Looking for an Indoor Alternative to the Park/playground

Updated on October 30, 2009
D.J. asks from Chicago, IL
12 answers

Hey Mamas! :)
I am looking for some suggestions. Now that the weather is getting colder, and wetter, we need an alternative to playing at the park or playground. Something indoors, and preferably free.

My almost 22 month old little girl is very active. We don't have a lot of space in our condo. Luckily we live very close to a park where we can play on the playground, run, see the ducks etc. She LOVES the park. With the weather the way it has been she is bursting with energy and we need a place to run and play indoors. Any suggestions? Please list any and all, but if you have some ideas that are free we really welcome those.

We just started attending story time at the library. So far she seems a little young, she just wants to run around and not really listen. But we will keep trying. I stay at home with her, but take her to the daycare at the gym every other day so she can interact with kids and run around a little. Still, we are seeking other alternatives that we can do.

I'd also welcome meeting other moms with kids who want to get together for play dates. :) we are in West Rogers Park.

Thanks everyone!
D.

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all these great responses and ideas! (keep them coming) We have joined a Moms group and are really enjoying the activities they plan as well as meeting new Moms and kids. I've also joined another library group and are planning to check out some of the other indoor ideas soon. Thanks again for all your help! I'd welcome more if you have them. :)

Featured Answers

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N.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi D.,

We have the same question! My daughter is 2 and a half, and she has been to the park just about every day for the last seven months!

One place I really like taking her is the Evanston Library. It's close to W. Rogers Park, and it is a fabulous place for toddlers to play. Their entire first floor is devoted to the children's section and has a lot of different things that kids love to do.

I hope this helps!
N.

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K.T.

answers from Chicago on

we are 60641 and have a class once a week at the park district gym, a class once a week at Gymboree and a class every other week at a local church....send me a message if you want more info on any of them!! :)

1 mom found this helpful
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K.N.

answers from Chicago on

peggy notebart has an indoor playroom just for toddlers. plus, there are lots of neat things to walk around and look at. kids under 2 are free, but you'll have to pay for yourself.
lincoln park zoo is free also has indoor exhibits. i was just there today with my 18mos old - we love the african safari. it's inside, so he can kind of walk around at will while i follow him. there's also an indoor play area in the children's zoo there and the conservatory is inside.
garfield park is free and great and has a room with a slide and soft mats for little ones to get some physical play in.
the jcys also has something called an indooor play village. i haven't been there, but it sounds like it's a place you can take your child to play with other kids.
i'm in the same boat with condo living! some days, we walk up and down the stairs. sounds very mundane, but he loves it.
we are in licoln square and are also looking for moms and kids to hang out with, so let me know if you're interested in meeting somewhere with the kids.

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi D.,

My daughter just turned 2 this week, and we live in 60645, too. I actually work full-time, but I am looking for the same for weekends, and would love to meet sometime for a playdate or just to explore some of the options they presented, together! None of my friends have kids (I'm 28), so let me know if you are interested.

Best,
M.

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S.K.

answers from Chicago on

The Chicago Public Library offers museum passes for the city's big museums. You often have to wait for one to be returned, but they are a great money saver on a fun outing. Also, visit other libraries that would have story time for toddlers: Lincolnwood, Evanston, Skokie, et cetera. Your daughter might want to run around a bit for these times, but if it is actually geared towards the 2 year old set, the leaders should be used to it!

Chicago Park District offers classes at very reasonable fees. Just be sure to register on the the first day because spots fill up very quickly!

You could also try the Exploratorium in Skokie; it's at the park on Oakton and Skokie Boulevard. There's a fee if you not live in Skokie.

Someone else mentioned Kidwinks.com--that's a great resource. There is also Chicago Kids and Time Out Chicago Kids.

And though I hate the mall, I have brought my monkey to the mall just to run around. Northbrook Court has a nice kids' play area.

Have fun!!

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

D.,
I am a member of MOMS Club of Northern Chicagoland, and you are in our area! We do several outings every month to indoor places and we have playdates. http://www.geocities.com/nwchicagomoms/

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hey there! I live in River North, same deal. Here are three great options for you

KID CITY on Grand...River West....Great Indoor Play Place
Family Grounds Cafe..coffee shop with an wonderful indoor play place (Lincoln and Belmont area)
Monkey Island...Melrose Park (VERY close) only about 15 min drive :)
Hope this helps. m

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R.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi D.,

Check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Lincoln Park), either of the children's museums (Kohl Museum in Glenview and Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier -- I think if you join one of them you can get into both free). Also, I think there's an indoor play place in Evanston, but I'm not sure about the details (that might be somewhat more convenient for you).

Good luck!
R.

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C.D.

answers from Chicago on

Check the park district programs like Moms, Pops & Tots Interaction or Tot Spot. We sign up for those so that we have something to do when the weather gets bad. My little guy was born 11/07, so we're in the same spot :)

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K.

answers from Chicago on

lots of library branches have special baby and toddler programs - check to see if yours does. Also the Garfield Park Conservatory is great in the winter - they have a play area and your little one can't go too far.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi D.,

Check out www.kidwinks.com for tons of ideas on what to do. Click on the Events tab to get to the Events Calendar to find out what's going on any day of the month, including free days at the museums. Click on the Ongoing Activities tab, and you'll see listed along the left many different Categories, including over 200 Indoor Kids Activities. While that list is pretty overwhelming, you can become a member of kidwinks (which is free) and then sort those search results in order of distance from your house. In the Restaurants section, you can click on any day of the Kids Eat Free Calendar to find out where kids eat free for that day. Pump It Up has Pop In Playtimes a few times each week; you'll find those listed on our Events Calendar too. There's a Pump It Up in Chicago and one in Glenview; not sure which is closer to you.

Hope this helps. Please tell the businesses you found them on kidwinks (it's my website), and write reviews on kidwinks on the places you've been so other moms can learn from your experience!

Best regards,

J.

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A.A.

answers from Chicago on

Hi - I totally understand. My son is a little younger, we also live in a condo, and he needs to run around. He will not sit still for story hour type activities either. If you send me your email address - or just email me at [email protected]____.com
I will send you a list that friend sent me of things to do indoors...We go to the Kohl museum in Glenview a lot, we bought a membership last year, very well worth it. There is also a new place in Roscoe Village called Family Gathering Cafe but it is about 8 dollars for the child....There is also a place on Lincoln and Ashland called Smashcake that I have not checked out yet. We live in Albany Park but I travel all around to find things to do. I did hear of a place in Rogers called the Pig Pen that is kid friendly.
Let me know if you want the list!

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