It’s 7 a.m. and already 90 degrees. Welcome to summer in Austin! However, you can’t just stay inside your house all day and your kids are begging to go the playground. The idea of sweating bullets while chasing your toddler doesn’t like a walk in the park? (Pun intended.) While Pandemonium is no longer an option (um, native Austinites who remembers that glorious place?)…here are 20 great ideas to get your little ones moving. All in air conditioning.
Toybrary (Central) :: It’s a toy library – could it get any cuter? There are over 1,000 educational toys to borrow – and you can test out some of them in the play space before you take them home.
- Hours: 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday
- Cost: If you’re not a member, you can come to the store to test out the toys for $5, but to borrow anything you need a membership. Then you can come in to the store o play with the toys whenever you would like for free.
- Location: 7817 Rockwood Lane, Austin
The Thinkery (Central) :: The Mecca of indoor play. From making big splashes in the water room to creating rockets, there is plenty to do to entertain your child inside for hours. Since it is notoriously crowded (it’s just that fun), if you have a child 0-3 take advantage of the Baby Bloomers program – you can get all the fun with much less crowd.
- Hours: During normal days, open Tuesday – Sunday.
- Location: 1830 Simond Ave, Austin
Mt. Playmore (North) :: Giant indoor playscape that has 3,000 square feet of fun. They also have an arcade and toddler area.
- Hours: Open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Open Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Closed Tuesday.
Infant (Under 2) FREEToddler (2-3) $4.95Child (4-18) $10.95Adult (19+) $1.50
- Location: 13609 North I H 35, Austin
Little Land Play Gym (North):: New play area that is extremely clean and is all about developing skills through sensory play – including climbing and bouncing. There is even a “baby area” for extra safety.
- Hours: Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sun 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (However, they note they may close early if nobody is playing one hour to closing)
- Cost: Babies up to 6 months are free. 6 months to 12 months: $4.00 (free with sibling) 13 months to 23 months: $7.00 2 years and above: $10.00 (additional child $7)
- Location: 13776 N. Highway 183, Austin
All Things Kids (The Domain, Georgetown) :: It’s a toy store with a Play Zone in the back of the store. It offers a chance to play with samples of the toys they sell, all for free, of course. There’s a soft floor with a no-shoe policy. Trucks, train tracks, dinosaur playscapes…air conditioning heaven.
- Hours: Locations vary, check website
- Cost: FREE
- Location: 3220 Feathergrass Court & 703 S. Main Street, Georgetown (Lakeway location coming soon!)
Gymboree Play & Music (2 North, 1 South) :: It requires a membership, but to some parents that might be worth it for the additional air conditioned play time. They offer play, music, art, sports, family fun, and school skills. If you sign up for a class, you get to attend the open gym times during the week.
- Hours: Vary by location
- Cost: $72 and up per month, but you can get a free class pass off the website.
- Location: 9333 Research Blvd (Austin), 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd. (Cedar Park), 4220 S. Lamar Blvd. (Austin)
K1 Speed (North) :: We have a Formula 1 track here, so get your kids in the racing spirit…but inside. This place offers Indoor go-kart racing. They have junior racer option where you must be a minimum of 4 ft. tall.
- Hours: Monday – Thursday 12 pm – 10 pm, Friday 11 a.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Cost: 1 race $19.99
- Location: 2500 McHale Ct., Austin
Lakeline Mall (North):: Located in Lakeline Mall near Dillard’s, this play area has climbing spots and low structures to climb and play make-believe. Bonuses are it’s FREE and you might be able to throw in some shopping while you’re there. There is also a train option that goes around the mall, but it costs $5 per rider.
- Hours: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Cost: FREE
- Location: 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park
IKEA (Round Rock) :: It’s a glorious mix of both worlds. You get to shop at IKEA and your kids get to have fun while you’re doing it. While in the kids section they can test out the toys. But you also have the option to drop your kids off at the free Småland area for a supervised playroom.
