Rain, rain, go away. All the kids want to do is play. Fortunately, the top indoor playgrounds for kids in Chicago offer plenty to keep them busy—even on the most miserable of days. So when the family tires of free museum days and the little ones really just want to run around like they would at any of the city's best playgrounds, let them go wild at one of these tops spots. Many of them just happen to be great for birthday party ideas, too.
Best indoor playgrounds
The fun spans two levels at this Southport play area, a favorite spot for moms and nannies. Welcoming kids up to age 8, Explore & Much More has a play kitchen, dress-up area and toy-filled nooks that encourage creativity and discovery. You'll also find art and music classes here.
When you simply can't go to the beach, kids ages 10 months and older will love the Kid's Island alternative—a massive indoor sandbox. This spot also boasts a café serving lunch and snacks and a coffee shop, so parents can find a happy place, too.
Located between Lincoln Park and Bucktown, this popular play space ($12/visit) 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.
Pickle's Playroom combines a large interactive playroom, an inviting café 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.
This South Loop kids' playspace focuses on everything eco-friendly. Inside the playspace is a boutique that follows suit with all local, organic and fair trade products. Various classes are offered throughout the week like music, infant massage and baby sign language. Kids can also drop in throughout the week for open play with occassional hours on the weekends between birthday parties.
The 1,500-square-foot storefront playroom, aimed at newborns through preschoolers, boasts a crawl-through tunnel, toy trucks, costumes for dress-up, a train table, DUPLO table, dollhouse, books, ethnically diverse dolls, rocking-horse-type riding toys and more. The youngest babies get their own area, separated by a low wall. On the bigger-kid side of the divider, some of the train toys don't meet the toilet-paper-tube threshold, so (duh) keep an eye on your orally fixated infant. Plus, there's free coffee and wi-fi for the parents.
Kids with boundless energy will enjoy bouncing from inflatable to inflatable, sliding down slides and using their imagination around every corner. The space often hosts theme jumps—superhero, glow jumps, family jumps—so check the calendar often!
Equal stimulation is provided for all generations at this frisky mom-and-tot studio. The atmosphere is rainbow-colored and downright frolicsome. Your teeny yogini will love the modified poses, playful props and group singing. Classes range from prenatal to eight-year-olds, and the focus is on inclusiveness and bonding.
The second location of this indoor playspace is much larger with plenty of things for both little and big kids to do. A gym, karaoke room, art room and library complement the little and big play areas. There is also a full café with drive-thru window, and kids can participate in classes, camps and birthday parties.