Hillsdale families, you’re in luck! The Upper Westside Play Gym just opened its doors and offers open play time on padded surfaces with super fun, age-appropriate toys for babies and toddlers, as well as Kung Fu classes for itty bitties and sign language to help you and your beloved non-talking baby communicate. Read on to find out what we discovered when we checked out this brand spankin’ new space.


photo: Nhem Photo, courtesy of Upper Westside Play Gym


The gym itself is a little tricky to find until you realize what you’re looking for. Enter the parking lot above the McMenamins pub, or just past it on the hill if you’re coming from Capitol Highway. That office building you see is your destination. When you enter  you’ll see the gym to your right, but it’s easier to go around the corner and down the hall to enter in the other door.

See and Do

Once inside, take off your shoes, hang up your coats and have a snack before entering the play area. During open play ($5, $2.50 for additional children in a family, punch cards available), gross and fine motor toys are available for exploration and play, all on a padded floor. Kids will discover tunnels, bowling pins, a big squishy mat for jumping and crawling, a fabric swing and plenty of balls. Toddlers crawl, climb, trade balls and knock over bowling pins. The room itself is modest in size, so if you’re worried about capacity, call ahead.


photo: Nhem Photo, courtesy of Upper Westside Play Gym


In addition to open play, Upper Westside Play Gym offers kids’ Kung Fu and baby sign language classes.

The family has been offering Kung Fu courses via the Westside Academy of Kung Fu for years. (It’s actually around the corner.) Classes are broken into age group, and parents are welcome to stay and watch from the other side of the mats/half-wall, or they can leave the gym during class entirely. We might be tempted to sneak away to nearby Baker and Spice for a little alone time and a treat. Call to reserve your child’s spot in one of these small classes with space for up to six kids.

Co-owner Lara teaches ASL Baby Sign Language courses on Tuesday mornings during the beginning of an open play session. The normal $5 drop-in fee gives your little one half an hour of songs, games and signs, and includes open play time after. All backgrounds and experience levels are welcome, and ages 0-36 months are able to participate. Baby Spanish classes are also starting up for your niños.


photo: Nhem Photo, courtesy of Upper Westside Play Gym

Good to Know

The space itself is small, but cute and the building itself has shared offices, so be sure your little ones use their inside voices in the halls. Also, because the space is casual, you can change diapers anywhere because the restrooms aren’t yet outfitted with changing tables – but even the most newbie parents among us are pretty comfortable whipping off that baby’s diaper when duty calls. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming parent education classes.

1509 SW Sunset Blvd.
Online: upperwestsideplaygym.com

What’s your favorite piece of active gym equipment for the five & under set? Let us know in the Comments!

— Kelley Gardiner