No matter the season, it’s essential to have indoor play options in Dallas. You know how it gets – too cold, too wet, too hot, or way too freakin’ hot. Sometimes climate control is your only hope. We’ve done a couple indoor play roundups in the past, but it’s time for an update that includes all the fun new locations that have opened in the metroplex. Moms, take note!
Play Street Museum is killing it in the indoor play arena. They already have locations in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, and Allen, with Lake Highlands and Irving locations coming soon, so be on the lookout! It’s best for younger kids or a chill playtime for early elementary ages. This is not the kind of place for bigger kids to stomp and run around like maniacs. Save that for Going Bonkers or even Monster Yogurt – every time I go there it’s like Lord of the Flies. Am I wrong? Each Play Street location has a different theme, but they are all so adorable (and clean!), and there’s free wifi if you’d like. Go on a weekday morning for lowest traffic; if they reach capacity you’ll have a wait. No food is allowed inside, but you can bring drinks. Kids get a little token with admission that they can trade for a drink or healthy snack on the way out. Play Street also hosts cute themed events, often in the evenings. I try to post them to our monthly guides, but do check their website if you’re interested in after-work play opportunities at the various locations.
Hours: Open Play is M-F, 9am-5pm; Open Play by Reservation on select Sundays, see website for details
Cost: $11 for children ages 1-8; children younger or older are free if accompanied by a paying sibling; no charge for adults
(2020 update: now called The Kids Play Co.)
This play spot in Richardson is cut from the same cloth as Play Street Museum, with custom playhouses set up for all kinds of pretend play. You can hang out at tables in the parent area up front (with free coffee and wifi), while the kids play towards the back. I like that they have a little baby area right next to the parent tables for tummy time/mamaRoo time/what have you. If you haven’t been before or if it’s been a while, they no longer allow any outside food, which is kind of a bummer rule change. You can still bring drinks, though, and snacks and juice are available for purchase. This is a real neighborhood spot, tucked into II Creeks Plaza along with Hipster Baby, Pearl Cup Coffee, Shady’s Burgers, Frankie’s, and Sweet Firefly. Post-play ice cream at Sweet Firefly? Don’t mind if I do.
Hours: M-F, 9am-5pm; Saturday & Sunday are for private parties only
Cost: $10.50 per child, age 1 and up; $8.50 for siblings, age 1 and up; $5.50 for children under age 1 not accompanied by an older sibling; free for siblings under age 1 with a child’s admission; no charge for adults
(2020 update: now called The Playard)
Bright and clean in Frisco Square. I gotta tell ya, I’m loving the dedication to cleanliness at so many of these newer indoor play places! The COOP has toys and activities to engage toddlers up to age 8, with no time limit on play. Slides, a ball pit, scooters, a bounce house, dress up, coloring books, an interactive dance floor, a toddler area, all kinds of stuff. Wear socks! I’ve seen kids in here with no socks on, but parents are supposed to wear them or you can’t enter the gated play area. They do have adult socks for purchase ($1.25) if you totally space. You can also buy snacks, drinks, and cappuccino here, and they have free wifi and magazines for the grownups. Also in Frisco: EQ Kids Club, Little Humans Big Fun, Jungle Joe’s. Frisco is hot for indoor play, guys.
Hours: M-F, 9am-5pm
Cost: $10 per child ages 1-8; no charge for adults; monthly passes available $55/1 child, $20/additional siblings
Every Tuesday is $2 off as part of $2sday in Frisco Square.
This obstacle extravaganza is for wearing kids out. Think American Ninja Warrior-style obstacles (plus dodgeball), but tailored to a younger crowd. There’s a small designated area for children under 5, and all areas have mats for safe landing. I tend to think this place is best for ages 6+ to really maximize your time and money, although all ages can definitely have fun here. I like that they have a bunch of coaches on the floor, encouraging and helping kids through. You can try the obstacles if you want, but they do have a seating area for parents. For safety, keep in mind that anyone participating needs to wear closed-toe athletic shoes and no jewelry while playing. Outside drinks are allowed, and they also have snacks and drinks for purchase. Obstacle Warrior Kids has locations in Farmers Branch, McKinney, and Garland. They all get crowded on weekends! Honestly, any indoor play area gets crowded, so whenever you can go early or on weekdays it will be much calmer.
Hours: Mon-Tues, closed; Wed-Thurs, 3:30-7:30pm; Fri, 1:30-8pm; Sat, 1oam-8pm; Sun, 11am-7pm; special hours during school holidays
Cost: Hourly Fees – $14 for 2 hours ages 2-4 or $8 for 1 hour; $18 for 2 hours ages 5 and up or $10 for 1 hour; $3 extra for X-treme Zone access (for ages 12 and up); seasonal passes available
Spark! is mainly a weekend play place, with weekdays reserved for school field trips. They say it’s best for 2nd grade and up, but younger kids are allowed as long as you are with them the whole time. It’s not for babies though – no strollers or carriers allowed inside. I would say ages 5 and up will get the most out of everything. Visually, Spark! is super cool and so different from all the other play areas in town. The industrial playscape is uh-mazing. They also have lots of arts and crafts with recycled materials to encourage creativity. No outside food or drink, but you can get things at their snack bar. Grown ups can participate in everything or sit at tables while the kids go to town. They kind of have a lot of rules about dress and appropriate shoes and whatnot, so definitely check that out before you go. It’s located on the lower level of the South Side on Lamar building near downtown. You can find metered parking on the street or go to the retail parking area down the street for free.
Hours: Saturday, 10am-4pm, Sunday, 12-5pm; open 10am-4pm on select holidays, including spring break
Cost: $10 for kids, $5 for 18 and up; various membership levels available
I wanted to include this one, coming at ya March 23 at Willow Bend mall, because it is new and huge and you can burn a lot of time there. It’s 60,000 square feet of 22 attractions (including a playground), good for little ones up to about age 11. It’s sort of like a Crayola-themed kid’s museum. This is the kind of place that’s particularly good when you have a membership and can go during off hours when it isn’t overly crowded. It will get crowded. Everyone loves the design-your-own crayon station, one of the few activities that requires a token. You get 2 tokens with admission, and you can buy more (2 for $1) although you probably won’t need to. No outside food allowed, but there’s an on-site cafe with a limited menu. They have hand stamps for re-entry, so you could always go to the mall food court if you want options.
Hours: 10am-6 or 8pm, depending on the day
Cost: $20.99 per person, kids under 2 free; but the annual pass is $30.99 – definitely the way to go if you plan to go more than once over the summer.
Purchase tickets online in advance for $2 off admission and you skip the line.
This is one is best for slightly older kids, although my youngest is 4 and loves video games. You pay admission and get unlimited free play at almost 100 different retro arcade and pinball games. It’s all inside one big room with a designated bar/table/food area on the side. The menu has sandwiches, flatbreads, and appetizers, so you can have a real meal while you’re here. And if you’re feeling edgy you can sip on an adult beverage while the kids play. I’ll go ahead and recommend Austin Eastcider Blood Orange. At night this place is adults only, but they open early on weekends and whenever school is out (spring break, etc.); it’s very much a kid zone at these times. Free Play has a traditional arcade atmosphere – a little darker, background music, and all the noise from the games, of course.
Hours: M-F, 3pm-11pm or midnight; Saturday and Sunday 11am-11pm or midnight; special hours during school holidays
Cost: $10 entry fee per person