Close your eyes and picture a kid’s ideal place to play. Does it have places to climb? Spots to jump without getting hurt? Slides? Caves? A rope course?
If your kid’s utopia includes any – or all – of those things, it’s a safe bet they’re going to love Funtopia, Glenview’s newest indoor play place.
As the pictures make clear, Funtopia gives a whole new meaning to the words “climbing gym.” Gone are the boring faux-rock walls, replaced by a beanstalk, dinosaur skeleton, tire ladder and more. My nephews were big fans of the huge spider web cargo net (although it gave me traumatizing flashbacks to elementary gym class), which they were allowed to climb in tandem. They also spent a remarkable amount of time building – and jumping off – their own “walls” made up of large, brightly colored bricks. The “fun walls” are the heart of Funtopia, and provide some enjoyable exercise, especially for competitive or challenge-oriented kids.
There are also add-ons for the more adventurous at heart: the free drop slide (basically designed for fun Instagram videos) and the 20-foot jump. Older kids (48” and up) will also enjoy the Rope Course challenge, which lets them navigate sliding platforms, wobbly logs and swinging tires. But don’t worry if nerves strike; there’s plenty else to keep them busy.
For kiddos who might be intimidated by the variety of options (and it is a bit overwhelming when you first arrive), the Soft Play area is a great warm-up spot, letting them get acclimated a bit before getting their climb on. The area is designed for kids under 8, with a special zone for the tiniest tots, and includes your typical slides, obstacles and ball pits.
Something that makes Funtopia especially unique is the Rocktopia Cave, one of the favorites for my spelunking-obsessed nephews (don’t ask). Grownups have to stay outside, but I’m told it includes expeditions to a ball pit, complete with the necessary safety equipment and head lanterns. Fellow claustrophes should note that, like any cave, it has closed-in spaces, so you may want to enter cautiously.
We were especially wowed by Funtopia’s commitment to safe climbing. A waiver has to be signed at the very start, but that doesn’t mean employees slack on keeping kids safe. The attentive workers help kids get into harnesses and clip and unclip them to the belay cords promptly. And while parents and caregivers aren’t allowed to climb, they can stay close by to help (or cheer on) as needed. There are also a number of tables where you can sit and observe from a distance.
If you need evidence for how much my crew loved Funtopia, I offer this: Not even the promise of ice cream convinced the boys to abandon their climbing. And in our family, that pretty much translates to a rave review. Utopia, indeed.