In usual February fashion, we are anticipating a day of clear skies and sunshine followed by a 40 percent chance of rain and 30-something degrees. Being a native Dallasite, I’m fully prepared for at least a few days of unreasonably cold weather. To combat cabin fever and children bouncing off the walls, we’ve rounded up a serious list of indoor activities for young children.
We first experienced the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park on a day when Dallas Zoo members got in free. It’s much smaller than the Dallas World Aquarium, but we prefer it for toddler and preschool age. It’s less crowded and far less expensive.
Crayola Experience at Willow Bend is a fun group playdate idea. We went over Thanksgiving break with kids ranging from three to seven years old. There’s a great combination of physical activities (hello indoor playground!) and sit-down fun like watercolor painting. By far, the crowd favorite was making Crayons with each of their names on them!
We haven’t experienced Frontiers of Flight Museum yet. But Dallas Moms contributor Lauren says it’s a “perfect outing for a little one who loves all things planes, helicopters, and space ships.”
One great thing about this museum is that it’s good for such a broad range of ages. A 1-year-old can go and just enjoy walking around, looking at the aircraft, and playing in the awesome play area. Similarly, a 5-year-old can go and actually enjoy learning about and exploring all the exhibits, climbing up and around the planes, and of course, enjoying the play area.
Whoever started the first indoor play place is probably off drinking mai tais on an island. So brilliant! Toddler parents everywhere thank them. We tend to discover new-to-us locations via birthday party invites. Then, assuming we like it, we add it to our rotation. Most of them charge either for one hour or two and have limited availability on the weekends (see also: birthday parties!), so check with them before you head over.
There are now multiple DFW locations of Play Street Museum! We frequent the Plano one.
Play Street Lake Highlands photos by Krystal Hurst
Playstreet in Lake Highland photos by Lee Batson Armstrong
If you’re closer to the west side of DFW or find yourself needing a post-car nap destination, PeeknPlay is right near Grapevine Mills and has a fun two-story place space that your littles will highly enjoy.
Dallas Moms contributor Megan has a full breakdown with all of the various areas in Peek n’ Play.
Overall, it is such a great indoor play option because it allows kids to explore lots of different kinds of play. It engages a variety of ages from crawlers to young elementary kids. It is a very intentional space designed for kids to be kids. Pack a lunch and stay awhile; you (and your kids) will love it!
There are several churches around DFW that have excellent play areas for public use. Their hours may be your main limitation.
Prestonwood Baptist Church may be our most visited indoor spot. If there’s ever a rainy afternoon and we need to be spontaneous, we find ourselves at the KIDZ indoor playground. It’s fairly friendly for crawlers, but it’s really geared towards preschool and older who are comfortable climbing. Let’s just say, one time my newly toddling toddler climbed up an obstacle THAT I COULD NOT FIT IN, and I had to send a random 5-year-old in there to help him down. Other than that incident, we’ve loved our visits!
Abby calls it “the MECCA of free indoor playgrounds.”
For some reason, my brain always wants to call this place “Watermark Treehouse.” It does look a bit like a treehouse. The Watermark Tree Fort is a large open area where kids can climb stairs, balance on rope nets (not as scary as it sounds), and have some freedom without the distractions that you might find in the other uber-colorful play areas. I’ve seen moms with children of varying ages sit on the bottom level with a blanket and a baby while her bigs run up and down the stairs.
So far, we’ve only been to the Ark during birthday parties. But it’s been on my list to revisit. Open playtime at The Ark is free, but registration is required. Click the link to view wavier form and register.