Category Archives: Indoor Play

Sundays are Family Fun Days at Swingers in Dupont Circle!

 

Families, tee up for Sunday fun!

Swingers, the crazy golf club in Dupont Circle, has been a destination for adults seeking fun, competitive indoor experiences since 2021.  A vibrant atmosphere, welcoming hospitality, and opportunities for play have made Swingers a go-to spot for the over-21 crowd looking for something more elevated than their usual day or night out.

And now, kids can get in on the fun! Every Sunday before 6pm, Swingers is welcoming the under-21 crowd, too!

Sundays at Swingers is a perfect option for families looking to spend some quality time together. Kids and parents can enjoy an awesome day out, filled with exciting competition, delicious street food and drinks, lively entertainment, and lots of laughter.  After working up an appetite on the crazy golf course, guests old and young can dig into bites and treats from Kneadza Pizza, tuTaco, and Lil’ Succotash accompanied by frozen slushies. While the kids stay engaged with a specially designed menu and activity sheets, parents can relax with a well-deserved cocktail from the bar.

Even more, if you’re looking to plan the ultimate kid’s birthday party, Swingers now offers The Birthday SetThey take care of just about everything; all you have to do is reserve the date and bring a cake!  For $48 per guest, parties include:

  • A round of crazy golf
  • Unlimited soft drinks
  • Party food platters
  • Ice cream
  • Reserved party area for 1.5 hours
  • Goodie bags to take home

Sundays are about to get a whole lot more exciting, so round up your crew and get ready to swing into action by booking your tickets today!

Tickets start from $21 per person and can be booked online.

Family Fun at Swingers
Where: 1330 19th St NW | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Sundays, 11am – 6pm
Admission: $21

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This post is sponsored by Swingers, however, I only promote places, programs, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Indoor Action: Fun & Games Around the DC Area that Take Place Inside

Waterpark fun inside at the St. James

 

As we head into the thick of winter, you may be looking for more inside activities.  And sometimes you might want those activities to be active, or at least something more than a museum outing, that’s physically as well as mentally engaging or has a mission to it.  I wrote about indoor playgrounds for kids years ago, but here I’m talking about experiences that have more of a sport or gaming element to them (okay, a few of those original ideas are here, too, but the best ones).  So, if you’re looking to get your game on, whether to get out of the cold or rain or you just want to have some fun inside, here are some places to do just that.

Super, Awesome, and Amazing Fun
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: Thurs-Fri, 3-8pm | Sat-Sun, 9am – 8pm
Admission: Starting at $15/hour 

The Super, Awesome, and Amazing (that’s what it’s called) 30,000 square foot activity center in the St. Jame sports complex is filled with all kinds of climbing structures, trampolines, and obstacle courses. Kids can don harnesses and clip onto wires to climb, rappel, and navigate walkways 20 feet above the ground. They can bounce, flip, and execute acrobatic moves. They can swing from bars and on large platforms and crawl through tunnels. Essentially, every element in the space is conducive to active fun, and there is something for kids from toddler to tween ages to enjoy.

Pickle & Skate (and more!)
Where: Kraken | Penn Quarter & Bryant Street, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activities
Play some pickleball, go roller skating, maybe do some axe throwing, and even more at this one-stop shop for all those activities. Note that kids must be at least 13 to wield axes and go in the rage room. Pickleball starts at $15, skating at $8. Be sure to make reservations!

Ping Pong
Where: SPIN | Downtown DC
When: Tuesday – Saturday, times vary
Admission: Tables start at $49/hour

Head to the ping pong social club to, well, play ping pong! Reserve a table for a group of up to 10 people (rate is hourly) and enjoy some food while you’re there. Kids of all ages are welcome before 9pm.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade
Where: Boardwalk Bar & Arcade | The Wharf, DC
When: Mon-Thurs, 11am-12am | Fri-Sat 11am-2am | Sun 11am-10pm
Admission: Free, but plan to spend on food and games 

As the name implies, this joint at The Wharf is inspired by beach-style amusement, with lots of arcade games, pinball, and shuffle board. The beach vibe goes for the food as much as the games — think pizza, hotdogs, sammies, jumbo pretzels. It’s kind of perfect for a cold or rainy day, and both kids and adults can enjoy the fun and fare.

Bowling & Bocce
Where: Pinstripes | Georgetown, DC & Rockville, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Bowling starts $16/person, bocce $9/person

Another restaurant where there are games to enjoy along with the food. You can dine then play after, or make bowling or bocce your main activity and eat at your lane. We’ve done both (and have even gone just for the meal)! Read more about it here.

