Where: Play and Learn Cafe, Minnetonka
Age of Bap Boy: 2.5
Review: Play and Learn Cafe is a new business that comes closest to the types of kid-friendly spaces I experienced in both Seattle and Chicago. Perhaps if I had never experienced Romp in Seattle or Explore and Much More in Chicago, and a few other amazing places in both cities, Play and Learn Cafe would have knocked my socks off a bit more. However, compared to all of the kid spaces in both Seattle and Chicago, this place takes last place. Sadly, it's pretty much the only place of its kind in the Twin Cities. We are sooooooo behind with cool indoor kid places in the Twin Cities, which is a shame since we have the longest winters EVER. I know Chicago is a bigger city and to some extent, you could argue Seattle is too...but in general, we are big enough to have more kid-centric play spaces that are also a pleasure to be in for the parent/guardian of the child.
So, given that this is the first attempt here, I would say "Good job! Good effort!" The website indicates that they are continually trying to improve the space, which is good. On our visit there, I could see some obvious areas of concern. For example, the little black pieces in the truck area mimicking a sandbox, but not filled with sand, instead filled with tar-like black pieces were EVERYWHERE. Clearly keeping those pieces in the right area was not happening, and kids are not being monitored enough to ensure they keep that stuff in the "sandbox" only.
Also, I was annoyed that some parents just sat in the cafe as their children played...destructively. One 4-year-old girl kept throwing larger toys down the big slide, making it somewhat of a hazard for any young kid standing at end of slide. The parent of said child didn't get up and intervene until much later than ideal which was super annoying.
The baby only area was really cute, and though a sign says only for kids under age 1, many pre-schoolers and toddlers (including my own) wanted to play in the space and it was kind of hard to convince them not to since the baby space even had a tiny little ball pit. I guess they're putting up baby gates soon, or already have (according to their website in July 2015) so that's good.
Finally, my other reason for not going here often is the location. It's pretty far from where we live, but for those in this area, yay! You have something that is better than nothing on another cold day in March where you and your kids feel stir crazy and you're so DONE with winter but it's still 30 degrees out in Minnesota. For many of the rest of us Twin Cities residents, this is kind of a long jaunt across "town" for a space that could continue to use some improvement.