Another indoor play space has recently opened, and it’s testing a different model. Owner and creator of ROMP, Anne Deenenzo, dreamed of a space that would be comfortable and appealing to both kids and their caregivers; a multi-purpose area that could accommodate play, meal times, parent time and socializing for both adults and kids.
Deenenzo’s dreams materialized into ROMP, an inviting 4,200-square-foot space where children can tinker with toys (mostly made from wood and other environmentally-friendly materials); parents can read (various mags supplied by ROMP) or catch up on work (free WiFi); and all can enjoy a meal together in the crisp, modern kitchen that boasts full amenities and is stocked with snacks and high chairs.
Though most of the toys are geared towards children ages 0–5, older kids are welcome to read, socialize, do arts and crafts or even homework (there’s a “quiet room” for this). Deenenzo are invited to bring in their own food (even store it in the fridge during play time, or assemble a meal right there). Forgot a lunch? No worries; ROMP’s kitchen offers fruits, yogurt, string cheese and crackers for purchase, and Deenenzo will be soon ordering catered lunches that members can sign up to enjoy.
ROMP encourages unstructured, child-led play, and Deenenzo invites her members to create arts and crafts in the craft room, bake cookies or read books together. The toys range from sensory items for tots to a cute “clubhouse, complete with a slide.
A little kitchen, stocked with play food and dishes, makes a perfect tea party setting, and the large Lego blocks are a big hit. There are plenty of books for story times, and classic toys like a train set, dress up clothes and puzzles. My 3-year-old son got a kick out of the Magna-tiles, a set of fishing toys and the big clubhouse. He loved (literally) bouncing from toy to toy.
Notice the word, “members”? ROMP is primarily membership based, a distinction from many indoor play spaces (though she will offer two to five drop-in “play passes” a day). Deenenzo went the membership route to encourage familiar faces and build a strong community for support and friendship. She wants ROMP to truly serve as a big, comfortable family room where children and parents alike can foster relationships with one another, a true community, and a fun one at that.
Deenenzo plans to offer a full suite of cooking classes and other workshops and events, including Dinner & a Movie Night, Mommy & Me Music Group, a Confidence in the Kitchen series (which has already started, according to ROMP's Facebook page) and style-inspired trunk shows.
A speech therapist trained in positive discipline also holds “office hours” each week that members can use for free while their kiddos play.
ROMP is also available to reserve for birthday parties or hosted play groups.
If you go ...
Membership: Three-month or 12-month membership passes are available. Costs include a $50 annual registration fee plus membership fees: 1 child is $98/month; 2 children, $123/month; 3 children, $148/month; 4 children $178/month. Members get discounted classes and party space rentals.
Drop-in play pass: $20 per child/per day. Play passes can be purchased through the ROMP website prior to visiting.
When: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Weekends 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. (closed Wednesdays)
Find it: 13500 Bel-Red Road, Suite 7, Bellevue, WA, 425-748-4497
About the author: A born-and-raised Seattle girl, Allison Holm spent her “early years” satisfying her wanderlust and now lives in Kirkland with her husband, 3-year-old son and (most would say) too many pets. A freelance writer, serious coffee lover (who isn’t?) and jogging stroller enthusiast, Allison loves to get out and explore her city, especially through the eyes of her child. Find more of her stories on her blog, Seattle Travel Mom. She took some of the photos for this article.