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Don't want to wallow in a muddy, puddle-drenched playground? Our team of intrepid moms renders verdicts on seven of the city's best play spaces.

SEE FOAM One curious tyke explores an array of colorful, soft blocks at The Nest.

Sydney’s Playground

Members only? No

What’s the vibe? Lots of action can be found in this bright, spacious indoor playground, but there are also a few quiet corners for children who are overwhelmed by the constant din.

What’s there? An inflated bouncy castle, tons of riding toys and a climbing city. The 6,000-square-foot center also offers reading areas and a minigym. Infants can hang out in the Womb, a room loaded with toys and rocking chairs.

Do they have kids’ classes? Music Together holds classes in a separate room.

Can we eat there? A small caf overlooking the play area serves veggie burgers, chicken nuggets and sandwiches.

The verdict Our reporter’s kid didn’t want to leave. It’s a great deal considering two people can spend a number of hours here for under $13.

66 White St between Broadway and Church St (212-431-9125, www.sydneysplayground.com). $12.50 for first child (first adult free), $5.95 for each additional child or adult.


Members only? Yes

What’s the vibe? It’s a bustling, somewhat corporate child enrichment center/kiddie salon/boutique/caf/preK/playground for upwardly mobile moms and their nannies.

What’s there? Two hours of open play on weekdays in a thickly padded room filled with foam ramps, blocks, and a ball pit perfect for wiggling or diving. Plus the aforementioned amenities for both parents and tots.

Do they have kids’ classes? More than a hundred a week for those five and under, such as Run, Wiggle, Paint & Giggle (an hour-long prenursery class). In addition to music, art and movement classes, French, Spanish, science, cooking, ballet, soccer, gymnastics and tae kwon do are available. (Phew.)

Can we eat there? The public caf (sample offering: pigs in blankets, $7.95) provides good noshes but can be a tad pricey.

The verdict There’s tons of fun to be had here, and except for going home to sleep, it’s unlikely you and your kids will ever need to leave.

163 E 84th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-772-8435, kidvilleny.com). A second location with a rooftop playground opens in May (466 Columbus Ave between 82nd and 83rd Sts). Membership ranges from silver level ($60 registration plus a class fee, approximately $640--$680 per year) to platinum ($995 per year). Open play costs $14 per two-hour session.

Baby Moves

Members only? No

What’s the vibe? This child development center--come--playspace is charming and mellow. Most of the patrons are slightly arty locals, though the venue also attracts lots of babysitters with their charges.

What’s there? Weekly open-play and creative-play sessions in a colorful 3,000 square-foot skylit space. Unlike at some other play areas in the city, instructors here are actively involved; they adhere to a philosophy that tots’ motor and cognitive skills can be developed through supervised art and play—hence, programs with names like “Early Cortex 101.” The usual foam blocks, tunnels, trampoline, and games or puzzles for older children are also available.

Do they have kids’ classes? There are 28 classes per week, including French and Spanish (both with music and movement), piano, science, yoga, dance and music.

Can we eat there? Not really. While you can bring snacks to eat in the reception area, the rest of Baby Moves is food- and drink-free.

The verdict At $14 for an hour, it’s a decent deal—especially on a rainy day.

139 Perry St between Greenwich and Washington Sts (212-255-1685, babymovesnyc.com). $14 for one hour of nonregistered open play per child.

Little Spirits

Members only? No

What’s the vibe? A serene, if snug, space that’s sparsely attended (i.e., you and your child might get the place all to yourselves).

What’s there? Open play (parent-attended or drop-off) takes place in a playroom equipped with a ball pit, a climbing wall, mini moonwalk/trampoline, magnetic spider wall and toys. Other rooms are dedicated to dramatic play, dancing, yoga, and arts and crafts. The gym’s staff is specifically trained to assist children with special needs, who aren’t always well served at other play centers.

Do they have kids’ classes? Art, dance, drama, speech, behavior therapy, music, yoga, French, music and art appreciation—even a course in etiquette—are all offered.

Can we eat there? No food is sold. There is a kitchen where you can eat your own snacks.

The verdict It’s a pleasant place to while away an afternoon.

10 E 38th St between Fifth and Madison Aves, third floor (212-576-1018, littlespirits.com). Parent-attended open play $15 per hour; drop-off babysitting service $25 per hour.

The Nest

Members only? No

What’s the vibe? A brand-spankin’ new play space and workshop center that’s surprisingly quiet and low-key.

What’s there? This colorful Tribeca space for kids up to age five offers a pristine, if petite play area (the whole place is less than 2,000 square feet), divided into separate areas for tactile exploration and play, as well as a cozy art room and a modest, tasteful toy store.

Do they have kids’ classes? Yes—they offer movement, hands-on observation and exploration, dramatic play, and song and dance, plus art and cooking.

Can I eat there? There’s no food for sale, but you can bring your own.

The verdict The open play is best for toddlers (little ones will enjoy the wee ball pit and soft toys). If nearby Sydney’s Playground is too raucous, this cozy space makes a good backup.

36 N Moore St between Varick and Hudson Sts, (212-219-3130, thenestny.com). $15 for a two-hour session of open play; $10 for an additional sibling.


Members only? Yes

What’s the vibe? A posh play space and “family lifestyle club” for moms, dads and kids who long to be pampered.

What’s there? An immaculate play space, with gym/spa (personal trainers are available), caf, lounge, concierge, babysitting service, family wellness center and much more are provided for kids up to age five and their parents. The dynamic play area includes a bustling kid-scale farmers’ market and truck, soft crawling and climbing spots, a tree-house-style jungle gym, and big, spongy Legos.

Do they have classes? Of course. Your future Dalton student can try Spanish, movement, “Broadway Babies,” science or a host of other subjects.

Can we eat there? Absolutely—Citibabes’ caf serves phenomenal organic food.

The verdict It’s great—if you know the right people and can afford the hefty fee.

52 Mercer St between Broome and Grand Sts (800-697-0107, citibabes.com). Membership is by referral only; the fee runs $2,000--$6,250 per family per year.


Members only? No

What’s the vibe? A low-key kid heaven during the week, but dizzying on busy, nasty-weather weekends.

What’s there? This mega-playground offers video games and impressive mechanical arcade-style rides like a Batman mobile, but the main attraction is a multilevel maze: Crawl in and enter a world of surprises, where short, wide tubes with hanging punching bags open up into a trampoline air-walk; a large ball pit; rope swings; and a big slide to freedom.

Do they have classes? No

Can we eat there? Yes, if you like thin-crust pizza or bagels. Otherwise, BYO.

The verdict You’ll have to drag them out kicking and screaming.

208-34 Cross Island Pkwy between 208th Pl and 209th St, Bayside, Queens (718-352-0913, playrobics.net). Weekdays $7, weekends $8.

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