Drive balls from the comfort of a sheltered bay at Top Golf

Tee Up
Where: Top Golf | National Harbor & Gaithersburg, MD
When:  Daily
Admission: Starts at $42/bay for two hours
Practice your swing, enjoy a bite, and have some indoor/outdoor fun.  At Top Golf, you drive balls from climate controlled (ie, heated) sheltered bays, so you can still enjoy fresh air and be comfy.   Plus, there ’s a full service restaurant and bar (for parents, obvi) to make a full experience of it.

Watson Adventures’ Scavenger Hunt
Where: Local museums | Around DC
When: Select dates
Admission: Starts at $18/kid, $23/adult

Watson Adventures’ scavenger hunts are a blast, the Harry Pottr-themed Wizard School hunt particularly great for the whole family.  They are really well done and engaging as you search for art and artifacts at Smithsonian museums, competing against other teams. It’s a new way to explore the museums you’ve probably been to dozens of times, and a super fun time in itself.  Read more about it in this KFDC post, and see all of the available hunts and dates here.

Great Escapes
Where: Escape the Room | Penn Quarter & Downtown, DC
When: Daily, various times
Admission: $35

Bring the whole crew to enjoy a challenge together! Experience a live-action adventure complete with mystery, hidden clues, and puzzles that help you escape dinosaur clones in DC, a spy situation, the depths of the earth, an Old West bank, a submarine, or a pandemic.

Bomb Mission
Where: Beat the Bomb | Ivy City, DC
When: Tuesday – Sunday
Admission: Games start at $45

A friend recently did this with her family and said it was a blast. According to the wbesite, it’s like a real-life video game, where teams of 4 to 6 suit up in hazmat gear, dodge lasers, and crack codes to disarm a giant Paint and Foam Bomb. You can do a one-hour experience or rent an immersive Game Bay where you can enjoy drinks and snacks from The Bomb Bar — sounds like a fun way to spend a dreary (or any) day! Note that it’s 21+ after 7:30pm.

Tennis, Anyone?
Where: East Potomac Tennis Center | East Potomac Park, DC
When: Daily
Admission: Court rentals $30-46/hour winter, $27/hour summer

Pickleball may be all the rage, but some of us still prefer old school tennis. You can practice your swings and serves (and volleys and overheads) indoors at East Potomac Tennis Center — a great place to go when the weather isn’t good for an outdoor game. Get a foursome together and reserve a court for some doubles play, or maybe even sign up for a lesson!

Dive in
Where: Several locations around the DC area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free for DC and/or county residents
Indulge in an unseasonal activity: Swimming! There are a bunch of public indoor pools around the area where you can take a dip. Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, Rumsey on Capitol Hill and Turkey Thicket in Brookland have kiddie pools, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim hours and make sure there are no random closings, which happen occasionally.

Spring Time
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $14

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.

Climb High
Where: SportRock Climbing Centers | Locations in VA & MD
When: Daily
Admission: Day passes start at $20/child, $22/adult
Scale the walls at facilities in Alexandria, Sterling, and Gaitherburg. With open belay and open climb hours on weekends and weekdays, it’s a great way to stay active when the elements aren’t cooperating (or even when they are). All locations offer thousands of feet of climbing space, that include 30-foot overhangs, a bouldering stalactite, and challenging scaling spaces (plus areas for beginners, too). SportRock also offers classes for those who want to take their climbing to the next level. Rates vary depending on what you want to do, so check the website for details.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $27.99/child, $18.99/age 2-4

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly R.99oger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas. Read more about Flight in this KFDC post.

Boulder On
Where: Bouldering Project | Eckington, DC
When: Daily
Admission: Day passes start at $22/youth, $30/adult

You can also climb in the city at the District’s only indoor climbing facility. Their aim is to challenge the mind as much as the body, according to the website, and the walls are designed with all styles and abilities in mind. Kids are welcome, and there are classes and camps (and birthday parties) just for them. If you think you’d go a few times, check out the membership options.

An O-So-Cool Adventure
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Starts at $30

Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of one of the coolest spots in DC: The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, secondhand store, and hotel all in one — and visitors are welcome to explore it all.  Plus, it’s a unique adventure in a truly stunning space.

Movie & A Meal
Where: The Alamo | Northeast DC & Crystal City, VA
When: Daily
Admission: $13/adult, $11/child, $12/senior
After 4pm – $15/adult, $13/child, $14/senior

The action here occurs on screen, but catching a flick is a great option on foul weather days (or anytime), even better when you can enjoy a meal with your movie, too. The Alamo is the only theater in the city where you can do that — and it’s a good one! The theaters are nice, the seating is comfortable, and the food is tasty. See , what’s playing there now.

 

Do you have a favorite place for indoor fun and games that you don’t see listed here?  Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under DC, Indoor Play, Maryland, Virginia

Now Open (and Amazing!): The LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two three young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them herehere, here, and here.]

