Indoor Play Spaces Offer Haven for Restless Kids and Parents
Editor's Note: This story was updated January 2012.
On a chilly winter morning, my household echoes with a common refrain: It's raining again. No need to despair. We know where to go for fun and exercise in spite of gray skies and, leaving the park for another day, we head to one of our area's great indoor play spaces.
From bouncy houses to open gyms to family fun centers, there are a number of places for children to get out their wiggles. Here are a few ideas – some new, some tried-and-true – to help keep the doldrums of the long, rainy season at bay.
Hot Spots in Seattle
University Village Playdays: Several families congregate at University Village each Tuesday morning for the "Playdays" event, when a participating store puts on a casual activity for kids. These drop-by activities range from seasonal crafts at Paint the Town to pajama story times at Barnes & Noble to educational playtime at Kumon. The program is free and a win-win for parents too, who receive a "Playdays Pass" for discounts and special offers at the Village that day. Check out the covered outdoor play area afterward to get the kids some exercise, then pick up a hot cocoa to warm their little hands. 25th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 45th Street. 206-523-0622; www.uvillage.com/village-playdays.
Seattle Gymnastics Academy's Indoor Playground: At these open sessions, children ages 5 and younger have access to most of the academy's gymnastics equipment for climbing, swinging, jumping and hula-hooping; it's a great way to get their bodies moving. Kids love the enormous foam pit, trampolines and "Tumbl Trak" – a long, springy pathway that leads to a padded end. Cost: $6 per child. Four Seattle locations: Shiveley Gymnasium, 12535 26th Ave. N.E.; Glade Training Facility, 12737 28th Ave. N.E.; SGA Salmon Bay, 5313 Shilshole Ave. N.W.; SGA Columbia City, 5034 37th Ave. S. 206-362-7447; www.seattlegymnastics.com.
Vertical World: Topping the “coolness” category, venture to Vertical World in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood and test your strength on the climbing wall. Families can drop in during open hours, any day of the week, and boulder (low-level climb up to 15 feet without ropes) as long as they like. If you are certified to belay, the whole place is your domain. Not in Seattle? Check out the Vertical World locations in Redmond, Everett or Tacoma. Cost: $12 for youth and $16 for adults. 2330 W. Commodore Way. 206-283-4497; www.verticalworld.com.
Hot Spots on the Eastside
Orange Blossom Society: For a cozy setting, visit Orange Blossom Society near Redmond Town Center, an enrichment center and social hub for Eastside families. An "Open Studio" on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. offers kids an opportunity to play with a selection of toys, dress-up clothes, tunnels and seasonal crafts. There is also coffee and free Wi-Fi for parents. If space allows, try a free trial class while you are there; the schedule includes art, language, movement and music for children. Cost: $10 for up to two kids (members are free). 16715 N.E. 79th St., Redmond. 425-883-2400; www.orangeblossomsociety.com.
Bellevue Square Kids' Cove: This children's play area is located on the third floor of the mall with plenty of room for play, lots of stroller parking and a Tully's cart nearby for a latté fix. With a nautical theme, a recent Kids' Cove refurbish brought back the well-loved tugboat and ferryboat of years past and added a skiff, sandcastle and lighthouse to the mix. These soft and climbable fixtures are enclosed with a short wall so it's easy to keep an eye on roving little ones. Northeast 8th Street and Bellevue Way, Bellevue. 425-646-3660; www.bellevuesquare.com.
Sky High Sports: Sky High Sports is a 35,000-square-foot warehouse with vast floors and walls made of trampolines in Bellevue. What more could a kid ask for? There are nearly 150 trampolines, a dodge ball court where people can participate in short pick-up games, foam pits and a special area where jumpers ages 8 and younger can participate safely. Weekends often sell out, so parents are advised to register online ahead of time. "Munchkin Mondays" offer an afternoon of jumping for kids ages 5 and younger for $7. (If you are closer to Kirkland, check out the new Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park for some active fun.) Cost: $8-$11 per hour. 1445 120th Ave. N.E. 425-990-5867; http://sea.jumpskyhigh.com.
