Best Places for Indoor Play in Chicagoland

Ugh, winter in Chicago. It’s rough for ALL of us. But you know who suffers the most? Parents. Why?  Because we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to stay cozy at home where no one is sick but we are dangerously close to totally and utterly losing our minds. Don’t believe me? Then come over to my house for the day. You will be reaching for a glass of wine before the sun goes down. Trust me.

But here’s the thing…there are places for indoor play in Chicagoland that are worth the trek through frozen tundra. They are clean, warm, and sanity saving…promise!


Sod Room (Chicago)

Play has never been so eco friendly or gorgeous. It is the perfect place for the younger set to indulge in pretend and creative play. And don’t miss out on their “happy hour” for discounted play!

Exploratorium (Skokie)

There is so much for kids to explore, from water play to train tables and a playground—a great way to spend a cold or rainy day!

Funtopia (Glenview)

If you have kids of different ages to entertain, this is the place for you! There are different obstacle courses and climbing walls for kids of all ages and abilities to ensure that everyone has an exhaustingly great time.

TreeHouse (Lake Zurich)

Kids of all ages will have fun at this indoor tree house. The highlight? A HUGE indoor slide and ample and comfortable seating for parents so they can relax while the kids play!

Little Beans (Evanston and Chicago)

There are opportunities for active play for kids of all ages and delicious coffee for parents. Did I mention the discounted play they offer? It’s a play space JACK POT.

Gather (Evanston)

Creativity abounds at this play space, from the art center, to the play stations…including fun and interactive classes!


Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)

The perfect spot for little explorers! Kids can explore the Tinker Lab, watch baby chicks hatch, explore planes and trains…the learning opportunities are endless!

Chicago Children’s Museum (Chicago)

So much to do…so little time. Kids love all of the exhibits that challenge them physically, mentally, and socially. Be sure to take advantage of the discounted play times as well!

Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

There are so many beautiful fish, dolphins, seals, whales, reptiles, and more to explore throughout the vast aquarium, but don’t forget to bring your kiddo to explore the play area below the Oceanarium, too!

DuPage Children’s Museum (Naperville)

There is something for absolutely everyone at this museum that caters to little ones. Be sure to plan to spend an entire day there since there is so much to see and enjoy!

Chicago History Museum (Chicago)

Turn your child into a hot dog, sit in original seats from Wrigley Field, explore vintage CTA trains, and more at this “off the beaten track” museum.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Chicago)

Kids can learn all about the animals and plants native to Illinois and the Midwest at the Nature Museum. Explore the kids’ play space, relax in the gorgeous butterfly haven, and learn through the countless hands on activities…especially on discount days!

Field Museum (Chicago)

Head to the family area to make music, art, and engage in all types of creative educational play. And don’t forget to pose for a selfie with Sue!

Adler Planetarium (Chicago)

Help your little astronauts learn what it is like to blast into space through roll play, creative games, educational story times, and interactive exhibits that cater to the smallest visitors.

Kohl Children’s Museum (Glenview)

Water play, art, music, role playing, pretend play…and that doesn’t even include the amazing rotating exhibits!


Emily Oaks Nature Center (Chicago)

Kids love the trails, exhibits, and opportunity for hands on learning to explore habitats native to Illinois.

Splash Landings (Glenview)

Wisconsin Dells water park fun on a smaller and more manageable scale.

Dads Slot Cars (Des Plaines)

Take a step back in time, racing slot cars and feasting on sundaes.

Wilmette Pet (Wilmette)

Cuddle with a furry friend and learn all about what it means to be a great pet owner and animal lover.

ABT Electronics (Glenview)

The atrium has a beautiful water fountain with daily water shows, as well as interactive bubble makers and other games. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful fish in the aquarium, either!

River Trails Nature Center (Northbrook)

Either indoor or outdoor, there is ton of fun to be had at the River Trails Nature Center. Kids love reading and playing in the birds nest in one room and visiting the animals in the other room.

Water Works (Schaumburg)

There is a pool for just about everyone in your family (including a hot tub for mama!) at this fun and unique water park.

Garfield Park Conservatory (Chicago)

Art, waterfalls, plants, flowers, tropical temperatures, and free story and play times. Can I say more?

Legoland Discovery Center (Schaumburg)

Every Lego lover needs to visit at least once to not just admire the giant creations but also make something new and unique of their own.

Hamill Family Play Zoo (Brookfield)

Brave the walk from the parking lot to the fun filled play zoo! Explore the green house, meet new animals, play dress up…there are so many great things to do at the zoo even when it’s cold out!

The Grove (Glenview)

This free gem has tons of animals and animal specimens for families to learn about…and the staff is so helpful and makes learning so fun for kids of all ages!

Lincoln Park Conservatory (Chicago)

A beautiful place to warm up and remind you to stop and smell the flowers.

Petland Aquarium Adventure (Schaumburg)

Endless aquariums and tanks await at this pet shop…but if you prefer the furry kind of animal, those are available for play and cuddle sessions!

And don’t forget to take a trip to your local library when you are looking for a great way to spend a winter day!

Stay warm!
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  1. Jeanette says

    There is a lot more there than I ever knew and I visit there a lot. I will have to check it out with my kiddo again! There is so much to do there.

  2. Wendy Polisi says

    What a brilliant idea! These are fun for sure, my kids will love to go in one of these place. I’ll make sure to bring them one day.

  3. My Teen Guide says

    It’s my dream to bring my kids in Chicago Land, they will love this place. It would bring so much fun to them.

  4. Rebecca Swenor says

    It is so important I believe to get the kids outside the house during the winter months. These places sound amazing. They can be creative along with having fun learning. Shedd Aquarium sounds interesting and so does the museums. Thanks for sharing these awesome place for the kids in Chicagoland.

    • Amanda says

      Staying cooped up isn’t good for ANYONE, so I’m happy to create this list to help out other exhausted and stir crazy parents!

  5. Kathy says

    I’ve only been to Chicago once, and that was many years ago before I even had kids. I think this would be a great place to bring my girls. All of these places sound like fun and I know they’d love it.

  6. uprunforlife says

    I love all of these ideas. My youngest has been bored over the break, mostly because we have been moving so some of his toys are still in boxes. These would be a perfect way for him to burn off some excessive energy.

  7. CourtneyLynne says

    Omg so many fun places to play!!!! Makes me miss lIcing in a bigger area. We have nothing to do in these parts!

  8. Emma Spellman says

    My kids are getting stir crazy from being inside so we will be checking out some of these soon. I love that they can play and stay warm.

  9. Shaney Maharaj says

    This post will be very handy to parents in the area or those visiting during the holidays. I used to always google play areas in the city but when you have everything in one blog post, it is so much easier!

  10. Sarh S says

    I wish I knew of this many options up here in Milwaukee, it’s so cold and the kids are so bored. Might have to road trip down to Chicago for the day just to let them burn off some of this energy. haha

  11. Tess says

    My youngest has aged out now, but we loved Purple Monkey Playroom on Western. We could take the blue line there which allowed us more time to chat that driving. Thank you for this article, I wish it was around when my kids were younger.

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