Travelers of all kinds understand the importance of letting kids burn off steam during a family vacation. The practice wins children time to let their imaginations wander. In turn, it also keeps everyone sane.
This is precisely why we love A Place to Play here on San Juan Island in Washington State.
The facility, literally one block from the ferry slip in Friday Harbor, amounts to a REALLY COOL indoor playground. It has a variety of themed creative play areas (including one where kids can use makeshift crab pots to catch stuffed crab). It’s spotlessly clean. The employees are patient (even when a certain 3-year-old mixes water and magic sand). Heck, the joint even sells snacks. Add in the cost—$7.50 per child per hour for the first hour, a total of $7.50 per family after that—and the place is a dream.
Rules of the road at A Place to Play are simple. Most of the time, children must be accompanied by a responsible supervising adult. The grown-up can’t leave at any point in the visit. If kids want to snack, they must do so in the dinette area. That’s pretty much it.
Of course there are exceptions. Once a month, A Place to Play hosts Date Night, during which the facility brings in some additional staff to watch (and feed) kids for three hours while moms and dads enjoy some quality grown-up time. This promotion is as much (if not more) for locals as it is for tourists. Perhaps the only downside is that it’s not cheap; it will cost us $40 to send both girls there Friday.
(To be honest, though, I’d pay twice that for a few solo hours with my bride on a family trip. Especially considering our wedding anniversary is Sunday.)
The concept and set-up behind A Place to Play makes so much sense, I have to wonder why these sorts of facilities don’t exist in every city. We certainly would use them. And I bet we’re not alone.