PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2014, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like schedules and pricing.
Thank you to Whippersnapper’s Play Gym for giving me complimentary admission to one Open Play session! All opinions are 100% my own.
There is a lot of snow out there right now. And you know what that means? It means we could really use another great indoor play place to let the kiddos burn off all that stir-crazed energy they are bound to have after yet another snow day. Am I right? Luckily, I’ve got a suggestion for you: have you been to Whippersnapper’s Play Gym in Cheshire, CT?
This destination, which offers a whole range of kids’ classes plus Open Play times, has been on my to-go list for a while, but I was having a little trouble lining up one of their Open Play sessions with an open slot in my schedule. Then, a few weeks ago, it was like the stars aligned and outing synergy was achieved! So off we went to a Thursday morning open play session (check the schedule here to see all their open play times).
From the pictures on their website, I imagined that this play gym was going to be a sort-of cross between TimberGyms, with its outdoor playscapes, and My Gym, with its tumbling and gymnastics equipment. Well, I was right! And it really is a match made in heaven 🙂
But first, logistics.
As you probably know by now, I live up near Hartford. So Cheshire is an easy drive down 91S for me. My iPhone told me it was going to take about 34 minutes, but I think it was more like 25. And I promise I did not speed!
Like a lot of indoor play spaces, this one is located in an industrial-looking building. But we had no problems finding it thanks to the prevalent signage. There is plenty of convenient, free parking in their parking lot.
Since the little guy was snoozing in his car seat, I decided to pop him in my snap-and-go stroller, and go. The only tiny obstacle was a small step up into the building, but it was hardly a problem. We wheeled right in.
You enter into this spacious area filled with comfy couches. It’s a great place to let the kiddos chill for a minute while you get settled. There are even some children’s books around.
You’ll find the sign-in table immediately to your left.
The fee for an open play session is $7/child (if the child is not walking or actively playing, there is no charge). You can pay by cash, check, or credit/debit card.
Once you check in and pay the fee, you’ll need to stash your stroller if you brought one. Not surprisingly, you can’t take it into the gym area. I stuck mine underneath the table, and that seemed to be fine.
You can, of course, bring your car seat carrier in with you, and that’s the most important part–yay for not having to wake up a sleeping baby!
If you need to make a pit stop before the play session, there is a restroom on your left just as soon as you enter. It’s got plenty of room for everyone and is well-equipped with a real changing table. So nice!
Next, it’s into the coatroom where you can stash your coats/gear/shoes. No shoes are allowed in the gym–this means you, too! Socks are optional. If your kiddos don’t have socks, but would like to wear them, you can purchase a pair for $1.
There is another restroom off the coatroom, but it does not have a changing area in it.
Also note: No food or drinks allowed in the gym area.
However, there is a small kitchen area right next to the gym area (with a table and chairs) and you are welcome to pack your own snacks and enjoy them in this area or the party room (another area that has a table and chairs). There is also a refrigerator and a microwave that you can use if needed, as well as a water cooler for free use.
I didn’t get a great picture of the kitchen, but you can see it here (with its window to the play area) in this picture of the benches that are available for seating in the gym
Okay, I think that’s it for the logistics. Ready to play? 🙂
Boo was so excited, he didn’t know what to try first. But he finally decided to try out the two outdoor-style jungle gyms (no shocker there). They are located in opposite corners of the gym. This is the smaller of the two.
And here’s the BIG one.
I don’t have to tell you that this one was a bit hit with Boo…and just about every other kid there too!
Oh, and just in case you are wondering. That’s not trash there in the corner by the twisty slide. Those containers are holding balls. Just wanted to set the record straight 🙂
In addition to the playscapes, there are so many different objects and activities here, so there’s a huge range of age-appropriate play. We saw newly-walking toddlers as well as seasoned preschoolers enjoying themselves equally (and older kids could enjoy it too; we just didn’t see any because they were probably all in school 🙂 )
I especially love when the kids can get creative and do things like create their own obstacle course.
For kids who like a quiet space (or just need a break from all the running around), there’s this cozy reading corner.
