The TreeHouse in Lake Zurich has quickly become my go-to place to let the kids burn off energy. What appears to be one ginormous jungle gym seems to keep my children playing for hours on end and even allows me the luxury of sitting down and reading a little bit.
The good: I appreciate that I can see the kids from just about every angle which really comes in handy. I can sit on one of their comfy couches and find my kids relative easily unless they are hidden by another child or in a blind spot somewhere. There is also a smaller play area for little kids with lots of soft toys, balls and even a little ramp/slide combo. The big kids do tend to play in this area as well but I never noticed any problems and they were always very gentle with the little ones. Plus, it seems like most toddlers are more keen to keep up with the bigger kids so the toddler area doesn’t satisfy them for long.
Keep in mind that most kids under the age of three or four seem to need a little coaxing to get started. This structure has many net bridges and other obstacles that could appear intimidating to little ones. Thankfully parents are able to go through all of the obstacles with their kids, with a bit of crouching and flexibility of course. Or you can hang out in the large open area in the center of the structure while the kids play which is what i did with several friends the first time we visited the Treehouse. My daughter wasn’t truly comfortable on her own until she was 2.5 years old while my son, let’s call him monkey boy, was relatively happy without me at the ripe old age of 16 months. Sure he couldn’t do all of the obstacles but there is enough that he can do to keep him happy for hours because he lives to climb and this place offers him ample opportunities to express his monkey spirit. Despite their relative independence here, they still love for me to play with them and I happily oblige because it really is a lot of fun and a good workout.
The bad: I have to admit that my first impression upon walking in was something like “ten bucks for this” and, while the TreeHouse does not disappoint, I will caution that you can spend a lot of money here. Admission is $10 per child ages one and over but they offer a variety of membership options and, if you begin to go once every week or two, this is a great value. Keep in mind that you cannot bring you own food due to their strict peanut free guidelines. And, if your children are anything like mine, they want food any time they see another kid eating so we always plan to purchase food here and I just consider it a part of the price. On the upside, they have some fantastic menu items with lots more healthy options than you would expect. Lastly, winter weekends or days when kids are off school are crowded, sometimes unbearably so, if you have young kids, you might prefer going on a school day or coming early before it’s too busy. And you will need to come early anyway if you want to claim a space on one of their couches.
The bottom line: Despite the price, we always have a blast here. I just cannot put a price tag on the chance to sink into a comfy chair knowing that both kids are having a great time in a safe and fun environment and without electronics. I am not even embarrassed to admit that I have as much fun as the kids when I join them in the Treehouse. And it is always surprising to see how patient and helpful the children are with each other and aggression has been rare in my experience. After a long play group several months ago, one of my friends pointed out that “this place just has a great vibe” and I couldn’t agree more.