15 Favorite Indoor Play Spaces in Chicago
Play spaces are opening up again, and you know what that means? Now when the weather's too hot, too cold, or too rainy to play outdoors, you can head to one of our favorite indoor play spaces for kids in Chicago. There’s a climate-controlled play zone for every age, every interest, and every kind of kid. Does your toddler love fire trucks? Head to the kid-sized indoor play town at Little Beans. Got a grade-schooler who won’t stop doing gymnastics on your couch? She’ll love the climbing structures at Present Place. Many inside play spaces in Chicago even offer coffee and wi-fi for grateful parents, so you can catch up on email (and caffeine) while your little ones get their sillies out. Here are our favorite places to play indoors in and around Chicago when the weather won't cooperate.
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Most spots on this list are open with limited capacity and will require some planning, as you'll need to make reservations to play. Be sure to check the website or call to confirm hours and safety policies.
Your treehouse awaits at Purple Monkey Playroom.
Indoor Play Spaces on the North Side
1.Purple Monkey Playroom — Bucktown
Currently running Private Playtime, in addition to small classes, and Group Playtime by reservation. Open play hours are currently on hold. Check the website for details.
Two words: Free. Coffee. At this adorable space where families can take classes or play, Purple Monkey is a local favorite for good reason. Ride-ons, climbing structures, and lots of toys for imaginative play keep kids up to age 5 happy and busy, while free wi-fi, comfy seating, and lots of light make it easy for parents to enjoy a break.
2. Bubbles Academy — Bucktown
Currently open for classes, preschool, and birthday parties. Open play hours are currently on hold.
Small explorers up to age 5 are welcome at this early childhood education center. Classes that take place in a spacious room painted with colorful landscapes and stocked with toys, climbers, blocks, and balls. It’s a perfect place to spend a rainy or snowy afternoon.
3. Little Adventures Café —Wicker Park
Monday -Friday 9am-2pm by reservation.
It may look small, but this cute indoor play zone fits a playhouse, climbing structure with slide, ride-on toys, and centers for art-making and imaginative play. Plus, there's room leftover for comfy seating for the grownups. One innovative play feature here is a sensory wall, where kids can explore different textures, colors, sounds, and movements.
4. Present Place — Lakeview and River North
Currently open on Fridays and weekends by reservation.
This play space in North Center and River North, launched by a local mom, has quickly become an award-winning favorite, thanks to its uncluttered-yet-action-packed layout, eye-pleasing art exhibits, engaging climbing structures, and play areas. Adults get free coffee and wi-fi, which makes it popular enough that weekend open play hours need to be reserved in advance—which is easy enough to do on their website.
5. Edgewater Playhouse — Edgewater
Open gym will return to the schedule in September. Classes and private playdates are currently available.
Kids from crawling age through five years can burn off their energy at Edgewater Playhouse's Open Gym, where they can explore the gymnastics studio. There is no scheduled instruction during open play, so kids can run wild and use their imaginations. Local parents love the clean facility and reasonable pricing.
6. Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo — Lincoln Park Zoo
Hitting the Lincoln Park Zoo might not be your first thought during the colder months, but the Treetop Canopy Adventure climbing structure in the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo building is irresistible fun—plus, it’s free! Once your kids have had their fill of the ropes, tunnels, and walkways, visit the North American animals and learn about their habitats.
Kids don't mind the traffic at Hello Baby.
Indoor Play Areas for Kids on the South Side and Downtown Chicago
7. Hello Baby — Woodlawn
A free play space in Woodlawn just for babies up to age 3 (with their caregivers), Hello Baby is a bright, welcoming spot packed with books, educational toys, and space for physical play. Regular storytimes and sing-alongs make this a sweet neighborhood hub for littles.
8. Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens - Near South Side
Chicago Women’s Park and Garden has a variety of outdoor amenities, but also offers an indoor kids’ playground and café featuring a climbing wall and a kids’ science lab. Play houses and a multi-level play structure help kids get in some physical activity during the cold winter months. The building also has plenty of soft spaces for new walkers to safely enjoy.
9. Garfield Park Conservatory - Garfield Park
Housed within the Garfield Park Conservatory, The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden provides a little patch of green on gray winter days in Chicago. Kids can learn about plants and gardening through large sculptural displays that show plant birth, growth, and reproduction, or they can climb a giant vine with roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers. Kids might get hungry from smelling the French Fry Plant, learn about evolution by touching the sensitive plant (which retracts when touched), or enjoy the beauty of nature with the Bird of Paradise.
10. Kids Wonderland — South Loop
Still closed as of August 1, 2021. Babies through 6-year-olds will love this mini amusement park, with its slides, obstacle course, candy-themed snack counter, and a giant ball pit. Parents love the long weekend hours and friendly, helpful staff.
11. Razzmatazz — McKinley Park
Still closed as of August 1, 2021. Kids as old as 14 can scramble and bounce around the Inflatable Playland, go bowling, or play arcade games for redeemable tickets at this giant fun zone. An on-site grill serves up kid-friendly classics like pizza, hot dogs, and burgers. (And, ahem, there’s also a bar.)
Great Indoor Play Spaces in the Chicago Suburbs
12. Little Beans Café — Evanston
Featuring an entire kid-sized town designed for imaginative play, plus a jam-packed calendar of events, workshops, classes, and family parties, Little Beans might be one of the best indoor play space membership deals in town. Their café serves up Intelligentsia brew and a decently-priced menu of sandwiches and soups, and even boasts an obstacle course and karaoke for older kids.
13. Jumps 'n Jiggles — Elk Grove Village
The first room in this two-room play center features a giant two-story play structure and foam play pieces for little kids. The second room houses a 28-foot tall carousel with 18 hand-painted horse figurines-- you can ride as many times as you want once youv'e paid the admission fee. Jumps 'n Jiggles frequently hosts events like outdoor movies or Santa letter writing sessions for preschoolers and early elementary school kids.
14. Waterlemon — LaGrange
That's not a typo—this punnily named playroom in west suburban LaGrange is bright and clean and features a balloon bar where kids can get lots of different specialty balloons to make their day special. Outside food and beverages are allowed, or you can buy a snack, drink, or coffee at the playroom.
15. Forest The Fox's Play Box—Westchester
This indoor climbing structure and playroom will remind parents of their own childhood—and so will the price. For just $2 per child, kids can play from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, or 7 a.m. to noon on Sundays. There's even a preschooler-sized restroom for when kid have to go.
Little Adventures Cafe is great for the littlest of kids.
Photo courtesy of the play spaces/cafes
Places featured in this article:
Pritzker Family Children's Zoo
Jumps 'n Jiggles