Winter With Little Kids: The Sanity List
Our list of free (or almost free) indoor (but out of your house) winter activities for babies and toddlers.
Other than spending time in the Bon Vivant Kid’s Room where you can enjoy some delicious Real food and a warm place for your kids to play, these are some of our favorite indoor activities in the DC area. We have separated them roughly into “active play” and “educational”, although some are both. They are for babies and toddlers, that fun age where you are almost entirely responsible to keep them entertained, and a long winter day can feel realllllly looooong!
Barnes + Noble Potomac Yard
They have a café so you can start with getting yourself a cup of coffee! In the kids books area (all the way in the back) they have loads of books and a train table, so a great spot if you want to read a few books to your child or let them play with the trains for a while.
This is a little further out, but if you are willing to drive they have a huge indoor climbing structure and slide, along with age appropriate play areas for all ages up to 8. Admission is $8-10, check the website for open play timing. http://www.chibisindoorplayground.com
For older toddlers, the Belle Haven Rec Center offers classes and more serious skating, while Potomac Yard has little penguins your toddler can hold onto so they can skate by themselves, a win for those with independent kids!
- Temporary outdoor rink at Potomac Yard from early holiday season into January. http://pentagonrowskating.com
- Permanent ice rink at the Belle Haven Rec Center: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/mtvernon/
In Arlington and Alexandria. The open gym times can be attended individually or you can have a monthly membership with weekly classes. http://www.jwtumbles.com
Soft Play Rooms
At approximately $5 per play they are one of the greatest energy releases for toddlers, and can be fun for younger kids depending on who’s there. You’ll need to play it by ear regarding safety based on your child’s age, and the level of care taken by the other kids there and the amount of monitoring they are getting. I have had to leave soft playrooms on occasion due to unruly, unmonitored kids.
- Chinquapin Rec Center: https://www.alexandriava.gov/recreation/info/?id=12352
- Charles Houston Rec Center: https://charleshoustonrec.com/toddlers/
Chinquapin Recreational Center has a large pool which includes on one side of the pool a beach style ‘walk in’ area which is great for those with young kids or babies. https://www.alexandriava.gov/recreation/info/?id=12352
Del Ray Library
They have a great selection of kid’s books as well as a play area with toys. They also have story times and other activities for kids that you can find on their monthly calendar.
Hooray for Books
Along with the best place to get books and activities for you kids, they have lots of storytimes including author readings.
National Building Museum
There are lots of kids activity rooms here for all ages, its not cheap but we left it on the list as you can spent hours there so can be worth the money. $10 for adults and $7 for kids over 3.
While the nature centers are fantastic during better weather when you can enjoy the outdoor spaces, many of them also have fun indoor educational centers with anaimals, exhibits and in some cases kids’ play areas. If you have older kids they often have classes too.
- Buddie Ford Nature Center
- Huntley Meadows Park
- US botanical gardens
Love going here but parking is awful, so try to find alternate transportation.
They are in Glen Echo MD and shows are well priced at $5. Check their website for showtimes www.thepuppetco.org/tots.html
Reagan National Airport
The lounge has a few fixed seats and then a lovely wall of windows that you can watch the airplanes and other airport activities that the little ones enjoy. As it’s also quite empty there, kids are free to run around without getting in anyones way. You can park right next to the terminal, or take the metro for the added thrill of a train. If you kid likes buses, you can also park in the long term parking area and take a bus in.
Springfield Trampoline Park
One of our favorites! The best time (or I’d say the only time) to go is Monday-Friday when older kids are in school. They have ‘open jump’ from 10am-noon for young children and bonus, you can jump with them! If you go at another time it can be VERY busy and the children are only allowed to jump in a kids section which adults are not allowed on, consequently you are then subject to wild and older kids that may not be watching out for your little one. $10 per kid, includes 1 adult. http://flighttrampolinepark.com/springfield