Hidden away in a Castro Valley office complex sits Mel's Play Place – an indoor recreation center (read 2-hour babysitter) for you and your kids. Two jumpy houses, four wooden playhouses, slides, trains, and countless push toys – my boys (2 and 4) were easily entertained. Plus, it met my one criteria for indoor play spaces – it was clean.
Mel's Play Place is separated into four different sections.
There's a designated play area for crawlers with mirrors and squishy blocks for climbing. In the same area, you'll find playhouses, play food for pretending, and a larger tree house with a slide. My boys spent some time in here (fighting over push cars) but most of their time was spent in the two bouncy houses. One was an obstacle course with a big slide at the end, one a more traditional jumpy house, both equally as fun. The last area is a place for bigger kids to play – an air hockey table, a basketball hoop game, foosball table, plus a train table for the younger crowd. We didn't spend much time in here.
Some other nice things – there was A LOT of seating options – couches, chairs, benches in every room. The place isn't huge, which meant I could stand in one spot and see both my boys playing on opposite sides of the place. They offer coffee, juice, snacks for $1 a piece. There's a lunch/snack room, and clean bathrooms. Also, socks only. Don't forget them.
Plan your visit to Mel's Play Place in Castro Valley
- M-F from 9:30am – 6:30pm, Sat 9:30am – 2:30pm, closed (most) Sundays
- Call ahead for weekend/holiday offers as they may be closed for private parties or holidays. 510.460.9144
- $9/child, siblings under 11 months are free
- Admission gets you in/out privileges for the day
- Check their website for special offers – Tuesdays they offer free pastries and $8 admission.
Location: 20994 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, CA
It's a bit of a tricky place to find. It's directly across the street from the Castro Valley BART. If you've passed Round Table Pizza, you have gone too far.
See a list of other indoor play spaces in the East Bay.
[All photos by Anna Azimi]