We started off searching for this mall's play area and we we re not disappointed. Outside Sears we found an area similar to Southpoint's play area, but much smaller. They had benches surrounding a couple of small play structures and slides. This area was paired with some vehicles that kids could pay a little change to ride in. My little one enjoyed crawling around the small play area while my older one loved catching a ride on Thomas.
After the play area we continued our tour. Next, we discovered a special exhibit of a prehistoric Megalodon Shark Jaw. It was taller than my husband and I, and my sons enjoyed staring at it in awe for several minutes. In the same courtyard as the jaw was one of several elevators in the mall. These were quite entertaining on their own because their windows were glass so we could view the mall as we hitched a ride up and downstairs.
We continued to walk around the mall and found the Disney Store and Build-A-Bear right next to each other. While we didn't do much shopping in either store, my son was entertained just by looking in their windows. The mall was actually closed when we arrived, but I am a big advocate of taking toddlers to malls when the stores are closed. Toddlers aren't really that great at shopping, but they are great at peering in windows and running down long empty hallways, so an empty mall is a GREAT choice. However, if you choose to head into one of those two stores, I'm sure any child would have a great time looking around.
As the mall was opening, it was just about lunch time (We were there on a Sunday.), so we headed up to the food court. I was very impressed, it was huge! They had all of our kid-friendly favorites including Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds as well as healthier options such as Subway. They also had more of the ride-on vehicles located in the food court, but we didn't visit them this time.
After our lunch, we headed over to a candy shop that we had noticed on the way in. This was the perfect way to finish off our meal. My sons loved looking at all the different kinds of candies, and we could scoop out a little bag of our favorites for not a lot of money. In addition, they had some of the largest gummy worms and bears that we had ever seen including some they claim are the world's largest gummy bears.
On our way out, we had to make one more stop on the recommendation of someone we had met in the play area, and when we arrived, we wished we had more time to stay and play. The last place we headed to was the Lego store. That's right, a whole store devoted to Legos. There were displays lining the walls along with countless Lego kits. They also had different stations set up where kids of different ages and abilities could try their hand at some Lego construction. Behind the registers were bins of different colored Legos that kids could scoop out and purchase, just like the candy store. The pieces were a bit small for us right now, but my husband was absolutely drooling about all of the possibilities for Lego fun that him and the boys could have when they get older. I can safely say that we will be back to this store many times!
By this point, our boys were falling asleep and it was definitely nap time. Was there any great kid finds at Crabtree Valley that we missed this time? If so that's great, please let us know, it gives us a great excuse to head back for another visit!
What we liked: Malls are great for toddlers. There's so much to do, so you don't have to spend too much time in any one area. In addition, there's plenty of space for toddlers to stretch their legs regardless of the weather. They can be completely free entertainment, or you can add on to your fun for as much as you want to spend.
What we would change: The only drawback of this mall for us was the distance from Durham. While I'm sure we would go more often if it was in Durham, a half an hour was not too bad of a distance for a fun diversion.
Website and other important information:
Address: 4325 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612
Phone Number: 919-787-8993
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday Noon-7pm
1. The glass elevators
3. The Disney Store window
4. The blocks in the play area
5. A view of the whole play area
5. The candy store
6. Wall of Legos in the store
7. Walls of Legos