Mall play spaces and more offer fun distractions for kids

You have gifts to return or exchange and the only thing worse than the post-holiday crowds at the stores is having to drag your kids along. Never fear, local malls are ramping up the fun with built-in play spaces, kid clubs and businesses that will watch your kids while you shop.

Kids clubs

Simon Malls Kidgits Club

Free to sign up and membership gets you events and activities throughout the year. Some malls with theaters include a free movie series during the winter and summer.

Hawthorn Mall Saplings Kids Club

Membership is free and members get exclusive deals and events. The play area, located in front of JCPenny’s, has been recently renovated to provide plenty of fun for little ones. It’s also located right outside Snickelfritz Toys, a family owned independent toy store that frequently has toys and activities stationed out front.

Play spaces

Gurnee Mills

The Gurnee Mills play area gives children the chance to traipse through the city of Chicago climbing, hopping and sliding through parks and landmarks. Other great kid spots are the LEGO store which hosts monthly builds for free and Bass Pro Shop. Go to Bass when they are feeding the fish in their huge tanks for extra fun (Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Mondays at 6 p.m.)

Orland Square

The mall features a carousel located in the JCPenny’s Court as well as a children’s play area.

White Oaks Mall

Home of the iconic White Oaks Mall Carousel (lower level center court), they also have a children’s play area sponsored by St. John’s Children’s Hospital located in the Sears wing.

Woodfield Mall

The iconic mall of the Lake County area boasts plenty of businesses that will entertain your kids, but if you are looking for free play visit the Children’s Play Park in the Macy’s wing.

Northbrook Court

Northbrook Court’ Tree House Court play area (located by the theater on the lower level) features a larger than life tree house that kids can climb, slide and play until they are too tired to notice you went to three stores instead of just one more. Play is free and only for children ages 8 and younger.

Yorktown Center

Yorktown’s newly renovated PLAY Zone is suited for ages 10 months and older with play areas focusing on art, technology and a playground for the youngest ones. Don’t miss the train ride that boards outside FunFlatables. The Yorktown Express is free (up to 10 rides per child) for children 18 months up to 54” (children only). FunFlatables (located on the upper level by JCPenny) offers open bounce daily for $9 per child. You can’t leave your child unattended but the cost is for unlimited play for the whole day, so you can leave with them and come back whenever necessary.

Fox Valley Mall

The animal-themed children’s play area will keep the children busy while you rest your legs and organize your receipts.

Drop-off play

The creme-de-la-creme of mall play is Yu Kids Island located in Woodfield and Hawthorn Malls. This drop-in play place for children under 48 inches is a brightly colored utopia that everyone will enjoy. The best part is that during select times they offer drop-off play, $25 for two hours. You can drop-off your kids and shop in peace. See their website or call ahead for drop-off play hours.

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