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Mom’s Guide to Indoor Play Places in the Iowa City Area!

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!

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Playground @ the Coral Ridge Mall

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.

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Kids Campsite Play Area @ the North Liberty Community Center

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.

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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!

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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. 

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Lunch Bunch @ Iowa GymNest

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.

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Open Gym @ Synergy Gymnastics (North Liberty)

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!

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Iowa Children’s Museum (Coral Ridge Mall)

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.

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Get out there and enjoy some indoor fun!



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3 Responses to Mom’s Guide to Indoor Play Places in the Iowa City Area!

  1. Rachel July 5, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    These look like great ways to keep the kids entertained! What I like about them is that they’re all a little different, so you can definitely spice it up and try somewhere new. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cori March 14, 2018 at 8:17 am #

    The mall just recently added a gate to the entrance of the play area at Coral Ridge Mall!! No more runners!!


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