Two new indoor play places

Imagine sitting at a cozy corner table, sipping on a latte and eating fresh crepes and fruit. 

You’re happy. You’re relaxed. You’ve got free high-speed Internet. Now imagine your kids are there with you. 

Hold up. The fantasy isn’t ruined! You’re still in your happy place. That’s because your kids are occupied.

They’re using their imaginations (gasp!), playing dress-up, constructing castles out of giant building blocks and swimming in a pool of foam rings, all within your sight. 

Maybe they’re eating crepes, too, but they can’t knock over your latte because they’re at their own kiddie table with their friends. 

Is it possible for parents and kids to coexist in such perfect harmony? Husband and wife team Jennie and Bryan Enloe of White Bear Lake hope so. 

They recently opened The Wishing Tree Play Cafe in White Bear Township, about 12 miles north of St. Paul, near I-35E and Highway 96. 

Photo courtesy of Davin Brandt and C7 Studios

Their 4,500-square-foot indoor playground and restaurant — pictured above — is designed for ages 6 and younger and their caregivers.

It includes areas for infants and toddlers, as well as a play area for older kids. 

Enrichment classes include yoga, music and sign language. Six-week programs for kids include a Prehistoric Pals Dino Club Dino Diggers and Princess Preparatory. 

Workshops for adults include options such as Teach Your Children to Listen the FIRST Time, The Ins and Outs of Toilet Training and more from Behave Your Best.

They’ve also struck up partnerships with two other local businesses — Pretty Princess Parties and the Teddy Bear Band — to enhance their birthday-party offerings. 

The Wishing Tree gets its name from the weeping willow tree that Jennie Enloe made wishes on as a child. Enloe, who herself is a mother to five boys, said she takes pride in the fact that The Wishing Tree is an environmentally friendly place, with a focus on green toys and equipment, organic food and non-toxic cleaning methods. 

“We created this place out of necessity,” Enloe said. “Being a mother and understanding that families are looking for something more, I wanted to design an environment where parents and kids could bond, enjoy healthy food and have fun.” 

The Enloes aren’t new to the culinary arts either. They also operate The Pizza Shoppe at the Minnesota State Fair and Leimon’s Pizzeria, which travels to other fairs and special events around the U.S.

A new indoor park 

The opening of the White Bear Township play cafe, comes not long after the 2016 closure of the Play & Learn Cafe at 10982 Cedar Lake Road in Minnetonka. 

Founded by a Golden Valley mother of two after a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign, it was the first facility of its kind and opened to much parent fanfare in March 2015 due to its play spaces, tasty coffee and family-friendly food. 

Minnetonka, however, didn’t have to wait too long for another indoor play space to open just four miles away. 

Enter InnerActive Playground — an 18,000-square-foot indoor attraction for all ages near the I-494 and I-394 interchange.

Ted and Stacy Anderson of Golden Valley (parents to two boys, ages 4 and 6) recently opened the super-size indoor park.

It includes a large playground area for older children, a separate toddler area for ages 5 and younger, a giant jumping pillow (pictured above), a full-size basketball court, a full-size turf field and large building blocks from Imagination Playground.

There’s a cafeteria with vending machines and private party room (which costs $50 for two hours with an eight-kid minimum). Outside food is welcome.

The Andersons are able to keep the facility open 365 days a year — similar to an outdoor playground — because of its self-service nature. 

“That means that we will not have staff on site at all times,” Stacy Anderson said. “Our guests purchase their play passes or memberships online, and then receive a five-digit code to enter the park.”

Parents like the facility because they can sit in the cafeteria and see all the play areas for all ages, Stacy Anderson said. 

A 2-year-old can be playing with building blocks while a 4-year-old can be on the bouncer while the 7-year-old is shooting hoops. 

And the tots area? It’s given new life to the play equipment from the former Play and Learn Cafe, Ted Anderson said.  

Tina Mortimer lives in White Bear Lake with her husband and two children. Follow her work at tinamortimer.contently.comMinnesota Parent editor Sarah Jackson contributed to this article.