Hot Spots in the North End
Spartan Recreation Center Indoor Playground: Many community centers offer indoor playrooms or open gym times, which provide good bang for the buck. On rainy weekday mornings, with its enormous gym opened up for children between the ages of 1 and 5, Shoreline's Spartan Recreation Center has an influx of active toddlers and coffee-toting parents. The gym is chalk-full of pop-up cars, riding toys, foam blocks and mats for climbing, slides, low basketball hoops and bouncy balls, and even a giant parachute. Cost: $2 per child. 18560 1st Ave. N.E., Shoreline. 206-801-2600; www.cityofshoreline.com/parks.
Village Bean: Country Village in Bothell has a fabulous kid-friendly coffee shop, where an eclectic set of toys engage little ones. The ball and pipe maze keeps mechanically-minded children busy as they create new pathways for the ball to make its way down and out. The large magnetic wall offers a chance for fashion-savvy youngsters to create outfits for the dolls. With a play kitchen, books, train table and puzzles, the café has something for everyone. Owner Karin Resing keeps a "healthy with indulgences" menu on hand to appease both parents and children. The fresh fruit and yogurt parfait is scrumptious. Affordable snacks such as string cheese, fish crackers and applesauce are also available. 720 238th St. S.E., Bothell. 425-481-7900; www.thevillagebeanbothell.com.
Jump Planet: Our area's largest inflatable party center, Jump Planet is where north end parents go to wear out their kids. With over 12,000 square feet of inflatable games, slides, obstacle courses and mazes, children (and parents, I might add) merrily jump their little hearts out. Drop-in sessions occur on weekdays and are conveniently divided by ages; some for children ages 6 and younger, others for kids ages 2 to 12. They also have a night for special needs children each month. Cost: $7 per child, $5 for siblings. 22310 20th Ave. S.E., Bothell. 425-481-5867; www.jump-planet.com.
Hot Spots in the South End
Family Fun Center: If you are hankering for a place that will please all the members of your clan, the Family Fun Center is the place to go. On a rainy day, kids will enjoy indoor attractions such as laser tag, a roller coaster simulator, video games and bumper cars. The four-level “Kidopolis” with slides and tunnels is a treat for little ones. If the weather cooperates, head outside for the go-karts, mini golf and batting cages. And, when the kids work up an appetite, there is a restaurant on site with pizza, sandwiches and burgers. Individual attractions are priced between $3 and $7.50 (check the website for discounts and $15 Family Fun Fridays). 7300 Fun Center Way, Tukwila. 425-228-7300; www.fun-center.com/public/tukwila.
Westfield Southcenter Kids' Play Space: Experience a rainforest-themed play area at Westfield Southcenter, located on the first level near JCPenney. Kids can climb on soft play structures, explore the colorful space with animal and nature motifs, or work on large, interactive puzzles. Two nearby family lounges, equipped with large restrooms, plasma screens, games, comfortable seating and private nursing stalls, offer respite from the busyness of the center. Pick up a Starbucks to enjoy while you watch your child play, conveniently located adjacent to the play space. 2800 Southcenter Mall, Tukwila. 206-246-7400; www.westfield.com/southcenter.
Taryn Zier is a freelance writer, mother of two and indoor play space adventurer based in Lake Forest Park.
Popular Destinations for Indoor Play on Rainy Days
Inflatable Play Centers
These centers feature inflatable structures for bouncing, games, slides, obstacle courses and mazes so that children can burn energy and play to their heart's content. Open play sessions are $6 to $9 per child, depending on the location.
3-2-1 Bounce: Two locations. 13434 N.E. 16th St., #110, Bellevue; 425-378-0321. 1111 80th St. S.W., Suite 200, Everett; 425-438-0321. www.321bounce.com.
