My fun-lovin’ trio and I are always on a mission to find fun things to do around the area. A few FB mommas had mentioned Hippo Campus in Volo so I thought it was about time to see it for ourselves. The play place has a rather unique name you may notice. It’s actually named after the hippocampus, the part of the brain that processes sensory experience into memory. That is why their tag line is “Hippo Campus: Were Sense Memories are Made.” The kids no doubt had fun making new memories!
- No electronics. If you ever wanted to be unplugged, this is the place for it.
- Different themed rooms to encourage a different sensory experience. The Light Room with lighted blocks, a glow in the dark aquarium, and cool lights that can be touched.
Volcano Room with its volcano that they loved climbing. They also really got a kick of avoiding the hot lava by stepping on the “stones.”
In the Music Room, they loved jamming out with keyboards and other instruments. They especially liked playing with the magna tiles.
With larger than life Connect 4, Lego blocks, and a checkers table, you’ll feel like you’re in the movie, “Honey, I Shunk the Kids” in the “Shrinking Room.” (Remember that movie?)
- Easy access to bathrooms. The building used to be a daycare and a couple rooms have their own bathroom. Very convenient!
- Helpful staff. We visited during spring break and it was busy. Some kids may have been a little rowdy and were happy knocking down everything in site. A few minutes later, the staff was in the room tidying it up. It was nice to see that they wanted to keep everything orderly. We’ve been to too many places where it is such a mess that it’s hard for kids to play.
- Founded by a mom that gets it. The owner Maureen, a mom of three boys, was always looking for places to bring them that appeal to her son’s different interests. Also, one of her boys has sensory processing challenges, so wanted to make a place that would be accessible to kids of all abilities.
- The snack room was larger. They have adorable tiny seats and chairs, but it was a little crowded and hard to maneuver through.
- We could come when their outdoor area was open. This summer they will have an “Imagination Garden” expecting to open mid-May depending on the weather.
- Interested in creating your own masterpiece? Start at the Art Room so your artwork has time to dry before you leave. We did the Art Room last and their artwork was still wet.
- Pack a lunch! They have a snack room to eat.
We adored the center and will need to come back again when it’s not so crowded.
Location: 401 E. Route 60, Volo, Illinois
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. On the first Fridays of the month, they are open until 7 p.m. with a different theme.
Ticket prices: $10 child, $6 under 6 months. Adults are free. They will start offering membership programs and punch cards starting at $48. They will also offer fun summer camps including STEAM activities, sensory art, song and story times, obstacles and races.
Parking: Plenty of parking at the lot
Stroller-friendly? It may get a little crowded with the stroller at some areas.
Food: They sell pre-packaged snacks, juice, apple sauce. You can also bring your own snack. You can eat in the snack room.
Crowded: We visited on a Thursday morning during spring break and it was busy (as expected.)
What to expect: Different themed rooms, no electronics, volcano play structure, music, art room, large moveable blocks
While You’re Here:
- The owner recommends Fratello’s Hot Dogs or Bobby’s Barrel Inn, both of which are located just west of Hippo Campus in Lakemoor near the intersection of Routes 120 and 12.
- If you want to make a whole day out of it, head to Volo Auto Museum to peep awesome cars like the Delorean, Batmobiles, Kit, the Knight Rider car, Mater and Lightning McQueen from Cars. Read all about our visit here.
- The Volo Bog is also closeby if you’re craving a little time with nature. Read all about it here.