewood Preserve, the center offers various science education programs for children, including weekend programs and day camps during school breaks. The exhibit is $15 for adults and $12 for children up to age 12.

INFO: 1450 Tanglewood Rd., 516-764-0045, cstl.org

New York Musicians Center

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Well, this music center is a great place for aspiring musicians to start. Tuition includes two recitals, with some past performances taking place at Carnegie Hall. Weekly private lessons are available for a wide range of instruments, including piano, guitar, drums, bass, flute, violin, cello and bass, as well as voice lessons. The band program pairs musicians together based on age and musical background as students learn to work as an ensemble. "They work as a group to create a unique sound and good atmosphere to learn how a band would normally work together," says manager Corinne Minor. An introductory half-hour session is roughly $40. Monthly registration is $168 for half-hour sessions and $336 for one-hour sessions.

INFO: 325 Sunrise Highway, 516-406-8923, nymcmusic.com

Hue Studio

This fine arts academy help kids, teens and adults explore their creative side. Weekly sessions are offered in painting, sculpting, drawing and mixed media. "Come in, get smocked up, and we start whatever art project we’re doing that day and get pretty messy," said owner Laura Smith. Kids and teens classes are $115 per month for a one hour and 45-minute class per week. Adult classes are $125 per month for a two-hour class per week.

INFO: 326 Sunrise Highway, 516-226-0430, huestudioarts.com

The Backyard: An Inclusive Community

This new storefront offers daily classes as part of the Backyard Players and Friends arts-based program, which focuses on providing a social setting for young adults of all abilities. Weekly classes include sessions in art, music, yoga, photography, creative writing and more. Under a new program called Employment Connection, local businesses provide jobs to Backyard Players. The new space opened in September with the help of the community after the program lost access to local venues during the pandemic. "We were really at such a risk of losing our program because we had nowhere to go," said program director Ellen White. "We turned out to the community and asked for help and as usual in Rockville Centre, everybody showed up." Classes start at $20.

INFO: 215 N. Long Beach Rd., 516-581-2018, bypandfriends.com

Body and Brain Yoga

Clear your mind, get an energy boost, relieve stress and enjoy all the other benefits of holistic fitness. "We focus on a mind-body connection to really help become centered and relieve stress," says manager Amy Long. "So, it's not just physical exercise, it very much has to do with the sense of mindfulness." That includes classes in energy yoga, Tai Chi sessions with postures designed to improve energy circulation and flow, acupressure self-healing using a wooden pillow and workshops focusing on stress management, breathing techniques and more. A private, one-hour introductory session is available by appointment for $39. Online classes are also offered seven days a week.

INFO: 193 N. Park Ave., 516-481-2526, bodynbrain.com

FOR SHOPPING

The Giftologist

Steve Crane visiting from London, England browses items at The...

Steve Crane visiting from London, England browses items at The Giftologist store in Rockville Centre. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The full-service shop and boutique has gift-giving down to a science. Customers are guided through the gifting process to find an item that is both personal and thoughtful. "We help find what a person is looking for, and they walk out hopefully with the perfect item," says owner Kerry Punzi. That includes gifts for all ages and occasions, including clothing, personalized jewelry and engraved home décor items such as personalized slate and wood cutting boards with, for example, a family recipe etched into it. Each item also comes with free gift wrapping. "We take it from beginning to end," Punzi says. The shop also does social shopping events on Wednesday nights on Facebook Live and hosts monthly events, including honey tastings.

INFO: 37 S. Park Ave., 516-766-2296, shopthegiftologist.com

SST Custom Embroidery

"You can buy a baby gift, you can buy a bridal gift, you can buy a birthday gift for anywhere from a young kid all the way up to an adult," says owner Ronni Trutt. That includes personalized items with in-house embroidery on a wide array of items, including sweatshirts, beach bags, water bottles and much more. "If it can be personalized, we personalize it," Trutt says. The recently-expanded store also offers everything from home décor items, college merchandise and trendy sellers like Bogg bags.

INFO: 191-B N. Long Beach Rd., 516-678-0978

Lucky Finds Boutique

A shopper browsing the clothes at Lucky Finds Boutique in...