 

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LEGO is, of course, a master at building the ultimate kids space. The brand new LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC is officially open in Virginia’s Springfield Town Center – just 30 minutes outside of the DC Metro area – and it may be the area’s coolest attraction yet. It targets ages 2-12, but regardless of your age or level of LEGO obsession, it is a must-see.

 

The LEGO Discovery Center features 12 zones with literally something for everyone. Your adventure begins with the Minifigure Creator zone., where you build your own LEGO figure that will be used throughout the experience, like for a photo-op in the LEGO Oval Office. (Fun tip: ask any staff member to trade minifigures and they have to, no questions asked!)

 

When you enter the main space, centered around the most incredible LEGO Tree of Togetherness, you may be overwhelmed with where to begin. Head straight for the Imagination Express to avoid any lines. I imagine this quick, interactive ride to be a small sampling of LEGOLAND rides, and, warning, your kids will want to do it more than once.

 

Before you head to the building zones, get inspired — and blown away — by the Mini World. No words can describe the extent of this exhibit built with over 1.5 million LEGO bricks, that includes DC’s most famous monuments, the National Mall, Nationals Park, and my kids’ favorite: an underground Metro train. Buttons and levers activate moving parts throughout.

 

You can do your own building at the Build Adventures zone and Spaceship Build & Scan zone. Construct vehicles to race on a volcanic, looped track, zip through a pyramid, or jump over an alligator. Then take your skills to the next out-of-this-world level. Build a rocket ship, scan it, set your mission settings, and launch it into cyber space.

 

If your kids have physical energy to burn after exercising their minds, head to the Hero Zone. Here you’ll find a small climbing gym and my family’s favorite feature, the Laser Maze, a “bank robbery” set up in LEGO City. Sneak through the laser beams at easy, medium, hard, and expert levels – fastest times are recorded for all to see!

 

Your littlest ones can bounce around DUPLO Park, where you’ll find a triceratops carousel, duck pond “fishing,” and more. After play time, it’s snack time. Head to the LEGO Café for treats and beverages. (Alternatively, the LEGO Discovery Center is located within a mall and surrounded by dining options—though re-entry is not permitted.)

 

Do NOT bypass the 4D Cinema during your visit, which offers a variety of LEGO short films (less than 15 minutes each) shown at scheduled intervals throughout the day. Put on your 3D glasses and prepare for light “snow,” water, and smoke to create that extra dimension. My son’s only complaint: the show was too short!

 

The Workshop is another zone with scheduled times where you can build along, step-by-step, with a Master Lego Builder. And if you haven’t exhausted your kids at this point, the Creative Club is yet another stop for open-ended designing and building.

And after what will easily be a half-day visit, exit through the Shop offering options to continue the creativity at home.

LEGO Discovery Center Washington DC
Where: Springfield Town Center | Springfield, VA 22150
When: 10AM – 6PM daily; last entry at 4:30PM
Admission: Starts at $28.99; free/age 2 & under | Purchase tickets in advance

 

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Filed under Indoor Play, Ongoing, Virginia

At-Home Toys Inspired by The Little Towns Children’s Museum

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ items as well as local explorations with little ones. See more of them here, herehere, and here.]

 

If you’re not ready to venture back into the DC area’s indoor play spaces, this post will bring one of my family’s favorite places to you. The Little Towns Children’s Museum opened during the pandemic and was somewhat of a secret until recently, with play sessions now filling up. The play space, designed for kids ages 6 months to 8 years, is modeled after a real town — and actual local businesses — with every storefront a child could imagine

Little Towns is more modern and impeccably detailed than some of the other mini town play places you may have been to. And the space is large yet contained, making it conducive to lots of independent play. You can follow your children around, or enjoy a moment of solitude in the café space. Along with limited capacity, Covid protocols include temperature checks, mask requirements, and sanitation between play sessions.

However, if you are keeping your activities to outdoor-only, I’ve highlighted our favorite features of the space below, along with at-home items they’ve inspired. Whether you’re ready to start your holiday shopping extra early, or just need more independent play — like asap — this list is for you.

 

The bakery, modeled after Georgetown Cupcake, is always the first place my kids go, and the one place they return to again before leaving.

At-Home: This Cupcake Party Game has been a long-standing hit in our home. My kids don’t actually play the game, they just put together the cupcakes—over and over and over again.

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After the bakery, my daughter always heads to the fire station to put on one of the complete firefighter ensembles.

At-Home: Dress-up has been an activity with the longest shelf life (pun intended) in my house. Mix up the princess dresses with dress up sets like this.

 

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The beauty salon is modeled after Drybar, and you’ll find little ones “styling” hair there with brushes, clips, and rollers for a surprisingly long amount of time.

