Yes, NYC is packed with play spaces aplenty, but sometimes you and the kids might just want to switch it up, or get out of town, or….go shopping at some seriously mega big box stores and outlets. The Elks Place Indoor Playground, a loaded and clean play space in Harriman, New York, is just the place to head if any or all of that sounds appealing.
Welcome to the ‘Burbs!
We know, you don’t want to live in the suburbs — but they’re a nice place to visit!
Harriman is about 90 minutes from NYC (yes, you probably are going to need a car) and one of its big draws is the Woodbury Common premium outlet, home to 220 outposts of stores ranging from trés fancy to reliable basics. Armani, Brooks Brothers, Celine, Balenciaga 7 for All Mankind, Chloé, Lululemon, J. Crew, Crocs, Crewcuts, ecco, Gap Kids, Gymboree, Carter’s, catimini, Fendi and Dior are just a few of the brands represented here.
Additionally, the area also offers big big shopping at its best, with sprawling (yes, almost obscenely so) Target, Wal-mart, Home Depot locations that offer a incredibly civilized experience compared to their urban counterparts to the south.
Our point: a jaunt to Harriman can be for play and practical reasons (and yes, some retail therapy if you need it).
The Elks Place
No, The Elks Place doesn’t look much from outside; it’s located in a strip mall with typical companions like a nail salon and a doctor’s office.
But cross the threshold and you enter a crazy kid wonderland. A giant smiling tree greets guests, and behind it a massive, multi-level, technicolor indoor playground awaits.
It’s clean, well-lit, and — at least on the day we visited — happening but not crazy over-crowded. Note: the spot was hosting two birthday parties at the time, and we still felt there was ample room for all.
Fun For All Ages
The multi-tiered play gym and its attached zones (probably best for kids four and up) are the real heroes of The Elks Place, but little ones get a fair amount of space to play as well. A front area features large soft blocks for climbing and building, as well as a mini slide, and another corner provides more low-impact fun in the form of more blocks a padded incline for scaling and another, slightly larger double slide.
More Than Meets the Eye
The towering playground is so efficiently designed and loaded with diversions, nooks and crannies, it takes a while to even find all of them.
Kids scale padded ramps, navigate narrow passageways, turn wheels, shoot down slides (one spiral, the other long with bumps, both really fun) and even sneak into a secret hiding place in the big friendly tree.
Those who fancy themselves like Spider-man will love the uncommon “spider web” configuration: a vertical series of “webs” made of strong but flexible bands that kids can climb up or drop from one to the next until they reach ground level.
Not at Your Local Play Space
Something you won’t find at the play space in your ‘hood is the indoor cage outfitted with air cannon ball blasters, which sounds scary but is actually very fun. (The balls are super soft.)
Kids can try to hit bullseyes across the space or land a ball into the shelter of an “opponent”; send balls skyward via a central air shoot; release a shower of balls caught by an elevated basket and more.
For the kid who really loves to get dizzy, two circular, walled and padded seats (a la an amusement park car) can be found at the opposite end of the space for high-speed spinning, powered by parents’ elbow grease.
Snacks and Relax (and free WiFi)
A fairly large, brightly-lit and colorful sitting and eating area provides a place to fuel up (and for parents to take advantage of the free WiFi).
While you won’t find any gourmet offerings here, the menu is fairly extensive and does offer some healthy options as well. Choose from pizza, chicken strips, nachos, fries, mozzarella sticks and more snack bar faves, as well as fresh fruit and a veggie platter. Juice, coffee, soda, water etc. is also available and nothing is outrageously priced.
The Best of Both Worlds?: Drop & Shop
The Elks Place is a perfectly fun place to hang out with the kids, and a serious perk is that adults can accompany kids on the many levels of the play structure — including going down the slides. (That’s how we know both are quite thrilling.)
However, The Elks Place also offers a “Drop & Shop” option: for $25.95, you can leave the kids under the watchful eye of staff for two hours while you hit the stores, outlet or otherwise. The indoor playground’s mascots, “Elko” and “Elka”, often make appearances during this time.
If you like, you can take advantage of the complimentary shuttle that operates between The Elks Place and Woodbury Common. The Drop & Shop option is available for potty-trained kids ages four to 14, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling 1-844-355-7752.
Regular rates are $15 for children under four years of age, and $18 for those four and older.
A final bonus: all kids get a small toy from a glass case on the way out. We have to say — nice touch.
The Elks Place
95 Maher Ln.
Have you visited The Elks Place? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
— Mimi O’Connor