Arena Sports Fun Zone Inflatables: Two locations. 9040 Willows Road, Redmond; 425-885-4881. 7751 63rd Ave. N.E., Magnuson Park, Seattle; 206-985-8990. www.arenasports.net.
Jump Planet: 22310 20th Ave. S.E., Bothell. 425-481-5867; www.jump-planet.com.
Kidz Bounce: 8178 304th Ave. S.E., Issaquah. 425-222-5439; www.kidzbounce.com.
Pump It Up: Three locations. 11605 N.E. 116th St., Kirkland; 425-820-2297. 18027 Highway 99, Lynnwood; 425-774-2297. 3610 S. Pine, Suite A, Tacoma; 253-752-5867. www.pumpitupparty.com.
Dedicated Indoor Play Spaces/Kid-Friendly Coffee Shops
These play areas and family-friendly coffee shops have dedicated space for indoor play.
Dizzy's Tumblebus: Weekday open play sessions feature a tumbling room with trampoline, slide, rock wall and monkey bars as well as dress-up clothes, blocks, puzzles and arts and crafts. $10 per child. 3205 148th Ave. S.E., Suite E, Bellevue. 425-564-8287; www.dizzybus.com.
Mosaic: This Wallingford neighborhood café is home to the “Demitasse,” an entire room for kids with toys and books. Free. 4401 2nd Ave. N.E., Seattle. 206-632-8036; www.mosaiccoffeehouse.org.
OmKids Play Gym at OmCulture: An open play gym for kids and parents to come play together during the week. Facilitators are on-hand to engage the children in movement, music, yoga, dance and play. Cost: $7 per drop-in session. 2210 N. Pacific St., Seattle. 206-829-9969; www.omculture.com/omkids.
Orange Blossom Society: An "Open Studio" is offered for families on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. $10 per family with up to two children; free for members. 16715 N.E. 79th St., Redmond. 425-883-2400; www.orangeblossomsociety.com.
Serendipity: This Magnolia neighborhood hot spot sports a play space that is sectioned off from the rest of the café, with a chalkboard wall, doll house, train table and a few other toys. 3222 W. McGraw St., Seattle. 206-282-9866; www.serendipityseattle.com.
Tot Spot Café: This Eastside space gives parents a supervised, enclosed play area to keep an eye on the kids. There are climbing toys for toddlers and interactive toys, games and dress-up clothes for preschoolers. Cost: $6 per hour or $10 for an all-day pass (siblings get discounts). 17802 134th Ave. N.E., Woodinville. 425-488-2795; www.totspotcafe.com.
Twirl Café: Have lunch or a latte – or even a pilates class – while the kids play at this Queen Anne café. There is a self-contained play area and a space for classes, and supervised care on Wednesday mornings. Open play: $6 per child (or $5 with a purchase); supervised play: $10 per child ($8 with a purchase). 2111 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle. 206-283-4552; www.twirlcafe.com.
Village Bean: This family-friendly coffee shop has an eclectic set of toys to engage little ones, including a ball and pipe maze, magnetic wall, play kitchen, books, train table and puzzles. Free. 720 238th St. S.E., Bothell. 425-481-7900; www.thevillagebeanbothell.com.
Zoomazium at Woodland Park Zoo: Explore a mountain cave, cross a rope bridge or climb a 20-foot tree; these are just some of the features of this interactive, nature-themed play area at the zoo, for children from birth to 8 years of age. Free with zoo admission. 601 N. 59th St., Seattle. 206-548-2500; www.zoo.org/zoomazium.
Community Center Indoor Play Times
Community Center indoor playgrounds often cost around $2 per child, and can be a great and inexpensive way to spend a few hours. The following Parks and Recreation departments offer drop-in indoor play sessions:
Seattle Parks and Recreation has many toddler play rooms and open gym times at its community centers; for the one nearest you, visit www.seattle.gov/Parks/Children/play.htm.