- Open: Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Cost: FREE
- Location: 1 Ikea Way, Round Rock
Safari Champ (Round Rock):: Has a smaller playscape that might feel more manageable with slides, tunnels, tubes, ropes, and zip line. For the older kids there is a basketball court, and for the younger there is a toddler area.
- Hours: Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sun 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Cost: All children under 12 months and adults are free. There is $3 admission all day every Wednesday, on other days $3.00 for children 12-23 months and $7.50 for children 24 months or older.
- Location: 1400 East Old Settlers Blvd # 200, Round Rock
BabyEarth (Round Rock):: Not only do they sell great environmentally-friendly gear, they also set up a play area for children to enjoy blocks and toys to explore.
- Hours: Free play is every Tuesday from 12 pm – 2 pm., but the store is open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Cost: FREE
- Location: 106 E Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock
My Gym (South) :: You can take classes there, but if you are just looking for a place to play there is the opportunity to go to the “active play” session. They change out the equipment and arrangement of the playground area so it’s always something new to try. For ages 10 months to 9 years.
- Open: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Cost: $8 for general public. You can get the option to do $20 a month for unlimited active play.
- Location: 5307 W US Hwy 290, Austin
Hoppin House (South & Buda):: Inflatable playground with slides and obstacles, a foam pit, and toddler area. Ages 0 – 11.
- Open: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 3 p.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Cost: Under 3 is $5.50 and 3 to 11 years old is $7.50
- Location: 4040 S Lamar Blvd, Austin & 5151 B Industrial Way, Buda
iPlay (South) :: 15,000 square feet of inflatable playground. Also features iCreate set up with easels to color and paint (only available on weekdays). Toddler Town (for 3 and under) has a mini rollercoaster and large Lego blocks.
- Open: Monday 3 p.m. – 8 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Cost: Kids 2 and under are free. For age 2-12 Monday – Friday $6 until 4 pm and after 4 pm $8. Weekends are $8 all day.
- Location: 8816 Cullen Lane, Austin
Altitude Trampoline Park (South) :: Has interactive inflatables and Kid’s Play Town to build social skills.
- Open: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
- Location: 6800 Westgate Blvd., Austin
Rolly Pollies (Bee Cave) :: Run, jump, climb, and build forts — where you don’t have to be a member to take part. For walkers – 8 years old.
- Open: Open gym times vary – refer to website
- Cost: $10 first child, $5 per sibling
- Location: 12700 Shops Pkwy., Bee Cave
Brilliant Sky and Toys (Westlake) :: Has a dedicated play area to keep kids busy and entertained. You might walk away with a present, but it’s the price you pay for free fun.
- Open: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Cost: FREE
- Location: 701 Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin
Restaurant Indoor Playgrounds (Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s) :: Best of both worlds – food to keep tummies happy and free indoor playgrounds. The McDonald’s in Four Points has low structures for the shorties and the Chick-fil-A on Braker (near the Domain) will be re-built very soon, so very clean!
Public Libraries (Various locations) :: Yes you can check out books for free and the occasional story time, but there so much more to do for free and inside at different locations around Austin and the surrounding areas. In Austin there is a Lego lab and sensory time (bubbles!). In Cedar Park, they offer a built-in toy time after reading and Explorers club that does different activities each week. Lake Travis offers cooking classes for kids. Check out your own local library to see what indoor events they offer.
Recreation Centers:: They offer different programs that you can do indoors. For example, Northwest Recreation Center in Austin has a Preschool Playtime. They have fun in the full-size gymnasium with activities such as a bouncy castle or dancing to music – all for only $5 every Friday from 10:30 – noon. Check your area’s recreation center’s website to see if they have similar programs.
Now when your little one throws out an “I’m bored” card and you can’t take the heat, you have 20 ideas of places for your kids and you to keep cool. What are some of your favorites indoor places to beat the heat?