Burn off the rainy-season blahs at Hillsboro’s new indoor playground, Ocean Plays.
My family got hit hard by this winter’s respiratory plague. My 7-year-old daughter, Adela, is the only one of us who didn’t get sick. So once I started to feel a little better, I took her to the new Ocean Plays indoor playground to burn off the energy from being cooped up with her sick family.
Now Adela is sometimes a little hesitant to try new things, especially without her little bro, Cruz, to back her up. But I had barely finished signing the waiver before she was kicking off her shoes and running into the maw of the giant play structure.
The storefront of Ocean Plays is not huge, but the play structure takes up the majority of the footprint. There’s also a party room, and seating and tables for adults to hang at while their kids run wild in the structure. (And there’s free WiFi.) The two gender-neutral bathrooms conveniently have step stools at the sinks and potty seats available to put on top of the toilets, which I know I would have totally appreciated when my kids were at the potty-training stage. One of the bathrooms also has a diaper changer.
Although the place was super busy, I was able to easily find a table with a good view of much of the action happening in the structure. I caught glimpses of Adela as she fired foam balls from an air-cannon, swung on something that looked like a padded battering ram, and slid down a bumpy slide into a ball pit. That ball pit was her favorite, and she slid down, submerged herself in plastic balls, and clambered back to the top of the slide over and over again. After about 45 minutes she came out, found me and asked if I had any water. (She never takes a voluntary water break!) I handed her the water bottle I had brought, and she slurped away. I asked her what she thought of the structure so far. “The whole thing is like a maze,” she said. “You see where you want to go, but there’s only one way to get to it.” And then she ran back in.
Her next time in, she made a friend, and I watched as they gleeful jumped into the ball pit holding hands. (I did have to remind Adela to watch out for the littler guys in the structure, especially when she was in the ball pit.) Pro tip: Parents can go into the structure, and it’s probably a good idea if your kiddo is under 3. Bigger kids weren’t exactly mowing over littler ones, but they also weren’t necessarily taking care either. If you have no desire to head into the structure, I’d say the really sweet spot for Oceans is 3 ½ to 7 years old. (Even though kids up to age 12 are allowed to play, I could see Adela aging out in a year or two.) Then you could even bring a laptop and use that free WiFi to get some work done while your kids wear themselves out.
And Adela did wear herself out, coming back out again pink-cheeked and thirsty. She gratefully scarfed down the Honest juice box and baked Cheetos I had purchased for her from the small snack bar. I asked if she thought her brother would like Ocean Plays and if we should bring him when he feels better. She said yes and immediately started trying to negotiate an exact return date — always the sign of a truly good time.
Before You Go:
1001 SE Tualatin Valley Hwy., A24., Hillsboro. Oceanplays.com. Sunday-Thursday, 10 am-7:30 pm. Friday-Saturday, 10 am-8:30 pm. Weekdays, ages 1-3: $5; ages 4-12: $8. Weekends, ages 1-3: $6; ages 4-12: $10. Membership and multi-visit passes available.
Editor Denise Castañon is so glad she has passed the potty-training and going-into-play-structure stages of parenting.