Getting out and about with babies is key to keeping your sanity. You need places that not only provide a never-ending roster of new things to explore, but that also teach wonderful habits and philosophies to both you and your youngster. That’s why we’re thrilled that the year begins with two new spots opening that will keep you and your toddler busy and learning for years to come. Farm-to-Table imaginary play with Toddler Town hits the South Bay and Out of the Box’s sensory hands-on explorations expands and moves down the street in the Valley.

Toddler Town
AdventurePlex in Manhattan Beach is an awesome big kid destination with a basketball court, mazes, tunnels, climbing bouncy houses, gymnastic mats, ropes courses and rock climbing walls. But there wasn’t a lot to do for the smaller set. As of January 16, that’s all changing, because Toddler Town is opening, and this space within a space is tailor made for the 0-5 set to do some serious hands on exploring—and learning!

With three main areas (see below) as well as parent-child classes, physician-led health workshops and nutrition lessons, this whole space is geared towards teaching the healthy farm-to-table food cycle in an environment built for active play and fun. They think they’re just playing, you know they’re absorbing healthy habits and lessons that will last a lifetime.

photo: Toddler Town

Start at The Farm
Little ones can get their tiny hands “dirty” on The Farm by raking, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables in the play garden, and plucking oranges, apples, strawberries and tomatoes straight off the walls.

photo: Toddler Town

Move to The Market
Those freshly picked fruits and vegetables are ready for the shopping cart at the Toddler Town Grocery Store, where the shelves are always stocked with healthy foods. Kids can haul their harvested crops straight from The Farm to the checkout stand and get firsthand knowledge of the organic farm-to-table food cycle in the process.

Kick Back in the Beach House
The Toddler Town Beach Home gives kids a chance to bring the healthy food home to put on the table. A kitchen complete with a dining table, refrigerator, microwave, cabinets and sink are all included in this play area reminiscent of South Bay beach bungalows. There’s even a play fireplace and simulated ocean view. For tots that like to play house, this is a dream come true. (And it’ll have us land land locked parents thinking of a move to the SB.)

The best part is, no big kids are allowed. This area is strictly for the small set, so you don’t worry about them getting knocked over or ignored.

Toddler Town is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and drop-in admission is $10 for 2 hours. Or look into memberships, which come with unlimited play, classes, lectures and workshops and a members only hour each morning.

Toddler Town at AdventurePlex
1701 Marine Ave.
Manhattan Beach

photo: Outside the Box

Outside the Box
This learning center and play space is on the move, and while the business itself has been around for several years, the new space is so much bigger and brighter (and the art is so cool) it’s like a whole new place, and if you’ve never been, now is the time to discover it. For parents of babies, who are looking for stimulating classes, events and activities, there’s nothing quite like it anywhere in town. Classes began here on January 5, and you can find classes for kids as young as 8 weeks old.

photo: Outside the Box

The What
All the classes include a brain-development and multi-sensory component; this means every art and music class includes gross motor skill activities and exercises that utilize all parts of the brain in a child.

With more space, they are also able to offer a whole host of new classes that we can’t wait to try: there’s Hot Wheelers for special needs kids in wheelchairs; FLOW Yoga encourages mindfulness, expression and connectivity in kids; Bubble Bath Bonanza; Sibling’s Classes and a Rough & Tumble class. Classes are offered every day to cater to babies as young as 8 weeks old to toddlers. OTB also offers a limited selection of additional classes that serve kids 4-10.

photo: Outside the Box

Their goal is to create a place for family (including sibling—always needed) bonding, where parents learn ways to teach their kids in other situations and everyone explores together through sensory play.  Our favorites are classes where kids get really hands on in vats of noodles, beans, bubbles or paint.  Yes, it’s brain expanding (which, clearly we’re for!), but talk about cute overload!  Your new parent brain will go into overdrive and your phone’s memory will be full in minutes.

photo: Outside the Box

The Space
Bigger isn’t always better, but in this case… Swapping their 1500 sq. ft. space for this 4000 ft. museum-like beauty is quite the upgrade. In fact, the aesthetics and artwork incorporate the new theme, “How we share our planet with animals,” and the intricately designed walls (created by the collaboration of world renowned artists the Dilakian Brother’s and Elza Deco Artistry) are part of the experience. “The idea was to create a magical, whimsical forest with animals everywhere, so kids can walk inside, and feel like they are ‘outside’ an enchanted garden of textured and colored visuals to explore and discover, and touch. The walls come alive to play with the kids!” said owner, Octavia Lindlahr.

The center is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Check the website for class schedules throughout the week.

Outside the Box
20841 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland Hills

—Meghan Rose

What are your favorite tot spots to drop in and play with your youngest moppet? Let us know in the comments!

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