It’s here again. The cold weather. I keep waiting for the year when it takes the season off, but that has yet to happen. And until it does, I’m going to have to keep digging in to find indoor options where my kids can burn the same amount of energy they would during a neighborhood park kickball game. So when I heard about the new InnerActive Playground in Minnetonka, it took me mere days to get the kids out of the house and through their door. With three kids spanning the gamut of seven years, this place was a goldmine for our family. Pay, play, and stay all day! Mom = 1. Cold weather = 0.
What is it?
InnerActive is an 18,000 square foot climate-controlled indoor play place off Hwy 494 and 394 in Minnetonka. The owners are a wonderfully-hospitable couple with two young boys of their own who, like many of us west-siders, were desperate for a large but simple and self-serving play area that would satisfy kids of all ages and be available through all four of Minnesota’s beautiful seasons. And one year after they snatched up this perfect indoor space, they opened the doors to one of our new favorite indoor play areas in the metro. After purchasing your admission online, simply plug your code into the secure pin pad, toss your bags in a cubby and let the kids run free!
The space prides itself on its cleanliness, security and creativity (yay, parents!) and holds a full-sized basketball court and soccer field, a large kangaroo jumper, separate playgrounds for bigger kids and toddlers, and an area with soft building blocks (yay, kids!). Bring in your fancy coffee and enjoy a full day of…dare I say…relaxation from a table that offers a clear line of vision to nearly all sections of the play space. They won’t get bored and you won’t get stressed. Win-win!
Fit for what ages?
This is exactly what I love about this place – it’s great for ALL ages! My barely-teetering 1-year old loved the toddler playground and the blocks area (although part of me wishes we didn’t have to pay the full $9 for a 12-month old, but whatever). He even enjoyed sitting on the lowest edge of the jumping pillow (although it looked like his head was going to fall off). My 4- and 7-year olds loved EVERYthing! They sprinted from the playground to the blocks to the jumper to the sports courts. I even challenged my 7-year old and a bunch of young boys to a full-on game of soccer (of which I lost…quite terribly) and had a blast. So, moms and dads, get out there and play and jump too! Nothing saying you can’t participate.
The toddler playground is walled off and intended for kids ages 0-5, although nothing necessarily enforces that. There are soft mats at the base of the slides in the toddler area because they do slip and move fast, so it is a nice thought to save tears and pain on littler butts. Bigger kids tended to frighten my kids on the kangaroo jumper, so just keep an eye on younger ones over there. It can bounce really high if a herd of 10-year olds is hopping around on it! Same goes for the sports courts – they have tons of balls of all different sizes and hardness and the last thing you want is for some middler schooler to kick a soccer ball in your toddler’s face. See Tips section about times to go that gear more towards the younger age group.
The floors are all a semi-soft turf-like material, so letting the baby crawl around gave me no anxiety at all. There’s no stairs, no obstacles and no mess (assuming everyone cleans up after themselves as they are supposed to), so he just felt so free and independent here, which he absolutely loved! And they have a quiet and warm nursing room, so no worries for mom if there’s an infant along.
How much are we talkin’?
Admission to the playground is $9.00/kid (ages 1-17 must pay) for a day pass. Babies under 12 months are free as are the accompanying adults. What’s nice about it, and unique from what I’ve seen elsewhere, is they offer a monthly membership option in addition to an annual membership. Monthly memberships are $21 for one kid and go up incrementally by child. Annual memberships start at $168 and increase on a sliding scale.
When you purchase your day pass online, do it ON THE DAY you plan to play and you will receive a 4-digit code to enter the secured door on-site. That code will get you in all day long, so you can come and go as you please. If you forget to order online before you arrive, there is a computer in the lobby area or you can access and pay from your phone. You can also bring change for the vending machine for a treat or drink.
Birthday parties are offered at InnerActive in their special party room. The room rental is $50 for two hours and then it’s $9/child (with a minimum of 8 children) and can accommodate up to 30 people. If you think about it compared to many other places similar to this, that’s a pretty good deal! Plus you can bring in your own cake and food and drink, keeping it as cheap or expensive as you’d like.
The general stuff you need to know: Purchase your day passes ON THE DAY you plan to visit. The code you receive online will be good for the entire day and you can come and go as you please. Cameras are set up, so don’t be a jerk and pay for only one kid when you really have two. The owners are trying to make a living here…just be honest and kind, ok? A code can also be purchased from a lobby area computer before entering, so no need to do it before arrival, although it’ll save you time. The entrance and exit are not the same! Please use the main entrance to come in, but follow the Exit signs when leaving. Just keeps the security in tact.
All the bathrooms are right up front. There are men’s and women’s, as well as a family room with changing tables. There’s also a newly-added, quiet and heated nursing room with rocking chairs and a door for privacy.
Tons of cubbies line the lobby walls as well as a small coat rack. Shoes CAN be worn throughout the entire play space, but must be removed on the jumping pillow. This pillow requires SOCKS (not shoes or bare feet). No socks are available for purchase on-site, so don’t forget them on the day of your visit.
The best part for this mom was the fact that you could bring in your own food and drink and enjoy in the dining area. Then, when the kids are done and say, “Can we go play?” you can say, “YES!” because there is a great line of vision from the tables, allowing you to view almost all play areas thanks to the half-walls separating each section. Forgot a lunch? They do have cash-only vending machines (but no change machine) with some snacks and drinks available. When you’re done eating, it is YOUR job to clean up after yourself. They are kind enough to have cleaning spray, paper towels, brooms, and a kitchen sink available for your use. So just treat it like you would your own kitchen and make it presentable and tidy for the next family. Sanitizer is available for your use in various spots around the playground.
Don’t be afraid to bring really little ones to InnerActive. There are TONS of high chairs for use, soft ground, padded poles, and plenty of room to crawl around freely. Plus the blocks area is fun for them since the blocks are relatively soft and can’t cause too much injury. The pillow jumper definitely tends to host the most rambunctious children, so I wouldn’t send a toddler up there without me close by. Big kids love this jumper (and why wouldn’t they?) but just know that this feature is the busiest and most popular, but also can be the cause of the most tears. Use common sense (no flips, somersaults or crazy wrestling moves) and just be cautious of other children. Adults can enjoy the jumper as well. I know I did.
Speaking of age differences, young kids seem to dominate this place before 10am. The afternoons after 12:30 are soooo quiet (thank you, universal nap time). And bigger kids tend to run the place after dinner hours.
The party room is pretty, the wall colors are bright, and the big windows allow plenty of sunlight in to keep it from feeling dark and dreary. I heard one mom mention that it might be nice to have some kid music playing overhead, but I disagreed. Quiet time is a rare thing. I get enough Raffi in my car.
Finally – and I’m not just saying this – if you get a chance, talk to the owners. They were so unbelievably welcoming and kind and genuinely seemed to care about their business and the families it brings in. You can’t say that about every business, so when it’s legit, it’s totally worth mentioning.
Hours and location
131 Cheshire Lane | Minnetonka, MN 55305
7:00am – 9:30pm daily, 365 days a year
InnerActive is located right along the cross-section of Hwys 394 and 494, just west of Ridgedale Center behind the frontage road that holds Toys R Us and Total Hockey. The building is located in Carlson Commons, a bunch of warehouse-looking office buildings that have no significant signage, so be SURE to look for the “131” number on the main signs at the edge of the parking lot. Parking is free but shared with many other businesses, so can get full.
Be sure to follow InnerActive on Facebook to take part in some great giveaways, see updates to the play space, read about special announcements, view some fun photos and check out reviews written by other parents and visitors.