When it’s raining or freezing or simply a day that ends in Y, a good indoor play place can be a godsend for entertaining kids. We’ve already taken a look at several indoor play places in Westchester, and now we’re going to turn our attention to the rest of the Lower Hudson Valley. These play spaces are all worth a trip across the bridge.
Looking for places that let you drop off the kids while you get stuff done or have a date night? Take a look at our list of 12 Drop-In Play Spaces, and be sure to sign up for our newsletters!
The Castle Fun Center – Chester
A popular birthday party destination, the Castle has something for most ages: roller skating, laser tag, video games, mini bowling, go-karts, batting cages, rock wall, a “free fall” ride and miniature golf. Its Ballocity indoor play structure has places to climb and slide while kids use cannons to fire soft foam balls at each other. (This last one is fun but very loud, so those with sensitive ears take note.) All activities require using a point card that costs $1 for the first time; you can reuse the card on subsequent visits. A small snack stand serves pretzels, nachos, Slushies and the like, while the Jesters restaurant has pub food and beer. The Castle often runs package discounts during off-peak hours, so check their site for deals.
Image courtesy of The Castle
The Party Zone USA – Middletown
Party Zone has both video games and a handful of carnival-type rides to entertain kids during the winter and on rainy days. While little ones will love the inflatables and climbing structure, the bumper cars, roller coaster and other rides are better suited for the school-aged set, and tweens and teens will likely get bored quickly. There is, however, a plethora of video games. Purchasing individual activities can really add up, so check with their current specials for the best discounts—they often run all-you-can-ride deals for one price. There is also a snack stand where you can purchase food, as well as vending machines. Although Party Zone did have laser tag at one point, we're told it's currently closed but may open again in the future.
Bounce! Trampoline Sports – Valley Cottage and Poughkeepsie
Bounce Trampoline Sports has two different locations, one in Rockland County and the other in Dutchess. We recently visited the Valley Cottage with a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, and both boys had an excellent time—not always easy with a five-year age difference. In addition to trampolines on the floors and walls, there are also basketball hoops, dodgeball courts, climbing nets and giant foam pits. Bouncers 5 and under get their own separate section with their own little foam pit, trampolines and a giant inflatable castle. The dodgeball zones are also broken up for ages 6-11 and 12 and up. Adults can jump too! Two major pluses: There was plenty of supervision by friendly staff to ensure no concussions would be had, and the entire place was extremely clean. (Really—even the foam blocks in the pits looked brand spanking new.) You are not allowed to bring in outside snacks, but there are multiple vending machines with healthier snacks beyond just candy and chips. Make sure you sign the online waiver before attending, and show up 15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time. Bounce Trampoline Sports also holds birthday parties.
Bounce! Trampoline Sports in Valley Cottage; image taken by MommyPoppins.com
Billy Beez – Middletown
Located in the Galleria at Crystal Run Mall, Billy Beez is a vibrant maze of slides and tubes—some with giant yoga balls rolling around! Older kids will love the ball-blasting area with cannons and vacuum tubes, while toddlers and babies can roam safely in their own smaller structure with soft climbing mats. Preschoolers and toddlers can also play in a fenced pretend-play area known as Honeycomb Village, but this area does require an additional fee. We’re not crazy about having to spend extra money to access one feature, but we do have to admit that the 4-year-old we went with was completely and totally in love. Billy Beez can be crowded, but even the day we went—a school break on a frigid day, a.k.a., prime time—it never felt overwhelming. Do be prepared to wait to enter on busy days—every guest must be registered, photographed and scanned. You’ll be given a keycard that you can use at any Billy Beez location, which will cut down on entry times for return visits. Security is serious at Billy Beez; our bracelets were scanned going in, and they were checked again when we left. Take note: Parents must also pay to enter. Outside food is not permitted, but there’s a well-stocked café that serves food. You can also head over to the mall's food court and return when you're finished; your admission covers you for the entire day. Billy Beez has drop-off play every day, as long as you book 24 hours in advance. There is also a Billy Beez in the Palisades Mall.
The Elk’s Place – Harriman
A climber’s heaven, the Elk’s Place indoor playground has trampolines, slides and ball blasting for the older kids, as well as soft climbing objects for babies and toddlers. Kids up to age 14 are welcome to come play. The Elk's Place also holds birthday parties and has drop-off play times, with an available shuttle service to the nearby Woodbury Commons. Another perk for parents: free Wi-Fi!
Top image taken at Billy Beez by MommyPoppins.com.