In a seven-day span, I will admit to visiting cafe PriPri, Tumble & Tea, studio Grow, Habitot, and the kindergym at the Berkeley YMCA. Why did I do that? Did I do it for you, dear anonymous reader? Did I do it for myself or my son? No, I did it because Whitney asked me to and sometimes I still like that. ? I’ll be reporting back on all my opinions and findings in the next two weeks.

When I open the door to your studio grow play space, the angels sing… “ahhhhh” (can you hear it?). The place is frickin’ beautiful and makes me wish that I were three years old again and could really kick back and enjoy myself (rather than a thirty-three-year-old pregnant woman chasing around an inexplicably sobbing 18-month old).

What I really love:

It’s so big and spacious, with so many stations and opportunities for fun (balls, keyboards, water tables, doll houses, etc!)

The stations invite imaginative play experiences with appealing, simple, well-organized toys and/or manipulatives.

It’s clean and bright (even on a gray day) with handy Purell dispensers at every turn

There’s a place for snacks and nobody’s making me deal with a two-drink minimum

There are regularly-scheduled multi-cultural fun activities (although to be honest, that’s not much of a differentiator in Berkeley, and Holden can’t sit still long enough to enjoy himself)

What I really don’t love:

The price – even with the volume discount packages, I can’t afford the place. additional adults all cost more money. I feel like I just need to go to the depths of Habitot because it’s already paid for the year.

It’s so big and fun, I never get to hang out with the friends who meet me there

Bottom line: awesome for special occasions, when somebody treats me to admission, or if I have a full day to kill

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