At my toes, I’m measuring a temperature of 8 degrees. Slightly warmer around my cheeks–maybe 10. And don’t get me started on the wind chill. With the blustery breezes of winter skipping down the Ohio River, even schools are opening late in the mornings to take pity on the poor students standing sentinel at school bus stops. But does some little nuisance like a playful Siberian breeze stop Little Friend?
No. No indeedy not.
Oblivious to cold, heat, sleet, rain, snow, or ice, Little Friend has one thing on her mind: “Play!” The concept of snuggling up with a long book, warm blanket, and steaming cup of hot chocolate must become attractive in the teenage years. Well, Little Friend would at least consent to the hot chocolate, if sipped on the run in between activities. I truly believe I’m meant to be hibernating through this cold snap, waking to find daffodils and a Florida-ish breeze tickling my toes. So why am I dragging myself around an arctic tundra entertaining a two-year-old? Help!
E2 Toys2Try to the rescue. Part indoor play space, part toy store, part parental-sanity-saver, E2 Toys2Try is a winter-antidote wonderland of “Play!” I’ve visited a number of indoor play spaces around Pittsburgh, and all have pleased me with entertaining, nap-inducing results. But I think I’m ready to declare E2 Toys my favorite.
What makes E2 Toys different? For one thing, the toy selection. I was pleasantly intrigued to find high quality, eco-friendly toys scattered throughout the room that has both open space for running, jumping, riding, and ball bouncing, and smaller areas dedicated to smaller play (laundry, shopping, cooking, reading, and puzzling). I didn’t spy a single Fisher-Price toy. Instead, Haba Toys, Green Toys, and other new, enticing brands caught my eye. When Little Friend spent a good portion of her time at E2 learning to “take turns” in the Haba hammock swing, I also realized the genius of the E2 Toy Store located in the front half of the play space: all toys in back are available for purchase out front. Brilliant!
Little Friend explored up, down, and around the impressively giant-sized pirate ship, entertained a naked baby doll while she washed said doll’s clothes in the washing machine, prepared a tea with bananas and sandwiches, hopped around the jumping mats, watched (enthralled) a game of basketball played by older tots, wallowed in the ladybug ball pit, disassembled a variety of puzzles, learned a healthy fear of puppets at the puppet stage, traced circles with the train table, piled into the wheelbarrow, and pitched a gargantuan fit when it came time to leave. Judging by the sympathetic and understanding smiles I received from fellow parents watching me fail to contain the fit, I’m not the only one with a kid who thinks E2 Toys is kiddo heaven.
Add to the mix free coffee for parents (free. coffee. my two favorite words), picnic tables available for snack time, and other kids eager to “Play!”, and I’m almost willing to say winter has met its match. An indoor play space that can rival the fun and interactivity of a play ground in July certainly makes my toes feel a bit more toasty. E2 Toys2Try gives winter-weary parents a break from the tedium of indoor child-entertaining. (And again, if you missed it: free. coffee. It’s like “Play!” for adults.)
E2 Toys2Try is located in Scott Town Center off of Greentree Road in Pittsburgh, PA. The play space is open on Mondays from 9:30 to 4:00 and on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 to 7:00. E2 allows you to pay-per-visit or purchase PlayPasses for discount rates. And the coffee? Free.