My toddler never stops moving, so getting his wiggles out is imperative for both of our sanity. On beautiful days, parks are always my first choice, but I scouted out gratis indoor options for days when the Chicago weather is less-than-delightful. The next time you look outside and consider crawling back into bed because the weather is dreary, head out to one of these prime indoor spots instead!
Garfield Park Conservatory can be a lifesaver for families during the never-ending saga that we call “Winter in Chicago.” It has plenty of winding paths lined by lush greenery for kiddos to explore. Plus, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden will wow your little ones. This dedicated kids’ space gives knee-high nature lovers an opportunity to climb a 7-foot-tall seed or fly down a stem slide.
Have you ever looked at your little one and wondered how on earth he or she has so much freakin’ energy? If so, the indoor track at Golf View Recreation Center in Niles could be a great fit to walk or, better yet, run off all of that crazy kid juice away from the harsh elements. I consider this a hidden gem, because the rest of the facility requires payment, but the track is free and open to all, even city dwellers like me. And for the record, playing chase-the-toddler on this track totally counts as your workout!
At Budlong Woods Library, my little guy immediately spotted and darted for the toys in a dedicated play zone. He loved the kitchen gear, wood blocks and so many other options to keep tiny hands busy. It turns out that this early learning play space sprang from a $2.5 million grant from Exelon Corporation, and 15 library locations benefited from the funds. Be sure to check if there is a new early learning play space near you.
As I mentioned, my toddler Never. Stops. Moving. A place that I have my eye on for a quality wiggle break is the Chicago Women’s Indoor Playground. It features a ton of options such as a toddler playhouse on a soft surface, ideal for wee ones still mastering the fine art of walking. It also has a kids’ climbing wall to engage budding adventurers!
When a seasoned dad told me about an unexpected place to get the wiggles out, I listened. The Children’s Play Area at Northbrook Court mall features a massive treehouse structure with plenty of natural light. The playspace itself is free, however, with an H&M, Banana Republic and Starbucks nearby, a little something something for mama will probably be in the cards.