Queens has plenty of indoor play spaces with open play hours—more than Manhattan in fact. We found 13 indoor romping spots in the borough that offer drop-in sessions open to the public, so there's no need to buy a pricey annual membership. Bonus: Most of these spots host birthday parties, too, and are much more affordable (as in half price in some cases) than their Manhattan—and Brooklyn—competitors.
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Bounce 'N Play – Astoria
20-21 Steinway Street between 20th Avenue and 20th Road
Opened by a local mom in spring 2014, this play space has bouncy houses and giant inflatable slides in addition to the standard attractions, including play sets, a jungle gym with tubes, a rock climbing wall, toys and arcade games. That makes it a great choice for children of all ages. In fact the "big playground" caters to kids up to 13. There are regular open play sessions for different age ranges: under 7, all ages and even family nights that come with a buffet. You can find the open play schedule online and call 718-777-7529 to reserve your spot. Each two-hour session costs $12 per child, save for family bounce night, which is $15.99 per child (ages 1-16) and $7.99 per parent. Read our full review here.
BounceU – College Point
Whitepoint Center, 132-25 14th Avenue between 132nd Street and 133rd Place
Kids (and parents) can enjoy two huge rooms of bouncy and inflatable fun like obstacle courses and massive slides all year long at BounceU. This location regularly hosts open sessions including Family Bounce Nights, open bounce for all ages, open bounce for preschoolers and even an out-of-this-world Cosmic Open Bounce with lasers and black lights. This is the perfect place for everyone in your family to get their sillies out. Prices and schedule vary depending on the session so check the website for details. Socks are required, long sleeves are recommended and prepaid reservations are encouraged to guarantee your spot.
Funtopia USA – Ridgewood
6626 Metropolitan Avenue near Rentar Plaza
This one-stop fun spot for all ages, but be warned: It's more Chuck E. Cheese's than cute local play space. If you have tweens or young teens, there are a lot of activities here including laser tag, bumper cars and a video game arcade. The younger set gets a three-story indoor playground, plus a separate toddler area. The big catch? Many of the games and attractions cost extra on top of admission fee ($7 on weekdays and $9 on weekends). Tip: There's no elevator so leave the stroller at home.
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The classic air hockey never gets old at Kids Fun House. Photo courtesy of the venue.
Kids Fun House – Ridgewood
6273 Fresh Pond Road between 70th and 71st Avenues
A longtime Queens favorite, this spot has attractions for children up to age 12. There's a separate socks-only toddler area for ages 6 months to 4 years with a tree to climb through, a playhouse and a small slide. Older kids can romp in the multilevel maze, swoosh down the triple slide and even play a few arcade games. Adults can grab a seat and a snack at the cafe. Kids Fun House has drop-in hours six days of the week, as well as mommy-and-me and classes for preschoolers and birthday party packages. As you can imagine, it's quite popular with locals—families even drive here from other parts of Queens. Admission ranges from $7 to $15 per child, depending on the day, and includes five tokens for the video games.
Kids Playhouse – Astoria
34-17 Steinway Street between 34th and 35th Avenues
Formerly a mini-chain, Kids Playhouse recently changed owners and only the Astoria location remains open. One thing that's unchanged, however, is the price: Pay just $7 per child for open play on the weekdays. On weekends and holidays, the price jumps to $10. There is currently no website, so call to confirm hours and availability, especially on the weekends: 718-806-1288.
Long Island City Kids – Long Island City
5-02 50th Avenue at 5th Street
This 2,500-square-foot enrichment center features a fully equipped gym and classroom area, and offers music, art, dance and sports classes, after-school and camps. The gym is available to the public for open play on Sunday mornings for $20/per child, per session.
Sabrina's Play Studio – Sunnyside
52-07 Queens Boulevard at 52nd Street
The sole independent indoor play space in Sunnyside/Woodside, this 1,900-square-foot play space for children ages 0-9 was opened by a local mom who ran a neighborhood daycare for 11 years. Attractions include a two-level maze, a small bounce house and a play area with a kitchen, toys and dress-up clothes, plus a gated baby zone for tiny tots. In addition to drop-in play, Sabrina's offers daycare, camp, classes and parties. Read our full review here.
Sensory City – Long Island City
1-11 44th Road between 9th and 10th Streets, Suite 402
We raved about this beautiful state-of-the-art sensory gym when we visited in 2013. Highlights include a rock climbing wall with ropes, a ball pit, a two-story castle for imaginative play with an exit slide, swings, a zip line and toys. Open play is available for children of all abilities on Thursdays and Saturdays. Additional times are often available so check the Facebook page or call 718-433-4434 for updates. A current winter special lets kids play for two hours for $15 and siblings pay just $10. The spot also host birthday parties for all ages and abilities.
Artistic Stitch Sports Complex – Glendale
79-08 Cooper Avenue near 79th Place
Great for older kids who have outgrown kiddie gyms, this athletics complex offers a wide variety of sports activities like soccer, kickball, wiffleball, dodgeball, football, rock climbing and even high-tech 3D batting cages. Drop-in rates are available for most sports clinics and private lessons, and you get discounts for buying multiple sessions at once. If you work up an appetite, there's a kid-friendly bistro onsite.
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Get lost in the foam cube pit at Kids 'N Shape, a fun take on the popular ball pit. Photo courtesy of the venue.
Kids 'N Shape – Howard Beach
162-26 Cross Bay Boulevard between 162nd and 163rd Avenues
Founded in 1989 by a local family, this gym includes a bouncy castle, zip line, obstacle course, basketball/soccer court, ball and foam pits, air hockey and even Xbox Kinect. Children are admitted on a first come, first serve basis with a maximum of 50 kids per session. Two-hour open play sessions are $10. Before heading out, check the website for the full schedule since times are subject to change.
Preschool Place at New York Hall of Science – Corona
47-01 111th Street near 47th Avenue
There are tons of hands-on attractions at this science museum, but this wonderful multisensory play area is a highlight for young children. It's equipped with a play kitchen, a wide array of toys, and caters to children ages 6 and under. (Older siblings are welcome but should be supervised so they don't run all over the young ones.) Storytime and art projects are offered on weekends and holidays. Preschool Place is open during regular museum hours. Free with admission ($15 for adults, $12 for children ages 2-17).
Test out the giant inflatable slide at Bounce 'N Play. Photo courtesy of the venue.
Raising Astoria – Astoria
26-11 23rd Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets
Formerly part play space, part store, this Queens spot recently reinvented itself by abandoning its retail business to open an additional party-and-play room on-site. Expect to find affordable classes here, but also drop-in playtime in the padded activity room and, occasionally, an indoor bouncy house. Foam blocks, tents and other play items are also on hand, while the classroom/sensory room is filled with quieter activities like a magnetic chalkboard. It also hosts a specific open playtime for infants! Hours vary but a frequently updated Facebook page keeps families in the know. Open play is $10.
Shastye Art Gallery and Play Space – Astoria
26-16 23rd Avenue
OK, so there's no bounce house here, but this recently opened art-centric spot hosts more than an hour of open play to indoor fort-making. How cool is that? Toddlers and preschoolers will love the morning drop-in art-making sessions six days a week where they can also play in the toy section stocked with trains, dinosaurs, Mr. Potato Head and more. Check out the creative classes for older kids or come by for the fort-making session to let kids burn off energy before dinner. Open art and play sessions are just $10 with discounts for unlimited monthly passes. Read our full review of Shastye here.
Top photo: Batting cages at Artistic Stitch are among the many sports options available at this Glendale spot. Photo courtesy of the venue.
A previous version of this post was originally published in November 2010.