From Our Editors
Instead of playing lifeguards at the edge of one gigantic ball pit, the founders of HappyNest Play Centers decided to specialize, planning the space to accommodate a range of ages. Recently awarded two Golden Teddies from ParentMap for best indoor play space and birthday party venue, the founders installed a large pit for toddlers and kids up to age 6 in one area and a baby-appropriate pit in another, allowing for safe plunges through the cascading spheres.
Separated ball pools are just one example of how the center caters to the development and whimsy of different age groups. Its indoor playground is divided into two separate spaces, one of which elicits giggles from newborns to 18-month-olds with fun foam objects and an activity table. The second is meant for toddlers and kids up to age 6 and features a slide, toy cars, bouncy balls, and other tools for honing basic motor skills. HappyNest Play Centers also has theatrical costumes, crafts, and model trains to engage children's imaginations. Parents have cause to smile, too, while enjoying coffee and nibbles from the snack bar and surfing free WiFi.
Owner Amy Gillette oversee the duo of recreational zones as part of an effort to encourage community and personal growth in their young visitors. In addition to open-play sessions, these efforts also extend to the centers' scheduled activities. During art, music, and dance classes, students learn to love the arts through engaging, supervised activities. In addition to introducing kids to these artistic fundamentals, classes also help students build confidence, socialize with peers, and practice language and motor skills.
For each private birthday gathering, they decorate a party room in the guest of honor's chosen theme. Past designs have ranged from Dora the Explorer and Super Mario to more general motifs, such as butterflies, trains, and caterpillars that metamorphose into trains with wings. As custom party extras, face painters can color cheeks with glittery pictures, and clowns can make balloon animals for the attendees.