When I was pinning ideas for my indoor playground, I came across dozens (perhaps hundreds!) of amazing ideas, and just could not incorporate them all. After owning my play cafe for over 3 years now, I may be a little biased, but I still think our play area is the bees-knees! I want to share a few of the ideas that made the cut, and a few I wish we could incorporate that I think you and your customers will enjoy as much as I do.
The priorities for me are cleanliness, inclusivity, and accommodating different ages (and abilities!).
At Cafe O’ Play in Ohio, the owners have hung a few handmade “sanitation stations” around their facility. Not only does this encourage customers to sanitize their hands and any equipment they’ve used, but it also puts the parents’ minds at ease knowing that cleanliness is a top priority. As an added bonus, the unique sanitation stations bring a personal touch to their business.
The Little Red Barn Indoor Playground in California is themed as-- you guessed it, a little red barn! The “farmhouse” theme is incorporated everywhere in the business, from the signage to the play equipment to the party room. Having a fun, consistent theme throughout your play cafe will help to cement your business in the minds of parents and children alike.
At City Treehouse in New York City, a water table is the center of their play area. They have dozens of different toys and tools for the children to play with, and parents love that they’re incorporating different senses into their play.
You don't necessarily need to include water in a sensory-friendly play center, though. You can also include a textured wall, a light up floor, or even a balance board to cater to those looking for a fun sensory-friendly experience
Pod 22 in Miami boasts an interesting and engaging climbing structure that constantly has their customers raving and returning for play. While play spaces that focus solely on imaginative play certainly have their space in the marketplace, incorporating gross-motor structures allows children to expel some energy and will help diversify your space. Plus, having a large structure means less small toys you’ll constantly be picking up! Since these can be expensive and take a long time to design, be sure you begin the research process early to ensure your pieces will be ready to go on opening day.
I know I said we’d be discussing other indoor play centers for this article, but I just have to boast for a moment about our play cafe’s baby area at Climbing Vines Cafe and Play. The plexiglass gate is perfect for parents who have both a young child and an older one because they can see through the gate to ensure both kids’ safety.
This area is especially sought-after during our busiest months when toddlers and preschoolers are running wild. The smaller crawling children benefit from their own protected space.
These are just a few ideas that have remained in my mind over the years that I believe would make a wonderful addition to any indoor play space business. Though I wasn’t able to incorporate all these ideas, I am considering adding them to future additional locations.
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