6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

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These 6 indoor play areas offer inexpensive options for getting out all that pent up energy!

There are lots of places to play inside in Columbus – for that we are extremely thankful come winter! So many of them are free (see a list of over 20 here!) and we also have our fair share of fun play cafes (see a complete list here!) but this list is about places where kids can really run and play – places for LARGE muscle movement and getting out all the pent up energy that threatens to explode after being stuck inside in sub zero temperatures!

As my kids transition from toddler play to big kid play, I’m finding the answer to What Should We Do Today? requires a little closer assessment of their current energy level. There are lots of things we could do indoors, but some days they really need a space where they can run, jump, slide and climb!

These 6 places accomplish just that and, if you play your cards right, they don’t break the bank! 😉 All of these places are FREE or less (some way less) than $8/kid!

1. Recreations Outlet

trampoline

484 W. Olentangy/Powell Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065, 614-792-3700

This play equipment showroom features an area for kids to play during select hours. It includes large indoor play area features play equipment like slides, swings, climbing, etc., small soccer field, basketball hoops, play houses, trampolines and more.

Price: Monday-Friday: $6/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, Weekends: $8/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, School Holidays: $8/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play. Charitable play happens on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM for a donation of $2/child. Donations are given to local non-profit organizations.

More Details: See $2 Tuesdays: Recreations Outlet, Columbus Zoo and Tacos!

 Recreations Outlet in Powell, Ohio Recreations Outlet in Powell, Ohio


2. Galaxy Games and Golf

Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio

3700 Interchange Rd., Columbus, OH 43204, 614-351-8400

The FunGym at Galaxy Games and Golf includes ball pits, climbing, slides, tunnels and more. There is also a toddler area with a play house, ball pit and ride-on toys. The whole facility also includes mini-golf, an arcade and party rooms.

Price: Ages 1-2: $2.99, Ages 3-10: $4.99

  Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio


3. Central Park at Westerville Christian Church

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church, Westerville, Ohio

471 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081, 614-891-6842

This play area is open mid September through May: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM – 11:25 AM, Saturdays 10:00 AM – 11:30AM. It has an indoor climbing area including slides and a rock climbing area. Shoes must be removed for play!

Price: Free!

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church


4. The Naz Playplace

The Naz Playplace in Grove City, Ohio

4770 Hoover Rd, Grove City, OH 43123, 614-305-2034

This indoor play area has lots of opportunity for climbing, sliding and large muscle movement! Shoes must be removed and socks worn for play. Socks can be purchased for $1. There is a story time with crafts on Tuesday mornings! You can also register online before your first visit to save time! Outside the play area there is a cafe where you can purchase food and lots of seating!

Hours are: Sun: 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM, Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Price: Free!

The Naz Play place in Grove City, Ohio

The Naz Playplace in Grove City, Ohio


5. KidsGym Playland at Magic Mountain

Kids Gym at Magic Mountain Polaris, Ohio

Polaris: 8350 Lyra Drive, Columbus, OH 43240, East: 5890 Scarborough Blvd., Columbus, OH 43232, Polaris: 614-840-9600 East: 614-892-3335

Besides all of the outdoor activities and arcade, Magic Mountain offers an indoor KidsGym Playland. (These pictures are from the Polaris location.) The Playland is for kids 58 inches and under and includes a climbing gym with interactive elements and smaller climbing elements for toddlers.

Price: Ages 3 and up: $5 on weekdays and $6.50 on weekends Kids under age 3: $3 Toddler Thursdays: $2.50/child from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Labor Day through Memorial Day you can purchase a season pass for $35/person ($15 for additional siblings). Pass offers admission 7 days a week plus special discounts on additional add ons such as $1 off a kids combo meal.

KidsGym at Magic Mountain Polaris, Ohio

Kids Gym at Magic Mountain, Polaris, Ohio


6. Fun in the Jungle

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio

345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074, 740-913-0692

Inside Fun in the Jungle there is a large indoor play area, toddler soft play zone, mini bowling, virtual reality games, cafe with food and drinks, arcade games and room for parties. There are special needs sensory hours on the first Sunday of each month.

Price: Play place (for ages 0-10): $7/child for all day, Kids 2 and under are $2 during the week and $4 on the weekend, Additional costs for bowling, arcade  and virtual reality. Keep an eye on their social media pages for specials throughout the week!

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio


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Indoor Play Place Columbus, Ohio


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The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

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This list of Columbus’ indoor play areas and play cafes will keep you sane this winter!

I can’t remember anything like play cafes existing when I was a kid! And mostly I know, deep down inside, these places were invented for the adults more than the kids. 😉 Play cafes offer everything that’s good about an at-home play date minus everything that could go wrong. Nothing can get broken, there’s room to run, you don’t have to prepare a meal and you get to have a half-way decent conversation with your mom-friend while the kids are entertained! Here’s a list of Columbus’ Play Cafes and Indoor Play Areas. After reading this list, don’t forget to check out 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus or my list of 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus (it’s technically 21 because I keep it updated! 🙂 ).

Disclaimer: several of the play cafes listed here hosted my family to aid in the completion of this list. *Please make sure to check individual website links as hours of operation, special features and pricing may change with the seasons!*

1. Firefly Play Cafe

Location: 4822 N. High St., Columbus OH, 43214
Phone: 614-230-2375
Features: Indoor play area, coffee and snacks, birthday parties and special guests like Mr. Eric’s Music

Price: Kids age 12-24 months: $5, Kids 24 months and up: $8, Adults and children under 12 months: free

How to Save: Monthly and Quarterly Memberships are available

2. piccadilly

Location: 2501 E. Main St., Bexley, OH 43209
Phone: 614-725-0204
Features: Play area plus programs like toddler art classes, little sprouts yoga, culinary institute of piccadilly, and more. Also hosts parent’s play date where you can drop your kids off and have a night out. Cafe on site.

Price: Day Pass: $8 for first child, $5 for each additional sibling. Piccadilly Express Pass (35 min play): $4, Children up to 12 months are FREE, Kids ages 11 years and up are FREE.

How to Save: Happy Hours Special: $5 per child from 2:00-5:00 PM, purchase a membership for unlimited play and discounts on programming.

3. peapod play cafe

Location: 4874 Thompson Rd., Columbus, OH 43230
Phone: 614-855-2517
Features: Indoor play area for kids 7 and under, coffee bar, art classes and special events, birthday parties

Price: Walkers through age 7: $10.00 per child, $6.00 for each additional child, Three or more children: $4.00 each additional child, Adults and sibling age 8 and up: Free

How to Save: Happy Hour happens the last hour of each day and cost is just $5 per kid! You can also purchase a 10 visit punch card for $70.

More Details: See 3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Julie Borm

4. Tree of Life Play + Cafe

Location: 3708 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard OH 43026
Phone: 614-363-4041
Features: Indoor play area, cafe with full menu, birthday parties, coffee, special events

Price: $6.99 per child

How to Save: On Mondays and Tuesdays $9.99 admission includes a kids meal. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, $10 admission includes an hour of jump time at Get Air (next door) from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

More Details: See 3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Helen Bosacki 

5. Fun in the Jungle

Location: 345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074
Phone: 740-913-0692
Features: large indoor play area, toddler soft play zone, mini bowling, virtual reality games, cafe with food and drinks, arcade games, parties, special needs sensory hours on the first Sunday of each month.

Price: Play place: $7/child for all day, Kids 2 and under are $2 during the week and $4 on the weekend, Additional costs for bowling, arcade  and virtual reality.

How to Save: Toddler Hours for ages 4 and under happen on Saturday from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM and are $2/child, Weekday special is $5 for play place and $5 for arcade Tuesday-Thursday.

6. Recreations Outlet

Location: 484 W. Olentangy/Powell Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065
Phone: 614-792-3700
Features: Large indoor play area features play equipment like slides, swings, climbing, etc., small soccer field, basketball hoops, play houses, trampolines and more.

Price: Monday-Friday: $6/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, Weekends: $8/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, School Holidays: $8/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play

How to Save: Charitable play happens on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM for a donation of $2/child. Donations are given to local non-profit organizations.

More Details: See $2 Tuesdays: Recreations Outlet, Columbus Zoo and Tacos!

