Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground

Who knew that diving into an ocean of 80,000 balls would be so fun?

 

My daughter did.

 

She’d been begging me for months to take her to Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground, aka “The Place with the Ball Pit.” Then, on one recent Sunday afternoon, we went, and discovered that her anticipation had been happily justified.

 

Ocean Adventures is an indoor immersive playground geared toward children ages 12 and under, although older kids can play, as long as they agree to the Safe Play Pledge. Adults are welcome to play, too. Just no roughhousing, okay?

 

Play sessions here last two hours, and you can choose from Low Tide (Tuesday-Thursday, $5 per session), or High Tide (Friday-Sunday, $6 per session). Since we were planning on going during the busier High Tide, I bought tickets online beforehand for my daughter and her friend in order to guarantee their spots, as there are a limited number available per session.

 

Limiting the number of participants helps make the chaos of an indoor children’s playground more manageable, as does having several staff members in the play area who ensure that everyone is abiding by the Safe Play Pledge. But the staff members aren’t there just to police the playground; they engage with the children and model fun – yet safe – behavior themselves.

 

Sometimes you’ll even catch a glimpse of owner Billy Garrigan in the playground. Billy is the former owner of All Aboard Ice Cream, where you can eat ice cream on a vintage train car, and kids can take rides on a mini train. While All Aboard is still operating under a new owner, it was Billy’s vision that made it a family-friendly destination, and he brings that same passion to Ocean Adventures, as well.

 

All ages are welcome in the main play area at Ocean Adventures. In addition to the massive ball pit, kids can crawl through tunnels, navigate obstacle courses,

 

see how many balls they can toss into the hoops on the walls,

 

and play peek-a-boo through the woven floor on the second story.

 

They can whirl down the spiral slide,

 

or “splash” directly into the ocean of balls from the short slides,

 

or the long (26-foot) slides.

 

If your little one has just started toddling and you feel like the main play area would be too overwhelming, then head on over to the Little Squirts play area, which is geared towards children ages 3 and under. There’s even padded seating around the Little Squirts area so that you can keep a close eye on your wee fishy.

 

 

For those of you leery of bringing your kid to a place where lots of kids – some sweaty, some sneezy – all share the same equipment, here’s some information that will ease your mind. Ocean Adventures closes for one hour between each session to clean play surfaces, and every week, all of the balls in the pit are sanitized in a commercial cleaning machine. Feel better?

 

But, wait. I sense you have another concern. With so much activity going on at Ocean Adventures, you’re wondering how you’ll be able to keep track of your little ones. There’s no need to worry, thanks to KidCheck which matches children with their parents. You can complete the information for KidCheck online before you go, or do so when you arrive. Identification information is then printed out and secured to your child’s wrist, and a copy of that information is given to you in a receipt form. When your session is over, a staff member will check to make sure your receipt matches your child’s bracelet before you leave.

 

You do need to remain on site with your child for the duration of your session, too. Save your solo Target run for another day. Instead, grab one of your friends and let your kids play while you and your friend have a (mostly) uninterrupted adult conversation in the viewing area, which is what my friend Julie and I did.

 

Of course, if you are a really cool parent, you can participate in Ocean Adventures play-together environment and jump into the ball pit right along with your child. Just remember to bring a pair of socks.

 

If you’re an even cooler parent, you’ll buy your kid a snack or beverage,

 

 

or even a refreshing shaved ice from the Surf Shack.

 

If you’re the coolest parent ever, you’ll leave Ocean Adventures with not only your child, but one of these adorable mermaids and other plush ocean creatures.

 

Or, you can leave with a free souvenir: a photo of you and your child taken in the Beachside Photo Booth. Here, an oversized Adirondack chair sits on Joplin Beach (who knew?), and makes for a fun tropical scene – in the middle of the Ozarks.

 

The photo booth is located next to the party rooms, and because there were a lot of people standing in that area, we never saw it on the day we visited.

 

 

In fact, I never even knew it existed until I saw some photos posted on Ocean Adventures’ Facebook page a few days later (and then, when I was putting this post together, I noticed the Adirondack chair in the corner of the photo I took of the Little Squirts area).

 

I guess we’ll have to go back.

 

And, next time, I’ll bring some socks so I can take a dip in the “ocean” with my daughter.

 

Do you want to book a birthday party at Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground? Click here.

 

Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground is located at 2630 S. Duquesne Road. Click here to visit its website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Soar Trampoline Park

Her eyes are fierce and focused as she aims for the netted enclosure. She steps inside and stares fixedly at the padded mechanical arm making its way toward her, facing it like a warrior. Seconds before it reaches her, she bends her legs and gains air from the trampoline below, sending her soaring above the unyielding arm. A triumphant grin spreads across her face.

