Gymboree Play & Music Oakland invited us to test drive a complimentary class for ages 16 to 24 months with my daughter, Lizzy.
Gymboree Play & Music is a membership-based play space rich with classes for the youngest child. Choose from a wide range of early childhood classes for ages 0-5 years. Drop-in spots are often available, too.
The facilities at Gymboree Play & Learn Oakland
Soft rubber mats cover the entire play floor with multiple levels of climbing structures and innovative equipment, all safe for kids to explore, try, learn, play, fall, and try again. They are modular and can be rearranged in different configurations. Gymboree changes up the layout of the playroom every few weeks to keep it fresh for both kids and caregivers. One accessible bathroom is located at the back of the playroom with a changing table. The playroom can accommodate about 20-25 kids and their adults.
The way the classes work at Gymboree
I went to the Runners class for kids 16 to 24 months. Kids gather on the large green circle rug for a circle time led by a teacher and unique Gymboree songs. Teacher Leila was simply amazing with the kids; she really grasps the toddlers' attention with her animated voice and gestures. During the 45-minute class, shakers, balls, bells, puppets, bubbles, parachute, and hand drumming sessions took place. Of course, bubble and parachute combo was the biggest hit with for the little ones. 45 minutes flew by so quickly, Lizzy had so much fun, it was hard to say goodbye. I really liked that Leila learned all kids names and personally spent time to get to know everyone.
Gymboree's parachute time and bubbles are highlights of classes for newborns through preschoolers.
Pre-registration is recommended, but drop-ins are welcome when there's space available. Once you're signed up, you just show up, stow your shoes in a cubby and get to playing. The instructors are wonderful people and seem to connect with each child in just the right way.
A few words about Art and Music
Art and Music classes happen in a smaller room well-stocked with craft items. Art and Music classes are limited to about a dozen kids and fill up fast. Pre-registration is required.
The way membership works at Gymboree
There are a few different membership levels or you can purchase multi-class passes.
Or drop-in to a class or open gym
Not ready to commit to a membership? Walk-ins are welcome. However, at $30/class, if you plan on visiting even once a week, membership will be a much better deal.
They also throw amazing birthday parties!
For energetic little ones, a birthday party at Gymboree is about as good as it can get for 100% fun and zero clean up. Parties are $350 for up to 15 friends (must be under 5 to use equipment). Party package includes a Gymboree Teacher, Gymbo invitations, paper products, setup and cleanup. Enrolled families receive a $50 discount on party fees.
Plan your visit to Gymboree Play & Music, Oakland
3433 Lakeshore Ave. at Mandana in Oakland
Choose a class and register on the website >
Tips for neighborhood parking around Lakeshore Ave.
Plan to come early! Give yourself time to find parking and then get on the Play Floor for open play 15 minutes before each class begins. Street parking is available ($2/hr). I was able to find parking easily around 9:15 am but noticed all spots near Gymboree were filled when I left around 10:30 am.
There are lot of shops to get snacks and coffee like Noah's Bagel, Starbucks, Peet's Coffee, and Main Squeeze next door. If you're there on a Saturday, make time for the Grand Lake Farmers Market.
Mandana Plaza Park is nearby for more play or snacks after class. It has a large climbing structure and a small toddler-sized play area, but the park is not enclosed.
Additional (510) & (925) locations of Gymboree Play & Music
If you live in a different part of the East Bay, you may want to check out:
El Cerrito: 704 El Cerrito Plaza, Mezzanine Level Website
Fremont: 220 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont Website
Lafayette: 3450 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Website
Pleasanton: 5460-9 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton Website
Big thanks to Gymboree Oakland for inviting Lizzy and me to play.