A kids indoor playground is just the ticket when you want to beat the heat or take shelter from the rain. We’ve rounded up 11+ fun places for kids of all ages to get their energy out, have a ball and even learn a thing or two along the way via imaginative play. Scroll down to discover you and your sidekick’s new favorite indoor playground. Don’t forget the socks!
The Backyard at The Nat
The Nat just opened a brand new, nature-inspired indoor play area called The Backyard! Designed for kids 5 and younger, this serene setting gives little ones a chance to explore the natural world while parents sit back and observe. Tiny tots ages 0-2 will dig the garden bed that's modeled after a self-contained garden area and gives them a safe, soft space to do tummy time, roll over or sit up and grasp a variety of textures. An old oak tree highlights an area for kids ages 2-5 with activities like dressing-up like familiar backyard animals, crawling on a giant ladybug, building structures, mixing colors on a light table and discovering hidden sounds and live animals in the garden wall. Kids will also delight in the potting shed where they can create and pot flowers, read books, sort shapes and solve puzzles––all while caregivers relax on plush benches and enjoy the free WiFi and charging station. You'll find The Backyard on Level 1 of the Museum behind The Flying Squirrel Cafe.
Good to know: The Backyard closes at 4:30 p.m. daily.
San Diego Natural History Museum
1788 El Prado
San Diego, Ca 92101
Play City truly is a world of fun for kids ages 1-12. Featuring an indoor inflatable playground and massive play structures, this is the place to go to tire out those tots. Speaking of tots, Play City has a designated toddler zone especially for tykes ages 1-3. Parents will love that you can bring in your own food and enjoy lunch at the tables while your kids are in view on the play structures. You can also get a wristband for all day play with in and out privileges Mon.-Thurs. There's also free WiFi! 871 Showroom Pl., Ste. 105 Chula Vista, Ca 91914 619-934-0482 Online: playcityeastlake.com
If your kids longingly watch American Ninja Warrior wishing they could show the contestants how it’s done, then Glowzone will be their dream come true––and like the name implies–– it’s glow-in-the-dark to boot! From a timed obstacle course and skyscraper walk to Bazooka ball and bumper cars, this place will light up your afternoon. For kids age 7 and younger, don't miss Soft City, a multi-layered play zone that glows. There are tunnels, slides, and plenty of places to climb. There's even a miniature golf course for kids who want to take a swing.
Read our full review of Glowzone here.
Glowzone North County
1390 Engineer St.
San Diego, Ca
This indoor trampoline park is suitable for tots, tweens and teens, but they do something really special for the 6 & under set three times a week. For two hours and an affordable price, first graders & younger rule the air space Tues., Wed. and Sat. mornings. Although they call this segment Rockin' Tots, you might find it hard to stand idly by when cool tunes are sifting through the speakers and little ponytails and superhero shirts are rocking in a continuous hop. The older tots and parents seem to especially love the two basketball hoops that are anchored on a trampoline platform and the foam block pits where kids gleefully squeal as they're tossed into and absorbed by the soft square blocks.
8190 Miralani Dr.
San Diego, Ca
FUNbelievable will especially please parents with kids spaced multiple years apart. Crawlers and new walkers can claim the corner lot of this Lakeside play spot. A ball pit, small blue slide and soft crawl-on toys are encased by a perimeter of soft foam blocks. The space is so cool that they'll unlikely feel the need to crawl off and see what else is out there. While FUNbelievable appeals to those 12 & under, the older set are thoroughly entertained by the neighboring play structure that includes taller slides and mazes.
Good to know: Snacks from home are welcome, but the "Snack Shack" offers a tempting menu including fresh popped popcorn and a variety of espresso coffees for you.
11655 Riverside Dr., Suite 155-157
New Children's Museum
The New Children's Museum offers plenty of indoor play and fun. Don't miss their newest installation: No Rules, Except. Imagine a whole room lined with mattresses, accompanied by full permission to bounce til your heart’s content! This reimagined reprisal merges artist Brian Dick’s commitment to recycled materials with an exuberant celebration of the childish joy of jumping on the bed. Tiny tots age 4 and younger will also love 'Wobbeland' where they will find giant padded play toys that can be put together to make a fine fruit and cheese platter. They may set sail in a juicy slice of watermelon or crawl over some tomato slices! There's plenty to do here for kids both young and older. From the four-story playhouse and the Sandbox Gallery to Desert Derby and Sketch Aquarium, get ready for a day filled with excitement and learning.
