Having go-to places for indoor recreation is essential, in my opinion. And when one offers everything from active play to creative explorations to learning experiences to relaxation, you definitely want it among your picks.
This is Badlands Play Space. The brand new facility in Rockville, MD, is a one-stop shop for adventures that take place inside. Nature-inspired and full of interactive pursuits for children 2-13 years old, it’s a place where kids can exercise both their bodies and minds in a variety of ways.
Designed to look like the outdoors, a mountain of faux boulders and “grassy” hillside are the centerpiece of the space with a green turf-covered floor. This is where kids can be active. They can climb up rocks to the peak or ascend using ropes, then whiz down slides. They can run up slopes, then roll down them or slide through a tunnel. Little spelunkers can crawl through a cave and emerge on the opposite side.
A path made to look like a dusty trail loops the mountain, and when we visited, a few kids were giving each other rides in a double wagon they fashioned together in the building area (more on that below). Real birch trees line a section of the path, with another small play area on the other side. Guests can walk across a footbridge, hop among tree stumps, and balance on “fallen” tree branches. A little rock garden adds to the outdoor aesthetic.
Beyond the mountain is the Workshop, a spacious room filled with all kinds of stations for creative and constructive activities. Kids can craft parachutes to fly in a wind tunnel, build marble runs, mold clay, play in a giant bin of LEGOs, and design with a variety of materials supplied. Staff are there to help and encourage innovation. And a nature film playing on one wall offers inspiration, too.
Right on the other side of a glass wall from the Workshop is the exhibit area, which will change out periodically. Right now it’s a lovely butterfly garden filled with plants and flowers, chrysalises on view, and, of course, butterflies.
There is also a building room where kids can do even more tinkering. There are wooden parts that fit together, crates to stack, and other materials to create everything from forts to those double wagons. And right next to that room is a theater with comfy seating and a large screen, where kids can chill out as educational programming is shown.
They keep accompanying adults in mind, too! A cafe is located right next to the mountain, so parents and caregivers can hang out while they watch the children play. It’s also convenient for a snack break or lunch.
Badlands isn’t just a destination for everyday play, it’s also a place for special celebrations. There are four fantastic, spacious pavilions available for parties, and they’ll take care of everything from the food to decor to leading the kids in play. For further information about birthdays email [email protected]ayspace.com.
Ready to play the day away? Badlands is located at 5200 Randolph Road in Rockville, MD. Admission is $22.50/child and $12.50/toddler per day, and they offer memberships and monthly rates which make for big discounts! Hours are 9am – 6pm Tuesday through Sunday.