Beat the weather with Chicago's indoor playgrounds
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We Chicagoans have to put up with a lot. Freezing spring days, rainy summer days, windy fall days and let's not even talk about winter. Thankfully, there are loads of indoor playgrounds throughout the city for those times when a day at the park just won't cut it.
We visited every single one with a 17-month-old girl so you could simply use our guide to figure out the best one for your itty bitty.
1504 N. Fremont
Cost: $10 per child, $3 per sibling.
Deals: Open play is free if you're enrolled in any classes. Also buy a five-punch card for $50 and get one visit free.
Best for: Age 3 months-2 years. Nearly every toy is soft, but there isn't much for the preschool set.
Special activities: Classes, birthday parties, preschool, camp.
Children will love: The mural on the wall of this massive playroom makes you feel like you're in a gigantic, soft meadow. Plenty of soft slides, balls and even a helper who will blow bubbles galore.
Mommies will love: Free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and magazines in a separate parents area above the play area so you can see your child without interrupting his playtime.
Family Grounds Cafe
3652 N. Lincoln Ave.
Cost: $10.95 per child, $5.95 per sibling during open play
Deals: You can buy a monthly pass for $44 per child and $25 per sibling.
Best for: Toddlers. Nearly all the toys and activities are geared toward the under-3 set.
Special activities: Live music included in the fee during Tuesday-Friday morning open play time; birthday parties.
Children will love: Life-sized doll houses. These two houses change their theme seasonally-and a few children plus a parent or two can fit inside. For a few months, one of the houses was a pet shop. It turned into a flower shop just in time for spring.
Mommies will love: The coffee bar and two people always on the floor to help break up fights and read to your child.
1422 N Kingsbury St.
Cost: $12 per child
Deals: A 30-day membership is $65 per child, $35 per sibling. A 90-day membership is $165 per child, $90 per sibling. A 10-punch card is $100.
Best for: Age 3-6: Scary, fun slides are only good for older children.
Special activities: Live music and storytelling during the morning hours throughout the fall and winter months included in admission; birthday parties.
Children will love: The entire space is one large, kid-sized town. It has a police station, market, clothing shop and castle-complete with appropriate toys and dress-up clothing for each area.
Mommies will love: The large kitchen, available for use for lunch or snacks, free street parking.
1504 N. Western Ave.
Cost: First visit free. You must buy a punch card or monthly membership for subsequent visits.
Deals:$50 for a five-visit punch card for one child, $25 for sibling. $72 for monthly membership, $36 for sibling.
Best for: Age 2-4.
Special activities:Parties, camp and soon music and yoga classes.
Children will love:This is one of the smaller indoor playrooms, but it has a large, cozy area for reading-complete with books your baby, toddler or preschooler will enjoy.
Mommies will love:Free coffee, tea, Wi-Fi, plenty of magazines and free street parking.
Jump Ahead Academy
2260-62 N. Clark St.
Cost: $10 per child.
Deals: Free open play if you're enrolled in a class.
Best for: Age 2-5: It helps if your child has a little coordination, but everyone will have a great time regardless of skill level.
Special activities: Camps, parties.
Children will love:Jump Ahead is a children's gymnastics center, so there's a trampoline, balance beam and baby-sized bars to swing.
Mommies will love: There's a gymnastics teacher at every open play, so your child will get to learn and play.
1837 W. Grand Ave.
Cost:$14 per child, $10 per sibling during open play.
Deals: A 30-day membership is $105, a 90-day membership is $160. A 10-pass card is $115.
Best for: Age 2-6: There's a small area for pre-crawlers, but most of the toys are more fun for walkers.
Special activities:Birthday parties.
Children will love:Marketplace, complete with kid-sized shopping carts and a cash register. The boutique is also sure to please, with dress-up clothing that will make any little girl swoon.
Mommies will love: Free coffee and the large parent room that offers magazines, a TV and low lighting for relaxation.
My Corner Playroom
2121 N. Clybourn Ave.
Cost: $15 per child, $10 per sibling
Deals: $50 per month for unlimited visits, $35 per sibling per month for unlimited visits, $135 for a 10-visit punch card, $90 for a 10-visit sibling punch card.
Best for: Age 2-4. There are a few baby/toddler toys, but no separate area for non-walkers.
Special activities: Preschool, camp and parties.
Children will love: The first indoor play area in Chicago, around since 1996, and it looks like an indoor park. There are six slides, a "sandbox" made with rice, see-saws, riding toys and even a small basketball area.
Mommies will love: You can go home for a nap and come back to play without paying an extra fee. Plus, there's ample free parking.
Pump It Up
821 W. Eastman
Cost: $10 per child
Deals: Sometimes offers special pricing for holidays. Check website for details.
Best for: Age 1 and up. There's literally something fun for every age group-even adults.
Special activities: Parties, camp.
Children will love: My 17-month-old daughter has never had a better time in her life. There are two rooms (one for toddlers, one for older children) filled with bouncy spaces-including bouncy slides, bouncy playground and the traditional bouncy castle with basketball hoop.
Mommies will love: Parents are allowed inside the bouncy fun area, too. Be prepared for a very long nap when your child is done bouncing.