We count ourselves lucky to live in a place with beautiful parks and ample options for outdoor play. But come January — when Dallas temperatures dip to their lowest — venturing to the park isn’t always the most comfortable option for getting the kiddos out of the house. On cold and rainy days, savvy parents depend on a rotation of indoor playgrounds to keep the littles entertained. Here, our picks for the next time your brood needs to get the wiggles out.
The three-story, tree fort-inspired playground at Watermark Dallas offers appropriate play for all ages. Toddlers play it safe on the base level with padded climbing equipment and slides, while the older set climb stairs to the more daring upper levels where they can navigate a string of netted walkways and bridges. Accompany kids to the top or monitor them from the ground below. After, grab a coffee in the adjacent lounge where comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and a full-service cafe await.
Open Play Hours: Sunday 12:30–5pm; Monday–Tuesday 9am–6pm; Wednesday 1–6pm; Thursday–Friday 9am–6pm; Saturday 7am–2pm
Where: 7540 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, 214/361-2275
For a playground specifically designed for the younger set, take kids ages 4 and younger to The Woods at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Tots climb on larger-than-life animals like bears and squirrels, crawl through padded tunnels, glide down low-to-the-ground slides, craft culinary delicacies in the mini kitchen, read age-appropriate books and play with blocks in the sizeable woodland-themed play area. Parental supervision required.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Friday 9am–5pm; closed Saturday–Sunday
Where: 3821 University Blvd., Dallas, 214/526-7457
The tunneled blue slide at Prestonwood Baptist Church’s KIDZ Indoor Playground rivals the slides of most outdoor playgrounds — it’s a twisty three-story drop with a matted landing that simulates a waterslide experience. But the obstacle course-style structure isn’t just for mini daredevils. It also has climbing equipment, smaller slides and soft mats ideal for all kiddos ages 10 and younger. Take a quick break at the nearby Main Street Café, which serves both kid- and adult-friendly options such as salads and pizza. Kids must check in at the KIDZ Central Desk before they can use the structure.
Open Play Hours: Sunday 8:30–9am, noon–12:45pm; Monday–Tuesday 9am–4:30pm; Wednesday 9am–6:15pm; Thursday 9am–4:30pm; Friday 9am–4pm; Saturday 4–4:45pm
Where: 6801 W. Park Blvd., Plano, 972/820-5000
Playground meets maze at the two-story play park Kid Mania. In addition to winding through the usual jungle of swings and slides, kids glide along the zip line, bounce on trampolines and climb through an increasingly difficult obstacle course called The Challenge Path. While there are no age restrictions on the play maze, the littlest ones can play safely in a special toddler area for ages 3 and younger. Socks required.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Thursday 10am–9pm; Friday–Saturday 9am–10pm; Sunday 11am–8pm
Cost: $1 adults 19 and older; $6 ages 3–18; $3 ages 1–2
Where: 7252 Chase Oaks Blvd., Plano, 972/517-7800
Kids ages 3–11 jump, slide and climb through the Wesley Playground at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church. Youngsters love the netted climbing area and maze of colorful tunnels and slides, while parents appreciate the see-through mesh siding that allows them to keep a close eye on the kids as they navigate the tree-themed structure. Kiddos ages 3 and younger avoid bumps with the big kids by playing in a separate, extra-padded area just for toddlers. Socks required.
Open Play Hours: Sunday 8:30am–12:30pm; Monday–Thursday 8am–5pm; Friday 8am–1pm; Saturday 4–6:30pm
Where: 185 S. White Chapel Blvd., Southlake, 817/481-4147
The Playscape at North Richland Hills location of The Hills Church has all the mainstays to keep energetic preschoolers and elementary-age kids entertained — including a colorful three-story structure ideal for climbing and a long tube slide. Parents like the playground’s convenient evening and weekend hours and the comfy chairs they can monitor the kids from. Kids favorite the rope netting bridge and tubes that spin while they’re inside. The church’s Fort Worth and Southlake locations also have indoor playgrounds available, but they are smaller and generally used for party rentals.
Open Play Hours: Sunday 3–5pm; Monday–Thursday 5–6:30pm; Saturday 3–5pm; closed Friday
Where: 6300 NE Loop 820, North Richland Hills, 817/281-0773
Plan to spend a full two hours at the First Baptist Church Grapevine’s Paradise Pond. The converted church sanctuary houses a two-story play structure, bounce house with a double slide, basketball toss and climbing wall. When the kids aren’t slithering, sliding and scoring points, they can dress up and play pretend at 10 different stations, including a doctor’s office and a babydoll nursery, plus get their hands on countless toys like Matchbox cars and action figures. The playground is designed for ages 2–12, but younger tots are permitted with close parental supervision.