For community centers on the Eastside, check out www.myparksandrecreation.com/pages/brochures.aspx.
On the north end, Edmonds (www.reczone.org), Shoreline (www.cityofshoreline.com/parks) and Mountlake Terrace (www.cityofmlt.com/cityServices/recreation/recreation.htm) have indoor playgrounds. For Snohomish County parks and recreation programs, visit: www.snohomish.org/index.php?page_id=407.
In the south end, visit http://www.ci.kent.wa.us/content.aspx?id=1256 for information on Kent's indoor playground, www.auburnwa.gov/community/recreation/sports_athletics/gym.asp to learn about the indoor playground in Auburn, and www.metroparkstacoma.org/page.php?id=43 to find out more about Tacoma community centers.
Each of these locations offers open gyms to play with gymnastics equipment, trampolines or to test out tot-friendly sports. The sessions cost between $5 and $11 per child, unless otherwise noted.
Black Hills Gymnastics: Open gym for preschoolers is offered on Friday mornings. 7961A 29th Ave. N.E., Lacey. 360-413-9855; www.blackhillsgymnastics.com.
Great Play: Develop motor and sports skills in an interactive arena. There are open gym times for kids on weekdays, which are separated by age group. Two locations: 16510 Cleveland St. N., Redmond. 425-885-3800; www.greatplay.com/redmond/index.html. 6748 N.E. 181st St., Kenmore. 425-486-7900; www.greatplay.com/locations/northshore/index.html.
GYMagine Gymnastics: Open gym is offered on certain weekdays for children ages 1 to 12. 3616 South Road #B3, Mukilteo. 425-513-8700; www.gymagine.com.
Metropolitan Gymnastics: The gym is open Wednesday through Saturday afternoons for open play for all ages on the equipment. 6822 S. 190th St., Kent. 425-282-5010; www.metropolitangym.com.
Seattle Gymnastics Academy: The Academy has four Seattle locations with open sessions for children ages 5 and younger, who get to use the equipment for climbing, swinging and jumping. Shiveley Gymnasium, 12535 26th Ave. N.E.; Glade Training Facility, 12737 28th Ave. N.E.; SGA Salmon Bay, 5313 Shilshole Ave. N.W.; and SGA Columbia City, 5034 37th Ave. S. 206-362-7447; www.seattlegymnastics.com.
Sky High Sports: This center, open daily, features trampoline walls and floors and a special court for wee jumpers. 1445 120th Ave. N.E., Bellevue. 425-990-5867; http://sea.jumpskyhigh.com.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park: A new trampoline center on the Eastside, with dodgeball tournaments and toddler time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 11801 N.E. 116th St., Kirkland. 425-825-7599; www.seattle.skyzonesports.com.
Stone Gardens: Hour-long "pro-belay" programs are offered for the rock climbing novice. Also, with a day pass, kids can do some bouldering (climbing without a rope). Day passes range from $11 to $18. Two locations: 2839 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-781-9828. 15600 N.E. 8th St., Bellevue; 425-644-2445. www.stonegardens.com.
The Jungle Gym: An all-ages open gym is offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 15220 2nd Ave. S.W., Burien. 206-248-3547; www.junglegymfun.com.
Vertical World: Families can drop in during open hours, any day of the week, and boulder (low-level climb up to 15 feet without ropes), or get certified to belay. Cost: $12 for youth and $16 for adults. 2330 W. Commodore Way; 206-283-4497. 15036 B N.E. 95th St., Redmond; 425-881-8826. 2820 Rucker Ave., Everett; 425-258-3431. 102 S. 24th St., Tacoma; 253-683-4791. www.verticalworld.com.
Family Fun Centers
The greater Seattle area has several family fun centers that incorporate indoor and outdoor attractions. Most offer special activities for young children, but they are also good bets for older kids (indoor play areas are not always appropriate for them). Costs vary depending on the number and type of attractions.
