Y’all. It’s hot as blazes outside. I mean Y’ALL: it’s stupid hot. And don’t even get me started on the humidity (ugh…). So what’s a mama to do when these little people you made are all stir crazy and your only outside options are 1. The pool (again…) or 2. A trip to the ER after your wee one goes down the playground’s plastic slide that heats to roughly the temperature of the sun by 9 a.m.?
Here’s what you do: choose one of these super fun local INDOOR playgrounds, dash between the A/C in the car and the A/C in the building, and make everybody happy! For real, although they aren’t free like the outdoor scalding-lava playgrounds, these gems are often fairly inexpensive, provide an excellent opportunity for the kids to burn off some of that school’s-out-what-do-I-do summer energy, and a lot of them even have free WiFi for the parents (score!). They’ve also evolved from the 4-jumpies-in-a-dark-room places that were around about 5-10 years ago. The activities they provide are now so varied you could even visit several of them without doing the same thing twice!
- Catch-Air: (6 Atlanta area locations) Catch -Air is definitely a singular experience. It is bright, loud, and it is really fun. You will see play equipment you’ve never even heard of before in these giant playgrounds that combine bouncy houses, indoor play equipment (think fast food playgrounds only HUGE), moving rides and black-light fun once an hour. Moms can sit in the ample adult seating and either take advantage of the free WiFi or chat with friends and let the kids run wild. Bring your socks! Even adults must remove shoes and wear socks inside so throw a pair in your purse — or buy a pair for a couple of bucks if you forget.
- Champion Kids: (Marietta) This open play area is split into two zones: inflatables and trampolines. There’s also a play area for toddlers. However, parents must stay with their children, so you must follow them to the play area of their choice. Champion also offers classes in everything from gymnastics to music to “urban gymnastics” or parkour (where they teach your kid to do back flips off brick walls and junk). Open play times vary because of their class schedules and birthday parties so check the website before heading out.
- Children’s Museum of Atlanta: (Downtown) CMOA is so much more than an indoor play area. It is a set of permanent and revolving hands on exhibits that are all about educating little people about the world they live in. The museum’s focus areas are the arts, culture and geography, engineering, health and wellness, literacy, mathematics, science, social and emotional development, and technology. Every child in Atlanta absolutely should visit at least once. Note: When you purchase tickets, you must choose a time-window in which to arrive, as it can get very busy so they try to stagger the crowds.
- INK: (Gainesville) 45 or so minutes north of the city you’ll find this amazing Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (get it?). The museum exhibits are a variety of everyday locales built to little people scale. Kids can bang a drum in the music room or pretend to milk a cow at the dairy. They can “work” at a grocery store, beauty parlor, or dentist office – all just their size.
- Legoland: (Phipps Plaza, Atlanta) A bit pricey, but worth it for a once-a-summer kind of adventure. Think Disneyworld, but made of Legos and small enough to fit indoors. There are rides, amazing Lego displays, free play, and building workshops for kids of all ages. If your child is into Legos, it’s an absolute don’t-miss. Look for discounts here.
- Monkey Joe’s: (4 Atlanta area locations) Bouncies abound at this colorful indoor play place that includes a parent lounge with WiFi and a toddler area for kids 3 and under. There are also arcade-style games (tokens required) where kids can win tickets they can exchange for prizes. The refreshment area serves pizza and other lunch-worthy foods instead of just snacks.