A few years ago, I left my job as a full-time librarian to stay home with my then 2-year old and my soon-to-arrive newborn. "Self," I said to myself, "we are going to have so much free time! However shall we fill our endless days?"
I know. I mean, now I know. I'll give you a minute to compose yourself. Have a small sip of water. Breathe into a paper bag or something.
There, where were we? Ah, yes. That year, Santa brought me this wonderful book, Playdate with Denver & the Front Range. I was delighted, and since I was suffering delusions of grandeur, I had BIG PLANS. We were going to ATTACK Denver & the Front Range. We were going to MAKE MEMORIES!! And then the baby came.
Long story short, I recently found that book under a pile of other great ideas and good intentions and it is the inspiration for this series. I really don't go enough places with my kids. I still want to make those memories, and I think we're ready now. We're starting the series off with one of my very favorite places to bring my kids - and the one place we visited regularly even when I didn't really want to go anywhere.
WHERE: Apex Center Clubhouse Adventure Playground
13150 W 72nd Ave, Arvada, CO 80005
WHEN: Clubhouse Winter Hours (Nov. 1-Memorial Day)
Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-9 pm
Saturday, 7:30 am-6 pm
Sunday, 9 am-7 pm
HOW MUCH: Free!!!
This place is just great. It's fun for babies and for big kids. There are tube slides and a climbing maze. One side is designed for the toddler/preschool set, with a short set of stairs to the slide. The other side appeals to older/more adventurous kids with a longer slide that requires more climbing and scrambling to get to.
In the last year or so they've added a few features to the play area: a foam canoe that seats 2-4 kids (depending on how territorial they're feeling), as well as a ladybug and a turtle that the pre-/early walkers love to play on.
The floor is made from rubber so most kids can easily shake off a minor stumble. Kids can "pilot" a helicopter, "drive" a daisy-car in the sky, repeatedly slam themselves into foam bumpers. I mean, look how fun that is! It's pretty much your neighborhood playground - but inside and way up high!!!!
Aside from water bottles, no food or drink is allowed in the Clubhouse, but there are tables and chairs just outside if you'd like to bring a picnic. There is also a snack bar where you can find reasonably priced standard snack-food fare. Full disclosure: we've never eaten at the snack bar. We live close enough that hungry-enough-to-whine-about-food time is also going-home time.
There are cubbies for jackets and shoes - socks are required. A few plastic stacking-style patio chairs are provided for parents and caregivers, but be prepared to get comfy on a nice bit of rubber floor. There is a bathroom in the clubhouse - it has one of those adorable (but wildly impractical for normal-sized humans) preschool-sized toilets and a changing table.
As you might expect, the Clubhouse gets very busy during inclement weather. It's a fabulous place to go to play during a snowstorm or cold snap, but you won't be the only one with that idea. If lots of stir-crazy kids running around like mad isn't your cup of tea - you may want to wait for a nicer day to visit.
The Apex Center's Child Watch daycare is attached to the Clubhouse as well - during peak times you may find lots of kids and not a lot of parents. This usually isn't a problem, as the staff is supervising, but if it's really crazy-busy sometimes the older kids can get a little wild while the staff is occupied with other children.
I love this place as much as my kids do. That magazine I can't find two seconds to flip through? That knitting project I'd like to finish before Christmas? That next level of Candy Crush? Hey kids! Let's go play at the Apex! They run themselves ragged, I get at least an hour and all I really have to do is "Mom! Watch!" every few minutes. An Apex day is always a good day.
Follow me, let's go places!
Photo credit: Rob Anna, Apex Center