 

She faced the machine and won.

 

soar wipeout jumping

This machine is called Wipeout, and it’s my daughter’s favorite attraction at Soar Trampoline Park. At least for now, that is. Maybe next time it will be dodgeball, or the ninja area (coming soon). After all, there are many activities to entertain both kids at adults at this trampoline park – the only one of its kind in the Joplin area.

 

soar exterior (1)

Soar is housed in a large grey building tucked behind a strip mall in Webb City, just north of Joplin. It’s the brainchild of Leigh and Danny Schroer, who moved to the area from Louisiana. There, their kids spent a lot of time jumping at the local trampoline parks, and never grew tired of them. Seeing the opportunity to bring a trampoline park to Joplin (Danny’s hometown), they opened the 26,000-square-foot facility in March 2017.

 

It’s been a hit with the community, especially on the weekends when around 800 jumpers check in to catch some air. My kids have been to the park many times, and my youngest recently had her birthday party here.

 

soar sign (1)

So, what does a typical visit to Soar look like?

 

Check In

All jumpers must check in at the front desk and complete a waiver (this can also be done online ahead of time). Jumping sessions can be purchased in 30-minute increments, either on site or online. Also, all jumpers must purchase Soar socks (which you can bring back to use for future visits, like we’ve done).

 

Activities

After you check in, you’re free to soar!

 

soar open jump

Try out some tricks in the open jump area, where there are 40 trampolines to choose from.

 

soar wipeout

Or test your timing in my daughter’s beloved Wipeout area.

 

soar basketball

Have you always dreamed of making a slam dunk? The trampolines in the basketball area can propel you to make that dream a reality.

 

If you come with a group of friends, have some team fun in the dodgeball area, the most popular attraction at Soar. At some point, you may need a break from jumping. That’s when you can dive into Soar’s foam pit!

 

Coming soon to Soar is a ninja course which will include a foam pit, fidget ladders, and six obstacles.

 

Parents, you can rest assured knowing that there are employees walking around and watching the jumpers at all times. During busy times, a court monitor is stationed at each activity, too.

 

soar toddler area

If you have little ones and you don’t want them jumping with the big kids, don’t worry. There’s a designated toddler area for kids under age five where they can jump, and also play in a foam pit.

 

Other Stuff About Soar

If your exercise routine has grown stale, try an ExSOARcise class! Each class is 45 minutes long, and the first one is free.

 

The park also sets aside time for jumpers with special needs. Contact Soar for more info.

 

Jumping isn’t just for kids. Many area professional groups book times at Soar for team-building exercises. The park is available for private parties on Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

Birthday Parties

There is a party coordinator (aka a birthday party fairy) assigned to each party to ensure that things run smoothly.

 

soar birthday tables

You can opt for a birthday table in the midst of the action if you want to watch your kids jump, or you can choose a private room in the back of the building. We booked a private room for my daughter’s birthday, and it was nice having a quiet place for kids to rest (and hydrate), and for the adults to talk.

 

The kids jumped for the first hour, then they returned to the room for pizza (included in the package). We then opened gifts and ate cake (which I brought in) for the second hour of the party.

 

If you’re interested in booking a party at Soar, click here.

 

I’m glad the Schroers brought this park to the Joplin area, giving kids and adults a chance to work off some energy, challenge themselves, and feel the exhilaration that comes with being able to soar.

 

 

Soar Trampoline Park is located at 1502 S. Madison Street in Webb City. Click here for Soar’s website, and click here to follow Soar on Facebook.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

All Aboard Ice Cream

There are restaurants you stop at to fill your belly, and then there are restaurants you visit to fill the pages in your family’s book of memories.

 

All Aboard Ice Cream is one of those memory-making restaurant destinations.

 

Location

All Aboard Ice Cream is located on Highway 86, just south of Joplin. It’s right across the street from Shoal Creek and some of Wildcat Park’s scenic hiking trails. Take advantage of this great location by enjoying a nature walk before or after your visit to All Aboard.

 

 

The Appeal

The Kansas City Southern postal car that sits in the front of the property attracts curious visitors to All Aboard, but the old-fashioned ice cream and hamburgers are the gustatory draws (more about those later).

 

all aboard rr car

 

When my daughter and I visited All Aboard, the first thing she did was run to the rail car to begin exploring.

 

This was once a postal car, and I found it interesting looking at the names of the towns listed on the mail slots in the center of the car.

