10 best indoor places to play in Chicago


Winter is getting closer and frolicking at the park for hours is no longer an option. Luckily Chicago is home to a robust variety of indoor spots where kids can play and parents can retain their sanity-and their clean homes. Here are 10 of our favorites from 2012:

Linda Marsicano


Make A Messterpiece

Why make a mess at home when you can Make-a-Messterpiece elsewhere? And, oh boy, is making a mess at this Glenview gem fun! An enormous painting area houses the necessities a budding Da Vinci desires-yards of paper in every color and design accessories to create the perfect work of art. The Lil Sprouts area helps budding gardeners hone their green thumbs. The Creative Kitchen gives the next generation of Charlie Trotters hands-on experience making unique edible treats.


Kookaburra Play Cafe

Children don various costumes for sliding, coloring and climbing while parents relax with a delightful coffee drink. Snack time options include chocolate pumpkin bread, veggie straws and organic milk boxes. Kookaburra also offers "date nights" where parents can drop the kids for a night of fun while couples rekindle the romance.



With locations in Niles, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove and Chicago Ridge, this is the place to help kids sleep well at bedtime. The themed inflatables-from Dora to superheroes to princesses-will find a fan in every child. Areas for toddlers ensure tots don't get trampled.


Little Beans Cafe

This slice of kiddie heaven resembles a little town with a firehouse, car garage, grocery store and a tiny house perfect for tea parties. Parents will appreciate the option of plugging into the office in the café area while the kids are supervised by the energetic staff.



The Exploritorium, part of the Skokie Park District, is a true find: a water area where the kids can "fish," an elaborate maze of tunnels and slides, a train table, a stage complete with costumes for budding thespians and a separate area with ride-ons and a rope bridge designated for toddlers.


Monkey Island

Monkey Island claims to be the "largest indoor playground with 40,000 feet of pure fun" and we can't argue. This immense space ensures no kid could ever get bored-tons of bounce houses, a structure filled with slides and tunnels and other attractions like a hurricane simulator that will thrill with hair standing on end. The attraction for parents? Tons of tables and seating within view of the activities so there is no elbowing for room to keep an eye on the kids.


Legoland Discovery Center

Every LEGO enthusiast must visit this haven of building adventures. New is the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride featuring a chariot where brave kids set out to defeat the skeletons, vanquish the trolls and rescue a captured princess.


Lincoln Park Zoo's Canopy Climbing Adventure

This is still a stealth secret for many parents-and we hate to break the code of silence, but the Lincoln Park Zoo has one of the best indoor play spaces in the city. And it's free! Within the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo area is a building containing the Canopy Climbing Adventure, a mass of ropes and bridges that keeps kids entertained for hours. And when they tire of climbing, kids can watch through glass windows as the sea otters joyously play in their own environment on one side, or witness beavers hard at work on the other.


Kid City

This family-run venue welcomes little grocery shoppers with its extensive store. The dress-up room will make any child longing to be a princess or fireman ecstatic. Especially appealing to busy moms and dads is the drop-off camp on select afternoons so parents can do errands in peace (or take a nap!).


Explore and Much More

A physician couple with three children of their own founded this unique play space that has quickly become the buzz of the Southport Corridor. Modeled with a children's museum atmosphere in mind, the two-level venue includes a bouncy house, climbing walls and activities to inspire creativity. Little readers will love lounging in one of the two reading alcoves with a comfy hammock swing.


9 Best indoor play places in Chicago

There are so many great places to play in the city and the suburbs, we can't contain this list to just 10. Click to see more options for your family to play indoors.


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