Toddler-centric indoor play spaces have become the rage in the Rochester region in recent years.
Just last week, the area’s newest indoor playground — The Circle Play Cafe — opened on Fairport Road, just west of Perinton Park. The spot is one of four such businesses to open in Monroe County this year.
The indoor play cafes are attractive to young families because children can run and play in an enclosed, safe space while caretakers look on (and sip coffee,) without having to constantly trail their toddlers.
The indoor play ground trend sparked locally in 2016, when Michele Caruana opened Climbing Vines Cafe and Play in Victor. While her cafe continues to flourish and a second Climbing Vines opened in Gates over the summer, Caruana said she now also helps others open similar businesses though her Play Cafe Academy, an online program and guide to setting up an indoor playground and cafe.
Here’s more about some local spots, most of which charge a daily fee. Price varies based on child’s age and day of play:
Climbing Vines Cafe and Play
The original Climbing Vines, 7217 State Route 96 in Victor, features a miniature play village — featuring a bakery, a post office, a house and a tailor shop. There’s a toddler-sized train table, a ball pit, slides and other toys.
There’s also a designated play space for infants who may not be big enough to mingle with older children.
The 2,500-square-foot cafe opens at 9 a.m. on weekdays and closes at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturday hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Climbing Vines Westside Play
A second Climbing Vines opened in June at 3240 Chili Ave, and is a popular storefront in a busy plaza.
Like the original Victor Climbing Vines, the Chili location has a play village in a gated area. This 3,600-square-foot spot features a toddler-sized animal hospital and retro camper, said owner Brie Spuck of Chili, the mother of four children. There’s a train table, slide, small market and numerous sensory toys.
There’s a separate, secured play space for infants and a 1,000-square-foot special events room that’s used for parties as well as classes for parents and children.
The cafe is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fridays and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
The Circle Play Cafe
The 2,800-square-foot space at 1276 Fairport Road is designed for children six and younger, with four separate play areas.
There’s a special events/craft room; a play room for older kids with a climbing wall, balance beam and jungle gym; the main play space has a train table, slide, log cabin as well as dozens of sensory toys. There’s also a small area for infants.
The cafe also hosts special classes including toddler yoga and American Sign Language for caregivers.
Co-owners, Caitlin Hummel and Ashley Power, met in a prenatal yoga class about four years ago and opened the cafe “to create a place to stimulate children, while also providing a place where parents can relax and meet and connect with one another,” said Hummel, a Fairport resident.
“We love all of the play places in the area, but wanted to focus more on creating a community here, with parents joining our circle,” she said.
The cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and also from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
This 2,500-square-foot space opened in January on the backside of Whitney Town Center, 650 Whitney Road, Perinton.
Sisters Alicia Drury and Jessica Buckpitt, both Penfield residents, opened the spot, in part because they wanted to fulfill a need for young families after The Sandbox, another indoor playground closed after a decade in the community. The sisters, who are mothers to school-age children, said they offer activities and toys that their own children have loved.
The main cafe features a toddler-sized loft, a wooden play set with slide, a miniature play kitchen, trampolines and a train table. There’s also a “whoosh wall,” where children place a scarf or ball of yarn in tubing that sends the item through the tubes attached to the wall and into the air, Drury said.
The cafe also has a separate play space for infants and young toddlers to play and a feeding room that doubles as a quiet retreat for infant feeding.
The business opens on weekdays at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 2:30 p.m. every weekday except Wednesdays, when the business closes at 7:30 p.m. It is also open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ontario Play and Cafe
This 14,000-square-foot indoor play space at 1861 Scottsville Road in Chili is geared toward elementary-aged children, but still offers some activities that will appeal to families with younger children.
The business opened in 2015 and features a pirate-themed indoor playground, a water sensory table, a sand box, block building construction area, a spot with pedal and push cars and a separate play space for infants and young toddlers.
Tip: Bring a change of clothes if you plan to splash at the water table.
The business opens at 10 a.m. every day except Wednesday (when it is closed all day) and closes at 5 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, at 6 p.m. on Fridays and at 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
Pure Imagination Cafe
This Gates business, which opened in September, is a restaurant with a play space for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers and book nook for older children, said Lisa Brunson, who owns the cafe with her husband Chris, a local veterinarian.
Unlike most other play cafes in the area, Pure Imagination at 2997 Buffalo Road, is an eatery with breakfast, lunch and dinner options that houses an additional (free) play space for patrons and their families.
The designated play space within the cafe measures about 400 square feet and includes a play kitchen, a dollhouse and other sensory toys for infants. The cafe also holds free story time sessions, crafts and other activities.
It’s open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Hours change seasonally at some of the play cafes, so be sure to check hours before visiting your cafe of choice.