 

all aboard mail

 

Back in the day, it might take days or weeks for messages to be delivered. Explaining this process to email-savvy young ones makes for a unique history lesson.

 

all aboard car interior

 

You can also eat inside the air-conditioned rail car at one of the dining booths.

 

By the way, All Aboard offers birthday party packages in the rail car. Talk about a one-of-a-kind location!

 

Whisler’s

After exploring the rail car, we headed over to the train depot to order our food.

 

 

all aboard depot

 

The counter is divided between All Aboard’s dessert orders on the left and Whisler’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers on the right.

 

Burgers? Wasn’t this supposed to be about ice cream?

 

I promise I’ll get to the ice cream, but first let me tell you about Whisler’s.

 

Lunch before dessert, you know.

 

People who grew up in southwest Missouri have heard of the original Whisler’s in Carthage that has been perfecting its hamburgers since the 1950s.

 

all aboard grill

 

Well, I didn’t grow up around here so I’d never heard about Whisler’s until it opened at the All Aboard location.

 

Whisler’s is the type of all-American restaurant that you envision when you think of the wholesome 1950s, when burgers and ice cream were regarded with much more reverence than those served in today’s fast-food chain restaurants.

 

That’s because everything was made from scratch back then – and with quality ingredients.

 

Whisler’s old-time burgers are made to order on a busy, sizzling grill in the open kitchen. If you come at peak lunch time, be patient. There’s only so much room on the grill, so strike up a conversation with your neighbor in line while you wait for your juicy beauties to be ready.

 

all aboard burger

 

I ordered a single cheeseburger, which is slightly larger than a slider. Made with fresh, local beef, this burger was dressed with mustard, onions, pickles, and cheese, and topped off with a fluffy bun.

 

If you’re craving more meat, you can order double and triple burgers, or you can choose burgers topped with other types of meat, such as the “Pig and Bull” (with ham), “Sow and Cow” (with bacon), and the “Farm” (with ham and bacon).

 

My daughter doesn’t like burgers (what?!), so she ordered a hot dog.

 

all aboard picnic 2

 

She was obviously happy with her choice.

 

 

Finally, the Ice Cream!

A good old-fashioned slider meal begs to be topped off with a rich, creamy treat. All Aboard makes it easy to satisfy that craving by presenting a variety of ice cream flavors at the counter adjacent to Whisler’s.

 

all-aboard-ice-cream small

 

I confess that I’ve eaten All Aboard Ice Cream countless times in the past — but it was known as Anderson’s Ice Cream back then.

 

Let me explain.

 

Anderson’s Ice Cream satisfied the collective sweet tooth of the Joplin community for many years. Carl and Freda Anderson founded the original ice cream company in 1936 in downtown Joplin, and it was operated by family members until 1999.

 

In 2012, Billy Garrigan answered the prayers of many Joplinites and opened up Anderson’s Ice Cream inside the Candy House Gourmet Chocolates building.

 

Treating my kids to Anderson’s Ice Cream to kick off the first day of summer vacation became our family tradition.

 

When Garrigan moved his business in 2015, he also changed its name to All Aboard because a company in the Northeast had trademarked the name Anderson’s. While it would’ve been nice to carry on the Anderson’s name, I think All Aboard suits this train-themed business perfectly.

 

Drew Evans is the owner of All Aboard now, making premium ice cream in the Anderson’s tradition (its richness comes from 14% butterfat). I tried a scoop of caramelly Creme Brûlée (which is hard to see in the photo because it was such an incredibly bright day), and it was creamy perfection.

 

all aboard dessert

 

Family Friendly

When Garrigan opened All Aboard, his goal was to make the business and location as family friendly as possible. He scored well with the high-quality (yet affordable) burgers and ice cream.

 

The train theme puts him over the top.

 

In addition to the rail car, there’s other railroad memorabilia to discover. My daughter had fun standing by the crossing sign (which looks like she’s standing just a few feet from an active track)…

 

all aboard rr crossing

 

…and ringing the bell in front of the train depot.

 

all aboard bell

 

Older kids can play in the picnic area out front, and young children can toddle around safely in the enclosed patio area where their parents can sit down and eat in peace. There’s also a sandbox and a mini train; tickets can be purchased for a ride around the picnic area.

 

all aboard mini train

 

All Aboard has gone to great lengths to create a destination where families can enjoy wholesome food and family fun.

 

And where lasting memories are made.

 

 

All Aboard is located at 102 Castle Drive. Visit its Facebook page here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.