No matter the season, it’s always good to have some indoor play space options in your blistering-hot-or rainy-or way-too-freezing day bag of tricks. Following are some creative spots where kids can let loose, and you can relax knowing they’ll be making a mess somewhere other than your apartment.

1. Beyond a romper room, the five floors of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side aim to make learning fun. Check out the daily calendar for activities like mural painting and puzzle time. And be sure to tour EatSleepPlay, a national arts and literacy program to encourage healthy habits in kids that’s Michelle Obama approved.

2. The Art Farm in the City is your one-stop playspace that has just about everything kids love. Kids ages 1-8 can engage in everything from petting animals to arts & crafts and cooking. Arrive early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for a chance to feed some of the animals by hand. Check out their schedule for an impressive list of classes and workshops offered on a daily basis.

3. In search of a cheerful space fit for an imp or a woodland fairy? Then visit The Heimbold Family Children’s Playing and Learning Center in Murray Hill. Housed in the American-Scandinavian Foundation, it’s open to the public on Saturdays. This space, renovated just last year, will ignite little imaginations with the ‘please touch’ wall, Lego corner, mushroom house and reading theater.

4. Call ahead to reserve your spot at City Treehouse in Chelsea. If you can’t be outside, this hands-on nature themed learning play space is the next best thing. Founded by a mother of twin girls, it boasts the largest indoor water play area in the city, a two-story tree house with a slide and hideout cave.

5. On a quiet block in Prospect Heights in the back half of a Blue Marble Ice Cream Shop (homemade creamy deliciousness, coffee and baked goods) is The Brooklyn Learning Garden. There’s an array of programs––open play, preschool 101, discovery camp––to keep a range of ages entertained in either the tidy indoor play space featuring all wooden and educational toys or interactive backyard.

6. As the world’s first museum designed for kids (founded in 1899) the Brooklyn Children’s Museum knows a thing or two about what kids really want. Interactive exhibits like Totally Tots will hold the fleeting attention of kids under five. And older kids will find plenty to explore in the charming cityscape World Brooklyn or current Pattern Wizardry exhibit that explores patterns with music, mirrors and kaleidoscopes.

Where do you take your kids for some indoor creative fun? 

— Laura House

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Children’s Museum