When it’s too cold for the playground, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, to be honest, too stressful), taking your kid to a warm indoor play space is a welcome respite for the whole family.
New Jersey has no shortage of indoor playgrounds from North Jersey to South Jersey, plenty of which offer drop-in hours. Still, many of these hot spots require long-term memberships or pricey entrance fees that often run $20 to $25 per child for a single drop-in.
When you just need someplace clean, fun and warm for your kids to play—that's not your living room—we found 20 indoor gems, all for $15 per child or significantly less, and some that are absolutely free! Your kids still get out of the house to experience a play space where everything seems new to them, and you don't have to clean up after, or empty your wallet!
And don't forget your nearby shopping mall, where you'll often find low-key indoor playgrounds where kids can work out the wiggles while you shop.
Find more indoor fun spots in our local NJ guide, or try these at-home boredom busters for days when you just want to stay in. If you find yourself with a full day to fill and you're up for a little more adventure, plan a winter day trip.
Clown Around — Flanders
Visit website for open play schedule
$7 per one-hour session, $10 per two-hour session; $12 and $10 per sibling per three-hour session (cash only)
This jungle-themed play zone has been a family favorite for years. Always clean and bright, Clown Around offers a soft-play baby and toddler zone as well as a three-story play structure with slides, ropes, nets, and obstacles. There is plenty of seating for parents and a snack room as well. Plus, they have free Wi-Fi.
The Connection Drop In & Play — Summit
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon–1pm; Sundays 11–noon and noon–1pm
$7 per child
Ages 6 months – 5 years
The gymnastics gym opens up its tumble mats for drop-in fun every week. Ride-on cars, hula hoops, and other energy zappers are also on hand for kids to play with. If you happen to be there on an unseasonably warm winter day, check out the two outdoor playgrounds after open play. Drop-in sessions for special needs kids up to age 7 are held on Sundays once a month.
The seasonal "Family Room" at the Woodland offers tot-friendly play stations (and coffee)! Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
The Family Room at The Woodland — Maplewood
Saturday mornings February to April, 10am–noon
$20 per family
Ages 6 months – 11 years
Even though it won't be open until February 2018, if last year is any indication, the Family Room will once again be a big hit among SoMa families. Sponsored by the South Mountain YMCA and Maplewood Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Family Room welcomes kids of all ages to enjoy a morning of science, dance, building blocks, storytime, a ball pit, and even low-impact dodgeball. All activities are staff-monitored to ensure safe play. Yes, it's $20 per family, but if you have two (or more) kids, it almost pays for itself. Coffee, bottled water, and snacks are available for purchase.
Jump On In — Hasbrouck Heights
Open jump Tuesday–Friday
$10 per jumper; $8 per jumper for families with more than one child
Let your kids bounce off the walls, literally, at this inflatable fun spot. There are plenty of open-bounce hours, when kids of all ages can jump around. There are also preschool sessions for the under-4 set in case you're worried about your little ones getting trampled. Book your spot in advance.
My Play Center — Maplewood
Drop-in play Tuesday–Friday from 9am–noon
This toddler- and preschooler-focused drop-in playroom at the Maplewood Jewish Center is equipped with toys, puzzles, blocks, books, and more to keep little ones busy. It’s the perfect quiet spot to spend a rainy or chilly weekday morning. There’s plenty of room to park your stroller, so you can just wheel your tuckered-out tot home for naptime. Coffee and cold beverages are available for purchase, or bring your own to stash in the refrigerator on premises. While the kids play, get comfy on the couch and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.
Shalom Baby Playgroup — New Milford/River Edge
Once a month from 9:30–11am
The Jewish Federation of Northern NJ hosts crafts, storytimes, music classes, and play at this once-a-month play group geared toward toddlers 3 and under. The venue alternates monthly between Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge and Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford. Check the group’s Facebook page for updates on meetups, as well as special seasonal events held at local libraries, parks and the zoo, too.
RELATED: Free Indoor Play Spots for New Jersey Kids
Go fishing and get your sillies out at open play at Tag Along Place Space.
Tag Along Place Space — Lake Hopatcong
Open play daily; visit website for current schedule
$15 for all-day play; $10 for siblings
Ages 6 months – 10 years
Get your sillies out at an open gym session at Tag Along. Little ones are free to climb, run, jump, and explore the equipment, toys, and games in a safe, clean space all day long. Bring your mom group of three or more members for a discounted rate of $10 per child. It's half-price to play ($7.50 per child) Monday–Friday from 4pm to close.
We Rock the Spectrum — Mt. Laurel
Open play daily; visit Facebook page for weekly schedule
$12 for first child; $10 for siblings
This play gym is designed for kids of all needs and abilities, with a special focus on catering to special-needs kids. There is suspended equipment for balance and vestibular treatment, crash mats and crash pillows, a zip line, a trampoline, an indoor play structure, sensory-based toys, and a fine motor and arts and crafts area.
Arts & Crafts for Tots — Union
Like the idea of crafting with your kid but cringe at the thought of paint and glitter all over your house? Bring your budding artist to this weekly drop-in art class at the Union Recreation Center. Your little one can make a creative project to take home, and you can skip the messy cleanup.
