The Top Indoor Play Spaces in New York City
With chillier days upon us, an indoor play space may be just the thing to get out some winter wiggles. To that end, we present this list of the 17 best indoor play spaces across New York City. So, when it gets too cold to explore one of New York City's top playgrounds, consider taking your fun inside. A word to the wise: Many of these spots now require reservations for playtime, so plan your fun in advance.
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Be sure to check with each venue for its COVID guidelines and requirements before heading out, and read more about local public safety protocols here.
1. Fairy Tale Island – Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
This 4,000 square-foot play space boasts a two-level train, an oversized ball pit, trampolines, swings, a rock-climbing wall, and plenty more to keep kids engaged. The main area houses the ball pit filled with thousands of softballs and a "sandbox" filled with seeds. A pretend shop in the back features plenty of fake food and play kitchens where kids can cook up a tasty meal. Pre-registration is required due to limited capacity. The schedule changes week to week, so call ahead to check hours.
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At Dream City, adults are welcome to play with their children or relax in the sitting area.
2. Dream City – Forest Hills, Queens
This 6,200-square-foot space incorporates different interactive elements for cognitive and physical development, including a wood cube pit with shovels and toy dump trucks. Kids can also explore a ball travel machine, a dress-up room, and various structures that encourage climbing and sliding. The play space is open to children 1 to 6 years old. Reservations are required for both children and adults. No walk-ins are allowed, and all visitors must fill out a health screening form. Proof of vaccination is required for visitors 5 years and older and masks are a must for all visitors ages 24 months and older.
3. Good Day Play Cafe – Park Slope, Brooklyn
This bright, clean space houses a large selection of interactive, high-quality toys. Kids can also explore the sandbox, supermarket, and kitchen and take a ride down the slide. Best for kids age 0-6, reservations are required to participate in play sessions. Proof of vaccination is required for all kids ages 5 and up and masks are required for ages 2 and up.
4. Kids N' Shape – Howard Beach, Queens
This spot offers plenty of room to roam and run. Active play is the name of the game here. You'll find balls to bounce and castles to bounce on, plus there's a zip line, obstacle course, foam pits, and more fun. Kids N' Shape also has a location in Tottenville, Staten Island.
At Lidia's Play Cafe, the wooden fixtures and toys were carefully selected to promote children's development through play.
5. Lidia's Play Cafe – Ridgewood, Queens
This wide-open Montessori-inspired space has two simple rooms and toys focused on child development. While the play cafe is intended for kids under age 5, it’s a welcoming space for older siblings who can test out the toys themselves or hang out in the cafe. Kids can also explore through movement on various climbing and sliding structures. Play sessions are by appointment only. When you reserve a spot, you will be given the option to book a "private play" session with participants from your social circle or a "mixed play" session with participants from outside of your social circle who book a session at the same time. Capacity is limited to 10 visitors each session.
6. Brooklyn Children's Museum Totally Tots Exhibit – Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Designed for ages 0-6, the engaging Totally Tots exhibit features nine distinct sections, including sand and water play, musical instruments, block building, and dress-up. Little ones younger than 18 months can explore the Baby Hub, a bright area filled with shapes, colors, and a safe structure where little ones can work on pulling up, crawling, and walking. To ensure a spot, tickets should be booked online in advance. Play Sessions include access to Totally Tots, plus access to ColorLab, World Brooklyn, Neighborhood Nature, Collections Central, and The Nest exhibits. Skate and Play tickets include sessions on the BCM's new rooftop rink plus general admission to the museum. All visitors ages 5-11 must present proof of at least one dose of a valid COVID-19 vaccine; ages 12 and older will be required to provide proof of full vaccination.
7. The Play Lab – Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The Play Lab is a new eco-friendly Montessori-inspired play space, where ages 9 months to 7 years old can explore. Enjoy the physical play area complete with a rock wall, treehouse, slide, Lego and construction zone, pretend playhouse and market, and a magnetic wall. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for adults and children 5 years old and up. Reservations are required.
The Hollow offers a pair of Montessori-inspired rooms to explore in its loft-like space.
8. The Hollow – Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn
Located on the second floor of a sun-lit building, this loft-like Montessori-inspired play space features two playrooms: A movement and open-ended playroom called the Meadow and an interactive classroom called the Den. Both rooms have the option for free play and organized classes. To encourage independent play, furniture is low to the ground for easy access. Kids are encouraged to choose easy-to-reach materials for age-appropriate hands-on activities. The space is geared toward children 8 weeks to 5 years old, who must each register for a session before visiting. Only one caregiver is allowed per child. Reserve your spot online before you go. Masks are required for ages 2+ and those ages 12+ must show proof of COVID vaccination.
