Some days you just need indoor playgrounds. Maybe the LA summer sun beats at 104 degrees outside, the heat so oppressive you feel it searing your bones. Perhaps the rare rain has started pattering softly on your window, finally disturbing the tangle of woven spider webs. For once, maybe you just want to stare mindlessly at Instagram (finally!) while your kid entertains him or herself.
Pasadena and east LA offer several enticing options for indoor playgrounds. Some seem better for younger kids, some for older, but all are an excellent way to spend your pre- or post-nap time.
Name aside, Peekaboo Playland has to be little V’s favorite playground. Located on the main strip of Eagle Rock on Colorado Boulevard, they offer a bouncy house with a slide, ball pit, indoor climbing structure, a twisty slide, trains, mini cars, costumes…and of course free coffee and wifi for you. At the picnic tables along the windows you can enjoy pizza from next-door Big Mama’s and Papa’s. Adults are free, kids over 12 months cost only $10, siblings or kids 6-12 months are $8. Plus, for a working parent, they stay open until 6 pm Monday through Thursday. Finally, some post-nap fun after getting home from work. The little babes 2 and under can enjoy the baby balcony, a zone safe from the slightly-aggressive and possibly-unsupervised older kids down below. They even have an infant-sized slide and mini-kitchen. You can usually find street parking less than a block or two away. For dinner, you can always pick up pizza from Big Mama’s and Papa’s or Casa Bianca, an Eagle Rock cash-only institution worth a visit in itself. You could also check out my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles, Turning Fire. Or grab dinner like Guy Fieri at The Oinkster. All are family-friendly and delicious.
About five minutes down Figueroa you will find the Awesome Playground. Though smaller than Peekaboo, it still has plenty to entertain the 9 month-6 year old set. They have a much better train collection than Peekaboo, and an excellent selection of costumes. Small toddler-fights do occasionally break out upon needing to share the shopping carts and play-foodstuffs. A small track rings the playground where the little ones can ride the trikes and mama-push cars. As an added bonus, on select Friday nights they offer Parents Night Out from 6 pm-10 pm. For $25 for the first 2 hours and $10 for each subsequent hour you get a date night and 10% discount on local restaurants. They offer an all-day play pass for $9, monthly pass for $39 and a 10-visit pass for $60. As with Peekaboo Playland, it is closed Saturdays and Sundays. Parking is on the street, but easily found. Plus, it is directly across the street from Scoops, a fabulous vegan-friendly (it is LA after all) ice cream shop.
The Southern California Children’s Museum
For weekend fun, we love the SoCal Children’s Museum. Though the other indoor playground are closed when we finally have time to spend with our toddler, SoCal Children’s Museum has free on site parking and opens early at 930 on Saturday. They have some permanent exhibits like a castle jungle gym and slide, a fishing boat, and a dress-up stage where you can dance and sing. They also have rotating exhibits, which are fascinating. The last time we went the exhibit taught us about the Monkey King, and we watered the vegetables in the garden. The real issue here is price. Unlike the other indoor playgrounds, adults are not free. Everyone over the age of 1 is $8, but they do offer a $60 10-visit pass. Well worth it if you are weekend warriors like ourselves. For local dining, head half a block down Colorado to Europane Bakery. I love a pressed ham and cheese sandwich.
Indoor playgrounds seem to be expanding all across the greater Pasadena area, and for good reason. Kids love other people’s toys, and plenty of space to run and play. Indoor playgrounds offer all of this and a lot more. Besides encouraging the bambinos to play, the enclosed nature of these places also fosters camaraderie among the parents and caregivers.
Where do you like to take your kids when the weather threatens to ruin outdoor fun?