After a few days inside, Little A and I were ready to get out and do something new. Unfortunately, we're on day 400 of this summer heatwave so our options on playing outside have been really limited.
After looking online I found an indoor playground option called Minisota Play Cafe and we decided to give it a try. In this blog post, I'll share with you our experience, a review, and some tips and tricks to planning your next visit.
What is Minisota Play Cafe?
Minisota Play Cafe is a cafe and play area for kids in Maple Grove, MN that was created by a local mom in 2018. They previously were in Champlin, but within the past year or so they relocated to a larger space at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove (near where Trader Joe's is).
The Play Cafe has a cafe with snacks, smoothies, and coffee drinks and also has a huge play area on the side. The idea behind Minisota is to make a little "miniature" Minnesota, so you'll find cute little names for each section like Infant Grove Heights, Mini Grove, and Lake Minitonka.
Inside Minisota Play Cafe
When you walk into the Play Cafe, you'll see the cafe is divided into a section for the cafe only and a section for the Play Cafe. The register is split so if you're looking to just grab a coffee or snack you can do that quickly and not have to wait in line for people signing into the play cafe.
The cafe offers a selection of coffee drinks, tea, smoothies, and more as well as assorted snacks. All the snacks they offer are allergen-free and they offer gluten-free and vegan options. They don't allow any outside food or beverages (except breast milk and formula).
As soon as we walked into the Play Cafe my toddler got SO excited! We previously had visited the Champlin location when she was about 18 months old and she didn't really "get" the free play but now that she's almost 3 she really understood it.
We walked up to the desk to check-in and the staff behind the desk were super friendly. I scanned a barcode to start filling out a waiver (pro tip: do this before you get there and your kids get antsy to play - the waiver is a little long and can take a few minutes to fill out. Minisota has it available to fill out on their website here).
At this point, I remembered we had filled out the waiver before and mentioned it to the staff and she was able to look us up on the system thankfully. After ordering a latte and paying for our admission we were ready to head into the play cafe!
Before entering the play side of the cafe you're asked to take off your shoes and wear socks - both kids and adults. Kids need to have grippy socks while adults can wear any kind of socks. Before we left the house I thankfully threw a pair into my diaper bag for me just in case and I'm so happy I did (I thought sandals were allowed whoops!). If you forget socks they do have them available for purchase.
After changing into our socks and storing our stuff, we headed into the play area. Little A instantly ran over to the flower arrangement area and got to work putting together some floral arrangements. This was by far her favorite part of the trip and she kept coming back to this station.
In addition to the flower station, they also had different themed mini rooms like:
- Post Office
and a little cabin by "Lake Minitonka". Each room had different dress-up clothes and play activities that followed the room's theme.
In addition to the play areas, they also do have a few Little Tikes cars that kids can ride in around the play area. At the old space, it used to be a little cramped with these cars but in the new Maple Grove location, it didn't feel cramped with them at all! In fact, there was still some room that I'm sure they could add on even more play areas and cars.
The toys in the play area were all in really good condition and staff came around often to tidy up and clean the toys.
Inside the play area, they also had plenty of seating and tables for parents to work from. I believe they also have free wifi so you could get some work done while your kids play.
Overall we had a blast and ended up spending almost 2 hours at the play cafe and only left because it was naptime. Little A definitely could've spent the entire day there and you definitely get your money's worth - there is a ton to do for kids!
They also had sensory bins that you can buy to take home. Each sensory bin had a different theme and little toys and things to go along with it. They were extremely cute and I was so tempted to get one, but they were a little pricey and ranged from $25-$4o.
Minisota Play Cafe Tips and Tricks
Here are a few of my top tips and tricks when you visit Minisota Play Cafe
- Remember grippy socks - when you visit kids will be required to wear grippy socks, and adults entering into the play area will also have to wear socks (regular socks for adults). If you forget some they do have socks available for purchase for kids but I'm not sure if they have them for adults so be sure to pack a pair!
- Sign waivers ahead of time - When you first visit you'll have to fill out a long play waiver for every kid attending. Save time by filling out the waiver before you go on their website here. Once you fill it out, it'll be saved in the system so you won't have to fill it out again - if you visited their old location in Champlin, your waiver should still be saved on file too.
- Sign up for their e-mail list and save money - I'm a big fan of their e-mail list because no only do they send out info about upcoming events and activities, but they also will occasionally send out coupons for discounts on admission - we just got 10% off our tickets recently!
- Register for Special Events Early - The special events they offer are limited in space so early registration is recommended. Registration can be done on their online store here.
What Ages are Best for Minisota Play Cafe?
I would say Minisota is best for ages 2-8. They do have a small infant section called Infant Grove Heights, but it was extremely small. They did have a lot of open space so hopefully, in the future, they'll add on to this section to give little kids a little more to do.
What are Minisota Play Cafe Hours?
Minisota Play Cafe hours change depending on what is going on, but generally, their hours are:
- Monday - Thursday: 9a-5pm
- Friday and Saturday: 8:30a - 7 pm
- Sunday: 9am-3pm
For the most up-to-date hours, check on Google before you visit.
How Much Does Admission Cost?
Currently, admission is:
- Baby 0-6 months: free
- Baby 6-12 months: $5
- Kids 1-9: $12
- Everyone ages 10+: $3
They also do offer admission punch cards that offer discounted kids admission.
Admission is valid for the entire day and can be purchased at the counter at the cafe (they don't have online tickets at this time).
Special Events and More
Minisota also has special events! I haven't tried one yet, but they do look a lot of fun. A few of the ones they've been advertising this summer have been:
- Family Movie Night - this is a family event where kids are $15 for kids under 8 and $8 for ages 9+ (including parents). The admission includes playtime, the movie (this month they're showing Despicable Me or Finding Nemo), a pizza for the family, craft, and reserved seating.
- Parent's Night Out - I'm really excited for this one! You can drop your kids off for a few hours and then shop or dine at Arbor Lakes. Kids get to have pizza, play, and do crafts all supervised by the staff! They currently only offer it on select Fridays starting at 4:30, but hopefully this winter they'll expand to offering it more days like Saturdays.
- Mini Camps - I think this might just be for summers or when school's out, but they offer a few different weekday mini camps for kids ages 3-10 that run from 12:30-3. Each mini camp has a different theme like mermaids, space, camping, or ocean and includes a themed craft, make and take putty, themed drinks, snack, and supervised play.
- Work & Play - Once a week, they offer the option for parents to work at the cafe and kids can play supervised with the staff.
They also have daily specials like sensory bin days, Grandparent's days, and more. Each month Minisota Play Cafe will post the daily schedule on their Facebook page as well as send out a monthly e-mail (pro tip: they usually also include a discount code for admission in the e-mails so I recommend subscribing!).
Special Event tickets can be purchased in advance (which they highly recommend since they have limited space) on their website here.
If you're looking for a fun family activity, Minisota Play Cafe is the perfect place to go. It's a great local business that kids will love and is a great way to get out of the house for a few hours.
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