When you have little ones (heck, even when you don’t!), the winter season can start feeling like an eternity, um, right about now. When it’s too cold and snowy to go to the park—and you want (need?) your kids to burn off some energy—the next best thing is an indoor playground. And I’m not talking about the free indoor play areas at Rosedale and Maplewood malls, I’m talking about the playgrounds that are a destination in and of themselves.
Here is a list of the best indoor playgrounds (all requiring an admission fee) within the metro area. *Note: Socks are required at all indoor play areas. If you forget, it’ll cost you anywhere from $2.50 to $3 per pair.
Maple Maze at the Maple Grove Community Center
12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: Free for one and under, $4.50 for kids ages 1-12 who are Maple Grove residents, $5.50 for non-residents. Discounted rate for licensed daycare providers.
Special tip: WiFi is available.
Highlights: A climbing wall, a treehouse, and multiple slides!
Edinborough Park, City of Edina
7700 York Ave. S., Edina
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Special tip: It gets very crowded on weekends; a weekday visit might be less chaotic.
Highlights: You feel like you’re in a tropical paradise when you’re here. Forget the snow (or rain). Inside, you’re surrounded by 6,000 colorful plants, trees, and flowers. There’s a junior-Olympic sized swimming pool, a running track/fitness area, a 44-foot tall play structure, and a multi-purpose play area (a room filled with balls, toys, and bikes).
Brown Family Adventure Park in Ham Lake
14200 Lincoln St., Ham Lake
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $6 per child (ages 1-12); special discount for licensed daycares ($4 per child).
Special tip: They don’t accept credit cards or checks. Remember to take out cash in advance, or you’ll have to pay extra ATM fees once inside.
Highlights: Two-story treehouse, suspended bridges, arcade games.
Eagle’s Nest in New Brighton
400 10th St. NW, New Brighton
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $5.50 (ages 1 to 12); $3 twilight admission after 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Special tip: You can bring your own food and beverages and have a little picnic outside of Eagle’s Nest, but can’t bring food or beverages into the playground area. Also? There’s a preschool open gym Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Highlights: The ball crawl!
Lookout Ridge, City of Woodbury
8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday (only open on Sundays from September to May, closed on Sundays during the summer).
Admission: Ranges from $3.50 to $5.50, depending on the day (check website for specifics).
Special tip: On no-school days, re-admission to the playground isn’t guaranteed once a person leaves.
Highlights: The 30-foot super slide and tree foam forest.
The Blast at the Eagan Community Center
1501 Central Parkway, Eagan
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: Free for kids 18 months and under or 13 years and older; $3 for those 18 months to 12 years.
Special tip: There are on-site concession stands and vending machines in case your little ones get hungry.
Highlights: The Space Shuttle Tower and Intergalactic Space Fight Jet.
Monkey House in White Bear Lake
1815 Buerkle Road, White Bear Lake
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.
Admission: $6.50 per child (weekdays); $7.50 per child (weekends).
Special tip: All kids playing in the monkey house must wear socks and clothes without metal zippers or tags (for ex: no jeans with decorative studs on back pockets).
Highlights: The row of inflatable fun houses!
Pump it Up
Oakdale, Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Ham Lake, Plymouth
Hours: Varies by location
Admission: Rates vary from $6 to $8 depending on the location and event (pop-in playtime, special event, jump ‘n glow, etc.).
Special tip: Kids must be 34 inches tall to jump.
Highlights: Bouncing, sliding, jumping, climbing.
Jumps and Downs, Shakopee Town Square Mall
1155 Shakopee Town Square Shakopee
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $7 per child (plus tax).
Special tip: There’s a play area and ball pit just for toddlers, so they don’t have to worry about being run over by the big kids.
Highlights: Air hockey and an awesome obstacle course.
When it comes to keeping kids happy, Minnesotans have created the perfect recipe with these indoor wonderlands. Have fun!