Where the Big Kids Play in Chicagoland

We have reached the point that I truly didn’t believe would ever happen. It started with the first eye roll I received when I suggested that we spend the day at our favorite play space. Yes, you read that right, I got an EYE ROLL when I offered to pay for us to play and eat at one of our favorite play spaces.

Was it just a pair of crabby kiddos? No. I knew this was coming but never thought it would happen so soon. My kids are officially too old for play spaces so my bag of tricks is now null and void. GULP. So if you are in the same boat as us and scrambling to figure out fun places to play, here are my recommendations for where to take kids too old for play spaces in Chicagoland.


Although it takes a bit more planning than a simple drop in play space, these fun city and suburban classes will encourage your older kiddos to learn, create, play and grow with peers of their own age.

Cook, Cork and Fork—Palatine

Get the family together and head over to Cook, Cork and Fork in Palatine to improve your culinary skills. Their “All in the Family” class is set up for a family of four to come together and make a variety of recipes, from family brunch to fresh pastas. There are also cooking camps and classes available for junior chefs. Even better? It might inspire your kiddos to take over dinner duty every once in a while.

The Laboratory—Chicago

This science academy in Wicker Park hosts workshops, day off camps, and classes, What makes The Laboratory unique is that the instruction combines science elements such as chemistry and physics along with imaginative stories. Current class themes include “Ice Cream Alien Encounters,” “Real Secret Super Powers” workshops and much more. And hooray for parents, many of these programs are part of their pizza nights, so kids can create while you enjoy some much needed time to yourself.

Hot Ground Gym—Various locations

Looking for a unique way for your kids to burn off all that endless energy? Then head to Hot Ground Gym in Northbrook, Vernon Hills, or Arlington Heights. You can expect a kid focused comprehensive program that implements five core pillars (fitness, leadership, critical thinking, leadership, and discipline). I recommend utilizing the free trial class promotion so your kiddo can experience the rigorous program before committing to a class membership. My five year old found it a bit intimidating, but older elementary children enjoy it.


Perfect for those rainy days when your kids are whiny and bored, we love these drop in play options for the older crew.

Little Beans Café—Chicago and Evanston

Yes, I know…technically this is a play space. But did you know that Little Beans Evanston hosts a Nerf Nights? These fun Friday nights are for 8-12 year olds and include pizza, drinks, and obstacle course based play.


Climb, climb, and climb some more at this fun Glenview spot. Read my review here to see what all the fuss is about and to for tips on booking online and bringing the whole family to Funtopia.

Play and Spin—Niles

This family friendly entertainment center in Niles is SOOOO much fun, but it can be a bit pricey so go there with a game plan and stick to it. Play options include go-kart racing, manicures/pedicures at the nail salon, endless arcade games, and my personal favorite version of cardio, laser tag. Just be sure that your child is 54” tall if he or she wants to go-kart independently.

Cat and Mouse Games—Chicago

This mom owned game shop in the West Loop is the perfect place to spend some time checking out the newest and most creative puzzles and games available. Cat and Mouse Games also hosts Pokemon leagues (kids league Saturday morning and open play Sunday afternoon) and other fun events such as story times and Tuesday Night Board Game Happy Hour. Check their online calendar for an updated list of events.

Woodcrafters DIY Studio—Arlington Heights

This spacious shop is a great spot for artistic kiddos to express themselves—all while helping you decorate your home. There are hundreds of cute sign templates to choose from, and with a variety of wood stains and paint colors, the creative options are infinite.

Rockin’ Jump–Buffalo Grove and Carol Stream 

This vast bounce park hosts a ton of birthday parties but also has open play times for kids who just need to get some energy out. If your older kid is a night hawk, treat him or her to Rockin’ Fridays, every Friday night from 8-11 p.m. when kids can enjoy blacklight jumping with glow stations to help jumpers glow in the dark.

So now that I’ve shared our favorite play spots for “big” Chicago kids, share your favorite stomping grounds in the comments section.

And if you have kiddos of multiple ages, this post is for you. You’re welcome!

Happy Playing!
Don’t miss a post…follow me on Blog Lovin’.


  1. Amanda says

    We are going bowling tomorrow with our family and I can’t wait. It is so nice to act like a kid every once in a while!

  2. Amanda says

    It’s just so nice that there are options other than typical play spaces. My kids can only play with faux kitchens for so long! 😉

  3. Amanda says

    Totally agree. I am doing everything I can to make sure my kids don’t grow up too fast. Childhood is too great to speed through.

  4. Cyn Gagen says

    So many fun things to do! I would pick the Cook, Cork, and Fork one first. That sounds like such a fun thing to do as a family and something a little bit different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.