Family Adventures: Playing for laughs

I have not studied the matter scientifically, but, nonetheless, I believe there is a direct correlation between the Kid’s need to run and play and the temperature outside. The colder it is, the more desperately we need to leave the house right now.

Luckily, when the combination of polar vortex and toddler energy threaten to do me in, we can always release some of the pressure with a trip to Laugh Out Loud, 1000 Massachusetts St.

Located just off Massachusetts Street. with an entrance on 10th Street, Laugh Out Loud — “LOL” to its friends — is an indoor play space built with room for both physical and imaginative play. In addition to a large play structure and climbing wall, there’s a dress-up area and space to play veterinarian. In addition to a jumping pillow, there are art and dance party rooms. Add in free Wi-Fi for parents and a full menu of snacks, and you can see why it might be a good place to weather a cold spell.

That LOL caters so well to both kids and parents is unsurprising, given that it was opened to help one set of parents — owners Charles and Christie Peterson — get to spend more time with their two adorable daughters, Zoe and Kia.

Before they had children, the Petersons operated a business creating challenge courses and providing training for team-building activities.

“That, however, required a lot of travel, so when Zoe was 2, we decided we needed to find a new line of work,” Christie said. “At that time, I was taking her into Kansas City with my new-found mommy friends to go to play places there, as there was not much in Lawrence for little ones.”


Meryl Carver-Allmond/Special to the Journal-World

The Kid has fun in a play structure at Laugh Out Loud, 1000 Massachusetts St.

One day a friend suggested opening a similar play place in Lawrence. After a year of dreaming and even more time drafting business plans, LOL finally became reality.

While the Kid enjoys the play structure and jumping pillow, too, invariably we end up camped at the train table building bridges and crashing engines. But, as LOL is designed for kids from ages 6 months to about 12 years, I expect he’ll find lots of other things to do there as he grows.

“We think the beauty and popularity is actually the wide diversity of activities, from physical to creative, to dramatic, to artistic. The kids are able to run from one activity to the next, and because of the variety, they really seem to be able to be entertained here for hours. That is actually what sets us apart from many children’s activity centers — most focus either on physical play, or on creative play, but do not combine them in one space,” Christie said.

With a pay once, play all day admission scheme, you actually could stay for hours. Or you could play in the morning, go have lunch, and come back for more wearing-out, er, play, in the afternoon. Admission is $5 to $7.50 depending on the age of your child, and punch cards or an annual membership will discount those prices. One adult admission is free with the admission of each child.

LOL also does birthday parties and overnight adventures — we’re having the Kid’s birthday there soon, in fact. I’m looking forward to avoiding the mess and chaos of having 10 preschoolers in my tiny house, of course, but I’m also starting to get excited about the fun I know we’ll all have.

— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at


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