You're away (perhaps far, far away) from home, the weather is crap, and the littles are bored out of their wee minds. What's a parent to do? Well friends, let me tell you about a little something that I had NO IDEA even existed before having kids. Behold.... indoor play places!! AKA "soft play" zones.
- Amazing, eye-popping play structures and soft toys for little kids
- Extremely generous business hours
- Low cost (max I've seen is €5.50)
- Refreshments for all
- Comfy spaces for grown-ups to congregate or just zone out
- Secure entry & exit
- Free WiFi
- Germ factories. I've seen some nasty stuff.
- Super loud
- Lots and lots of wild, unsupervised kids
So far we've played at Europark Indoor at Vias Plage (France), Chuckies Playzone in Cork (Ireland), The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty (Ireland), and today we visited The Treehouse in Skibbereen (Ireland). What a cool spot. Let's begin there...
Address: Marsh Road, Skibbereen, Co. Cork Ireland
Phone: 028 48264
This is the favorite so far. It's smaller than the others, resulting in a more laid back, social environment for all. Also, their snack bar was top notch, jam packed with the types of healthy snacks & trusted brands I typically have in my handbag at any given time. The other parents were friendly and chatty, and the cappuccino wasn't bad either!
Aside from having to diffuse a particularly rough little boy-in-blue (not mine), it was a lovely afternoon. We'll definitely be back.
Address: The Station, Inchydoney Road, Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland
Phone: (023) 8833224
Upon hearing that this local attraction had a soft play area for the kids, of course we had to check it out! We arrived on a rainy day, so The Goober was less than thrilled about walking the footpath through "someone's hobby gone nuts" (quoting aunt Sue there!)
This being my first model village, I was quite impressed by the level of detail achieved. The artists have recreated miniature versions of Clonakilty and several surrounding villages, complete with model castle ruins and great attention to topography. Pretty cool.
Anyway, on to the play area. It's no more than a slightly glorified McDonalds play place. An afterthought. But clearly the main attraction for the cluster of local moms and their littles fresh out of school for mid-term.
We hung out for an hour or so, letting the boys get their wiggles out. The model village also has a cafe inside an old train car, outdoor play area, lots of info on Ireland's rail history and gift shop.
Address: Route Farinette, 34450 Vias, France
Phone:+33 4 67 30 71 06
Europark Indoor boasts "the biggest indoor play space in Europe". I believe it. It's well equipped and the kids had an absolute BLAST! However, it was a bit too big for my taste. I like to be a little more aware of what my 3 year old is up to than this cavernous space permits. Once you're safely inside the security gate, the kids run free and there's a good chance you won't catch more than a blur of their little bodies zipping around for a while.
A couple things to note that were unique to Europark:
- First and foremost, it is absolutely MASSIVE. Like, holy sugar high Batman. Note the floor to ceiling volcano. Speaking of sugar...
- They have a candy station front & center. Now, I don't have anything against candy in moderation, but I bring my kids to burn off steam; not to continually refuel them and stay there all flippin' day... oh, wait...
- Adults who choose to smoke can retreat to a glass walled smoking room. I'm just gonna refrain from commenting further here :b
- Adults who choose to drink alcohol can purchase beer and wine alongside their kids mini pizza or chicken nuggets.
... I did mention this is France, yeah?
Address: Doughcloyne Industrial Estate, Sarsfield Road, Wilton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Phone: (021) 434 4112
Chuckie's is somewhere in between The Treehouse and Europark. Imagine a scaled-down Europark without the smoking box, booze and overall sense of complete mayhem. They also have a super fun vacuum system that shoots balls. Definitely the star attraction.
Overall, indoor play spaces are magical. The kids LOVE them, and once I'm finished bathing them in hand sanitizer, the car ride home is tranquil and everyone sleeps well that night. Totally worth €5.