Are you looking for a place to take your child(ren) to burn off some energy? Maybe somewhere they can run around and play and give your furniture and house a break?! Great news! The Iowa City area offers some terrific indoor play areas, and I’ve put together a guide to help you choose which one is best for you! Make sure to print this off or pin it for later…maybe you’ll find an old stand-by or decide to try something new!
Age Range: Crawling and up (including early school-age) Cost: Free
Days/Times: M-Sat 7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Sun 7:00 a.m.-6:00p.m.
The mall playground is a great option if you’re looking for some free fun. Bonus: you can get some shopping done or grab a bite to eat at the food court when the kids are done playing. There is ample seating so you can sit and watch or chat with a friend while your kids play. A couple downsides are that there is no door to the entrance, so if you have a runner you have to stand at the entrance to make sure they don’t escape. It also can get very busy during prime time hours, so it can be a little tough to keep an eye on little ones. This is especially true on the weekends or after school when bigger kids are often brought to play. If you have a baby or toddler I would definitely recommend heading here during the early morning hours or after lunch if you can push back nap a bit.
Age Range: Crawling-5 yrs (under 48″ in height) Cost: Free
Days/Times: M-F 9:00-Noon, 4:00-8:00 p.m. Sat & Sun 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Having a toddler, the Kids Campsite Play Area is one of my favorites. Think: mall playground on a smaller scale, with a door that CLOSES so kids can’t escape! I love that my kids can play unassisted, which means I can actually talk to other moms while we’re there! This is also a terrific option if you work outside the home during the week, since it’s also open in the evenings and on the weekends! I occasionally take my older daughter with us on the weekends, but I’d say this play place is ideal for ages crawling-4.
Age Range: 1- 6 yrs Cost: $1.50/child | Punch Pass: 12 punches for $10
Days/Times: M-F 9:00-11:30 a.m. (Bounce Houses Tues and Fri)
I really like the tot time at Scanlon because there are a TON of options for kids to play with. There are balls, climbing toys, lots of ride-on toys, and on Tuesdays and Fridays they also have bounce houses. This is a great place for your kids to burn off energy and is good for a wide range of ages. Do be aware that if you decide to go over Spring Break or on school holidays it will be extra busy, and there will be a lot of school-aged kids there, especially on bounce house days. It’s not a deterrent to going, but you definitely want to give some extra supervision on those days!
Age Range: 1-4 yrs Cost: $1.00/child | 10 & 20 punch cards available
Days/Times: T/TH 8:30-11:30 a.m.
I really like the tot lot at the Coralville Rec Center because it’s smaller than Scanlon and it’s a little easier to keep an eye on your littles. There are still a lot of toys to play with and kids can go on the other side of the gym to play with balls. In my opinion it’s ideal for kids age 1-3. (Open Nov-March 10)
Age Range: 1 and up (including school-age) Cost: $5/child (members) | $6/child (non-members) | 10 punches/$45
Days/Times: M/Th/F 11:30-12:30 (Coralville) | T/W 11:30-12:30 (Iowa City)
Lunch Bunch is a great place to take your kids to burn off some energy before nap time! Children are able to play with various equipment throughout the gym in a supervised, but unstructured environment. Pack your lunch and eat at one of the tables when you’re through! This is a perfect place for a play date or just to take your kids on your own!
Age Range: 1 and up (including school-age) Cost: $5/child
Days/Times: M/T/W/TH 11:00-Noon
The open gym at Synergy Gymnastics is really fun for kids of all ages. There are individual areas for smaller children who are crawling/just walking, small gymnastics equipment for toddlers, and larger equipment for bigger kids. There’s a trampoline, foam pit, and a bounce house as well. It’s a great place to take your younger kids, as well as a fun place for school-age kids during breaks. Because of this, be aware that it gets very busy when schools are on break!
Age Range: 1 and up (including school-age) Cost: $8/each (1 and up). Memberships available.
Days/Times: T/W/Th/Sat: 10:00-6:00, F: 10:00-8:00, Sun: 11:00-6:00
Our family loves the ICM because there are so many different activities to choose from! It’s hard to choose a favorite! There is something for kids of all ages, including adults. If you plan to go frequently or have a large family, I definitely recommend purchasing a membership…it’s definitely worth it. Also, if you go on the last Friday of the month you can receive free admission to the museum during STEM Family Free nights from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Age Range: 0-5 Cost: $9/drop-in | $35/10 visit punch card + registration fee | Monthly memberships
Days/Times: M-F 9:00-5:00, Sat & Sun: 9:00-1:00
The newest playspace in town is Tiny Feet Boutique & Playspace! This playspace is as fun as it is beautiful, and it caters to all children, including infants. What’s unique about this space is that it also features daily activities, classes, and events, as well as a natural parenting boutique. If you’re interested in participating in their many classes and events as well as playing in the play space, you may want to look into their membership options.