Too much playtime makes mommies go crazy. But too many adult
activities like shopping make kids get cranky.
Thank goodness there's a happy compromise to keep everyone sane:
Mall play spaces. If the kids are good while you shop, they can
play when you're done.
Bonus: They're all free.
Keep the kids happy Summer may be done, but
this cheerful, garden-themed space will keep little ones running
off steam for hours. It has playful structures in the shapes of
ladybugs, bumble bees and even one enormously inviting serpent.
There's also a fun maze that encloses one side of the area and a
wall of benches where the parents can relax while they keep a close
eye on their kiddos. Slides and crawling structures keep older
children up to age 9 entertained.
Keep the moms happy Since the play space just
opened in July, it's not filled with germs yet.
When you're done playing Check out the brand
new event space called The Cube, which is built entirely out of
glass. It's an climate-controlled area for performances and
interactive displays year-round. But even if there isn't anything
going on in there, it's still pretty neat to see.
Details 4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, (847)
Keep the kids happy With 1,000 square feet of
play space, it'll be hard for them to complain (though not
impossible). The theme here is Chicago landmarks, so there's a
6-foot-long Michigan Avenue Bridge to play on, a 10-foot-tall
Willis Tower, a 6-foot-long Chicago hot dog and a 15-foot-long Navy
Pier. There's also a wall-mounted piano and a powerboat floating
along a fun Chicago river.
Keep the moms happy This isn't a normal mall,
it's an outlet mall. 'Nough said. Oh, and handy cell phone chargers
are located throughout the seating area of the play space so if
your kids absolutely need to play for hours, you won't run out of
When you're done playing Make the kids extra
happy by heading to nearby Six Flags Great America.
Details 6170 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee, (847)
Keep the kids happy This recently renovated
indoor playground has a vibrant color palette, featuring frogs,
bears and worms. But there's way more than your standard indoor
playground here, including a two-story carousel and a fountain that
does all those cool water tricks that can entertain kids for
Keep the moms happy The play area is
wonderfully close to the family bathrooms, so you can dash back and
forth and won't have to be annoyed by your child's pea-sized
When you're done playing Check out the Aurora
Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway St., Aurora, (630) 892-1572,
Details 2176 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora,
(630) 820-5323, westfield.com/foxvalley
Keep the kids happy Kids can cross a bridge
into toon-land and rub elbows with their fave larger-than-life
three-dimensional cartoon characters. It has an 11-piece obstacle
course that's meant to be jumped on, crawled through and climbed
over while your child takes an imaginary boat or wagon ride.
Keep the moms happy The mall is huge and has
just about every single store you could ever imagine. It's
literally a one-stop-shop for everything. You'll be happy.
When you're done playing By the time you're
done making your way to the play area, you'll probably be famished.
They've got plenty of food options. Our favorite is Forever Yogurt,
where you can choose your own toppings and be charged according to
weight. Serve it to the family for lunch with blueberries on top
and pretend it's healthy.
Details 5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, (847)
Keep the kids happy It's literally a play space
built to look like a treehouse in a cool fenced-in area where kids
can climb, slide and play. There's even a nice, bright skylight
over the play area so you really feel like you're outside under the
sky-even when it's the middle of a Chicago winter.
Keep the moms happy This is one of the cleanest
malls we've ever been inside.
When you're done playing Since you're already
in the mall, you might as well grab a haircut for the kids at
Snippet's Mini Cuts.
Details 2171 Northbrook Court, Northbrook,
(847) 498-8161, northbrookcourt.com
Keep the kids happy This isn't a mall, but the
play area is so awesome that it needed to be included. As long as
kids are potty trained and 37-54 inches tall, they can be dropped
off to play in the supervised ball area, climb the spider's web, do
a craft or watch some kids' TV.
Keep the moms happy This is 100 percent
When you're done playing Grab some Swedish
meatballs with the kids (or leave them playing a little longer) in
Ikea's yummy café.
Details 750 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook,
(888) 888-4532; 1800 McConnor Parkway, Schaumburg, (847) 969-9700,