We just had 7 days of cold, wet weather but the kids and I left the house for indoor play every day. I thought I’d share the list of what we did for other Dallas moms searching for places to go with your kids on cold or wet days!
1. Kidville - You’ve heard us talk before about Kidville’s amazing indoor play areas. If you’re registered for a class at Kidville, you have free access to the Big Muscles Gym during open play hours, and you can use your playspace passes to go to the Play Village. We love them both, and together they provide two separate trips, two separate days of fun! Don’t forget, if you attended our Mom’s Night Out in October, you received 2 free playspace passes in your swag bag. Now is a great time to use those passes! Check the Kidville web site for the hours of each playspace, as they differ by day of the week.
2. IKEA (Frisco) – It’s not just for getting in an argument with your significant other about which sleek plastic chair to buy! Did you know that IKEA has a little area in the kids’ department where kids can try out their toys and demo the indoor tents, slides, play kitchens, push toys, and table and chair sets? My kids love playing there and I take the opportunity to pick up a few things for their rooms or buy a few of the toys they enjoy. Last week we purchased a very simple hammer and plastic nail-pounding table for $6 because they enjoyed it so much, and it has kept both my kids busy at home every day since. If your children are over 37 inches and potty trained, you can actually drop them off at the Småland play area to play for up to an hour while you shop. When it’s lunch time, the cafeteria serves inexpensive, but surprisingly healthy options for you and the kids. There is a special enclosed area for the kids to sit at IKEA tables to eat and watch cartoons while you sit directly behind them with your own meal. On less crowded days, the amenities area is stocked with kid-sized utensils and plates (when it’s busy, they run out and don’t re-stock). There are almost always kid-sized disposable bibs next to a microwave for warming water for bottles. They also have a wonderful family bathroom with plenty of room for everyone and free diapers in case you forgot yours. IKEA opens at 10:00 for shopping and playing, but they will let you into the cafeteria area at 9:30 a.m. for breakfast, which is also delicious and inexpensive.
3. Local mall play areas – I’m grouping these together because it probably depends on what area of town you live in. For me, Galleria Dallas is the closest and has a completely enclosed play area on Level 3 adjacent to Saks Fifth Avenue. I suggest using the Nordstrom entrance and also the Nordstrom bathrooms/ladies’ lounge for changing diapers instead of the public mall bathrooms. My second choice is Northpark Center, or what my kids call “the turtles and the ducks” because of the indoor atrium in front of Williams and Sonoma. Northpark has amazing family bathrooms and infant feeding rooms on the second floor by Aunt Annie’s and on the first floor next to La Duni. More on other Northpark amenities in #4. I can also safely vouch for the play area at The Shops At Willow Bend in Plano, although I’m not as familiar with the bathrooms or other amenities there. One more tip: always bring hand sanitizer for your children when visiting mall play areas.
4. Libraries – The Dallas Public Library has a special kid-themed branch in Northpark Center called Bookmarks, which we’ve written about before, where kids are welcome to play and explore without worrying about “shhhh”! They also have multiple storytimes for various age groups throughout the week, so check their web site for the best times to hear a fun, interactive story. Many suburbs of Dallas also have small libraries of their own with special kids’ activities. Our Richardson library is my favorite, their kids’ section is stocked with age appropriate toys, an aquarium, a model train (under protective glass), and an interactive kiosk with different featured books each week. They offer regular story times targeted by age group, but you must sign up ahead of time, so be sure to check their web site first.
5. Church public play areas – The Tubes at Irving Bible Church is a series of those plastic tubes you often see in fast food play areas that lead to slides and loose plastic balls. There are several areas that are great for smaller toddlers and others that work well for older children, so you can bring kids of all ages. There are bathrooms nearby with a large fish tank and lots of tables and chairs next to the play area so you can bring a lunch and eat. It is open to the public — you don’t have to attend the church or know anyone who does — for children 52 inches and smaller 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., closing the last Wednesday of every month for cleaning. The tree fort at Watermark Community Church in Dallas at Coit & 635 is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with different hours on Wednesdays, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The bottom of the fort is appropriate for even early walkers with supervision, while the top part of the structure can support as much as an adult’s weight, solving that problem of losing your child in an upper part of the structure where you can’t chase them! The tree fort is adjacent to the “town square” and coffee bar with comfy couches, tables, and chairs for eating lunch or buying snacks.
6. Perot Museum of Nature & Science – Dallas Moms Blog took a tour of this museum before it opened on December 1, 2012 and my family visited for the first time on New Year’s Day. They have several wonderful childrens’ areas on the Lower Level, now separated by age appropriateness. We stayed mostly in the Moody Family Children’s museum for kids under 4 years old. Although small, this area is packed and included a Farmer’s Market with vegetables you can sort and narrations by local Dallas Farmer’s Market vendors, a flower sorting game, a construction-themed play area, a camp site where you can learn about local wildlife, and of course the water table that my children loved so much from the old location in Fair Park. I’d highly recommend a membership so that you can visit any time. On very busy days (which will most likely happen in the summer), they stagger the amount of children allowed into the museum to prevent overcrowding, but members have priority over non-members.
7. Paid admission facilities - I’m grouping these together because there are a great many of them, and the activities vary. While the first 6 ideas in this list were free or free with a purchased membership, entrance to these facilities requires admission. We’ve written before about Indoor Safari Park in Plano, which offers multiple animal-based play areas for toddlers and young children. Admission is usually $10 per child and $2 per accompanying adult, but you can find admission for only $5 through group-buying sites like LivingSocial and Groupon if you look often. There are bounce house themed facilities such as jumpstreet in Dallas and Allen. Or you can check your local gymnastics facility for open play time hours. Kelly wrote previously about The Palaestra in Addison, and we have also attended open play times at WOGA in Dallas and Eagle Gymnastics in Frisco. The gyms charge per child (and sometimes per accompanying adult) for play on all the fun equipment when there are no classes running. Find one nearby and you might make it a regular visit!
I hope these ideas give your child a way to burn off energy and take a great nap afterward! I know they’ve been a lifesaver for us.
Do you have any additional indoor play ideas to share?
*DISCLAIMER: Kidville is a sponsor of Dallas Moms Blog, but this is not a paid mention — I just love Kidville’s indoor play areas! I am also a member of Watermark Community Church but was not asked to mention their play area in this post either.