Play until you drop at these mall play spaces

Yorktown Center

 

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.

 

Yorktown Center

 

Keep the kids happy 

 

Yorktown’s PLAY Zone is suited for ages 10 months and older with play areas focusing on art, technology and a playground for the youngest ones. Bring your quarters for the kiddie rides adjacent from the play area. For more fun, stop by Wendella Park for oversized games, kid-sized picnic tables, and fun events like hip hop classes, yoga, movies, meet and greets, and more. Don’t miss the train ride that boards outside FunFlatables. FunFlatables (located on the upper level by JCPenney) offers open bounce daily for $10 per child.

 

Keep yourself happy

 

Complete with three changing tables, two nursing stations, family restrooms with kid-sized toilets, and a tv area, the Family Lounge area is designed with your family in mind. Looking for new decor or inspiration? HomeGoods is conveniently connected to the mall (yay!) and just down the play area.

 

When you’re done playing

 

For something a little different, how about tea time with your favorite little people? Windy City Tea not only offers over 100 different types of tea and board games, but towards the back of the shop you’ll find a cafe where they offer tea service with scones and little bites. They even offer afternoon tea if you’d like to go all out with tea and a three tier tray with sandwiches and other goodies.

 

Grab some grub

 

Located just a hop, skip, and a throw from the play area, the kids will no doubt want a treat from any of the surrounding shops — candy, cookies or yogurt. For food with a bit more sustenance and nutrients, make the beeline upstairs to the Eatery. Options include ramen at Nori Sushi Ramen or crepes at the small but cute Paris Bistro & Creperie. When kids see the super adorable Brookfield Zoo Children’s Dining Area tucked away in the corner of the Eatery (and perfectly situated by the bathrooms) they will be happy to eat their food.

 

203 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard

 

Westfield Old Orchard

 

Keep the kids happy

 

The cheerful, garden-themed space will keep little ones running off steam for hours. It has playful structures in the shapes of ladybugs, bumblebees 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 yourself happy

 

Want to shop on your own? Drop of the kids at FUNDAY, a boutique drop-off play space and activity center designed for children ages 3 to 12. While you’re out trying to find that new outfit, the kids will be able to work on an art, craft, science, or cooking project. Here are more reasons why you’ll want to check out FUNDAY.

 

When you’re done playing

 

Marvel at the event space called The Cube built entirely out of glass. Make it a movie night at CMX Market Cinemas, a step up (or two) from your regular movie theatre. With comfortable luxurious seating and delicious gourmet food, you’ll never go back to traditional movie theaters. Pro tip: Stop by on Tuesdays for $5 tickets!

 

Grab some grub

 

Love pizza? Can’t go wrong with Blaze Pizza. A fan of burgers? Epic Burger or Shake Shack are also great options.

 

4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie

Westfield Fox Valley Mall

 

Westfield Fox Valley Mall

 

Keep the kids happy

 

The 1350 sq. ft woodland-themed indoor playground (lower level near JCPenney)  is sure to be a hoot with the kids. Complete with a vibrant color palette along with frogs, bears and worms, the playground also has interactive elements to keep littles busy. 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. The fun doesn’t have to end there — a trackless train, indoor ice skating rink, an imagination playground, a bungee bounce, bowling and kiddie rides await.

 

Keep yourself 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. If you need to get some shopping done, rent one of the new sleek and comfy Velochi strollers that come with a built-in tablet as well as an option for a single or double stroller. Designated family parking spots are also available near Entrance 1 by Macy’s and Entrance 2 between Sears and JCPenney.

 

Grab some grub

 

You’ll find the usual fast food suspects are available here (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway). If you love fries, try #Fries for Belgian frites (fries) topped with any of the 18 special sauces. Or how about a Belgian waffle coupled with any of their rich milkshakes?

 

When you’re done playing

 

Check out the Aurora Regional Fire Museum or for more hands-on fun the SciTech Museum.

 

2176 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora

 

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 yourself 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

 

Kids getting antsy? Burn off that energy at Tilt Studio with a round of laser tag or mini golf. With daily specials Monday through Thursday, it’s a total no-brainer. Make the kids extra happy by heading to nearby Six Flags Great America. If the weather is frightful, pack your swimsuits and head to Great Wolf Lodge or challenge each other to a game of Magi-Quest.

