Located in Manhattan Beach, Adventure Plex is a relatively new indoor playground with activities for kids of all ages, but it is probably most appealing to toddlers and children under the age of 12.

We headed out to the Adventure Plex on a Sunday afternoon and ending up staying for three hours. The focus of the complex is a giant indoor play structure which is colorful and full of different things to explore. Much like the one in the now closed Bright Child in Santa Monica, this play structure is an elaborate web of shutes and ladders, plus a zip line, a ball pit, and some obstacle course-type tunnels. Looking at it, I didn’t think it would be interesting for more than an hour, but once I got inside to experience it for myself (which many other parents did as well) I could see there was a lot more to it than appeared from the outside. The other reason we stayed so long is because my daughter made friends with another girl who was inside the play structure maze and they were making up adventures together. She said she would have gotten bored sooner if she hadn’t met this girl, so bring friends with your children if you want to make the most of the outing (or make new friends there!)

For the toddlers, there is a separate section with their own ball pit (the colorful plastic balls they can throw themselves in), slide, and a variety of squishy items to climb on. If your toddler is an ambitious climber and you are willing to do some climbing then the bigger structure can also be fun. Some days it may be too busy with big kids, but the day we went it was not crowded at all, so we had room to explore at our own pace.

There are tables and chairs set up in front of the play structures for parents to watch and for everyone to eat. Adventure Plex has a small snack bar and does not allow outside food in their facilities, but I asked Paul, the Outdoor Adventure Manager (I think that was his title) and he said it was okay for folks like us who keep kosher to bring our food. In fact, Paul said a Jewish organization rented out the whole place one Chanukah and brought in kosher food for their big party. Which brings me to another aspect of the Adventure Plex: they offer party rooms for rental. Like the Santa Monica Pier, the Adventure Plex can provide a room to make a birthday party and serve your own food. Then your party guests are welcome to use the play structure and basketball court along with the general public.

The basketball court is part of regular admission and can be used for basketball or volleyball. The only thing is, sometimes this room is rented out to a private group (as it was the day we were there) and then it is closed to the public. So, if you would like to use the basketball court, call ahead to make sure it isn’t reserved.
Upstairs in the complex is a small gym with workout equipment and a room for classes like aerobics with your baby, yoga, and dance classes.

Outside is a “rockwall:” a faux rock surface to practice rockclimbing with a harness. Apparently this particular rock wall is the latest in technology with an automatically retracting rope and two tall rockwalls with a variety of climbing paths. There are women instructors if your daughter wants to give it a try (best to wear shorts under the skirt.) Adults can also try the rockwall. It is $5 for unlimited use of the rockwall.

And finally, there is something I haven’t seen anywhere else and that’s the “Ropes Course Adventure.” Traversing a series of tall wooden towers, teams negotiate various rope obstacles, focusing on working together to solve problems. This is touted as a unique team building experience for companies, but my first thought was that it would be a neat outing for the Jewish Boy Scouts.

At 6pm, closing time on Sunday, we drove over to Manhattan Beach Blvd., just down the road, and played in the sand by the Roundhouse Aquarium (see Kosher Road Trip, Nov. 2007) for a little while before supper time.

Notes:

Wear socks! Bring lunch

Adventure Plex at Marine, 1701 Marine Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, (310) 546-7708, www.adventureplex.org

Hours: Mon. – Fri., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission: under age 3: $5, 3 and up: $10, no charge for accompanying adults,
rockwall: $5