by Vicky If you are looking for a place where your kids can burn off some energy on a rainy day, you must check out a Gymboree Play & Music. They offer developmental classes for kids ages 0-6 years, but they also have lots of drop in sessions for free play, and it's nearly impossible not to have a good time here.
Kids can play on many different structures, slides, rocking horses, bounce on huge inflatable tubes and balls, shoot some basket balls, hide in nooks and crannies, or under parachutes and in tunnels. The boldly coloured equipment is rearranged every two weeks, so it's always different. There are baskets of bean bags, balls, bells and other toys to play with too. Upbeat and lively music is always kept on. Basically it's a juiced up indoor playground that's better than any trip to the candy store. The equipment, toys and bathrooms are also cleaned and sanitized nightly. The only thing missing is a coffee bar for parents, but with a Tim Hortons around the corner you could always bring a coffee with you.
I have to say, I'm slightly biased because I used to work at Gymboree. But I've met many friends and their kids there for playdates and it's been pretty unanimous that the kids love it and are sufficiently worn out by the time we leave. It's well worth the $8! If you join Gymboree, you can attend as many Play gyms as you want as part of the $40 membership.
I would say that the Playgyms are ideal for children 10 months - 5 years. You don't need to worry if they aren't walking yet, because most of the equipment is padded and is really great for developing gross motor skills. Joel was a late walker, so the bumpy ramps and slides were great for helping him build up strength in his legs and also confidence. By the time Joel turned 3, he had pretty much exhausted all that Gymboree had to offer, but that was partially due to the fact that I worked there and he got to enjoy playing several times a week, on top of his weekly class.
The schedule changes seasonally, so you should check it out often. If you are looking for a little more structure, you can always sign up for a free 45 minute class. When you do check out a Playgym, make sure you ask for a Gymbo stamp on your way out the door!
Gymboree is located in Orleans, but it's not easily visible from Innes Road (I missed it the first time I tried to go). It's tucked in behind Stereo Plus.
And here's a tip - once your kids have experienced Gymboree, you won't be able to drive by it without them insisting that you go in and play!
Vicky is mom to a 3.5 year old boy Joel and nine month old girl Mieka. She also blogs at Some kind of Wondermom.