9. Little Lola and Tots – Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
This neighborhood favorite includes an engaging play area for kids to slide, read, climb, and explore during drop-in play sessions. Beautifully curated and mindfully constructed, the space offers plenty of play opportunities for kids to get physical and use their imaginations. Pre-registration is required. No more than five children and one caregiver are allowed at any given time for open play. No open play is allowed during class times. Proof of vaccination is required for visitors 12 years and older.
Kanga’s Indoor Play Center features tons of action-packed fun for kids of all ages.
10. Kanga's Indoor Play Center – Long Island City, Queens
Geared toward children ages 1-11, this indoor play space has plenty of room to romp, run, and jump! Candy-colored hues make an inviting space where a combination of indoor playgrounds, long, bumpy slides, and inflatable bouncy houses all beckon kids. Parents of wee ones can appreciate the toddler play area, which is well-padded and blocked off from the more raucous areas big kids frequent. Reservations for up to 2 hours of playtime must be booked in advance. One adult is free with every child's entry. Each additional adult is $10. An online waiver is required for entry; sign one at home to expedite the check-in process.
11. JCC – Harlem
This well-equipped and welcoming space offers lots of great programming options for members of the Harlem community and at $10 per drop-in, you can't beat the price. Open play sessions include lots of opportunities for creative play with access to sports and movement equipment and building toys. Afternoon sessions are held outdoors. This option is great for mixed-age families: kids ages birth to 8 are welcome! Proof of vaccination for ages 5 and up is required.
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Take a trip around the world at Kids Play World.
12. Kids Play World – Middle Village, Queens
Opened in 2020, this play space allows kids to take a trip around the globe without leaving Queens. Each area represents a different place—from the Middle East to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. There’s a handcrafted Lego table and wall, where older kids can keep busy making different creations, as well as a climbing wall and a slide. To get to the slide, kids must pass through a glow-in-the-dark ocean-themed tunnel. Little visitors can ride around the space in toy cars, go shopping in a well-stocked supermarket and make pretend food in an Italian pizza shop. Sessions must be pre-booked online.
13. Billy Beez – Co-Op City, the Bronx
The Bronx has long lagged behind the other boroughs when it comes to indoor play spots, but a trip to Billy Beez makes you forget that. There are tunnels to crawl through, ropes to swing on, balls to play in and with, and tons of slides. A separate toddler area gives small guests a safe, soft place to play. Bonus points for the FREE Wi-Fi for mom and dad's entertainment, too. All visitors ages 5 and older are asked to present proof of at least one dose of a valid COVID-19 vaccine; ages 12 and older will be required to provide proof of at least two vaccine doses.
14. Twinkle Playspace – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Owned and operated by a local family, this 4,500-square-foot tot spot features creative, custom-designed, hands-on activity stations, including a water table, firehouse, salon, general store, and a barnyard. It's a great option for preschoolers who love to pretend. All visitors over the age of 12 must provide proof of vaccination.
Recess Dumbo has multiple play structures, many custom-made, to keep kids entertained for hours.
15. Recess Dumbo – Dumbo, Brooklyn
Opened by a pair of neighborhood moms in June 2015, this play space features gorgeous, custom-made equipment, including a wooden climbing wall, hidden ladders, and tunnels made from rope netting. Its popularity has only grown since we visited, making it a neighborhood institution for families. Everyone age 5 and over needs to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination at the front desk. Capacity is currently limited to eight children in the play space at a time. Play must be pre-booked for a 1-hour session and is subject to availability.
16. Jungle Adventure – Whitestone, Queens
With a playful jungle theme, including an ivy-wrapped climber and tunnel that makes it feel as if you're climbing through the belly of a snake, Jungle Adventure brings big fun to this far-out corner of the city. There's also a safety-net enclosed trampoline and plenty of slides. Limited spots for the play space are available by appointment only and must be made at least one day in advance. There will be temperature screenings upon arrival. All visitors ages 3+ must wear masks and everyone is required to wear socks.
17. House of Playful Soul – Flushing, Queens
The bright and airy, 1,600-square-foot play space is well-stocked with age-appropriate toys and broken down into play areas for different ages, and includes an ultra-cool, multi-level playhouse to explore. Open play sessions are available for crawlers only, or multi-ages.
Photos courtesy of the venues
A version of this story was published in 2017; it has been updated.