Collect some eggs in the cute little chicken coop.
Collect some eggs in the cute little chicken coop.

Woodland Indoor Playground Is a Treasure for NJ Tots (and Moms)

Woodland Indoor Playground, the brand-new play space in Cedar Grove, looks like my fantasy of a child's play room—the one I envisioned before I had kids, and plastic toys with blinking lights and annoying sounds took over my house. Quite unlike my living room, Woodland is a clean, modern, Scandanavian-inspired space stocked with beautiful wooden toys that promote imaginative, sensory play—including a farmer's market food truck, chicken coop, playhouse with slides, sensory sandbox, train table, building blocks, and lots more.

This charming spot, founded by two Montclair moms and geared toward ages 0–5, opened on December 12—perfect timing for a new play space where cooped-up tots can drop in and burn some energy on a winter day. And Woodland is more than just a pretty space—all of the toys and materials are eco-friendly and non-toxic, and a portion of each entry fee supports the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. (Also, there's coffee, and it's good!)

Woodland Indoor Playground is the brainchild of Marina Miller and Julija Stoliarova, self-described "serial entrepreneurs" who came up with the idea by envisioning the sort of play space they'd want for their own children and their friends. There's a lot of awesomeness packed into the 1,250-square-foot space, but the highlights are definitely the chicken coop, where plush chickens roost in nests filled with wooden eggs (which kids can collect in adorable wicker baskets); a playhouse with two slides; the farmer's market food truck, complete with shopping carts, groceries, a cash register, and serving window; and a 7.5 x 9–foot sensory box filled with therapeutic sand, where kids can jump in and dig and play with a variety of sifters, scoopers, and vehicles. 


The train table area is always popular with kids!

Other attractions include a train table, Duplo table, Magna-Tiles and a magnetic wall, rocking horses and ride-on tractors, wooden building blocks, and race cars and rubbery track that kids can piece together in a variety of ways. There are also wooden dinosaurs, pull toys, sorting puzzles, and a small bookshelf for those want to take a break from the action to curl up with a book. The toys are displayed throughout the space in simple wooden boxes and fabric bins, and leather poufs are scattered around for parents who want to take a break from sitting on the floor.

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Do some shopping in the farmer's market food truck.

I visited with my 4-year-old on opening day. While he literally squealed with delight at each new discovery, I relaxed and soaked up the calm, easygoing vibe of the place while ogling its many Pinterest-perfect details—from the dramatic flora and fauna wallpaper on the wall behind the playhouse to the bins of colorful wooden fruits and veggies in the farmer's market. 

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The therapeutic sand is non-toxic and made especially for indoor use. 

Miller and Stoliarova carefully considered every detail, particularly when it came to the toys and materials included in the space. During our visit, Stoliarova told me that the therapeutic sand was a non-toxic variety made especially for indoor use. (The sand does make a bit of a mess; Miller added that they will be swapping it out for other sensory materials in the future.) They chose cork flooring for its anti-microbial properties, decorated the space with water-based paints, and use only eco-friendly products for cleaning. 

One of the details I noticed, and particularly appreciated, was the music playing softly in the background. No "Let It Go" or "Baby Shark" here; just hip, mellow, grown-up music (think Bon Iver, Bright Eyes, Langhorne Slim)—courtesy of Spotify's "chill" section. 

Grown-ups who want further chill time can hang in the cafe, take advantage of free Wi-Fi, and have a cold-brew coffee, all while enjoying a complete view of the action in the play area. The cafe also stocks gourmet healthy snacks and fresh-baked treats from local businesses, including Montclair's Joyist and Piece of Love Pastries. Offerings include scones, gluten-free energy bites, dried fruit, and kale chips. Note: Woodland is a nut-free facility.

Woodland hosts birthday parties on Saturdays and Sundays. Choose from three packages, plus a variety of add-ons; themes include "Unicorns, Rainbows + Sprinkles" and "Trains, Trucks + Things That GO!"

There are also regular storytimes, including one on New Year's Day—and look for classes, pop-up workshops, and other special events beginning in January. A grand opening celebration will take place on Saturday, January 5

Know Before You Go

Open play is offered seven days a week; check website for hours. Drop-in admission is $16 per child 12 months+, and $10 per child under 12 months. Siblings 12 months+ are $12, and those under 12 months are free. Memberships are also available. A portion of each entry fee supports the Community Food Bank of New Jersey

Socks are required for play for both kids and adults. Parents/caregivers must sign a waiver, which you can do in advance online.

Photos by the author

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