We visited Monkey Joe’s for the first time recently with our preschool. I really didn’t know much about the place going in, and was worried that my kids were too young to really enjoy it yet. I was wrong. I was very please to find that they have an area strictly for kids 3 and under. I was also very happy that adults and parents can assist children younger than age 4 on any of the equipment, as long as no adults are jumping. It was really hard not to bounce.
For those of you who are unaware, Monkey Joe’s is an indoor inflatable playground for kids chock full of slides of many different sizes and lots of other equipment to play on/in. The area designated for younger kids even has props for learning letters and numbers. Fun and educational! One of our twins wasted no time and jumped right in. When he was tired of the area for the younger kids he went on to conquer the larger slides and play areas. His brother took some warming up to it all but eventually came around and a good time was had by all.
The place is very colorful and plays music for all to enjoy. It really is the perfect place to let you kids run off some energy on a cold winter day OR even a hot summer one. There is a snack bar offering things like hot dogs and pretzels. If you don’t need to watch your older kids as much as I do, you can sit down and enjoy the large screen TV or use the computer stations. And of course, they have several large party rooms with different party options to suit everyone’s needs. I am really considering having the boy’s 2nd bday party there in May. There is a small cover charge for kids to play but it is well worth the cost.
A few weeks ago I purchased some Open Gym passes for my boys from livingsocial.com. I was able to get several passes for each at ½ the regular price. Too good to pass up! Today we went to check out the Midlothian location for the first time, just back from the corner of Midlothian and Huguenot. It’s basically a large, colorful room full of padded equipment for kids to climb, jump on, hang from, tumble and run around like wild animals.
We were the only people there at first and it was nice to have the run of the place. They ran from thing to thing, sometimes stopping in route to dance to the music that plays at all times. They were able to be as loud as they wanted and I wasn’t worried about them falling and getting hurt. Like I said before…everything is padded. They spent lots of time shooting hoops, jumped on the trampoline, dangled from the monkey bars (I didn’t even know they could do that at this age), went down the slide countless times and climbed on top of everything that was stationary. When they tripped and fell they bounced right back up off of the padded floors. I don’t think that one tear was shed in the hour that we were there, which is a huge accomplishment for two clumsy boys.
Our passes are for the designated Open Gym times, but there are also several different class options for varying ages and interests. Our boys enjoy music so much that I am most likely going to sign them up for the class called Tumble Tunes. They also offer art classes, adventure classes and summer camp for children between the ages of 2 and 6. And like most places geared towards young children, you can even rent the space for birthday parties. There are several locations in the Richmond area, and you can try any class for free. I know that we will be going more frequently once it’s too cold to play outside. http://www.rompnroll.com/
With just a week to go before the arrival of baby #3, the boys and I have been trying to stay close to home. So this week I finally took them to a park that I have literally driven past hundreds of times. It’s actually attached to the Westover Hills Methodist Church, and they are gracious enough to allow the public to use it. What a great find it was for us. It is nicely shaded, completely fenced in and FULL of toys and fun things.
When we first arrived the boys literally stood in place for what felt like 5 minutes taking it all in. I am not sure they knew where to start. There are 4-5 jungle gyms with slides and swings for all ages. There are several play houses, a wooden fire truck to climb in and on, and a large covered sand box. My personal favorite was the see-saw which is sturdy enough to hold a parent and child on each end. They loved it! Did I mention the toys? My boys are at the stage where they love toys that can be pushed around. I lost count of how many lawn mowers, vacuums and ride-in cars they found. It was a dream come true for two very happy one year olds. It was great for me because I could sit on one of the many benches or tables and see them, and not feel like I had to constantly run after them. There were also plenty of child-sized picnic tables which would be great if I decide to pack a lunch and bring it with us next time.
Whether you live in this area or just happen to be passing by, this park is located on the corner of Westover Hills Blvd and New Kent, just over the Nickel Bridge from Maymont. Both times that we have been it was full of very friendly parents and kids. Now I only wish that we lived close enough to walk. If you ever decide to stop by, I will most likely be the only one there with the 3 boys under the age of 2.
It took us several months, but we finally made it out to the new Children’s Museum in Short Pump this week. If you haven’t been, it is located right next to Whole Foods on the first floor of one of the many new buildings in the area. I didn’t notice any parking designated for the museum but we easily found a spot on the street nearby. It was already quite busy when we were arrived and the boys were anxious to get out of the stroller and explore. I am thankful that my new mother’s helper/babysitter, found on Sitter City, was along to help because as soon as we put them down they were off in different directions.
Unlike the downtown location, CMoR Short Pump is mostly just one long room filled with exhibits. There is a very small enclosed area for babies and young toddlers, but if your kids are able to climb they can easily get out, so be prepared to get some exercise following them around. We spent a good bit of time playing in the Dig Pit looking for buried treasure. I’m not quite sure what it was filled with but it was not sand and the boys did not like the way that it tasted. Lesson learned. There were lots of new things for them to explore, but their favorites seemed to be the veggie garden, the Merry Berry Bush and the Magic Beanstalk Climber. They really wanted to get in on the Water Play, but the tables were a bit too high for them to do more than reach over and get their hands wet. They also loved the large fish tank near the entrance. And don’t let me forget the Wild Safari Train in the middle of the room. It looked like fun and I assumed that they would love it. They seemed to until a loud lion’s roar scared them to tears. Maybe they are a little too young for the train and they were definitely exhausted at this point. All of the other kids really seemed to love it so we will have to give it another try. I know that my boys enjoyed the visit overall because we had to drag them out of there kicking and screaming.
I was very pleased with our first visit to the Short Pump CMoR. It was very clean and the exhibits were fun. There were some things that we didn’t even get a chance to explore because we ran out of time, so we will definitely go back again soon. If you already have a membership like we do, you don’t have to pay extra to visit the new location. It’s well worth it if you visit either one as much as we do. Please visit their website and plan a trip soon. www.ChildrensMuseumOfRichmond.org