Parks, beaches and backyards make for very easy entertainment options. So easy, in fact, that we depend on the outdoors to satisfy our kids whenever they want to run, jump and play. But when rain destroys our plans, we need a back-up: a place where we can drop in unannounced when our children need to get their energy out, stat.
We found a few special places that are perfect for those dreaded rainy days.
100 S. Morgan St., Chicago
Ages: 4 and up
Get your energy out Kids can climb walls (theirs, not yours) rather than furniture. There are even one-time structured classes where instructors teach kids how to safely climb. And the best part? While they’re climbing, you can grab some shoes and climb, too. You’ll realize why kids have this super powerful urge to climb walls: It’s super fun. Everyone is free to stay as long as they want after the class to get the rest of their energy out—if there’s any remaining.
Times: Open gym is 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends. Kids’ classes are 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10:30 a.m.-noon weekends.
Price: $39 for a single class, $375 for a 10-pack; $25 for open gym (plus $5 for shoes).
7918 W. 26th St., North Riverside
Ages: 5 and up
Get your energy out Imagine a construction site, filled with tires, ropes, a rock climbing wall, bars to swing on and plenty of mats. And then let kids play. They will climb, jump and swing, and they will enjoy themselves. It’s essentially a playground without rules (except for safety, of course). We visited a parkour class, and the first part of it was free play, followed by some loose-format instruction and then more play. Who knew that letting kids play on random equipment could be so much fun?
Times: Open gym is 5-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon-1 p.m. Saturday.
Price: Open gym is free for students registered for multiple classes, or $12 for everyone else.
Four in Illinois: Elmhurst, Aurora, Orland Park and Joliet.
Ages: If you can jump, you belong here
Get your energy out You only need 60 minutes to be exhausted for the rest of the day. Kids (and adults) will literally be bouncing off the walls, because there are trampolines on the walls and on the floor. You can simply jump, you can play trampoline basketball or dodgeball, or you can jump off a trampoline into a pit. There’s a separate trampoline area for toddlers, and one for adults; we couldn’t resist getting our jump on with the kids, who were delighted to see us having so much fun.
Times: It’s open daily, but the hours vary by day and location. Check website for details.
Price: $16 for 60 minutes.
2050 Tower Drive, Glenview
Ages: 5 and up, though there is a soft play area for younger kids
Get your energy out Scale a wall, jump from building to building like Batman, crawl up webs like Spider-Man and fly through the air like the superhero you always wanted to be. Yes, this place is that much fun (for adults and for kids). Funtopia is essentially rock climbing with a twist: you’re climbing castles, construction sites and every child’s fantasy world. Our kids also really loved crawling through the pitch-black caves (an added feature), where they wore miniature mining suits and looked for rocks. We all slept like babies that night.
Times: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Price: $15 to climb for an hour or $19 for 1 ½ hours; $10 for the jungle gym; $12 for the cave; and extra for a few other little things your kids may notice. Pro tip: Make a reservation in advance.