RELATED: Play Spaces with Drop-In Hours for Central New Jersey Kids
Coco Beans Play Cafe — Tinton Falls
Open play Monday–Friday 9am–6pm; Saturday 9–11am
$15 per play session; $8 for siblings; babies 6–12 months are $10
Kids can slide down the pirate ship, race through a massive multilevel climber, or curl up in the reading “nook” at this socks-only play space. There’s also a play kitchen and garden, train table, and soft tumbling mats, plus plenty of blocks and books strewn across the soft green carpet. A dedicated toddler area keeps crawlers and tots safe. Feel free to bring your own lunch, or purchase healthy snacks at the cafe. They even have a bottle warmer, because they think of everything. Turn Friday into Fri-YAY with Happy Hours from 3–6pm, when admission is only $10 per child and coffee and teas are just $1.
Fort Monmouth Recreation Area — Tinton Falls
Open play offered daily; visit the website for current hours
$5 per child or $30 monthly pass (cash or check only)
This 21,000-square-foot rec center offers plenty of open-play hours every day. Activity rooms filled with toys and arts & crafts materials, plus table games, basketball courts, and a full gymnasium await kids of all ages. On days when school’s closed (for example, that long week between Christmas and New Year’s Day), drop in for science exploration stations, take-home crafts, and building-block challenges to cure your kids' cabin fever.
Giggles – Cranford
Drop-in play daily; visit website for current schedule
$15 for first child; $10 for sibling
This little-kid haven promotes imaginary play in a multi-faceted play arena. Activity stations include a sensory table, train table, and play kitchen, great options for preschoolers who love to pretend. Kids can also give their gross motor skills a workout on the large climbing structure, scooters, and other ride-on toys. There's just one open room, so parents can keep an eye on their kids from any spot while enjoying a cup of coffee from the cafe.
RELATED: Indoor Play Spaces for Kids in South Jersey
Kids 5 and under will have a ball at the imaginative and open space at Jellybean Jungle.
Jellybean Jungle — Marlton
Open play daily Monday–Saturday; visit website for updated hours
$9 for kids 1–5; Babies 9–11 months old $4.50; Infants 8 months and under FREE
A fun and safe option for little ones in a bright, stimulating environment, Jellybean Jungle is home to a variety of imaginative activity centers. Little ones will love the ball pit room, the climbing maze, the jungle theater, and the ocean center with a pirate ship. There’s even a carnival center with a carousel.
Kids Blvd Gym – Warren
Open play daily; call ahead to confirm availability
$12 per one-hour session
Educational, interactive, and sensory learning are first in this facility that also hosts open play. Intended for toddlers and younger children, Kids Blvd has an art center, sensory gym, interactive play space, and fun toys.
Kidz Village – Kenilworth & Woodbridge
Open play daily
$12.99 for kids 2 years and up; Kids under 2 $10.99; Infants and adults are FREE
This play town offers lots of themed rooms to explore, including a grocery store, hair salon, diner, and a construction zone. There's also a play maze and a few arcade games. Note that this play center can get very crowded during birthday parties, so you may want to consider visiting during off-peak times.
Magic Sky Play — Morganville
Open play Monday–Friday 9:30am–5:30pm; Saturday–Sunday 8:30–11:30am
$15 for first child; $10 for sibling; $5 for additional siblings; Babies under 12 months are FREE with paid sibling
Magic Sky is a 2017 Mommy Poppins Bestie Awards Winner, for good reason. Its bright, open layout and creative activities are perfectly suited to a young child's imagination. There are eight large play structures, including a huge tree house with a twisting slide, climbing cargo net, and lookout points. A "sandbox" filled with plastic pellets lets tiny construction workers dig in. There's even a separate toddler area with its own mini-gym. Eat lunch in the lounge area and enjoy the free Wi-Fi.
Princeton Playspace — Princeton
Open play Monday–Friday 9am–5:30pm; Saturday 9–11:30am
$15 for first child, $10 for siblings; Infants 12 months and under are FREE when accompanied by an older sibling
This 5,000-square-foot indoor play space has tons of activities for little ones, including a train table, the "Mini Princeton" pretend town, a toddler area, construction building site, and jungle gym. Caregivers can enjoy free Wi-Fi, magazines, and a microwave to reheat your own refreshments at the cafe that's adjacent to the play area.
Tod Squad — Branchburg
Tuesday–Wednesday 9–11am and 2–4pm; Thursday 9–11am
$10 per child
The Branchburg Sports Complex is bursting with tons of fun stuff for kids to do. Drop-in Tod Squad sessions are especially for little ones to play, climb, bounce, and explore in a safe environment. You'll find a bounce house, soft play equipment, a PlayMaze with slides, tunnels and bridges, sports balls, and more.
Brigantine Community Center — Brigantine
Open play Monday–Friday 10am–2pm
$2 suggested donation per child
Tucked away in the Brigantine Community Center is an indoor playroom for kids under 5 with slides, a ball pit, toys, books, and more.
Philly Art Center Creative Playgroup — Cherry Hill
$5 per child
This bright, airy space offers a fun and creative environment for babies through preschoolers (and their caretakers) to play and socialize. Weekly themes and art projects are inspired by the book of the week. Come in and get settled for storytime at 11am. Plenty of art and sensory activities are on hand for tiny tots and toddlers to enjoy before and after the reading.
Looking to socialize with your neighbors while your kids play? Search Meetup for a local family group, such as SOMA Families, where for a small yearly membership fee you can partake in invite-only playgroups and special events right in your own backyard.
All photos courtesy of venues.