Play until you drop at mall play spaces

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.

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.

 

 
 

Westfield Old Orchard

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) 673-6800, westfield.com

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) 673-6800, westfield.com

 

 
 

Gurnee Mills Mall

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 juice.

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) 263-7500, simon.com/mall/gurnee-mills

 

 
 

Westfield Fox Valley Mall

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 hours.

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 bladder.

When you're done playing Check out the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway St., Aurora, (630) 892-1572, auroraregionalfiremuseum.org

Details 2176 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora, (630) 820-5323, westfield.com/foxvalley

 

 
 

Woodfield Mall

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) 330-1537, simon.com/mall/woodfield-mall

 

 
 

Northbrook Court

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

 

 
 

Ikea

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 drop-off.

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, ikea.com

 

 
 
 







 
 
 
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