7 Places to Play When It’s Too Cold to Go Outside

Sometimes it’s just too cold or wet to play outside. Here are 7 great (often FREE) places to play when it’s too cold to go outside!

7 Places to play indoors when it's too cold to go outside


We live in the Midwest and it gets cold here. I like to still bundle up and go outside when we can, but often in the winter, it’s either too cold to go out or too cold to stay out more than 15 minutes. But the worst thing about being stuck inside all day is (1) my toddler’s energy level is crazy and (2) my house is destroyed at the end of the day. I can stomach it for a day or two, but by day 3, we’ve got to go find something to do. I need him to make a mess somewhere that is not my house. Ha.

Actually, we have an option available to us every day of the week right now: story times, open gyms, indoor playgrounds. If I want, we can get out of the house every day to do something. I like that, because it means Camden will usually take a much better nap after he burns some serious energy.

Here are 7 of my favorite places to play indoors when it’s too cold to go outside!


playing at the library

The Library

This is a great option, because most libraries have good, free, open play spaces. Plus, they often have programming going on as well. Our favorite library has a tot story time each week (offered 3 times in a row!), and a preschool-age story time. They’ve also got some after school programming, a once-weekly evening story time, and Saturday special programs at least once a month. 

The library is also a great way to get kids interested in reading; check to see when they have reading programs going on by finding your local library website! 

Cost: free (and a library card in the town you pay taxes to is free as well!)


Mall Play Area

We stop at mall play areas when we’re traveling and it’s too cold to play outside. They’re usually small, but they entertain littles for a while. 

A friend and I also use our local mall as a space to go walk; we put the kids in strollers, get our walk in, and then hit up the play area for the toddlers to burn their energy. 

Cost: Free, but make sure you douse your kid liberally with sanitizer when you leave! 


Indoor Playgrounds

Google your city + indoor playgrounds to figure out if you’ve got some local options. We have 2 churches that have free indoor playgrounds, and a rec center that charges $5 for their indoor playground. One of the churches’ playground is literally an outdoor playground that they put inside! It’s huge and it has a walking track as well!

If you’re luckier than me, you might have play cafes or soft play areas or any number of other indoor playgrounds. 

Cost: Church playgrounds are usually free; others may charge a fee. 

kids having playdate too cold outside

Organize a Play Date Rotation

This is my favorite free option. Get together with a group of mom friends and plan a weekly play date. Rotate whose house it’s at (that way you only have to super-clean your house once every few weeks, haha!). 

You could even rotate one mom each time who can leave for a couple of hours to get some kid-free errands done! Support each other – you all know you need some time to breathe! 

Cost: completely, utterly FREE! 


Open Gym at Gymnastics Center

The local gymnastics centers here offer morning open gyms for toddlers and preschoolers to come play. For ages 2+, it costs $5 a session for an hour of free play. Our favorite one has trampolines, a foam pit, balance beams, and lots of bars and equipment for the kids to run, play, jump and burn through their morning energy (good nap, here we come!)

Cost: Typically about $5/kid. 


children's museum too cold outside play

Children’s Museum

A children’s museum is a fun option, but it’s not usually free. However, if you’ve got the budget, I highly recommend a membership. We use ours all the time! It’s great when it’s too cold out, or too hot out, or rainy or snowy. Plus, if you get the right membership at your local museum, you can get into a bunch of STEM museums for free and even more children’s museums for 1/2 price! 

Cost: Typically $7-8/person



This option is as expensive or cheap as you make it. Buy your kid an ice cream cone, get yourself a frozen lemonade and let him play for an hour in their play area. They’ve got wi-fi, so he can play and you can tune out the world for a while! 

Cost: varies, but food purchase is required to play (I believe)


Where do you play inside when it’s too cold to go outside?

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