My good friend Jenny G. clued me into a great little place up in Lemoyne called The Playhouse Cafe. http://www.myplayhousecafe.com/ Depending on where you live in York this is a very do-able 30 minute drive up 83 North, we live off of exit 15 (S. George Street) and it was almost exactly 30 minutes, and let me tell you it is worth the trip!
First of all the concept is brilliant, the main area is modeled after a cafe/coffee house where you can order coffee, tea, or a light lunch for you and the kids. They have small tables for the kids, larger tables for adults and groupings of chairs clustered around the room. Off of the main seating area are two playroom, one for the over 2 yr. old crowd and one for the wee ones. Now here's the brilliant part, while you sit and drink your coffee, tea, soda, whatever, your kids go into the playrooms (yes they are supervised) and run around, go crazy and bounce off of the walls! You can actually have a conversation with another person without interruptions, when was the last time that happened? My first reaction upon seeing all of this in motion was, "Why didn't I think of that?"
When we made our first trip to The Playhouse Cafe we met up with Jenny, mom of 2 kids, and Becky, also mom of two. Katie and I were running late, so when we arrived it was time for lunch, playing would have to wait until after we fixed the hunger whining! I had a Waldorff chicken wrap and soda, Katie had chicken nuggets, a small bag of chips and chocolate milk plus we paid for her "admission" to the playroom and the grand total was $18. Now, you have to factor in gas money on this one, but you could easily skip the meal and save yourself $13.00 and just pay the $5 playing fee. In fact there were a few kids that were just there for playtime, one Mom said they came once a week while she did her "to-do" lists for the week. The other special event that drew us up for a visit was to see Dora the Explorer, she usually comes for lunch once a week and dances and plays with the kids for about 30 minutes. (As you can see from the pictures it was the highlight of the day for Katie!)
If your child is scared of people in costumes and yes I know that many are, I would suggest you come on a non-Dora day because Dora plays music (loudly) and travels around to each of the playrooms and the lunch area, basically there is no escaping her! That being said, if you have a Dora fan this is a great picture opportunity and a wonderful way for your little one to get some one-on-one Dora time. The day we were there only about 5 or 6 kids really wanted to hang out with Dora, Katie being one of those kids, so each child got some alone dancing time with Dora and she even came around to say hi to the kids before she left and high-fived each child on the way out.
After Dora left and Katie finished her lunch she took off for the playroom. Each child is given a bracelet, you are given the matching pair, and when you check your child into the room the only way they are coming out is when you show up with the paired bracelet. In the 2+ playroom there was a TV with Nick Jr. on, a puppet theater, a climbing structure, a reading nook, a giant ride on airplane for about 5 kids, and toys and puzzles galore. Katie was completely contented for over an hour and it was heaven! The under 2 playroom was open to the cafe, but separated by a long child gate, the floor was padded and in the room was a play kitchen, a tent, some ride on toys and other age appropriate toys. The two women I was with both had a child over 2 and a child under 2 so I got to see the kids playing in both environments and everyone seemed to have a good experience with both playrooms.
Overall this place was a find, I got to talk to some friends while my daughter was in a safe and fun environment, we had lunch and got to meet Dora all for under $20! The other nice thing was that the Wegman's grocery store in Camp Hill was less than 10 minutes away so after Katie got to play Mommy got to have her fun too! Go, go, go...........it's AWESOME!