Play Center

Big Al’s

What: Big Al’s at Progress Ridge
Where: 14950 SW Barrows Road, Beaverton, OR 97007
Who: All Ages
When: Usually 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, weekend times extended
Why: It’s a family-friendly play place with great grown-up touches

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A few weeks ago we went to Big Al’s at Progress Ridge for my niece’s birthday party. We’d never been there before and we didn’t quite know what to expect.

First thought: The name is no joke. It’s BIG! As in grandiose. It includes a sports bar, arcade, bowling alley, and swanky VIP bowling alley. It’s sleek, clean, and well-designed.

My second thought: Should our kids be here?? I wondered if someone was going to card us and send us, our snotty noses, and our stroller packing. It just seemed too grown-up and too nice of a place to bring children.

But good news! While children probably aren’t the target demographic, Big Al’s still makes families very, very welcome. We were there on a Saturday morning, and the place was full to the brim with kids. The staff was friendly and patient with all the chaos.

There are discounts for kids 12 and under too—like Eat2Play (a meal + arcade deal) and $2 bowling before 5:00 pm. They offers fun birthday packages (including party rooms), arcade options just for small kids, and a rewards shop that caused my girls’ hearts to soar. They also participate in the Kids Bowl Free summer program.

We thought the arcade was pricey (about $1.25 a game), but that was our only complaint. Big Al’s is a great place for your snot-nosed little darlings on a rainy afternoon, or your main squeeze on a date night. Give it a try sometime.

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Park Lanes

What: Park Lanes Family Entertainment Center
Where: 6360 SE Alexander Street, Hillsboro
Who: All Ages
When: Daily 9:00 am to 11:00 pm (open until 1:00 am Friday and Saturday)
Why: It’s a clean, happy place with something for everyone in the family
Cost: Varies for each activity, see their website

A Good Gray: Park LanesI don’t know what sinister thing happened in my past to make me dislike bowling, but dislike it I do. If I have to do it, I prefer a Wii remote in my hand. However, somehow I’ve found myself in a family full of bowlers. Go figure.

So this week on a rainy day we headed to Park Lanes, a family entertainment center in Hillsboro. The outside is nothing special, but I’ve found I can tolerate this place because (a) it’s the cleanest bowling joint I have ever been to (no 30-year-old stale smoke stench? that’s a win!) and (b) it offers more than just bowling.

In addition to Park Lanes’s large bowling alley there is a redemption arcade, children’s play structure, outdoor batting cages, pro store, and restaurant. It really is clean on the inside and the staff is friendly. You can host parties here, join a league, take a lesson, or go crazy at a themed night—cosmic bowling, Monte Carlo, yada yada yada.

Not all of Park Lanes is for kids, but there are two family-friendly deals I appreciate at Park Lanes:

  1. They participate in the Kids Bowl Free program. That means you can sign up to have your children bowl free from April to September. You can also purchase passes for shoe rentals and bowling discounts for parents. (TIP: To save on shoe rentals for our girls I ended up buying some cheap canvas shoes with no-mark soles. Park Lanes is fine with that as long as they are only used for bowling.)
  2. The Jungle Maze play structure is brand new. It’s three stories high with two cool sky bridges. It’s normally $6 per child for unlimited play, but with their Happy Hour Special you pay half price Monday through Thursday, 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Nice.

The only complaint I can think of about the place is that I’m not crazy about the prices in the arcade. It’s fun and the kids love the prizes at the redemption center, but the games cost more than other nearby arcades.

So give Park Lanes a try. You’ll find there really is something excitin’ for everyone in your family, bowling-haters and all.

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Out of this World Pizza and Play

What: Out of this World Pizza and Play 
Where: 6255 NW Century Blvd, Hillsboro
Who: All ages
When: Daily 10 am to 9 pm (closed July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas)
Why: It’s a crazy fun indoor place for playing or pizza-ing.
Cost: $5 for ages 1 to 4, $7 for ages 5 to 17, Adults free

*On Mondays all ages can play for $4 (except school holidays).

A Good Gray: Out of this World Pizza and Play

You know Pizza Planet in “Toy Story”? Well it seems to have come to life in a converted warehouse in Hillsboro. Out of this World is a pizza and play place that is kiiiinda like Disneyland for my kids. And they can do it all while wearing socks and no shoes.

My photos hardly do it justice, so just picture a huge play structure, bouncy slide, PlasmaCar track, toddler play area, and a new arcade. It’s way fun. Most of Out of this World encourages active play, and I love that my girls run around like crazy people for hours without getting bored.

You can pay to just play, or you add on the buffet. It’s surprisingly good with a variety of pizzas, breadsticks, homemade soups, hot dogs, and over 20 items in the fresh salad bar. Out of this World is well-suited for birthday parties or other groups (they have a large private space upstairs). They have tons of different deals and discounts, so definitely see their website.

One bonus is the security. There’s one entrance/exit, and your family all gets the same stamp on their hand. Children are kept on a list with that  stamp, and they won’t allow you to leave with a child that’s not in your care. It really helps with my anxiety as I try to keep track of my kids in such a big place.

Parking is plentiful and it’s easy to get to, so head on over on the next rainy day!

A Good Gray: Out of this World Pizza and Play A Good Gray: Out of this World Pizza and PlayA Good Gray: Out of this World Pizza and Play