If you're looking to escape the elements, an indoor playground is a great option to entertain stir-crazy kids. No need to break the bank—the Philadelphia area has several free indoor play spaces where children can climb, explore, or relax with a good book. We've rounded up the best indoor venues in Philly with free activities for kids where you never have to worry about the price of admission.
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Be a firefighter for a day at Fireman's Hall Museum.
Free Indoor Play Spaces Near Philadelphia
With many stores throughout the area, the bookstore chain holds weekly events aimed at family fun. The Rittenhouse Square, Neshaminy Mall, Valley Forge, Willow Grove, Plymouth Meeting, and Broomall locations are perfect for curling up with a book anytime, or kids can join one of the store's storytime sessions on select days.
2. Craft Hall—Northern Liberties
Okay, so not totally free since you'll probably need to buy a drink or snack while the kids play, but this brewery meets playground in NoLibs is a Philly parent favorite. While you sip your coffee or other adult beverage, kids can climb and slide down a pirate's ship or challenge each other to Nintendo and shuffleboard. Located in a 35,000-foot warehouse, there's plenty of space for kids to explore while you get another round. Oh and there's a dog park too!
Learn all about fire safety and the history of firefighters in Philly at the Fireman's Hall Museum.
Discover the heroic history of Philadelphia firefighting in this free museum, complete with gear to try on, vintage engines to explore, and memorabilia that will fascinate aspiring firefighters and their grown-ups.
Some of the 55 branches around Philadelphia have great areas for kids to play games, work on a puzzle, and read books. There are also plenty of scheduled events, like toddler and preschool storytimes, playgroups, building block parties, and movie screenings. Libraries in the suburbs have similar spaces and offerings, so check your local branch to see what's available near you.
5. IKEA—South Philadelphia & Conshohocken
Wandering around IKEA in South Philly or Conshy is the perfect way to spend an afternoon pretending to crash someone else's home. While the Småland indoor playgrounds are currently closed, kids will love the furniture displays in the children's section which is always full of toys, tents, and treasures.
6. Lilypad—South Philly
Only the first visit to Lilypad's play space is free (after that it's a small drop-in fee ranging from $5-$10) but you'll be hooked after that first foray at this South Philly baby haven. The play space is open at select hours to different age groups. Lilypad also boasts an awesome thrift store and holds lots of classes, from baby music classes to new parent groups.
Formerly Mr. B’s Coffeehouse, the renamed Mr. B's removed the coffee part of its operation to focus efforts on its Playzone, designed for kids up to 54 inches tall. With giant slides, twisting tunnels, and caverns to climb, this indoor playground makes for the perfect play date. Vending machines are available and outside food is welcome.
Smith's huge 16,000-square-foot space, designed for kids 5 and younger, has multiple floors which include bikes, a toy kitchen, dollhouses, and a new Tinker Town filled with construction-themed play. Smith also hosts storytimes, arts and crafts, and family-friendly events.
DIY your own thinking putty at the Crazy Aaron's flagship right in Norristown. The store's "Mixed by Me" experience lets you create a free mini tin of your very own goo made by you.
Kids can run loose and jump around at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.
Free Mall Play Spaces Near Philadelphia
Need to run errands? Get tasks crossed off of your to-do list and take a break at one or both of the play areas at King of Prussia Mall. Located on the upper level of The Plaza, the play area features big, foam play shapes, tunnels, and slides. In addition, there’s a second play area on the lower level of The Court.
Take a break from shopping at the Under the Sea play area. This mall's play space is right around the corner from a carousel, Jump Star Bungee, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and Dave and Buster's, making this spot a little niche of kid heaven.
This post has been updated for January 2023 by writer Liz Baill.
Photos courtesy of the spaces/venues