Your little sweetie is ready and raring to explore the world and play—he just can’t walk yet. From padded floors, soft, squishy animals to crawl over and ball pits to dig around in, there are plenty of places around Portland for kidlets to have some physical and brain-expanding fun. Here are 5 of our favorite places for tummy-timers to have their day.
photo: Chris S. via Yelp
Pull into the the West Union Village Shopping Complex for a cafe that’s made specifically for crawlers and toddlers 42 inches and under. Grab a cup of Stumptown Coffee or a panini, and enjoy a few minutes of relative peace as you view the entire play area from your comfy seat. The floor in the play area is soft, as are the playful animals your young explorers crawl on and around, including a beaver, duck and funny frog, among others. Staff cleans up the play area frequently. Crawlers can play to their hearts’ content for $4 until they get past cruising stage. Then it’s $6. Have kids over 42 inches tall? They can play with the dollhouse and kitchen outside the little ones’ play area for a $4 entry fee.
18335 NW West Union Rd.
photo: Laura D. via Yelp
Head up the escalator to OMSI’s Science Playground, an exhibit room built for kids 6 & under. In the back left corner, you’ll find an infant area that’s built for the smallest scientists. This padded space includes a ball pit, soft building blocks, and other safe toys to enjoy with a parent. Roll and shake tubes filled with small beads, or take some time to watch the fish swim by in the built-in tank. They’re not resticted to this special area, though. If your little one can sit up, you might even be able to get them started on a craft in the neighboring art room. If not, there’s always the sand box. Admission to OMSI is $13 for adults, and kids under 3 are free.
1945 SE Water Ave.
photo: by Sara F. via Yelp
Jenni and Tommy’s Kids Unplugged
Westside parents and kids alike fall in love with Jenni and Tommy’s bean pit, dramatic dress up, dollhouses, sensory toys and imaginary play. But it isn’t just the same thing every time you go. Toys and decor get switched up every few months to keep things interesting for the kids. Plunk your little explorer in the bean pit with a shovel and a bucket, let them crawl through wooden tunnels and over play structures, or set them down in the ball pit for extra hilarity. $5 is the admission for crawlers, leaving you some pocket money for the reasonably priced snacks, or feel free to bring your own (sans peanuts).
11300 SW Bull Mountain Rd.
Roseway Play Cafe
This neighborhood hangout is a great place to take your crawler if they have siblings. Not only is there plenty to do, but it’s all close enough together that you can keep an eye on everyone. And, if your little one is independent enough, you can sit at a stool overlooking the play area and enjoy a drink or a snack while the natural light streams in the windows. There is a separate area for crawlers here, with age-appropriate toys, fenced off from the rambunctious play area that includes a big play house and slide. If junior gets bored with the crawler’s area, you can always crawl underneath the play house to play kitchen or laundry, too. This play cafe is just down the road from the Gregory Heights library branch, in case you need a pick-me-up after story time. $3 lets your kids play all day, so feel free to make a return trip if you live in the neighborhood.
7135 NE Fremont St.
photo: Kelley Gardiner
One step into Dizzy Castle, and you might think you’re in the wrong place for a baby: You’ll see a huge play structure, “no outside food,” and hear the delighted yelps of big kids having big kid fun. Just look to the right, though, and you’ll find the toddler zone. Take off junior’s shoes, as well as your own, and open the door to a fully padded playland. Advanced crawlers can try making the short climb to a baby-sized slide, while the less-adventurous types can play with a bead maze or try to crawl over and around padded toys. Babies under one year get in for free, and there are even free diapers and wipes available at the front desk. Score! Mom and dad, there’s even a vegan and a gluten-free menu in the cafe.
11606 NE 66th St.
Tips: When you pack an extra pair of socks for baby, don’t forget to pack a pair for yourself, too. Most places will ask that parents follow the sock only rule, and you don’t want to be caught bare-toed.
What’s your favorite place to take your pre-walkers for play? Let us know in the comments!