Lily Pad Play
2008 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45208
Engaging children through purposeful play.
Create. Imagine. Play.
That is Lily Pad Play’s tagline – and I’d agree – that’s a very fitting tagline.
Having grown up on the West side – I’ll be honest – I have no idea what part of town Lily Pad Play is in exactly and I’m sure other West Siders can relate.
It’s near Hyde Park and Norwood, down the street from the BonBonerie Bakery and on Madison Rd. It’s an area of town that is intriguing as it seems to have a plethora of personalities and the opening of this beautiful indoor play space added one more.
I’m admittedly always apprehensive when it comes to indoor play areas. The reason for that is – I have two children and they are on opposite sides of the personality spectrum. My son, Rafael, is 3.5. He’s outgoing, LOUD, wild, rambunctious, active and has a short attention span. My daughter, Lucia, is 1.5 and she is more timid, calm, and focused. It is difficult to find places to go that can entertain both personalities without me needing to essentially abandon my daughter to police my son. Parents of Spirited children..you know what I’m talking about. With that being said – let’s get into this review.
I’m going to forgo my typical heading of “PlayStructure” and simply talk about what play looks like at Lily Pad. Play isn’t an action here – it’s an experience, it’s a state of mind.
There is one small play structure here – with a Fireman’s Pole (something rarely seen at an indoor play area), a small toddler slide, a few ladders, a “fort” underneath, and a rockwall next door. It’s really geared for ages 1 to a small 3 year old. My 3.5 year old enjoyed his play on it – but his presence was overbearing for the smaller kids.
An adorable partially sectioned off baby area exists for Lily Pad’s smallest guests. It features baby toys, soft blocks, books, and a general reprieve from the chaos of the older guests.
The center of the play area is focused on “pretend play”. There is a large “house-like” structure, a kitchen, an assortment of toy food, a shopping cart, and grocery store.
There is a small train table. The tracks were in shambles during our play today – but I can’t even keep our train track together at home with 2 children – so it seems like a hopeless task with dozens coming throughout the day. May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor on that one…
There is a large open room which today was being used by kids to scoot around on little bug scooters. I’d imagine this room is used for classes and perhaps birthday parties.
The most amazing part of Lily Pad – the most unique aspect is the art section. It is both aesthetically appealing as it is practical. There is a small toddler size table for painting. The paints are in small glass containers with brushes in the center of the table. I would never have believed this would work if you described it to me – but man – it worked. Several small children rotated throughout this table while I painted with my daughter. They all shared. There was little mess. The paint was plentiful. The paper was just the right size. Whoever designed this deserves a gold medal.
On the walls of the art area – you’ll find “glass” where kids can go to town with paint. My son painted a yellow giraffe. There is also a small “general craft” table with markers, decorative hole punches, paper.
A kinetic sensory sand bin is tucked into a corner. This was a crowd favorite and there was not a moment when a child was not digging through the sand.
Visibility and Safety
Visibility is really good here. There’s really nowhere to escape to. The front reception area is gated off. The bathrooms are gated off. The room is in an “L” shape. No unguarded deflated bounce houses to get lost in here. I did not have any safety concerns here either.
Another indoor play place that gets this right. Seating for adults is rather plentiful considering the size of the establishment. Several tables for two around the borders of the play area with good visibility over the play space.
It’s not every day that I actually take pictures of the inside of the bathroom – but a few things impressed me here. They have spare supplies in case you forgot something – including diapers, wipes, and feminine products. The changing table is large and padded. They even have a potty seat for toddlers learning to potty train. The two family restrooms are steps from the play area.
3 dedicated parking spaces on the side of the building with a paid parking lot along the back of the building. Parking on a Saturday Morning for 4 hours was 4 dollars.
Food and Snacks
I wouldn’t call this place a “PlayCafe” as they don’t exactly have food service – and that’s okay – they don’t advertise themselves that way. What they do have is an adorable “help yourself” gated snack area. Each item is a dollar. They have oranges, apple sauce pouches, goldfish packs, snack bars, bananas, coffee, tea, oatmeals + more.
You are also allowed to bring in your own food – which is a huge bonus for families on a budget or with special dietary needs.
The website says they are geared for children 6 and under and I would agree with that with one statement. If your child is calm and enjoys art – they will absolutely be enthralled by this place until age 6. If, however, you have a run-around wild and crazy like I do – you quite honestly might be aged out by 4. It was increasingly uncomfortable working to keep my son from overcrowding the small kids on the play structure. My son requires big spaces with a lot of room to roam – and this area is relatively small and full of much smaller tots.
8 dollars for a child with siblings entering at a discounted rate. They also offer multi-visit passes and monthly passes as well. The monthly pass would be a great value if you lived in the immediate area and planned to visit often.
A Word of Advice
I highly suggested filling out the waiver before you arrive. I underestimated the amount of time required to complete the waiver and decided to be lazy and did not do it ahead of time. The waiver is completed on a tablet and took 5 minutes to complete the waiver for my 2 children due to some technical difficulties at the time. It can be found on their website.
The space is beautiful.
The natural lighting is amazing. Huge windows. Very hard to feel claustrophobic here.
Every staff member that we encountered was pleasant. The environment was clean – way cleaner than I can even keep our playroom at home – so props to them for keeping that up – even during a crowded time. The layout of the area is very functional, well-thought out.
They do offer several birthday party packages as well as classes.
There is a dedicated nursing area with a comfortable chair and curtain divider for privacy.
Make It an Experience
I’m all about finding ways to pack in a little bit more fun into the day and the location of Lily Pad Play makes it easy. A short stroll down the sidewalk will find you standing in front of the Bon Bonerrie Cafe. Enter the cafe and follow signs for the bakery and be prepared to walk out with a pink box full of some cookies. There are few things in life that are as exciting as seeing a child press their face into freshly cleaned glass (sorry!) to check out the tasty treats inside.
As Spring approaches, the weather warms and the rain moves in – Lily Pad Play should be added to your list of destinations to check out.