On rainy days like today, baby K needs a large (indoor) place to run, climb, slide and play. The absolute best local place for us to go is Samo’s Clubhouse (sponsored by Matell Children’s Hospital UCLA) at the Santa Monica Place Mall. Located on the 3rd floor right in the middle of the food court, is a beautifully designed “Samo the Whale” play structure on a rubber-turfed ocean floor full of obstacles to climb, crawl through, balance on and play. I love how the structure is made of natural and recycled materials and promote environmental care for our oceans. While this indoor play area is open everyday during mall hours, on Wednesdays from 11am-12pm, they host a Kid’s Club filled with stories, songs and even puppets! Click here for details on registration/check-in and more information!
The first objects that caught baby K’s eye on her first visit to Samo’s Clubhouse were the hanging sea creatures and mobiles from up above. She marveled at the jellyfish (made of recycled plastic bottles) that twinkled in the sun-lit glare, pointed at the giant blue bubbles and and couldn’t stop staring at the clouds and lights that shone from above. What a neat visual experience for any little (or grown) one!
When K was just crawling, she was drawn to the area to the left of the whale. She enjoyed the soft, cushy matted stairs and slide. She enjoyed feeling the different textures, looking at the reflections and spinning the variety of round objects on the walls. Once she was able to verbally communicate, she enjoyed pointing out the colorful sea creatures and sea life on the walls and telling us what she saw. Now that she is standing/walking/running, she loves to take the challenge of climbing up onto the turtle shells and balancing, standing up on her own (which she did for the first time today)!
K loves the sensory textures including the soft matted stairs and slide, the thick twisted rope and the bumpy patterns on the walls.
She enjoys turning all of the knobs and switching the switches on and off (this area is a big hit with the infants/toddlers). K is fascinated with the map and loves to point out where we live, follow the arrows with her finger and locate the Hawaiian islands where her Auntie and Uncle lives. She uses her whole body to steer us to our destination and then moves along to her favorite slide.
Just behind the slide is a hidden tunnel that leads up to a climbing adventure where little ones really use their large-motor skills and upper body strength!
Now that K is walking, she faces her fears and takes the challenge of walking on one of two balancing beams. Barefoot, she grips the wooden beam or twisted rope with her toes and carefully maneuvers her hands and body across to the other side. She beams with pride as she makes it to the end on her own! “You did it! You worked so hard balancing and walking across,” we would tell her.
Each and every nook and cranny of this play area adds to the ocean adventure baby K and other little ones enjoy every day. Some of K’s most recent favorite things to do here is shout in the speakers, look through the telescope, steer the wheel, turn the knobs and stand up on the turtle shells.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (would be 5 if they had a gate to keep the little ones from running into the food court!)
Pros: An beautifully designed indoor toddler play area for children ages crawlers – 8, has a variety of areas to play that promote standing (for crawlers) and large-motor play, the ground is made of soft-rubbery turf and the toddler area is cushioned with soft mats, oftentimes has a security person nearby to remind parents that children may not climb on top of/jump off from out-of-reach areas, has stroller parking and small open cubby holes for bags, liquid hand-sanitzer is available near the entrance.
Tips: Restrooms with a changing table are located within the food court, a secure nursing station and a few family restrooms (which have small potties) are located on the same floor outside the food court within short walking distance, mall parking is free for the first 90 minutes as long as your ticket is stamped before your time runs out, to avoid elevators/escalators park on the 5th floor which takes you right onto the Dining Deck (3rd floor of the mall).