Update 2015: This venue is no longer open. They (unfortunately) closed their doors permanently earlier this year.
Like a lot of busy moms (and dads), I often find myself lying awake at night, unable to fall asleep as I ponder 1: All the things on my to-do list that I didn’t get around to today; and 2: All the new stuff I’ll have to add to it tomorrow. So in an effort to clear my mind I sometimes try to imagine, ignoring silly little things like financing and available square footage, how I would create the ultimate playroom for my Boo. Seriously! Works every time. Nothing sends you off to dreamland quite like communing with your inner child.
What’s that? You want to know what my perfect playroom looks like? Well, I’m glad you asked. Turns out, it looks a lot like Stay and Play in Old Saybrook. Get ready to pinch yourself…
Last week it was hubby’s birthday, and we wanted to find a fun family outing to celebrate. I’d seen an advertisement for an indoor play space called Stay and Play in a pamphlet published by Connecticut Kids & Family that I’d picked up at our pediatrician’s office a few months ago. It’s located in Old Saybrook, which is a bit of a drive for us, and we’d been waiting for an opportunity to go explore.
The plan was to drive down to Old Saybrook during Boo’s morning nap time, hang out at Stay and Play for a few hours, grab a late lunch at a favorite spot up the road in New Haven, then head home just in time for Boo to catch a few more z’s before dinner (and for me to catch up on my TiVo-ed season 2 episodes of Downton Abbey–love that show!).
Google Maps told me it would take us close to an hour to get there, but in reality it was a pretty quick and scenic drive down Route 9 that clocked in closer to 40 minutes without any significant traffic.
Don’t be deterred by the fact that it completely looks like you are in the wrong neighborhood for a children’s play place. In fact, here is the sign out by the road in front of Stay and Play. Doesn’t exactly scream: bring your kids here! Does it?
This place is so huge, I couldn’t capture it entirely in any single photo. So let’s go on a little virtual tour, shall we? First, let’s drop our things at the door. Shoes are optional here at Stay and Play.
Then we pay the $8 entrance fee at the counter and proceed through the baby gate. Up front and center there’s this ginormous jungle gym than can rival the ones we’ve found at outdoor spots like Jonathan’s Dream and Rotary Park. Amazing!
Off to your left you’ll find the baby area reserved just for crawlers. If you’ve read Mandy’s post on the West Hartford Library, you know how much we love a great baby room! This one even has a sofa for mommy and daddy.
You can’t miss the genuine school bus off to the right. In addition to being just plain awesome, it also serves a pretty neat function. It’s part of the cafe seating area. Yes, this place is also a cafe where you can purchase food and beverages for both you and the kids! Now if that is not genius, I don’t know what is.
They stock a lot of the same healthy kid snacks and drinks you might have in your cupboard or fridge at home (which means that you know your kids will actually eat them). And of course there is coffee for the grown-ups. It’s served in thermal mugs so there’s no spilling or chilling. Love it.
We’ve seen these modular padded pieces before at My Gym. The kids love them.
In the back of the room you’ll find this novel twist on the traditional train table with openings so kids can pop up in the middle of the action.
I should also mention that there is a brand new game room for older kids up front. Look for the sign all the way to the left as you enter the building. The game room has different hours from the playroom, and was closed while we were there, so the pics I took were in the semi-dark and really don’t do it justice.
There are all kinds of table games including Foosball, table hockey, Skee-Ball, and basketball shooting. Check the website for more information.
Also located up front is a small toy and book store with quite a few unique finds. I feel like I am always in need of a present for one occasion or another. This is truly multitasking at its finest.
And all over there are comfy couches for weary parents to rest in. Ahhhhhhh.
So what did Boo enjoy the most? Well, he loved running up and down the ramp on the jungle gym.
He found these two colorful playthings and wouldn’t let them go for the better part of an hour. (Look at those crazy curls; time to go to Scissor Kids!)
He also loved bouncing on the trampoline (he’s such a pro now from all that practice at The Bright Spot), teetering across the mini balance beam, and playing with the trains (once we detached his spherical appendages). But mostly, he just loved the freedom to run around this giant space and explore without limitation.
Before we hit the road again, we all sat down for a little refreshment. Coffee for us, cheese crackers and applesauce for Boo.
1. Shoes are optional
2. No outside food or drink allowed
3. Food and drink must be kept in the cafe area
4. Toys are not allowed on the jungle gym
Oh, and this one. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 🙂
It has plenty of space, a real changing table, and one of those wall-mounted baby seats that you can use to secure your crawler so he or she doesn’t roll around on the floor while you change your other child or, um, take care of your own business. For a nominal fee ($1) you can even use one of their diapering kits that includes a diaper (available in a variety of sizes) and wipes. There was also a sign in the restroom indicating the availability of extra clothes.
They’ve got it all. Food and drink, diapers, wipes, extra clothes…you don’t even need to pack a diaper bag for this outing!
So the next time you’re pining for the perfect play place for your little ones, no need to wish upon a star. Just head over to Stay and Play!
Tell us: what would we find in your little one’s dream playroom?
Stay and Play, LLC
175-2 Elm Street, Old Saybrook, CT
(For Internet directions or nav systems use 175-2 Research Parkway as your final destination for best results)
Get directions here:
Hours & Admission
The playroom is open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
See website for details about game room hours.
$8 per child; no charge for adults or pre-crawlers
Hints & Tips
- The Stay and Play playroom is specially designed for children under 7, with a variety of activities to accommodate all ages and stages.
- The game room welcomes children ages 6 and up.
- Check the website for deals and specials like the $5 after school special available after 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and the $70 10-visit pass.
- Free WiFi available.
- In the summer months Stay and Play also features outdoor watersildes.
- Inquire about having your child’s next birthday party at Stay and Play.
- Visa & Mastercard accepted.
- Visit the FAQ page for more helpful information.
Spring is still 33 days away (not that we’re counting or anything). Stick with us to get through the home stretch of indoor season with more great weather-proof places to keep the kiddies happy and you sane.