Before long, the crisp fall breeze will transition into bitter winter bluster, but don’t feel trapped inside watching endless episodes of Daniel Tiger. I’ve scoured the city, two tots in tow, for the best indoor play spaces. Let’s toss on our parkas and meet up, Mamas!
Best Class: Gymboree
Gymboree offers music and art classes, but most folks prefer their Play and Learn class, which gives tots plenty of exercise. Serving children from birth to age five, Gymboree classes are a great place to build a sense of community around your child. Membership fees include open gym times and birthday party discounts, so you get plenty of bang for your buck.
Honorable mention: Kindermusik
Best Open Gym: Toddle Time at Matt Ross Community Center
No need to haul your own ride-ons and toys into Toddle Time; they have it all. From balls to bowling, trikes to trucks, and hoola hoops to hand puppets, boredom is impossible in this little gym. Open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for kids five and under, Toddle Time is a fabulous place to get those wiggles out. At $2 for non-members, it’s affordable, too.
Honorable mention: Deb Howard’s Gymnastics
Best KC Landmark: Union Station Model Railroad Experience
As if spending time in such a beautiful and historic Kansas City landmark isn’t enough, tucked in the back of Union Station hides the adorable Model Railroad Experience. Your kids will be in awe of the 8,000 square feet of model railroad tracks. Don’t miss the nice play area with trains and other toys to keep your kids busy.
Honorable mention: Crown Center kids exhibits
Best Restaurant: Chick fil A
When it comes to restaurants where kids can get up an play, you just can’t beat Chick Fil A. Moms are treated like first class citizens, the climbing equipment always smells clean, and their chicken nuggets resemble actual chicken. Some locations offer Mommy Valet: order in the drive-through, then enter the building to find your food set up at a table, ready to go!
Honorable mention: Rock & Brews
Best Climbing Structures: Urban Air Trampoline Park
Toddler Jump Time, exclusively for kids five and under, includes access to the indoor playground as well as the trampoline attractions. There’s a ball pit, tunnels, slides, and of course, tons of trampolines! Toddler Jump Time is on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:00 am until noon and costs $10 per child. I hear Urban Air hosts great birthday parties as well.
Honorable mention: Little Monkey Business
Best Mall Play Area: Zona Rosa
When you need a shopping break, this forest wonderland climbing area is the perfect place for little ones to blow off steam. Though intended for kids five and under, there isn’t an enforced age limit. With plenty of adult seating and a Subway sandwich shop next door, Zona Rosa makes life easy. Find it at The Grove, on the first floor of the Marshall’s building.
Honorable Mention: Oak Park Mall
Best Coffee and Play: Parkside Coffeehouse
The only thing better than a great indoor play space is a great indoor play space with coffee. Parkside Coffeehouse wins my vote because they boast a carpeted, enclosed place room in addition to an open gym. Don’t forget to bring your own ride-ons for the gym. Coffeehouse proceeds benefit Cedar Ridge Church’s outreach ministries, which is icing on the cake of a pleasant experience.
Honorable mention: Kaw Prairie Church
Best Pretend Play: Edutainment Center
Clean, bright, and huge, the Edutainment Center at Paradise Park is a magical experience. It’s impossible to list everything they offer, but our favorites include water play, face painting, ball pit, doll houses, giant blocks, and the pizzeria. Take advantage of Moms Free Monday, and feel free to jump in on their Daily Adventure Time, which includes a story, craft and snack.
Honorable mention: Kidscape
Best Store: Rainbow Play Systems Pay to Play
For $5 per child, you gain access to nearly a dozen indoor playground structures in addition to basketball hoops and a trampoline. What a wonderful way to work on those gross motor skills in the dead of winter! Pay to Play is available during normal weekday business hours, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. No snacks please.
Honorable mention: Scheels
Don’t see your favorite hang out on the list? Please comment below to share it. My boys and I would love to know where to visit next.
Though we aim to ensure the accuracy of all our postings, we always advise you check online before heading out for the most up-to-date information.