Indoor Activities

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Drop-In Play Spaces for Kids in NYC That Cost $12 or Less

New York City is packed with fun indoor play spaces to keep kids active all year. Unfortunately, the average price at these parental lifesavers keeps creeping up. Admission often runs $20 to $25 per child for a single drop-in. Pricey fees or membership commitments can quickly ruin your plans for a quick escape from the staying-in doldrums.

Of course, we're here to help. We've rounded up 16 options for drop-in play—all for under $12 a visit, and a few that cost significantly less!

Read on for open play sessions that won’t break the bank in nearly all five boroughs, and find more indoor fun spots in our local NYC guide, or at-home boredom buster games and crafts for those days when you really want to pinch a penny.

The Best Indoor Play Spaces for Long Island Toddlers

While many indoor play destinations cater to a range of ages, some parents feel more comfortable when areas are designated for younger children. With that in mind, we've rounded up a list of fun and imaginative play spaces on Long Island geared to little ones. 

At most of these locations, children ages 5 and younger are the primary focus and can play freely without being knocked down or bumped into by older crowds. They also offer age-appropriate equipment and activities for toddlers.

If your little one enjoys spending time at one of these venues, why not celebrate his or her special day there, too? Many of these destinations also host birthday parties.

For more seasonal fun ideas, check out our list of 50 things to do indoors with Long Island kids as well as our guide to LI-based indooor play spaces and fun centers.

Is New England's Biggest Family Entertainment Center the "Apex" of Fun for Boston Kids?

With three boys who are outgrowing indoor play spaces, I'm always on the hunt for spots where they can get their energy out in cold or wet weather. Indoor obstacle courses, bowling alleys, go-karts, and laser tag often fit the bill, but recently, I kept hearing other moms talk about a new place in Marlborough that combines these activities and more under one (ginormous) roof. The other week, we made the trek to Apex Entertainment Center, and after lifting jaws that had dropped to the ground at the place's sheer size—80,000 square feet!—my kids smiled and whooped their way through three hours of sporty and techie fun. Here's what to expect at the place that bills itself as New England's biggest family entertainment center.

There's A New Co-Working Childcare Lifesaver for East LA Parents

Let’s face it, it’s extremely hard to squeeze in some extra hours to work with a toddler at home. These days, my son’s schedule and needs are unpredictable: naps are shorter and hanging out with mommy is much more fun. The right daycare can come to the rescue, and the Eastside of LA now has a creative new childcare option with an appropriate name—Wiggle & Work. 

21 Brooklyn Drop-In Play Spaces and Kiddie Gyms

Brooklyn can't be beat for indoor play spaces. While Manhattan and Queens have about a dozen drop-in indoor playgrounds apiece, Brooklyn boasts nearly twice that number, from the Brooklyn Children's Museum's Spark, to Busy Bodies in Clinton Hill and Fairytale Island in Bay Ridge.

While we've included a couple of the more mellow tot spots with crafts or storytelling, this best-of-Brooklyn list is focused on active play spaces, where toddlers, preschoolers, and even bigger kids can conquer multilevel mazes, swoosh down slides, climb up rock walls, or just turn around in circles until they fall down exhausted, ready for a nap.

Read on for the best drop-in indoor romper rooms for kids in Brooklyn. Find more play spots in our Indoor Family Fun Guide to Play Spaces.

Kid Film Festivals and Indie Movie Theaters in NYC

A visit to the movies is tempting in the cold of winter, but big-budget family film options can be lackluster. Why not rediscover the magic of the movies at a children's film festival?

City kids can sit back and enjoy the carefully curated lineup at the 2019 BAMkids Film Festival and New York International Children's Film Festival. These showcase international and offbeat shorts and features. You'll also find cool classics every Sunday at Film Forum Jr., as well as a mix of indie and classics at BAM with its BAMkids movie matinee series. Each offers dozens of picks for preschoolers up to tweens. Plus, ticket prices can be less costly—most are less than $15 per person.

Read on for details on these festivals, plus a special discount just for Mommy Poppins readers on this year's New York International Children's Film Festival. 

Texas' Largest Indoor Playground Opens in Houston and It Lives Up to the Hype

When we got wind of that the largest indoor playground in Texas was opening just south of Houston in Webster, we knew a visit needed to be at the top of our to-do list for the new year. The Play Space is part playground, part imaginative play area, part arcade, and exactly everything we love about our favorite local indoor play spaces all rolled into one 16,000-square-foot space. Located in the middle of a shopping center, the exterior is completely unassuming, but as soon as you step inside, you're in for Texas-sized fun!

10 Indoor Play Spaces in New Haven County for Connecticut Kids

If your kids are anything like my two bundles of non-napping energy, there are days when you just need to let them run free – but preferably within a confined indoor space. There are a few notable play areas that are perfect for tiring kids out on cold or wet days in New Haven County, in particular. Inexpensive and varied, each indoor play space has its own charm.  For more indoor fun check out our Connecticut Indoor Play Guide.

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