Sand, water and more sensory fun await at Totally Tots at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum
Sand, water and more sensory fun await at Totally Tots at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

Budget-Friendly Play Spaces for NYC Kids That Charge $20 or Less

New York City is packed with fun indoor play spaces to keep kids active all year. From indoor playscapes to museum-led scavenger hunt, there is no shortage of fun activiites that are perfect for bad-weather days or just because. We've rounded up play spaces offering drop-in play—all for less than $20 a visit—and a few of these spots are significantly cheaper!

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

Budget-Friendly Play Spaces in Manhattan

ACT Indoor Playstation — Morningside Heights
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 111th Street
Open play: December-April: Monday-Thursday, 12:15pm-2:30pm
$8 per session; ages 6 months and under FREE*

*Through a generous donation, open play is currently free tor the first 1250 guests.
Ages 0-5
With a spacious gymnasium full of pint-sized slides and places to crawl and explore, plus soft mats to ensure safety, this indoor play space is perfect for passing the chilly fall and winter months. The center closes during holidays and school breaks, so be sure to call ahead to confirm it's open before heading over. All guests must remove shoes in the play area so be sure to bring socks. You're welcome to bring in your own food or drink when you need a snack break as well. 

RELATED: Manhattan's Best Indoor Play Spaces and Kids' Gyms

The Children's Museum of Manhattan - Upper West Side
212 W. 83rd Street
Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

$15 two-hour session

All-ages
Explore the museum's exhibits at your own pace during a two-hour session. Visitors are encouraged to purchase a timed ticket in advance as space is limited. Each ticket includes all of the exhibits, as well as special events, including story time, dance time, scavenger hunts and art projects. All visitors 12 and older must be vaccinated.

Budget-Friendly Play Spaces in Brooklyn

The Ability Center NYC — Marine Park
3514 Avenue S at 35th Street
Open play: Sunday–Friday; visit the website for current hours
Crawlers and older
$15 per 90-minute session
An indoor therapy spot, the practice-and-play gym here doubles as a budget-friendly play space when it's not being used by physical, occupational, and speech therapists and their clients. You'll find a clean, well-maintained play area with plenty of fun, sensory-friendly ways to play. Be prepared to get your temperature taken upon arrival and socks are required, as well as masks for all guests over two years old. 

RELATED: NYC Stores Where Kids Play for FREE

Totally Tots at the Brooklyn Children's Museum — Crown Heights
145 Brooklyn Avenue between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place
Open play: Tuesday-Sunday; visit the website for current hours
$13 for ages 1 and older
Ages 0-6
The Totally Tots exhibit at the Brooklyn Children's Museum is a treasure for babies and preschoolers with nine sensory play areas—enjoy water play, music, climbing structures, blocks, dress up, and more. Included with museum admission (which is pay-as-you-wish on Thursday and Sunday afternoons), Totally Tots is a bargain for winter fun. All guests 12 or older must show proof of vaccination upon arrival. To ensure the space remains as safe as possible during Covid, the Museum has added new hand sanitizing stations, upgraded air filters to MERV 14 and is using UV wands to clean after every session. 

Budget-Friendly Play Spaces in Queens

Funtopia USA — Ridgewood
66-26 Metropolitan Avenue near Rentar Plaza
Open play: Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 10am-9pm
$10 for 45-minute session to the jungle gym and toddler area
All ages
A word of warning: There are plenty of attractions at this all-ages play space, which is more Chuck E. Cheese's than the other spots on our list. But, if you've got kids of multiple ages, it's a solid option. The $10 admission grants access to the three-story indoor playground and toddler play area. If your kids want to stray from there, the prices can rise rapidly: The more activities you play, the more you'll pay. Be aware that socks are required for all guests and no outside food or drink is permitted. 


Bounce off the walls at Kids 'N Shape. 

