Parents of little ones agree: Getting out of the house and burning off all that youthful energy is a must for wintertime survival. It shouldn’t be surprising that the DC area has tons of indoor things to do, especially when it comes to museums. But if you just want the kids to run, jump, climb, and play (without causing a worst storm inside your house than is actually happening outside), DC has got parents covered on the creative free play side of things too.
While most of the DC/MD/VA indoor play spaces on our list do have an entry fee, don’t forget about your local library. With story times and children’s areas with books, blocks, and toys, the library can be a great (and free!) place to get the winter wiggles out.
Read on for our list of 12 of the DC area's best and most interesting indoor play spaces.
1. Elemeno Club - Washington, DC
Elemeno Club might just be the coolest place on our list for young families. Designed for children aged six and under, this two-story oasis in the heart of metro DC offers something for both kids and their parents. From an indoor playground ideal for free play and directed family social time to family dinners and free coffee, beer and wine for the grownups, Elemeno looks to provide "the village" moms and dads need in order to navigate parenthood, while keeping a social life and growing closer to their children. For working parents, there's even a kid-free coworking place which provides professional level office space with video monitoring of your child playing as you work.
Membership levels range from $59-$189 per month and require a two-month minimum committment.
2. Magic Ground - Washington, DC
With an indoor playground, bilingual programming, and drop-off child care, Magic Ground in DC gives kids a fun place to run off those winter crazies with activities based on age group. Parents appreciate the flexibility this indoor play space offers with various drop-off times, including two-hour, half-day, full-day, and date-night times available.
Walk-ins are welcome, and the cost of each drop-off ranges from $25-$80.
3. BusyBees - Various locations
With locations in Chevy Chase, Falls ChurchFairfax Corner, BusyBees offers an indoor playground designed for kids under 48 inches tall. There are also special events and date nights each month so parents can enjoy some alone time.
The price for an all-day pass varies by location, but passes can be purchased that discounts admission. Bringng more than one of your children? The first child pays the full amount, but siblings get in at a reduced rate. Weekday open play hours are 9am-5pm and weekend hours are 11am-5pm unless a private party is booked. So be sure to check the website for the most up-to-date weekend hours.
4. BeWithMe Playseum - Various Locations
The BeWithMe Playseum, a children's book and toy store, has locations in Annapolis and Bethesda, offering kids and their parents a unique setting to make fun family memories. Each store is segmented into CityShops, various themed stops where they can pretend to shop at the grocery store or create art in the art studio or decorate a cupcake in the bakery. This indoor play space also offers story times throughout the week as well.
Admission is $9 per person, including children aged one and older and accompanying adults. Each location has different hours, activities, and schedules so be sure and check the website for more information.
5. Building Zone at the National Building Museum - Washington, DC
While most of the National Building Museum is meant for bigger kids and grownups, there is a part that's just right for kiddos from ages 2 to 6: The Building Zone. From building LEGO towers to exploring a playhouse to donning construction gear and playing with big construction trucks, young children will enjoy this space made just for them.
Admission to the Building Zone is included with general museum admission ($7 for kids and $9 for adults), and there is a 45-minute limit on play time in the area. The max number of visitors at one time is 40 and peak visiting hours tend to be between 10am and noon so bear that in mind if you're planning on checking out this play space.
So many trucks to get your hands on at the National Building Museum's Building Zone. Photo by Kevin Allen
6. Super, Awesome, & Amazing - Springfield, VA
While most of the spots on our list are geared towards younger kids, Super, Awesome & Amazing is an interactive waterpark, eSports and VR gaming facility, rock climbing gym, trampoline park, and obstacle course in one, which is just right for big kids. With 30,000 square feet to explore, expect to spend several hours here.
Pricing varies depending on how long you're going to spend there and whether you're going to do the waterpark or the massive entertainment center. If you and your family love going there, you might want to consider a membership which nabs you a discount on each visit.
7. Scramble - Alexandria, VA
Designed as a European-style play center, there's something for everyone at Scramble: babies practicing tummy time, toddlers wanting to run, jump, and role play, older kids practicing their soccer skills, even homeschooling families and co-op groups who want to do something together. The facility is separated out depending on age so crawlers through 2 year olds are in one spot, toddlers in another, and kids aged up to 10 in a different area as well so you can be sure your child's age-based needs and interests are being met.
The play space opens at 8am on the weekdays and 9am on weekends. Pricing varies by age and day and range from $6 to $20 for an all-day pass (discounts are available for groups).
8. Once Upon a Dream - Vienna, VA
Stocked with open-ended toys and places to get the wiggles out, Once Upon a Dream is an indoor space designed to spark children's imaginations through play. Open play areas include science, cupcake decorating, art, music, and dance activities. Special events fill up the facility's calendar as well so be sure and check that out. There's also a cafe stocked with healthy snacks, as well as coffee and tea for the grownups.
If parents need to get some work done while their little ones play, a newly added onsite work space is available. Need to run some errands or grab a cup of coffee? Once Upon a Dream also offers drop-off care. Closed on Mondays, Once Upon a Dream is open at 10am the rest of the week. Admission for both parents and children costs $9 each (babies nine months and younger are free).
Play, imagine, and explore at Once Upon a Dream. Photo courtesy of Once Upon a Dream
9. Play N' Learn - Various locations
Play N' Learn is a playground superstore. If you're in the market for a new backyard playset, this is the place to go. But even if you're not, this store is more than just that - it's an indoor play space complete with a trampoline park, basketball goals, swingsets and more. Kids aged 2 to 8 can come and try out any of the equipment in a space designed for hands-on play.
No advance tickets are available on weekdays, but for weekends and school holidays, parents will need to grab tickets in advance online for two hour of play. The cost is $7.55 per person for each two-hour session.
10. The Soft Playroom at Chinquapin Park Recreation Center - Alexandria, VA
Chinquapin Park Recreation Center is a large facility with a year-round pool, basketball courts, racquetball, and more. But for kids aged five and younger, the biggest draw is the soft playroom where young children can use up some energy in a clean, safe environment.
Open daily at 9am, Alexandria residents are admitted for $5 and non-residents are $7 (the first chaperone is free with additional chaperones' admission of $1 for residents/$4 non-residents).
11. Chibis Indoor Playground - Ashburn, VA
This indoor playground in Ashburn offers a dedicated soft indoor play space for children aged two and younger, as well as an indoor playground for kids up to age 8, which includes a bounce house, jungle gym, and ride-on cars. Drinks and nut-free snacks are available in the snack bar, and families are encouraged to bring their own packed food in with them.
Chibis opens at 10am daily. Admission varies from $8 to $10, and adults and children 9 and up are free.
12. Nook - Fairfax, VA
Nook offers a modern play environment that's more about activating creativity than overstimulation. So if you'd like your child to play in a more sensory-friendly, low-key but fun and imaginative environment, this indoor play space is for you and your children who are five or younger. Special events for kids are also offered, and parents can join in talks and classes, such as how to end mealtime madness, infant/child CPR classes, and more.
Open play passes cost $20 with complimentary admission for 1 adult. Discounted ongoing membership are available as well, which would be worth it for families who plan on going to Nook more than once per month.
Minimalist and modern play available at Nook. Photo from Nook on Facebook.
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