Our family continues to get more familiar with Columbus each week, and one of my favorite activities so far has been trying out new play cafes on Fridays. I never knew any of these existed in Tampa (maybe they did and I just missed them), although we sure got our money’s worth with our My Gym membership. What I like about play cafes is that most of them are designed to facilitate creative, imaginative play while also offering moms and caretakers a place to grab a coffee and meet other moms. I know Shep never loved the structure of My Gym classes, and this type of open play is much more his style. The three play cafes I’ve reviewed below offer options both during the week and weekends, so they are great options for both working moms and stay-at-home-moms (or dads!) who need to burn the energy of their toddlers.
Here are three play cafes that my trusty reviewers (Shep and Beau) have tried in Columbus and what I’d recommend to get the most out of your play cafe experience.
PeaPod Play Cafe: Peapod has mostly green toys, and a wide open space with toys all across the play area. There is a large indoor playground with slides, a train station, kitchen and ice cream truck. Peapod offered plenty of options for both Shep and Beau, but there wasn’t a designated baby area. There was a section with blocks, chalk and art supplies too for some activities outside of the main play area.
Only complaint? They charged me for Beau, who can’t do much more than sit right now.
ZenKidz Play Cafe: Set in Westerville, this charming play cafe is in an old church. Right when we walked in it felt like a cozy friend’s home, and had so many options for both toddlers and babies. It was much busier than the other play cafes I had been to, but it was great because I immediately met several other moms in the area. They offer classes for kids throughout the week, and monthly passes for open play.
Only complaint? It would be tough to bring all your kids’ gear down the stairs since it’s in a basement, so pack lightly. But this one has been my favorite – the owner is extremely nice, and the coffee selection was great.
Cost: $9/child (they did not charge me for Beau)
Picadilly Modern Play: Located in downtown Bexley, Picadilly was unique in that it had four distinct play areas: a large, multi-level slide and stair play area, indoor playground, baby space, snack and coloring space, and then other rooms for arts and crafts. It was set up so that caregivers can easily spot kids playing and either participate, or relax in their couches and dining area.
They also had a large coffee and food selection, so you could easily plan to eat lunch with the kids if you’d like. We haven’t done the arts programs yet, but I’ve heard from other friends they are fantastic for toddlers. Picadilly offers options for you to drop off your kids to play so you can work or run errands as well.
Only complaint? The toy selection was more limited than the other play cafes we had been to, but there’s also something to be said for the simplicity of it. Shep had a blast “pretending” in the kitchen and with the dinosaur toys. His imagination ran wild!
Cost: $10/child (they did not charge me for Beau)
What other play cafes should we try? Do you like the play cafes we’ve tried so far?