Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, last-minute closures and changes may occur to stop the spread of Covid-19. We’re doing our best to keep all of our stories and calendar up to date.
As New York City slowly creeps toward a full reopening, some indoor playgrounds remain closed, but many are welcoming customers back. (Some are open, some are open for small groups and pod learning, all require masks.) Read on to see your indoor play options, and if you need the best indoor playgrounds in Brooklyn, click here. For our favorite places to play in Queens, click here!) And hey, if it’s nice out, head to one of our favorite playgrounds in NYC!
For a Dreamy Space in Queens: Dream City
This one is brand spankin' new, having just opened the last week of January. A local mom of two is the founder and owner of this huge 6,200-square-foot Forest Hills, Queens play space. The fun is spread out over two floors here, and includes diversions for kids of all ages, interests and sizes. Play areas and activities include an obstacle course, a soft play area, a rainbow "climb and slide", an ice cream truck, ball pit, small wood cube pit, a "hideout", swings and beehive cubbies. And there's more to come! There's an on-site cafe where you can grab a coffee or juice and chill while the kids play. Current rates, which are subject to change are: $30 for one child, up to two adults; $20 for a sibling over one year old; $20 for an infant under one year old without a paid child, and free for an infant under one year old with a paid child. Dream City is open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Tuesdays, and yes, they will host your child's birthday party! Click here to inquire.
108-48 Queens Blvd.
For Fun in Forest Hills: Little Bear Play Cafe
Owned and operated by a Queens mom of three, Little Bear Play Cafe is a big, clean, and modern space that offers small play structures for climbing, exploring, and sliding (into a small ball pit). When they need a break, there are also areas for lower-key fun, like a train table, play kitchen, and LEGO and block area. Designed for kids ages six and younger, as the name implies, you can get a bit to eat here, too, with menu options ranging from yogurt parfaits to lots of toasts (avocado, Nutella, etc.) and chicken nuggets. The cafe also operates as a spot for adults to relax a bit. Little Bear hosts kids' classes with The Art Table Studio, Snapology, Theatre Yak Yak, along with community-oriented events like CPR classes for parents. (You can register for a full session, or see if you can drop-in day of.) Socks are required, and all kids must have their temperature taken upon entry.
100-26 Queens Blvd.
For a Trippy and Fun Playscape: Twinkle
Twinkle, a 4,500-square-foot creative play wonderland in the heart of Williamsburg, recently reopened with upgraded air filtration and disinfecting. You must book your two-hour play slot in advance, and Twinkle is only for kids six and under. This play space is loaded with exhibits designed for the under-six set, everything from the "Red Hot Fire Truck" (complete with hoses that spray real water) to "Graffiti Room" (a fully padded room for dancing and tumbling) to "How to Feed Your Dragon," (which houses four colorful, 15-foot-tall dragons). New additions to the space include a Pet Shop and Tea Salon.
144 Frost St.
For an Asia-Inspired Play space in Queens
Opened in 2018 by a local mom, Mini Play Land is fashioned after similar play spaces she saw in Asia. Measuring 3,000 square feet, the Long Island City, Queens play space features several moving play structures (a small dolphin carousel, for example), as well as stuff to climb, soft bouncy surfaces for exploring, mazes, a trampoline, slides, and yes, a ball pit. Drop in for unlimited play on weekdays for $15; two hours of play on weekends for $20. Check out our full review here!
5-28 49th Ave
Long Island City
To Play Like the Swedes: The Heimbold Family Children's Play and Learning Center
It's probably not a shocker that Park Avenue's Scandinavia House has one of the most aesthetically pleasing play spaces in the city. The Heimbold Family Children's Play and Learning Center is only open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (for a modest $15/child fee), but it's worth the trip. The bright and playful space features two distinct yet complementary areas – an activity room and a sensory room. Highlights include a reading theater, sensory tunnel, custom LEGO corner, landscaped BRIO train table, indoor climbing corner, mushroom house, a “please touch” wall, light landscape, and imported Scandinavian educational elements. If you fall in love (which you might) you can gain access to the space all week long by joining Scandinavia House. One note: kids must be walking one their own to play here.
58 Park Ave.
For a Huge Place in Long Island City: Kanga's Indoor Play Center
Part of a chain, Kanga's Indoor Play Center, Long Island City's newest indoor venue for kids is huuuuge! Designed for kids ages 1 to 11, Kanga's offers tons of diversions for kids while the parents grab some food and coffee at the on-site cafe. There’s a giant jungle-gym style crawl and play structure, numerous Merry-Go-Rounds, an inflatable bouncy house, huge ball pits filled with plastic balls, a separate toddler area for the younger kids (ages two and under), and more—including the twirling teacup ride shown above. If your kid can't get enough, they'll also host your birthday party. Admission gets you play all day, and pricing varies by age and day (weekdays are $15.99 for kids 38 inches and taller; weekends are $24.99; for those under 38 inches it's $11.99 for weekdays and $19.99 for weekends. Parents pay $5 and babies are free!.) Sign the waiver before you go, and bring socks! (P.S. you can drive. There's parking for $6 next door.)
Mon, - Sun., 9 a,.m.-6 p.m.
32-15 37th Ave.
Long Island City
For Every Kid in the Family: Bounce 'N Play
This Queens kid destination is a favorite for obvious reasons. Bounce 'N Play's features include a special toddler area for younger patrons; an oversized playground for children three to 13 years old, and a jungle gym, slides, play sets and a rock climbing wall for older ones. But what really won us over were the specially-tailored open play sessions, like one for kids ages six and under, one for all ages, and one for the whole family on Wednesday evenings (which includes a buffet!). It also frequently hosts Open Bounce when school is out. Check the online calendar to find the best session for you and your troop. Open play is $14/child.
