The Big Dark is here, which means our annual scramble for warm, dry places to play is on.
We went to check out a newer spot, The Ridge Activity Center in Bothell, and boy, did it deliver. It’s a clean and fun place to burn off kid energy, and there’s so much to do.
Lots to do
There’s a humongous climbing structure, a toddler-only zone and laser tag for older kids. The sand and water tables alone will keep little kids entertained close to forever.
When you get hungry, there’s a reasonably-priced restaurant on site with a kid-friendly menu (think PB&J, pizza, hot dogs). Family restrooms are right next to the play area.
Everything you need under one roof. Plus there’s a coffee stand in the parking lot.
Admission to the climbing jungle costs $12 per hour, $5 per hour for the toddler zone, and laser tag is $20 per hour per player. The basketball and (outdoor) pickleball courts run $15 per hour. Hot tip: Follow The Ridge on social media where they announce specials.
Also, letting your kid dig into the glittery soft sand that is not at your house is worth the price of admission alone.
The only problem with this place? Staying for just one hour! My kids couldn’t get enough.
Church-owned, open to the public
The Ridge is a ministry of Park Ridge Community Church and it’s open to the public. The church owns the building, the activity center is run like a business. The only sign of the church’s connection inside the play area was a brochure tucked into a rack.
Everyone is welcome, and all the activities are drop-in, no reservations are required. There’s plenty of free parking in the giant church lot. The Ridge marked its one-year anniversary this month, and the play equipment isn’t showing any wear.
For your first visit, you’ll need to sign a waiver, which is easy to do on the two laptops set up next to the check-in counter. Everyone must wear socks. If you’ve forgotten your own, you can buy a Ridge pair for $5. No outside food is allowed.
When you finish checking in, you’ll get a sticker with your expiration time Sharpie-ed on it. Then it’s off to play!
Huge climbing structure
The highlight of The Ridge is the giant climbing jungle. There are countless levels, rooms, obstacles to explore, and even a genius climbing-wall-video-game hybrid.
The Webolator, another climber, sits alongside the main jungle gym. Kids squeeze through a web of elastic bands to enter and climb through more bands to reach upper levels.
There are no age or weight restrictions. Based on the kids we saw, the prime audience is preschool- through early-elementary-age, though my 11-year-old had a blast.
The green twisty slide is very fast, and the orange twisty slide is even faster. Ask me how I know.
Adults play too
It’s perfectly okay for caregivers to crawl into the climbing jungle … or to sit off to the side and enjoy the free Wifi or an interruption-free conversation with other adults. There’s only one way in and out of the play area, so it’s easy to keep track of your charges.
On a recent day off from school, The Ridge was packed with kids having fun. It can be too rowdy for the timid ones. We saw some sweet older kids who climbed down to find help for a little boy crying at the top. If you want a quiet experience, plan your visit for a weekday morning (that is not a school holiday).
Safety in mind
The beams and walls near the climbing jungle are all reassuringly padded. There are pool noodles covering the edge of the counter, so littles won’t bonk their heads. Someone with kids designed this place!
The toddler play zone is dedicated to kids under age 2 only. Yay! A soft, safe place where babes can crawl on the ground without fear of being trampled.
The laser tag is located downstairs, where up to 12 players at a time can use the tactical laser tag field. Playing with guns, even toy guns, makes me queasy, so we skipped laser tag.
You’ve got your choice of fun activities at the Ridge, go with what fits your crew the best.
If you go...
Activity Center hours: Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Cost: $12 per hour or $18 for 2 hours in the climbing jungle; $5 for the toddler zone and $20 per player for laser tag. Caregivers enter free with paying children. Remember to wear socks or pay $5 to purchase a pair.
Snack time: No outside food is allowed, but a café with a sizeable menu and kid-friendly snacks is there onsite.
More indoor play ideas: