You know those commercials that show kids quietly playing with their new toys? Fast forward to reality–the dead of winter in Chicago where your living room looks like Toys ‘R’ Us threw up, and your kiddos are going stir crazy. Opt for a change of scenery (and sanity) with a trip to one of Chicago’s indoor playspaces that’ll provide entertainment without breaking the bank. The best part? There’s a good chance that your kids could fall down exhausted and ready for a nap afterwards!
The brainchild of a children’s museum designer, this unique two-story playspace is fully equipped with all of the energy-burning necessities (climbing wall, slide and bounce house) to promote gross motor skills.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $12 per child
3827 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
One of the newer playspaces in the city, Happy Play brings a more unique concept to open play: letting kids interact with animals. Here, they can load up a stick with birdseed and feed 100 parakeets that fly around, or pet bunny rabbits. There’s also more traditional spaces for the little ones with train tables and dress-up stations.
Open Play: Monday-Friday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; $15 per child
2436 N. Clark St., Chicago
This 3,000-square-foot West Town play space is all about imaginative play. Designed to look like a pretend city, the little ones can go grocery shopping, put gas in their cars and cook dinner in a log cabin.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; $15 per child
1837 W. Grand Ave., Chicago
Channel summer vacation through a trip to Chicago’s only indoor sandbox. Filled with non-toxic sand that literally brushes right off, there’s a slide, swing and plenty of buckets and shovels to go around.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; $12/child (two hours)
2205 N. Southport Ave.
This cozy environment appeals to parents as much as it does kids. Complete with a café that serves specialty drinks and sandwiches, free Wi-Fi and plushy couches, Little Beans lets parents enjoy some down time while the kids explore.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; $14 per child
1809 W. Webster Ave., Chicago; 430 Asbury Ave., Evanston
This Lincoln Square playspace provides a great “two for” experience, combining a traditional children’s playspace with a hair salon for kids. With a mini grocery store, a playhouse and a separate area for crawlers, Pickles appeals to kids of all ages.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Sunday:
8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; $12 per child (two hours); free 30-minute play following a haircut
2315 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
The perfect size to let the little ones roam free while still keeping an eye on them, this cozy Bucktown playspace is best for the younger set. A great option for a play date, the little ones can climb aboard a padded train, rock on an inflatable donkey and dress up like princesses and super heroes.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; $15 per child
2040 N. Western Ave.; Chicago
What sets Sod Room apart from the average playspace is its commitment to the environment, providing an eco-friendly atmosphere (recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, cubbies made of milk crates) and hand-selected sustainable toys.
Open Play: Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; $12 per child
1454 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Do you have any favorite indoor play spaces to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!