The Best Indoor Play Spaces for DC Kids

Play-Work-Build at the National Building Museum is part learning center, part play area. Photo courtesy of the museum
Play-Work-Build at the National Building Museum is part learning center, part play area. Photo courtesy of the museum

Parents of little ones agree: Getting kids out of the house and burning off that youthful energy is a must for everyone's sanity. In the winter, you need an indoor space to stave off the cold; in the summer, it's the swamp heat that can drive everyone back indoors.  It shouldn’t be surprising the DC area has tons of indoor things to do, all year round!

If your kids just HAVE to run, jump, climb, and play (without causing a storm inside your house), Mommy Poppins DC has parents covered even in these challenging times.

Read on for our list of 10 of the DC area's best and most interesting indoor play spaces.

The Best Indoor Play Spaces for Kids in the DC Area

1. Gymboree — Washington, DC

Gymboree offers plenty of indoor play programs for DC-area parents and little ones ages 0-5, with the benefit of a "try before you buy" option. Sign up for six visits a month for just $49 for the first month, or buy a pass for one preview class for $15. 

2. BeWithMe Playseum — Annapolis, MD

The BeWithMe Playseum, a children's book and toy store, offers kids and parents a unique setting to make family memories. The location is segmented into CityShops, various themed stops where kids can pretend to shop at the grocery store, create art in the studio, or decorate a cupcake in the bakery. This indoor play space also offers storytimes throughout the week. 

Keep your child engaged at the National Building Museum's Play Work Build exhibit.

3. Play Work Build at the National Building Museum — Washington, DC

While most of the National Building Museum is meant for bigger kids and grown-ups, and the Bulding Zone is closed, Play Work Build—with its current capacity limit of 20 children—is a good alternative, even for preschoolers. Hands-on block play is perfect for young construction workers, and kids at the older end of the spectrum might be entranced by the digital interactive element that allows kids to build an entire virtual wall ... and knock it down. Peak visiting hours tend to be between 10am and noon.

The sky's the limit at Super Awesome and Amazing.

4. Super, Awesome, & Amazing — Springfield, VA

While most of the spots on our list are geared toward younger kids, Super, Awesome & Amazing is an interactive water park, 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 the length of your visit and whether you plan to enjoy the waterpark or entertainment center. If you and your family love going there, consider a membership, which nabs you a discount on each visit.

5. Scramble — Alexandria and Falls Church, VA

Designed as a European-style play center, there's something for everyone at Scramble. Babies can practice tummy time; toddlers can run, jump, and role play; older kids can practice their soccer skills. Even homeschooling families and co-op groups can do something together. The facilities are divided by age so crawlers through 2-year-olds are in one spot, toddlers in another, and kids up to age 10 in a different area. Pricing varies by age and day.

Play, imagine, and explore at Once Upon a Dream. Photo courtesy of Once Upon a Dream

6. Once Upon a Dream — Sterling, 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. There's also a cafe stocked with healthy snacks, as well as coffee and tea for grown-ups. If parents need to get work done while their little ones play, an 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. 

7. Play N' Learn — Columbia, MD

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, swing sets, and more. Kids ages 2 to 8 can try out any of the equipment in a space designed for hands-on play. 

 RELATED: Mommy-and-Me Classes in the DC Area

8. The Wonder — Arlington, VA

The Wonder, formerly known as The 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 sensory-friendly, low-key but fun and imaginative environment, this indoor play space is for you and your children who are 5 or younger. The Wonder is set up like an imaginary pool, and invites kids to act like fish and play with beach balls. 

9. The Wiggle Room — Crofton, MD

This engaging, 5,700-square-foot space is filled with interactive toys, play structures, and even a ninja course that will keep kids running with enthusiasm. Parent-friendly amenities include coffee and lounge chairs that look into the play area, so you can keep an eye on your children all during your stay. There is also a quiet room, ideal for those moments when your toddler needs a break from all of the excitement. 

10. Jolly Yolly Kids — Fairfax, VA

This indoor playground made our list of the top kids' birthday part spots near DC, but it also offers daily open-play hours, with a drop-off play option on Mondays through Fridays. It features a large, multilevel play structure for kids up to age 13, a smaller play area for ages 2-7, and a baby section for ages 2 and under, making it a great place for families with children of multiple ages.

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This post was originally published in 2019. Writers James Stephen Smith, Drew Kristofik, and Jennifer Marino Walters contributed to this 2021 update.

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