Open Play Hours: Thursday–Friday 9–11am
Cost: $1 per visitor
Where: 301 E. Texas St., Grapevine, 817/488-8573
GracePoint Church is home to The Ark, which encompasses two separate play areas that are both completely see-through so parents can keep a close eye on the action even from the seating area. Bigger kids embark on a Noah’s ark-themed structure with a three-story wavy blue slide and lots of obstacles, like a cargo net, bridges and suspended tether-style balls. Littler ones play on a smaller, underwater-themed structure with a double slide, interactive puzzles on the walls and a ball pit. Socks required.
Open Play Hours: Monday 9am–5pm; Tuesday–Thursday 2pm–5pm; Friday 9am–12pm
Where: 590 S. Denton Tap Road, Coppell, 972/462-1643
Whether your kid wants to be an astronaut, a hairstylist or a firefighter, she’ll find the ideal pint-size playhouse at Celebration Party and Event Center. Designed for ages 18 months–7 years, the open play area boasts eight wooden play stations including a burger shop, hospital, beauty salon and grocery store. If kids tire of imaginative play, they can always jump in the bounce house, experiment with the impressive costume collection (commercially laundered daily) or hop aboard the train-shaped play structure.
Open Play Hours: Wednesday–Friday 9:30am–1:30pm
Cost: Kids 1 and older, $7; free for adults
Where: 5950 Park Vista Circle, #140, Keller, 817/741-5590
Lose an afternoon in The Tubes, a maze of opaque, colorful play tunnels at Irving Bible Church for kids 36–52 inches tall. Parents sit on benches and chairs outside while independent kiddos slide, climb, crawl and play games like tic-tac-toe within the maze. Little siblings under 3 feet who still need direct supervision climb on animals in the adjacent toddlers-only padded play area.
Open Play Hours: Daily 9am–9pm
Where: 2435 Kinwest Parkway, Irving, 972/560-4600
WORTH A MEMBERSHIP
Cooped-up kids ages 1–8 can play, color, bounce and release all forms of pent-up energy in The Coop’s 1,800-square-foot indoor play area. Little adventurers don tutus and capes to climb the large playground structure, dive into the ball pit (don’t worry — it’s sanitized daily), jump in the bounce house and nestle up with a book in the reading nook. In addition to free play, littles stay entertained on the interactive gaming floor where they choose between 20 engaging computer games that use thousands of LED floor lights that respond to their foot movements (favorites include dodge ball and bug capture) while parents make use of the free Wi-Fi. Socks required.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Friday 9am–5pm; closed Saturday–Sunday
Cost: $10 per daylong pass for ages 1 and older; $55 for a single monthly pass, $20 per additional sibling; always free for adults
Where: 8802 Coleman Blvd., Frisco, 972/668-1100
From pilot to air traffic controller, kids act out their aviation dreams in the Children’s Discovery Area at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Geared towards ages 2–10, the large open play space houses a multi-level control tower with a small toy plane for kids to fly, a large plane-shaped play structure, a teeter-totter and a mini theater for screenings of Jay Jay the Jet Plane.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–5pm; Sunday 1–5pm
Cost: For daylong passes: adults, $10; ages 3–17, $7; ages 2 and younger, free; $75 for an annual family membership
Where: 6911 Lemmon Ave., Dallas, 214/350-3600
Many parents know The Happy Lark for its modern blend of children’s toys, clothing and books, but the boutique’s best-kept secret is its adjoining play area for kids 6 and younger. The 1,400-square-foot room known as The Playspace has a giant magnet wall where kids construct ball runs out of magnetic PVC pipes and rubber ramps. Mobile youngsters play pretend at small activity stations like a construction center with tool belts and hammering toys, while crawlers can stay in the soft-floored infant area. Youngsters are free to run and play while parents socialize over free coffee.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–6pm; Saturday 12:30–3:30pm; closed Sunday
Cost: For daylong family passes: $10 for a single child; $12 for multiple children; For month-long family memberships: $35 for a single child; $40 for multiple children; always free for adults
Where: 5816 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth, 682/841-1027
SPLURGE-WORTHY PREMIUM PLAYSPACE
At the Legoland Discovery Center, budding builders scope out Lego exhibits like a life-size R2-D2 and a scale model of AT&T Stadium before setting off to fashion their own creations. Preschoolers ages 2–5 construct forts and buildings out of large Duplo bricks in Duplo village while older engineers use Legos (and their imaginations) at the Build & Test station. Kids 40”–57” tall can also play in the fire station-themed playground and drive an automated Lego-style car around an indoor track.
Open Play Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–7pm; Saturday 9am–8:30pm; Sunday 10am–6:30pm
Cost: Ages 3 to adult, $21 ($15.95 online); kids ages 2 and younger, free
Where: 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, 877/818-1677
This article was first published in the January 2017 issues of DallasChild, CollinChild and FortWorthChild. ©ISTOCK