5 great indoor playgrounds

Rained out? Too cold? Too hot? These indoor playgrounds allow kids to run wild when the weather isn't cooperating.

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  • Explore & Much More is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.

  • Kid's Island is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.

  • Kookaburra Play Cafe is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.

  • Photograph: Thomas M Kubik

    Little Beans Cafe is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.

  • Pickle's Playroom is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.

Explore & Much More is one of our favorite indoor playgrounds.


Rainy days do little to dampen kids' energy—if anything, a downpour (or other home-confining weather like snowstorms or oppressive heat) makes little ones even more antsy. What to do? Museums are always a good option, but if they really have ants in their pants, let them run wild in one of our favorite indoor playgrounds. Bonus: Many of them offer coffee and other treats for weary parents.

Explore & Much More

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The fun spans two levels at this Southport play area, a favorite spot for Southport mom and nannies. Welcoming kids up to eight, Explore & Much More has a play kitchen, dress-up area, and toy-filled nooks that encourage creativity and discovery. It also offers art and music classes, plus Mommy & Me and storytime.

  1. 3827 N Southport Ave
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Kid's Island

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Too cold or rainy to hit the beach or playground sandbox? No problem. Take your kids ages 10 months and up to Kid's Island, which has the only indoor sandbox in the United States. In addition to its large playspace, Kid's Island will watch your kids while you get a spa service next door at Wellness Nail Spa. This spot also boasts a café serving lunch and snacks, and a Julius Meinl coffee shop.

  1. 1358 W Webster Ave
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Kookaburra Play Cafe

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Not only does Kookaburra have a loft-like atmosphere (and fun bathrooms!), but it also has a cute little cafe. (Parents love the coffee; kids love the cheese pizza.) Kids can play in many different areas, including the baby play area with toys and a mirror; a play kitchen with a shopping cart and lots of food; and a train table. We also love the dress-up clothes, the large play structure with fun slide and the tons of other toys.

  1. 2267 N Clybourn Ave
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Little Beans

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Located between Lincoln Park and Bucktown, this popular play space ($12/visit) and cafe has a fire station, grocery store, tons of costumes and so much more for the kiddos. Even better: There is wireless for parents who need to get some work done, plus tables and couches inside the play area. There's also an indoor café next to the windowed playroom that serves food and coffee.

  1. 1809 W Webster Ave
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Pickle's Playroom

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Pickle's Playroom combines a large interactive playroom, an inviting cafe and a fun children's salon. Kids love the huge slide area and the air traffic control tower, and parents love the café that serves lunch and coffee. As an added bonus, you can get your kid's hair cut in the kids’ salon, which also sells hair products and accessories.

  1. 2315 W Lawrence Ave
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Did you check out Kidville Lincoln Park?