Even the little guy had some fun hanging out and watching all the action, and then flopping around on the floor (this kid wants to crawl so bad!).
If you visit in the summer months, there’s even more to do with an additional outdoor play area that contains inflatable water slides, a sandbox, a play house, etc. And it’s fully fenced-in too. It doesn’t look like much in the winter, of course.
Wait, try this. Please note: this depiction is entirely fictional and is in no way intended to represent the actual outdoor play area 🙂
This Open Play session lasted 2 hours, but Boo was exhausted after an hour and a half of pretty much constant running, climbing, sliding, and playing. I kind of had a feeling it’d be a really quiet car ride home (Boo = zzzzzzzzzzz). And it was. Ahhhhh 🙂
ph. (203) 272-4FUN (4386)
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Click here for Open Play times for the current winter term (through March 8th).
Please see the schedule on their website for the most up-to-date Open Play times.
Open Play is open to the public. There is no annual membership fee at Whippersnapper’s Play Gym.
Open Play is $7/child (per day). No charge for adults or children who are not yet walking or actively playing.
There is a discount for prepaying for Open Play sessions; purchase 10 sessions for only $45 (normally $70). Some rules apply. Ask for details.
When enrolled in a class, kids get one free Open Play session each week.
- Stroller Friendly: SORT-OF. You can definitely bring your stroller in from the parking lot (there is a tiny step up to get in the front door, but it’s not a big deal) and stash it in the sitting area. However, you cannot bring your stroller into the actual gym area. You can bring in your infant car seat carrier, but not a stroller.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: NO. No food or drinks are allowed in the gym area.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. There is an awesome baby changing area (with a real changing table!) in the restroom by the front door.
- Parking: Plenty of free parking in their lot.
- Food for Sale: NO. But there is a water cooler for free use.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES. You can bring your snacks with you, but you can’t eat them inside the gym area. You can enjoy them in the kitchen area or the party room (and feel free to use the refrigerator or microwave if needed).
- Cash Required: NO. Credit/debit cards and checks accepted for any service and any amount.
- Dress Code: Comfortable clothes for climbing and playing in, and wear or bring socks if you do not want to go barefoot (no shoes allowed in the gym area–even for adults). In the summer months, bring a bathing suit and towel because the outdoor play area has inflatable water slides.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: Sometimes there is Open Play on weekends. Check their website weekly for details. There are some classes scheduled for evenings and Saturdays as well. See website for details.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Adult supervision is required for the Open Play session (no drop-offs!). There is no supervision by Whippersnapper’s staff during the Open Play time.
- Socks are available for purchase ($1) if you forget them, but you can also go barefoot.
- Open Play time varies between 2 and 4 hours depending on the day/time; the cost per session stays the same.
- Check their website for weekend open play times.
- Whippersnapper’s Play Gym also offers tons of great kids’ classes, from gymnastics to yoga to Zumba, including drop-off classes and programs for children with their caregivers.
- Outdoor play area is open from early June to early September and includes a bounce house with 2 water slides, a sandbox, and a child’s house to play in. They also have picnic tables and a tent for shade. The area is fully fenced in for safety.
- There is no additional charge to use the outdoor play area, but they ask that you change the kiddos back into dry clothes before playing in the indoor play area.
- Whippersnapper’s Play Gym also hosts birthday parties.
Meet Our Sponsors!
- 4D Vision Gym – A vision training center located in Cromwell, CT where Dr. Juanita Collier, MS, OD and her staff show members how to utilize Vision Therapy to correct visual issues and make learning and playing easier and more fun.
- The Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School – Offers children ages three to twelve years old a free, public Montessori education implemented to the highest standards set by Association Montessori Internationale.
- Bright Horizons at Village Place – Located in Glastonbury, CT, this school is committed to giving children the skills they need to be successful and offers Kindergarten Prep and Preschool programs.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school, serves families from over 20 communities.
- Kathryn Deane Photography – A natural light photographer located in West Hartford, CT and specializing in maternity, newborn, child, family, and senior portrait photography.
- Montessori Magnet School – A NEW tuition-free magnet school located in Hartford, CT that follows Association Montessori Internationale guidelines.
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