Best NYC play spaces
Recess boasts a jumparoo (kids bounce around on a big tube!), fireman poles, an alcoved nook with magnets and netting kids can climb, plus big and small slides. Grab a membership or drop-in pass (there are tons of options available), or sign up for a class (seasonal 50-minute sessions that run anywhere from eight to 13 weeks). Ages 6mos–6yrs.
Imaginations run wild in this 4,500-square-foot playspace, complete with interactive structures that’ll wow your little ones. There’s the stardust tree fort, which features a giant life-sized tree and suspended tower with a netted bridge, and there’s also a Red Hot Fire House that features a massive fire truck, stairs and a 2nd-floor firehouse. Kids can also dress up in firefighting gear, help change fire truck tires and even play with the lights and sounds of the truck. Other special features include a water play area, a sand play area, the General Store (a 1950s–style market complete with groceries) and a beauty parlor. Ages 6 and under.
Haven’t visited lately? What are you waiting for! With the help of parent volunteers, this already-awesome space morphed into a dedicated educational, play and classroom spot for local families. Two separate rooms are available to visitors during Open Play: One is an activity room with a padded floor that’s great for toddlers (it often has a mini bouncy castle and giant foam blocks!), and the other is a sensory room/classroom that includes a magnetic chalkboard wall, a wooden playhouse and a custom-built wooden sensory wall with a bead maze, shape-matching toy, vintage telephone and a concave blowfish-shape mirror. Ages 18mos–7yrs.
Founded by two sisters, this 3,000-square-foot play space offers an indoor jungle gym, a Broadway-themed room with amazing kids’ costumes and a “bodega” where they can play with shopping carts and plastic/cardboard foods. There are also ride-on car toys (a Bentley and a Mercedes) and a custom train table featuring a 6 train and landmarks like the Statue of Liberty. Ages 6mos–5yrs.
Hudson's House of Play, located along the Hudson River just across the way in NJ, offers a wildly colorful space that's simply jam-packed with fun for kids. The custom-built setup is crafted to look like a town square, complete with a fireouse, sweet-packed bake shop, fresh food market, vet's office and large Brownstone residence. For especially young tykes (ages 2 and under), there's a special play area that offers soft mats and agea-appropriate toys. As an added bonus, parents enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi and can grab a cup of Joe from the onsite cafe. Please be aware that the facility is nut-free, and outside food is discouraged. Ages 0–8.
Your seedling will blossom at this Chelsea play space, which includes a 2,500-square-foot indoor playground featuring a soft-play climbing area, a shape-sorter garden, a sports section and nine permanent exhibits that mimic the Big Apple. Your child can ring up friends at the New York-style deli filled with fake organic food and flowers, or design her own skyscraper out of colorful geometric shapes. The space also contains a boutique, a bookstore, a café, a birthday room and a hair salon (a haircut for your child will set you back about $32). Classrooms at the facility offer lessons in music, art, cooking, science, yoga, dance, sports and Spanish in 16-week sessions. A Red Apple Seeds membership grants you unlimited access to the cheery playgrounds and members receive a discount on classes, camps, haircuts, events and purchases at the boutique and café. Ages newborn to 5 years.
This 4,000 square foot indoor playground, which features equipment made from recycled materials, skylights and an energy-efficient air purification system, offers the best for kids who want to run and play all-year-round. At this members-only facility (which they keep sparkling clean using organic products) kids can burn off energy on slides, ball pits, trampolines, fun mats and more. Classes in music, sports and dance are offered as well as birthday parties. Members also enjoy access to seasonal parties, readings, environmental events and educational seminars for parents. Newborn to 6 years.
This 6,000-square-foot tot hot spot is equal parts gym, arcade and café. Children ages three and up can run around the three-story play area, which features a triple slide, mazes and tunnels. Babies and toddlers get their own space featuring playhouses and double padded carpet. Video games are available to older kids, and every entrant receives complimentary game tokens depending on membership level. While the children are occupied, parents can grab a snack in the café. Ages 3 to 12.
Set in the courtyard of the Westbeth artist community, this spot looks more like a gallery than a tot stomping ground. But inside, it's warm and inviting. Founder Dawn Ifrah has a master's degree in early childhood education and she puts it to good use, adjusting her equipment to suit the ages and interests of the kids who show up. Toy kitchens and cars can be added or removed, as can climbing towers. Reservations suggested. Ages 6 months to 7 years.
The Chelsea retreat may be named for its tree house, but its main attraction is actually a water table that accommodates children ranging in age from 18 months to eight years. Toddlers give plastic animals a bath while preschoolers direct water jets to move balls and customize dams. Other offerings include a wide selection of classes and playgroups, as well as birthday parties. Ages newborn to 8 years.
Offering plenty of activities for kids, the Upper East Side gym features athletic offerings like Mighty Muscle Movers (an action-packed, play-based class for toddlers) and Tumbling Tots (gymnastics for the preschool set) as well as music and dance programs. Best of all: With class enrollment, families are entitled to such perks as free open-play sessions and discounts on birthday parties, camps and special events. Ages 9 months to 12 years.
At this Kidville location you’ll find a supervised indoor gym, tons of classes each week, a boutique and a café. But pampered playtime at each of these members-only megaspaces comes at a price: Platinum and Diamond members recieve complimentary use, and Silver members can play for a fee (first pass is free!). Ages newborn to 6 years.