Baby, it’s cold outside. Well, not quite yet – but it will be soon. In just a few short weeks, your favorite playgrounds and parks might be covered in snow. The daily highs are going to be more like 40 degrees instead of 70 degrees. And you’ll be bundling the kiddos up in coats, scarves, hats and mittens each time you head out the door. –Caitlin Murray Giles
When that time comes, you are going to want to have options – indoor play options. You kids are still going to be their crazy little selves. Despite the chill in the air, Junior is still going to want to run, jump, and play. So what to do when the going gets cold?
Luckily, Chicago is home to quite a few indoor play spaces to help you weather the winter. Here are some of our favorite spots for those super cold days. — Caitlin Murray Giles
(1) Explore & Much More
3827 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
This family-owned and operated Lakeview spot is a newcomer to the indoor play space scene. When you first walk through the door, the space looks deceptively small. However, look around a bit and you’ll discover two floors packed with activities. Kids can chill in the reading nook, scale the climbing wall or build a block tower in the tree house. Be sure to check out the Amazing Airways exhibit (kids and adults alike will me mesmerized by the foam balls and scarves snaking their way through the maze of tubes). My favorite part of Explore & Much More is the fact that the entire place is super clean (which is super important during cold and flu season).
(2) Family Grounds Café
3652 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
Family Grounds Café offers tons of creative play options for your kids – plus coffee and a scone for you. This spot is a hybrid of an indoor play space and adult coffee shop. Pure genius! Family Grounds is really best for kids under age three. The small space doesn’t allow for any gross motor activities, but you can easily keep your eye on your little ones (while also sipping your latte). The two employees who “work” the floor, reading to kids and tidying up are a real plus.
(3) Fantasy Kingdom
1422 N. Kingsbury
Chicago, IL 60642
Fantasy Kingdom has been around for awhile now – but kids still go wild for the dress up options and the super slippery slide (beware of bonked heads). Many mornings feature free story times or live music. Fantasy Kingdom also has a kitchen area where the kids can grab lunch before they head back out for more fun.
1504 N. Western
Chicago, IL 60622
Hobbitland works a bit differently than most place spaces. The first visit is free, but visitors must purchase punch cards or monthly memberships after that. The space is pretty small, but the staff works hard to interact with the kids and engage them in a variety of activities. My kids really liked the cozy reading area. If you were a “regular” in the neighborhood, this place could be a great cold weather option for meeting up with friends.
(5) Pump It Up
821 W. Eastman
Chicago, IL 60622
The truth is that Pump It Up isn’t exactly an indoor play space. It more like a giant warehouse filled with dozens of inflatables and crazed kids. But I will admit that is a necessary evil during the colder months. When your kids really need to get physical, this is place to go. They can play in the bounce castle, the bounce basketball court or the many bouncy slides. Bigger kids will go crazy for the climbing wall. This is one of the most popular birthday party spots in the whole city (I recently attend two parties here in one very bouncy day).
Caitlin Murray Giles is a Chicago mother and freelance writer. She chronicles her adventures with the three little people in her life at Wee Windy City.