200 West Island Ave.
San Diego, Ca
San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
The pirate ship and slide that's enclosed by a nautical-like gate is a hit with the diaper wearing bunch. They may prepare play food in the ship's rear galley before venturing to the lot's backyard where bubble tables and a stage with foam blocks await. When they've grown hungry for snacks prepared by you, there are some picnic tables by the garden where they can fuel up before romping around the shaded archeological digging site. The indoor/outdoor aspect of this North County play center gives everyone ample play space even during its peak hours. The museum is known to run many specials so keep an eye out for periods of free or discounted admission.
320 N Broadway
Escondido, Ca 92025
Classes at Gymboree Play & Music are arranged by age for kids 5 and younger, so your little ones will experience age appropriate activities with their peers. A class begins and ends with circle time and the middle is filled with themed activities that are played out with the playground-like structures that were constructed specifically for infants and young toddlers. Young babies will get the thrill of possibly going down their first slide; early explorers will crawl through tunnels and the nooks beneath the equipment; and they'll be gently schooled on just how to interact with others their age. Family gym is also available to those of us with multiple children and they host many events throughout the year like daddy play gym, new mommy meet-up and themed workshops.
4340 Genesee Ave., Suite 103
San Diego, Ca
12265 Scripps Poway Pkwy.
2251 S. El Camino Real, Suite B
Oceanside, California 92054
Kid City at Fleet Science Center
Consider exploring Kid City on a Residents' Free Day, the first Tues. of each month, when admission is on the house. The second floor 5 & under play area is smaller than others on this list, but it's enough to keep the younger set well entertained. A grocery store with a moving conveyer belt sits prominently in the middle and little shopping carts may be seen whizzing down the room's main street. Now, this locale is more than just a morning or afternoon of entertainment, a majority of its components playfully challenge its visitors. Babies will gawk with wonder as their plastic ball gets sucked up by a tube and they'll eagerly watch as toddler learners watch their ball filter through wheels and various contraptions that carry them up, down and around the wall.
There's plenty for big kids too: the Fire Station, Factory, Little Learner's Lab and Magnetic Wall will all be a hit!
Insider Tip: Try to arrive when the museum opens because parking fills up very quickly.
1875 El Prado
San Diego, Ca
If you're a fan of Liberty Station, it's likely your tot will want to romp around in the jumperoo and padded baby play area that are located near the corner castle of this Kid Ventures location. Little Jack or Jill may crawl through the arch of the baby lot, pause to watch a pal come down the castle's slide and then shimmy on over to check out one of the giant stuffed animals. There are plenty of pushable objects for beginner walkers, like tyke-sized shopping carts and activity walkers. While the toddlers will enjoy cooking up a pretend meal in the grocery area and they might even whip up a play java while the real thing is being prepared for you by the cafe's barista. Older kids will channel their inner pirate on the giant pirate ship! Your kids will really light up at the 'edutainment' aspect of each Kid Ventures location. The "villages" that comprise these indoor playgrounds enable kids to pretend to be everything from firemen/firewomen to pirates, grocers or princesses and knights. Amenities at each location may vary, but they all offer a kidtastic experience.
10760 Thornmint Rd.
San Diego, Ca
851 Showroom Place
Chula Vista, Ca
2865 Sims Rd.
San Diego, Ca
This Carlsbad play spot features mats, balance beams and trampolines to bring out the athlete in every visitor. The soft play shapes encourage littles to build and use their imaginations with many mediums. You'll love the space for those not yet walking for its pint- sized slide and many baby toys you might not have at home. Their Babiesville zone is especially for kids age 2 and younger and big kids will be thrilled to jump on the trampoline, explore the Dino Cave, swing on ropes, go to work in theConstruction Junction and play dress-up at the Pink Palace.
2375 Marron Rd.
–– Jeannette Swanson, Nikki Walsh & Beth Shea