 

Grab some grub

 

Getting hungry? With 2 food courts at either side of the mall, you can easily find food. Whether you prefer deep dish or thin crust, pizza lovers will want to try out Chicago Woodfire Pizza Co. Save some room for dessert at Shee Goo, a rolled ice cream hot spot or Churro Factory for your choice of churro and filling or even a churro ice cream sandwich!

 

6170 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee

Woodfield Mall

 

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 yourself 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

 

Why stop playing? The whole family can have fun at Pac-Man Entertainment. Challenge each other to old school and new arcade games or a round of bowling.

 

Grab some grub

 

By the time you’re done making your way to the play area, you’ll probably be famished. Trusty Rainforest Cafe is a wonderful go-to spot if you’re looking for a sit down restaurant. Need food fast? The Dining Pavilion is calling your name. Plenty of food options await even the pickiest eater. The kids love Blaze Pizza for their super fast made-to-order pizzas, while mom and dad love Ahi Poke for satisfying poke bowls. Grab a donut from Stan’s Donut or bubble tea from Chill Bubble Tea and call it a day.

 

Want to know the ins and outs of Woodfield Mall? Here’s a family guide to help you out.

 

5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg

 

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 yourself 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 cafe.

 

750 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook, (888) 888-4532; 1800 McConnor Parkway, Schaumburg, (847) 969-9700, ikea.com

Northbrook Court

 

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. For another play option kids will love the new Northbrook Play located on the second floor. Partnering with the Chicago Children’s Museum, the fun family space provides museum-type exhibits that blend learning and fun.

 

Keep yourself happy

 

This is one of the cleanest malls we’ve ever been inside.

 

Grab some grub

 

Head upstairs to Mario’s for some delicious authentic Mexican food. Find street tacos, burritos, and your other favs. Don’t forget the horchata or the corn in the cup (elotes in a cup!). Soo good! If you feel like pizza, head next door to Tony & Bruno’s.

 

When you’re done playing

 

Continue the fun and learning at Noggin Builders where they offer programs full of fun with hands-on STEM activities designed to help children build creative problem solving skills. Inspire your kids to give back at The Kindness Connection where up to 11 different projects are available for kids to work on for a fee. The projects are then donated to participating organizations. Looking to do something quick? For no fee, you can still drop by for and make something whether it’s a kindness rock or a bookmark. At the end of the day, your kid will feel like inspired with all the feel good vibes knowing they’re helping others out. That’s a win-win in my book any day.

 

Read more about the fun you can have at Northbrook Court.

 

2171 Northbrook Court, Northbrook

 

Chicago Premium Outlets

 

Keep the kids happy

 

Kids will love taking a break at the play area featuring monkey bars, slides, and more. The fun can continue by bouncing their heart out at FunFlatables’ Party-n-Play centers.

 

Keep yourself happy

 

Bargains await at this outlet mall. Need I say more?

 

When you’re done playing

 

If the weather is in your favor, head to Blackberry Farm, a living historical farm with animals, a huge playground, and a train. If Mother Nature is not cooperating, a visit at DuPage Children’s Museum is always a hit with kids.

 

Grab some grub

 

Located just around the feature pond, Rise Pies is always a hit with the families with their quality pizzas using fresh ingredients and home-made recipes. Looking for a sweet treat? You can’t go wrong with Dippin Dots or Mrs. Fields.

 

1650 Premium Outlet Blvd, Aurora

Hawthron Mall

 

Hawthorn Mall

 

Keep the kids happy 

 

Parents can sit back and relax on the cushioned seats, while the kids explore the 1200-square-foot colorful animal-themed play area where they can climb and play on bright oversized play elements, solve large puzzles, and just let the kids be kids. Play space located on the lower level by JCPenney.

 

Keep yourself happy

 

Designated family parking is available at most ground floor entrances. If parents and kids need a break, take a breather at the Family Lounge with toys, kid-friendly TV programs, private nursing areas and baby changing stations. Another plus, the Family Lounge is located by the play space.

 

When you’re done playing

 

Play some more! Go to the brightly-colored Yu Kids Island to continue the fun or find a new book to add to your collection at Barbara’s Bookstore. Feeling crafty? Pick a piece to paint at The Painted Penguin then bring it home to display proudly.

 

Grab some grub

 

Usual mall favorites are present (McDonald’s, Sbarro, Taco Bell) at The Dining Court. You can’t go wrong with rolled ice cream at Shee Goo or bubble tea at Chill Bubble Tea. Kids will love enjoying their meal at the colorful kiddie-sized tables and chairs.

 

122 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills

 


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