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
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!
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
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.
Where: Top Golf | National Harbor & Gaithersburg, MD
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.
Where: Escape the Room | Penn Quarter & Downtown, DC
When: Daily, various times
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.
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.
Where: East Potomac Tennis Center | East Potomac Park, DC
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!
Where: Several locations around the DC area
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.
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
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.
Where: SportRock Climbing Centers | Locations in VA & MD
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.
Where: Bouldering Project | Eckington, DC
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
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!