A shopper browsing the clothes at Lucky Finds Boutique in Rockville Centre.  Credit: Steven Sunshine

Find the latest designer and brand-name items at this trendy consignment boutique. "We like to think shopping with us is like shopping brand new," says owner Shannon McComb. Specializing in women’s clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories, the shop offers a wide range of in-style goods that are unique, authentic and pristine. If interested in consigning, book an appointment.

INFO: 7-A N. Park Ave, 516-442-4600, luckyfindsboutigue.com

FOR SWEETS

Polka Dot Pound Cake Bakery and Café

Pound for pound, this boutique bakery is best known for its 12 varieties of pound cake, including vanilla, vanilla chip, lemon, orange cranberry, marble crumb, funfetti and blueberry crumb, to name a few. Also available are various pastries, cookies, muffins and scones, with popular picks being the blueberry crumb muffin, orange cranberry scone and flourless chocolate ganache cake. Beverages include coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and 25 tea varieties. The cafe menu offers favorites like the chicken salad sandwich and the harvest salad, all served in a cozy, farmhouse setting. "Many customers tell me that walking into the bakery has a New England feel, or it makes them feel like they are on vacation," says owner Lisa Umansky.

INFO: 217 N. Long Beach Rd., 516-544-2253, polkadotpoundcake.com


RVC Café
This Instagram-worthy cafe offers a diversified menu with something for everyone. Serving artisan coffee, highlighted by an Italian-roast from Sicily, beverages include cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, macchiatos, americanos, drip coffee and more. The menu offers a variety of sweet crepes (one featuring a mix of strawberry, banana and Nutella) and savory crepes (Crepe Madam with eggs, ham and cheese, or the Farmers Crepe with eggs, cheddar and tomato). Dine at the rustic cafe, with seating for roughly 25 and free Wi-Fi, or grab something to go at the walk-up window. Also be sure to snap a picture with Pierre, a statue of a Frenchman that serves as the cafe’s mascot.

INFO: 263 Sunrise Highway, 516-208-5488

FOR DRINKS

Viaggio Italian Chop House

Lisa Barcia, from Queens, left, and Lorraine Wolf, from Rockville...

Lisa Barcia, from Queens, left, and Lorraine Wolf, from Rockville Centre, have drinks and dinner at the bar at Viaggio Italian Chop House in Rockville Centre. Credit: Morgan Campbell

This is not your traditional Italian restaurant. It’s also part steakhouse and cocktail lounge, providing a great atmosphere to wind down with a drink after work. There’s a full bar with an extensive wine list, specialty drinks and bottled and draft beers, plus a daily weekday Happy Hour, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., that offers $4 draft beer, $5 wine and $7 mixed drinks, along with a variety of appetizers.

INFO: 324 Sunrise Highway, 516-208-7789, viaggiorvc.com

Kookaburra Coffee Co.

This grab-and-go coffee shop has been a staple in the community for more than a decade. Specialty coffees include lattes, seasonal flavors made in-house, a three-blend cold brew iced coffee and a variety of roasts, from light to dark. In addition to the highly-popular avocado toast, the menu also includes pastries, muffin tops and bagels. A second shop opened in Malverne in 2018.

INFO: 69 N. Village Ave., 516-255-1750, kookaburracoffeeny.com

The Breakfast Club

Patrons having brunch at The Breakfast Club in Rockville Centre.

Patrons having brunch at The Breakfast Club in Rockville Centre. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Care for an adult beverage to wash down a tasty breakfast? Join the club. This breakfast and brunch spot offers 86-ounce mimosas towers for the table that can be shared while enjoying dishes such as the French toast Fondue, the B.E.C., or Chicken & Waffle. Lunch and dinner options also are available. Happy Hour, from 10 a.m. to noon on weekdays, includes $5 mimosas and Bloody Marys. Also try the Bloody Mary Garnish Tray, which offers a choice of four garnish selections, including options like blue cheese stuffed olives, cocktail shrimp and strips of bacon.

INFO: 21 S. Park Ave., 516-600-9462, thebreakfastclubrvc.com

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