20-21 Steinway St.
For Recurring Play Dates: 14th Street Y
Kids ages two months to five years can run, jump, slide and play in the 14Y's indoor padded playroom. Sessions are typically held on Saturdays and Sundays in 1 1/2 hour slots, and classes are $85 for five for members and $100 for five for non-members. Drop-in rate is $25. Call for the latest scheduling info or visit 14StreetY.org/DropInClasses.
344 E. 14th St.
For Major Convenience: New York Kids Club
These mega kids' emporiums offer a huge variety classes for kids ages two months to 12 years, covering fitness, art, music, language and more. What we love about the New York Kids Club is its huge gym with padded obstacle courses, a balance beam, trampoline and sets of bars.
The space also hosts special events on select afternoons and weekends, giving kids another chance to blow off some steam with classmates. Mini partygoers play in the gym, make crafts and dance to live performers, then gobble up pizza served on pint-sized tables. Open play is unstructured but supervised, so you can relax (a bit!) while your children jump, climb and run to their heart's content. You’ll need to enroll in a class to use the open play passes—they're sold in packs of 10, 20 or 30—but considering there are more than a dozen courses offered each winter, chances are there's something perfect for your little movers and shakers.
For Modern Play in DUMBO: Recess DUMBO
A 2,200-square-foot play space for kids six months to six years of age, Recess DUMBO features a custom-designed modern and streamlined playscape of wood, rope, slides and more. Young ones get their own tiny slide and climbing area, as well as books and soft toys for early exploration. Bigger kids can duck inside a cubby with a ladder to another level, slide down a fireman pole, knock around a wall of pool noodles and even scale to a height and ring a bell at the top. Drop-in is $33 for the first child and $22 for a sibling, and memberships are available as well. A separate room here hosts classes, singalongs and more, and recess also hosts a "Recess for Parents" on select Fridays and Saturdays (drop off the kid/s and have a night off) as well as a drop-off option during the day so you can get stuff done.
81 Washington St.
For the Sporty Tot: Little Athletes Exploration Center
The Little Athletes Exploration Center is a great Chelsea indoor play space. Located in Chelsea Piers, the center has drop-in play for kids ages six months to four years old. We love the two-story climbing gym filled with sensory play items, and the ball pit that we so wish we could dive into ourselves. Everything is padded and soft, so your wee ones can go wild without hurting themselves. The center is generally open seven days a week, but we suggest you call in advance for the daily schedule, as times often change.
Chelsea Piers, Pier 62
23rd Street and Hudson River Park
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.
For the Hipster Baby: PLAY Greenpoint
If you open a play space in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, it had better be spectacular. And PLAY, located at the intersection of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, across the street from McCarren Park, really delivers. In fact, we named it one of the best play spaces in the world. The 3,000-square-foot facility has all the ingredients of a kid-approved good time: a sizable tumbling gym for mastering the somersault, a music and arts studio to get creative juices flowing, loud noisemakers that would never see the light of day in your apartment and a locally-made playset with slides (because Brooklyn). The play space was revamped in 2019 with even more toys and a bright new mural. Separate from the happy chaos is a specially cordoned-off area just for babies that’s all rounded edges, cushiony surfaces, floor-to-ceiling windows and age-appropriate toys and books. Drop in for $15/kid ($10 for siblings) or get a bulk pass ($120 for 10) or monthly membership for $100. Open play is seven days a week, except for days hosting parties and private events. PLAY also offers after school classes, enrichment classes, play groups for little ones, holiday camps, movie nights, and special events. We recommend calling ahead before heading over.
33 Nassau Ave.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
To Play in the House of Music: TLB Music
Of course, they do music at TLB Music (and classes, and camps, and parties...) but you can also just drop in and play here! You'll find eco-friendly, developmental toys and activities for babies, toddlers and kids up to six years old. Fun can be had with a clubhouse, rock-climbing mountain, big and little slides, a play kitchen with food, puzzles, large soft blocks, a train table, and more. While you don't need a reservation, it's best to call on very cold, hot, rainy or snowy days, as they do book up. Play is $20 for members, and $25 for non-members. (You can also book out the whole space at certain times during the week if you want to have a play date with friends.)
266 E. 78th St.
Upper East Side
For the Older Set: Kids 'N Shape
Have your ninjas-in-training turned the sofa into a booby-trapped bridge one time too many? Set them loose on the indoor playground at Kids ‘N Shape, a play space which specializes in unstructured fitness play—or, to put it another way, all the cool stuff you wish you got to do in P.E. class. (Not coincidentally, the family-owned business—now with locations in Howard Beach and Tottenville—was started in 1989 by a longtime gym teacher and coach.) Don’t be surprised if your high-energy charges are torn between wobbling around the bounce house, racing through a 40-foot inflatable obstacle course, diving into a ball and foam pit, or whizzing down a zip line. (For us, it’s the zip line, hands down.) More high tech diversions include an XBox Kinect for virtual boxing or bowling. But it's best to keep younger ones at home—open play here is designed for ages six to 12. Availability is first come, first served, with a maximum of 50 kids per session. Check the online calendar for detailed open play times and book. Rate is $12/child for two hour sessions.
162-26 Cross Bay Blvd.
153 Main St.
— Mimi O’Connor