Free Things To Do Indoors on Long Island: Indoor Places to Play on Cold and Rainy Days

Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center's interactive exhibits are free.
Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center's interactive exhibits are free.
1/12/24 - By Lisa Mancuso

All across Long Island, there are free play spaces and indoor playgrounds to keep your kids happily occupied–so there's no need to stay home just because cold weather is upon us. From malls to bookstores and libraries, there is plenty of free fun to be had on Long Island for kids.

Enjoy these unique play destinations, but remember that most venues require that a parent/adult is present to supervise children.

For more indoor fun, don't forget to check out our guide to rainy-day activities on Long Island, and discover all the free events and activities near you in our guide to Free Things to Do With Kids on Long Island.


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Best Free Indoor Places to Play on Long Island

1. Broadway Commons – Hicksville

Tucked away upstairs by the food court, the children’s area is worth a trip up the escalator even if you’re not hungry. The floor is a giant map of Long Island, showcasing some of the Island’s highlights, including a Montauk Lighthouse slide, planes and trains to ride on, a "dock" to walk out on, and plenty of comfortable seats for adults. It’s an ideal stop for kids eager to run around in a mostly enclosed area while grabbing a snack.

RELATEDOur Guide to Museums and Art Centers for Long Island Kids

Free Things To Do Indoors on Long Island: Indoor Places to Play : Roosevelt Field
Kids can romp for free in the play area of Garden City's Roosevelt Field. Photo courtesy of the mall

2. Roosevelt Field – Garden City

This popular mall in central Nassau County has a large children’s play area on the concourse level outside of Glow Golf. The area features unique sculpted playground pieces in a jungle theme, including a crocodile and hippo, that kids can climb on and enjoy.

3. Barnes & Noble – Islandwide

This bookstore chain offers free weekly storytimes in stores around Long Island. Just head to the children’s department, where kids will hear a new story every week and get to make a fun craft. Spend some time happily browsing through shelves stocked with books for kids of all ages. Check individual stores for event dates and times.

4. Burger King – Islandwide

In the 90s, many of the playgrounds at fast food places were outside, but that is no longer the case. There are multiple Burger Kings throughout Long Island that have the coveted indoor play area, usually consisting of a multi-level climbing structure with a slide attached. 

5. Fun Stuff Toys – Seaford

In each aisle of this store dedicated just to kids you will find some toys set up for kids to play with. Toys vary throughout the year, from magnet boards to calico critters and ride-on cars. Don't expect to leave empty handed, though. There are plenty of great finds here.

6. Ikea – Hicksville

Ikea can feel like an indoor playground for adults. But did you know the Ikea next to Broadway Mall has an actual indoor play area for kids? Smaland is a free, supervised play area that's designed like a Swedish forest. You can leave your child for up to 1 hour while you shop, and regular hours run from noon-6pm. One caveat: Kids must be potty trained. 

7. LEGO Stores – Roosevelt Field Mall, Smith Haven Mall

What child doesn’t love LEGOS? Here, children can explore and build their creations at child-size tables filled with bins of everyone’s favorite plastic building blocks. Check out our events calendar to see when the LEGO store is holding free events throughout the year.

8. McDonald's – Islandwide

Like Burger King, McDonald's has moved toward indoor play places instead of outdoor ones. The play spaces are typically a multi-level climbing structure and tube slide. You can even still hold birthday parties at McDonald's. just like when we were kids.  

9. Local Libraries – Islandwide 

No doubt your local library offers free story and craft times, and much more. From toddlers to tweens and teens, libraries are a treasure trove of free, high-quality events for kids of all ages. Suffolk libraries can be found here and Nassau libraries can be found here. And don't forget to utilize the museum pass program to get free admission to local museums.

Free Things To Do Indoors on Long Island: Indoor Places to Play : Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center.
It's free to experiment with color at Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center. 

10. Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center – Wantagh

This hidden gem is completely free year-round, though in the summer months, you must pay the Jones Beach fee to park. A lot is packed into the center's relatively small square footage. There is a giant Lite Brite structure, building stations, interactive exhibits, and an awesome touch tank aquarium.

Unless noted, photos by the author. 

A version of this post was originally published in 2019 and was updated in January 2024.

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