At-Home: We paired this Elsa Styling Head with this Hair Salon Toy Kit to get lots of kid-initiated, independent play. The battery-operated, blowing hair dryer is a favorite.

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The kid-operated vehicles at Little Towns are my son’s favorite. He loops around and around the town until it’s time to let another patiently waiting kid have a turn.

At-Home: If you have a loop of open floor space in your home, I highly recommend an indoor-only vehicle. My best purchase of the year may be our plasma car, used for this purpose.

 

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The diner is the newest room at Little Towns and is so well done. Kids love to reverse roles here and serve their grown-ups—a nice change of pace, even if it is just pretend!

At-Home: Pretend food that kids can “cut” has been a winner for us, and is still one of our go-to quiet time activities. We have a fruit and veggie set; this set is fun too.

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A do-it-yourself grocery shopping experience is always a hit with little kids, and the grocery store at Little Towns is as real as the pretend ones get.

At-Home: Toy shopping carts have been a favorite of both of my kids at one point or another, more so than any other push toy. This pairs well with the pretend food mentioned above.

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The dance party room set-up for dancing and pretend DJing, takes the excitement up a notch—and is just so darn cool.

At-Home: We’ve had this kids microphone for several years and the magic of Bluetooth in a toy never gets old. This one with LED lights is great for older kids.

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Every kid must be the veterinarian at some point during their visit to Little Towns. They love to dress up and attend to one of the toy animals in the cages.

At-Home: Vet kits are maybe better for independent play than doctor kits, since grown-ups tend to be the patients for doctor check-ups. Stuffed animals can get endless check-ups!

 

What’s your child’s favorite pretend play activity? Share with us in the comments!

 

And if you’re up for out-of-the-house, in-person play…

The Little Towns Children’s Museum
Where: 4931 Wyaconda Road |North Bethesda, MD
When: Mon–Thurs, 9:30am–4:30pm; Fri–Sun, 9:30am – 7pm
Admission: $25/child for Open Play
*Reservations required (limited capacity); book in advance 

 

 

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Filed under Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Preschoolers, Product, Shop, Toddlers

Discover The Wonder, the DC Area’s Newest Play Spaces for Children

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.]  

 

Two moms on a mission defied a pandemic to open the play spaces of their — and your little ones — dreams. If and when you are ready to venture back out into the great indoors with your toddlers and preschoolers, put The Wonder on your list. You’ll (re)discover good old-fashioned creative play in seasonally-themed, modernized spaces.

My first impression of The Wonder – Chevy Chase: Playroom Goals. It is everything you’ve Pinterest-ed and more. The currently “vintage camp”-themed location is sleek yet cozy, with ways to play at every turn in the small space. The tee-pees, mini camper, and wooden rocking boat are standouts, but the biggest hit may be the bow-and-arrow and axe throwing corner — all kid-safe versions of course.

A wall full of toys eschews electronics and encourages creative and expressive play. I noted some of the updated yet stripped-down items like the dustless chalk and drawing boards, the trucks with interchangeable parts, and the build-your-own road set. The nearby tables and chairs seem set up for grown-ups to work or catch up with a friend while kids work on their independent play skills.

The Wonder – Arlington, located in the Ballston Quarter mall, is much larger and decked out in pool-themed decor for summer. The flamingo floatie and beach ball pit will draw your kids right in, and the mini mopeds will make them not want to leave (get ready for a good lesson in sharing!). The most unique feature is the tunneled climbing structure that will have your child asking, “are you sure I’m supposed to go up this?” and will require some bravery.

The Arlington location has separate rooms that make it well-equipped for birthday parties. And several areas are conducive to group play, like the Snack Shack taco/ice cream stand, the music corner, and dress-up station. Like the Chevy Chase location, it purposefully lacks fancy gadgets, but there is no shortage of things to do, and the two-hour play time passes before you know it.

There is much more to explore at each location, and even a “Superhero HQ” location to visit if you are ever in New York City. Plus, workshops like “Mad Scientist” and “Dream Bakery” are starting September 13! Check out all of the upcoming classes imagined for ages 0-7.

Even more, KidFriendly DC readers get a special discount when booking play time now through August 31, 2021! Enter promo code KidFriendlyDC5 when reserving your Day Pass online to receive $5 off.

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Where:
The Wonder – Chevy Chase is located at 5481B Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
The Wonder – Arlington is located at 4238 Wilson Blvd. #1295, Arlington, VA 22203

Summer Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 9am-1pm; Saturday 9am – 11am

Pricing:
Day Pass – $15, 5-Pack of Passes – $55, 10-Pack of Passes – $110

Reserve your play time in advance here. Please note, proof of vaccination for those eligible is required at all three locations. Read more about The Wonder’s Covid protocols here.

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Filed under Indoor Play, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend