Binghamton (also known as the Carousel Capital of the World, in upstate New York, was just listed on the Today Show as one of five cities to invest in real estate (check out the clip), which is good for Grandma Carmie (grandma to my daughter Clara), and it's about time. It's been a long time since Binghamton seemed to hold some promise of getting the kids to come back and set up shop after they left to go to college, but we were back there this past weekend, and saw several exciting new places (and a festival!)...
Kilmer Brasserie in the old Kilmer Building, where they made perfume ages ago, is now a really good restaurant, serving grass-fed beef and nice wines. We went with Clara, and loved it, but they would do well to add in a kids menu--since it is on the expensive side, and it's hard to see ordering your kid a $30 petite filet because they ran out of the $17 steak frites. The owners are a husband and wife team who moved to Binghamton with their son (the mom is originally from Binghamton), to seek a better quality of life, great public schools, and neighborhoods where their son could ride his bike around freely.
The other spot we discovered is L'Aveggio Artisan Coffee, in downtown Binghamton. Their coffee is fantastic, and it seems like there is hope for a gloomy downtown when a cheery and smart coffee shop opens up.
If you happen to find yourself in Binghamton (maybe on your way to the beautiful Finger Lakes?), you should check these out, and also, stop in at the TJ Maxx and Old Navy there. Nobody picks them over, and you can find Bruder trucks for $20 and super well-made athletic pants for $12 to $20 at TJ Maxx. At Old Navy, I got so much on sale -- 50 percent off the lowest price -- that we left with a bag full of things (including kids' clothes, so it was stuffed) for $35. The Salvation Army is also my secret place to load up on used ice-skates for $2, and I often find old school outerwear and shoes there.