Friday, October 8, 2010

The Fun Zone-Drop-in Childcare in Downtown Durham

What it is: Owner Toni Mason has created a terrific space for kids aged 18 months and above to play in while moms and dads head out for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The Fun Zone has bins and bins of toys, crafts and activities, plus a bounce house, pretend-play areas, and as it gets late, there's a movie area too.. Ms Toni has a lot of experience in childcare, because on top of babysitting, she has been running the afterschool care program at Durham Academy. The price is $8/hour for the first child, $14/hour for two, charged in quarter-hour increments, with a one-hour minimum.  The Fun Zone also offers birthday parties, for a great place to celebrate your little ones big day. 

(The Fun Zone's next door sister-business Sew Crafty also offers crafty summer camps for children ages 7 and up.  There are a ton of camp options including sewing, painting, clay, beads, and much more.  Sew Crafty also offers sewing classes for age 8 and above as well as home school programs and afterschool and workday programs.  Sew Crafty will also be offering craft days when year round schools are tracked out.  Check out their website for more information:

What we like: Since we first tried out the Fun Zone a few weeks ago, we have already returned twice, at the insistence of our two daughters aged 3 and 5! They can't wait to get there, and the place is walking distance to a bunch of excellent restaurants; and then the girls never want to leave! We've been so impressed that I even arranged for child care at the Fun Zone for a charity benefit I organized: the other three families (a total two girls and 4 boys aged 2.5 to 9) who participated all reported the same thing! Now my husband and I feel like we are so free to get out a little! And my girls want their birthday parties to be held there... The space is so inviting, the kids just instantly take to it-- neither of our kids usually take to a new place that fast. The activities are all really engaging, and when kids need to blow off steam, the bounce house is perfect. Ms Toni and her helper keep the kids busy and happy, and we've packed dinner for them to eat there too.

What could be better: While the location is terrific on a quiet pedestrian street in the heart of downtown, it can be tricky to find. Orange Street is a two-block walking street that runs from the front of the downtown Durham post office to the intersection of Parrish and Mangum. On-street parking can be tricky, so the easiest solution is the parking structure at the intersection of Rigsbee and Chapel Hill Streets, across from Rue Cler restaurant (parking is usually free on weekend evenings).

Website and Other Important information:


Address: 101 Orange Street, Durham NC 27701

Phone Number: 919-683-1582

E-mail address:

Hours: Open Fri and Sat evenings, 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm, Weekends from 10am-2pm, and Weekday mornings for playtime from 9:30am-11am


1. The entrance

2. Views of the inside


Anonymous said...

If you are looking for a safe, fun, and reliable childcare play facility to drop your kids off at in Durham try Green Kids Drop-In Centers, located right across from the Southpoint Mall.
My kids love it! They take children 12mo and walking up to 12 years old. They believe in play based learning and only charge you to the minute that your child stays. The owners also own the Melting Pot in the same building, we have been going there for years.

Laura R. said...

Youngest children can be 18 months, not 2 1/2 as noted in the info above. Toni mentioned that she had requested to have this updated. She's wonderful and the place is great fun - help support this super nice and family friendly venue!!!!

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