Kids 'N Shape — Howard Beach
162-26 Cross Bay Boulevard between 162nd and 163rd Avenues
Open play: Daily; visit the website for current hours
$15 per two-hour session; reservation required 
Ages 1-12
With ball and foam pits, a bounce house, an obstacle course, and even a zip line, kids will have a blast staying active and burning off energy. Children are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum of 50 kids per session. Kids ’N Shape also has a Staten Island location. Be aware that proof of vaccination is required for all guests 12 or older. 

Let's Play Playhouse — Astoria
34-17 Steinway Street between 34th and 35th Avenues
Open play: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-6pm; Friday, 11am-6pm; please call to confirm availability, 718-806-1288.
$20 per two-hour session; Children 6 months and younger FREE
Ages 0–5
This spot, formerly known as Kid's Playhouse, offers a two-tiered jungle gym, mini bounce house, and a pair of slides. There's also a padded play area for crawlers and toddlers. Be aware that socks are required for all guests. 

Mini Land Play - Long Island City

5-28 49 Avenue
Open play: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-6pm; Friday, 11am-6pm; please call to confirm availability, 718-806-1288.
$15 unlimited play (weekdays); $20 two-hour session (weekends)
Ages 0–5

Two words: Unlimited play! This 3,000 square foot play space is a kids' dream! No appointment needed for open play, just bring your little ones to enjoy the huge indoor playground and more than 20 play sets. Every area is sanitized and cleaned daily. Everyone will be asked to sanitize their hands before coming in and all children and adults must wear socks. 


You just might meet Alice in Wonderland at Lidia's Play Cafe. 

Lidia's Play Cafe — Ridgewood
71-06 Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle and 71st Avenues
Open play: Monday-Wednesday, 9am-6pm; Thursday-Friday, 9am-7pm Weekend hours vary; visit the website for current hours
$20 for 90-minute session
Ages 0-6
At this play cafe, parents can kick back and enjoy a cup of joe while their kids explore the Montessori-inspired play area. It's stocked with natural wooden toys and small climbers and has a calming, relaxed vibe that encourages open, imaginative play. Local parents opened the shop named after their daughter. Masks are required for all guests over the age of two. Be aware, that your temperature will be taken upon arrival and you must wash or sanitize your hands before play. 

Bounce and Play - Astoria
20-21 Steinway Street
Open play: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-6pm; Friday, 11am-6pm; please call to confirm availability, 718-806-1288.
$20 unlimited play 
All-ages
Bounce 'n Play is guaranteed fun. Play in a giant bounce house, run around the big gym, play games at the arcade or go to the toddler area for some special little-kid time. Open play is $15 per one child/one adult.

Budget-Friendly Play Spaces in Staten Island

Boom Kidz — Richmond Valley
4878 Arthur Kill Road
Open play: Hours vary; visit the website for current schedule
$20 per two-hour session
All-ages
This all-ages spot offers 3,000 square feet of play space, including a towering three-tiered indoor playground. Toddlers have run of the sensory-filled play area, while big kids can park themselves in front of a gaming console. There are Lego stations, a foam-ball shooter, and plenty of opportunities to climb, slide, and work some sillies out. Parents can appreciate that all these diverse play areas are within eyeshot of one another, making it an excellent place for a mixed-age crew. All guests must sign a waiver and health form - available on their website - before play. 

Kids 'N Shape — Tottenville
153 Main Street
Open play: Daily; visit the website for current schedule.
$15 per two-hour session; reservation required 
Ages 1-12
Like its sister location in Queens, Kids 'N Shape has plenty of space for active kids to go crazy. An inflatable obstacle course is a definite draw, as is the zip line. Kids go crazy for the ball and foam pits, too. Children are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum of 50 kids per session. Be aware that proof of vaccination is required for all guests 12 or older. 

Unless noted, all photos courtesy of the venues.

A version of this post was published in 2017; it has been updated. Louise Finnell contributed additional reporting.

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