Not that you haven’t been loving summer. It’s just that the kids are starting to drive you a little batty and you could use some new diversions. We have ideas that fit your spontaneous, anything-goes schedule. Read on to discover great places with drop-in play opportunities, from indoor activities centers to swim schools that welcome you on the fly.
photo: Yu Kids Island
Yu Kids Island
Two indoor play places will knock your socks off. Well, actually you have to keep them on in this open play establishment with spinning palms, dancing balloons and so much more. The perfect kind of leverage when you need to convince the kids to go on a mall run with you. Kids must be under 48” and unlimited play Mon.-Thurs. is $10/child and $12/child from Fri.-Sun.
5 Woodfield Mall #G144
122 Hawthorn Center # 401
Lakeshore Sport and Fitness
If you’re looking for something with full drop-off, check out Lakeshore Sport and Fitness’ PeeWee camp. This perfect for your preschooler program lets them do everything including arts, games, playground time with a big bonus: a swim lesson included. Pee Wee is half day and totally flexible based on your ever-changing schedule. Prices vary.
1320 W. Fullerton Ave.
Little Beans Café
The party doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. Little Beans Cafe is a fantastic go-to option for the littles as they offer great flexible drop in play with all sorts of special experiences every Friday. Check out their schedule for yoga, an art party, a beach party, a bounce house and special concert by Mr. Singer & Kerry Appleberry (all free with play space admission).
1809 W. Webster Ave.
430 Asbury Ave.
photo: Foss Swim School
Foss Swim School
No need to worry about the weather in these heated family-friendly pools. Foss’ open family swim is on Friday and Sunday evenings and lets you get a taste of their programs without committing to a session. They’ve got all the pool toys you need, a great changing area and some of the best instructors in town.
3026 N. Ashland Ave.
Pump It Up
When it’s too hot to go outside but still need to blow off some steam, check out Pump It Up for “Summer Jumps.” The open play hours are designed for kids of different age groups so you never have to worry about your littles getting bounced on. Celebrate their birthday the last week of August with a special party that includes face painting, pizza and more.
821 W. Eastman St.
Hyde Park Neighborhood Club
This mainstay is perfect for infants and toddlers, and only costs $9 per child. You get full gym access and a new gated infant play area for non-walkers within. This is a great drop-in opportunity on Tuesdays and Thursdays that caters to families that have a variety of children of different ages. Easy street parking, too.
5480 S. Kenwood Ave.
photo: Ball Factory
Ball Factory Indoor Play & Cafe Fun –864 S. Route 59, Naperville
This super-fun play place will challenge kids to reach, think, interact, explore and have fun. There’s a four-level play structure (easy to see your kids as they climb), a huge triple slide, a ball blasting arena and much more. Kids under 4 years old can also play at Parent & Tot Lounge if you need to keep the littles close. There’s a full coffee bar with a respectable café menu. 6 months-4 years $9; 5 & up $12; crawlers free with paid admission of an older sibling.
864 S. Route 59
Neighborhood Parents Network
The NPN calendar is full of great free or low-cost drop-in playdates for those that have some flexibility this summer. Get in on the fun at local parks and playspaces 2-3 times per week; most are open to the public. Check out their calendar at www.npnparents.org/calendar.
What is your favorite place for drop-in play? Let us know in the Comments!
— Christa Reed