Are you looking for a place to take your child 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.-6:00 p.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 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat/Sun 8 a.m.-6 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 babies who are crawling up through age 4.
Tot Time @ Scanlon Gymnasium (at Mercer Park, Iowa City)
Age Range: 1- 6 yrs Cost: $1.50/child
Days/Times: M-F 9:00-11:30 a.m.
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 play houses. Bounce houses are up on Fridays, and occasionally other days, too. 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!
Tot Lot @ the Coralville Rec Center
Age Range: 1-4 yrs Cost: $1.00/child | 10 & 20 punch cards available
Days/Times: T/TH 8:30-11:30 a.m. (Open Nov-March only)
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.
Age Range: 1 and up (including school-age) Cost: $5/child (members) | $6/child (non-members) | 10 punches/$45 | Ages 2 and under are free
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 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.
Get out there and enjoy some indoor fun!