Charlie's Safari: Indoor safari-themed fun center offers mini golf, laser tag, a bouncing pit, play structures, an arcade and a restaurant. 5400 Martin Way E. Suite J, Lacey. 360-292-1600; www.charliessafari.com.
Chuck E. Cheese's: There's games, rides, prizes, food and entertainment at locations in Bellevue, Lynnwood, Kent, Tacoma, Silverdale, Olympia and Burlington. www.chuckecheese.com.
Family Fun Center: Indoor attractions include laser tag, a roller coaster simulator, video games and bumper cars. There is a special play area with slides and tunnels for little ones too. Two locations: 7300 Fun Center Way, Tukwila; 425-228-7300. 7212 220th S.W., Edmonds. 425-775-2174. www.fun-center.com.
GameWorks: Discover a variety of interactive games, simulators and attractions plus pool, darts, food and drinks. 1511 7th Ave., Seattle. 206-521-0952; www.gameworks.com.
Odyssey 1: Check out their jungle gym, laser tag arena and game center; concessions are available. 2310 W. Mildred #110, Tacoma. 253-566-3233; www.odyssey-1.com.
SHANKZ Black Light Mini Golf: Features include arcade games and a 3-D, 18-hole miniature golf course with ocean, jungle and dinosaur themes. 1520 S.W. Cooper Point Road #250, Olympia. 360-943-1715; www.shankzglowgolf.com.
Shopping Mall Play Areas
Shopping malls, as well as REI and IKEA, have fun indoor play areas for kids, which offer the perfect respite from shopping when the kids are bored and want to run around. All of these are free to the public.
Alderwood Mall: Kids will enjoy the enclosed play area with soft, climbable ocean animals and a ferry boat. 3000 184th St. S.W., Lynnwood. 425-771-1211; www.alderwoodmall.com.
Bellevue Square: The children's play area, Kids' Cove, offers a well-loved tugboat, ferryboat, skiff, sandcastle and lighthouse. Northeast 8th Street and Bellevue Way, Bellevue. 425-646-3660; www.bellevuesquare.com.
Crossroads Bellevue: Drop-in "Play & Learn" sessions with songs, stories, art and games, for kids ages 2 to 5, are on Wednesdays mornings at the Market Stage. 15600 N.E. Eighth St., Bellevue. 425-644-1111; www.crossroadsbellevue.com.
IKEA: Kids between the heights of 37 and 54 inches can explore the supervised playroom while their parents shop (for up to one hour). The playroom features a ball pit, slides, books and toys, and a special theater for watching cartoons. 600 S.W. 43rd, Renton. 425-656-2980; www.ikea.com/us/en/store/seattle.
REI: In addition to the 65-foot climbing wall, the flagship store has an adventure-themed play area with a tree house and slide. 222 Yale Ave. N., Seattle. 206-223-1944; www.rei.com/stores/11.
SuperMall: This mega shopping center sports an arcade, kiddie rides, carousel, climbing wall and a Pacific Northwest-themed soft play area. 1101 SuperMall Way, Auburn. 800-729-8258; www.supermall.com.
Town Center at Lake Forest Park: The commons at this location provides a kids' area with play kitchen and train table, a gigantic chess board and other games, and Wednesday morning "Playtime" sessions with activities for children 5 and younger. 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park. 206-322-1610; www.thirdplacecommons.org.
University Village: Each Tuesday at 10 a.m., a participating Village store puts on a casual "Playdays" activity for kids. These drop-by activities range from seasonal crafts to pajama story times to educational playtime. An covered outdoor play area delights kids as well. 25th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 45th Street. 206-523-0622; www.uvillage.com/village-playdays.
Westfield Southcenter: Westfield has a charming soft play area where kids can explore the wonders of the rainforest and work on large, interactive puzzles. 633 Southcenter Parkway, Tukwila. 206-246-7400; www.westfield.com/southcenter.