It’s way too cold to be outside, Chicagoland – and it’ll remain that way until roughly June. Already fighting the cabin fever? Give these spots a whirl and start feeling the sweet, sweet relief.
Tiny tree-huggers unite! The eco-friendly Sod Room in the South Loop proudly offers sustainable toys, features reclaimed floors and uses natural light whenever possible. Throw in workshops geared towards creating more environmentally savvy parents and a gift shop chock-full of local, organic, fair trade and recycled products, and you’ve got a playspace option good for the body, soul and world. (Feels pretty great, doesn’t it?)
1454 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
A pioneer in the Chicago playplace scene, this immaculate multi-room emporium of fun has it all: music, exciting playrooms, and–of course–bubbles for days. The cleanliness and friendliness exuded at Bubbles Academy is top notch, and the open play in the Meadow Room is a truly lovely place to while away an afternoon. (Followed closely behind by the Ocean Room, the Mountain Room, the Tree House …)
1504 N. Fremont St., Chicago
Listen, we get it. Sometimes you have to run your own errands and not spend the day catering to the demands of the shortest (and often loudest) members of the family. Here’s a solution that’ll make you both happy: Head to Northbrook Court and take advantage of a stellar indoor (seasonally changing!) treehouse, just perfect for those 46 inches and under. Ready for this? It’s free. Saving you a bit more change for that Burberry jacket you’ve been eyeing.
1515 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook
With story times, special family-friendly events and a gentle environment, Peekaboo Playroom is a hit with the younger set. Tell Grandma and Grandpa to come play, too: every Thursday is Grandparents’ Day with a 15 percent off discount for the cutie in all those wallet photos.
7007 W. North Avenue
Kids love to jump and, at times, it seems a biological necessity to do just that. Pump It Up’s clean, safe and climate-controlled inflatables let kids burn off steam without sacrificing your great-aunt’s lamp. Worried your smallest adventurers might get trampled? Check out their special Open Play sessions for kiddos under 42 inches tall, proving that–yet again–people really are looking out for the little guy (and gal).
821 W. Eastman St., Chicago (and various locations around Chicagoland)
A sensory wonderland, Exploritorium is a place to build, make music, play with water and dress up in costumes galore. The braver among you will definitely need to check out the two-and-a-half-story climbing tubes and tunnels for hours and hours of fun. (Best of all? They even let you bring your children.)
4701 Oakton St., Skokie
Once you become a parent, you’re contractually obligated to live, breathe and occasionally step on Legos. Legoland in Schaumburg is a discovery center of the coolest order, featuring music classes, ways to explore and more interlocking bricks than you can shake a DUPLO tree at. And with Toddler Tuesdays, your tiny builder can enjoy activities tailored to their small selves–with an admission fee as wee as they are.
601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
Does your budding Picasso crave all the hands-on art time she can get? The Wishcraft Workshop’s Merry Pop-Ins Marvelous Mornings are picture perfect for indulging in a little right-brained fun. And the charmingly artistic decor of this North Center establishment will have you wishing to host your own shindig here, too. (Spoiler: You can!)
3907 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
(773) 348-WISH (9474)