It’s freezing outside. You’ve been stuck in the house with your kids for the past two weeks, and they’re going stir-crazy. Their new LEGO sets and board games have suddenly gotten old. What do you do?
Here’s an idea: Go to the mall.
No, not to shop—to play. Throughout the Chicago area, you can find many shopping centers and stores that offer you and your youngsters a heated, indoor space to burn off that energy. Your kids can run, climb and slide all winter long—for free. Here are some of the bigger ones:
• Kids’ play has a long tradition at Yorktown Center (Highland Avenue and Butterfield Road, Lombard), which has operated a miniature train ride for almost 30 years. In March 2004, the mall opened its Treehouse Adventure Play Area. This custom-designed play space, with its three raised treehouses, slide, ground-level miniature train station and soft-play structure, fit neatly into the enclosed space. Call (630) 629-7330 or visit www.yorktowncenter.com.
• Orland Square Mall (151st Street and LaGrange Road, Orland Park) asked St. Francis Hospital of Blue Island to help create a medical-themed play area, complete with a miniature hospital slide and oversized teddy bear doctor. Part of the Simon Malls network, Orland Square created the area for its "stroller-mall" clientele. It is a chance for children to play and it also promotes health and wellness. Kids can run, be active or have a little quiet time on one of the many benches reading one of the books provided. Call (708) 349-1646 or visit www.simon.com.
• Stratford Square Mall (Army Trail Road and Gary Avenue, Bloomingdale) provides two separate play areas, both designed to reflect their hometown of Bloomingdale. Kids’ PlayTowne centers around a cherry tree and slide with a miniature police car and the town’s library bear mascot. The second area appeals to junior car lovers, with three miniature Chevys incorporated into the slides.
• While it is not technically a mall, IKEA sure feels like one. Its Schaumburg store (1800 E. McConnor Pkwy.) and the new one in Bolingbrook (750 E. Boughton Rd.) each offer a supervised play area where you can drop off the kids if you need to do some shopping on your own. It’s a finite time, but kids can jump, slide and play in ball pits. Call (847) 969-9700 (Schaumburg) or (630) 972-7900 (Bolingbrook) or visit www.IKEA.com.
Who would have guessed "malling" with little kids could be so much fun?