7. KidsGym Playland at Magic Mountain

Location: Polaris: 8350 Lyra Drive, Columbus, OH 43240, East: 5890 Scarborough Blvd., Columbus, OH 43232
Phone: Polaris: 614-840-9600 East: 614-892-3335
Features: Playland for kids 58 inches and under, includes a climbing gym with interactive elements

Price: Ages 3 and up: $5 on weekdays and $6.50 on weekends Kids under age 3: $3

How to Save: Labor Day through Memorial Day you can purchase a season pass for $35/person ($15 for additional siblings). Pass offers admission 7 days a week plus special discounts on additional add ons such as $1 off a kids combo meal.

8. Blue Monkey Parties and Events

Location: 591 Hill Rd. N., Pickerington, OH 43147
Phone: 614-828-8236
Features: Mostly available for parties, the center offers 5 inflatable areas, green screen and carnival games for birthday parties and events, however open play hours are available throughout the week. Visit their calendar for details.

Price: $10/child during open play hours

How to Save: Toddler hours for ages 1-4 are Thursdays from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM and are $7 for the first child, $5 for each additional child.

More Details: See: 3 Things to Do With Your Kids in Pickerington

9. little kidspace at COSI

Location: 333 West Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674
Features: Within COSI, kids 1st grade and under can play in the little kidspace on the second floor. This huge space includes water play, an art studio, imaginative play area including farm stand, house, barn and truck. Other play area features a medical theme with a doctor’s office, ambulance, helicopter and more!

Price: $25 for those age 13 and up, $20 for kids age 2-12, kids under 2 are free. Price includes admission to the entire museum.

How to Save: A membership is a must here to save money. While there are several membership levels, the Basic Family membership is $149/year. If you live in or relatively near Columbus, you could conceivably come here once a week, making your cost per visit less than $3 for the whole family!

10. The FunGym at Galaxy Golf and Games

Location: 3700 Interchange Rd., Columbus, OH 43204
Phone: 614-351-8400
Features: The whole facility includes mini-golf, an arcade, party rooms and a FunGym. The FunGym includes ball pits, climbing, slides, tunnels and more. There is also a toddler area with a play house, ball pit and ride-on toys.

Price: Ages 1-2: $2.99, Ages 3-10: $4.99

How to Save: Combos are available to include golf (seasonal) and the arcade. A Pizza Fun Deal features a large cheese pizza, pitcher, 15 tokens and a choice of two admissions to FunGym or Golf.

*Please make sure to check individual website links as hours of operation, special features and pricing may change with the seasons!


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ICYMI: 3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Malini Swank

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NEW! Children’s Play Area at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing

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On May 25, 2017, The Mall at Tuttle Crossing launched a soft opening of the new Children’s Play Area, beginning with an 8 AM sneak peek for local bloggers and their kids! Your kids can play here now, too, but the official Grand Opening is this Friday, June 2, 2017 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM! To celebrate, there will be a ribbon cutting, face painting, a balloon artist and an opening statement from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

The play area uses the theme STEAM. No, not STEM, STEAM! I’m happy to report they’ve added an “A” for Art, a movement created by the Rhode Island School of Design! Good for them!

There are 5 main activity areas, each representing a letter of the acronym STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

1. Science Scramble:

On one side of the square cards, you can put a science-themed puzzle together. With the other side, you can play tic-tac-toe with periodic elements!

2. Techno Tunes:

Make music with the power of technology! By stepping on the squares in front of the rainbow steps (which lead to a slide!) you can play a tune with the sounds of different instruments! One thing I appreciated here was that music was always playing, but it was NOT loud! 🙂

3. Wonder Wall:

At the Wonder Wall (who’s singing Oasis?) you can use levers, pulleys, wheels and other simple machines to move a ball up through the maze and back down again. This one was a hit with my kids!

4. My Art Gallery:

Tap, slide and pinch with your fingers to choose the scene of your art work, add items to it, enlarge them and then change the style. There are three “easels” to work on around the wall. When you’re done you can email the artwork to Grandma (or whomever you choose)! When you tap “Finish,” the screen says LOOK UP! and your artwork is then displayed on the screen above you! The look on my 2 year old’s face when this happened was priceless!

5. Tile Table:

The Tile Table was, by far, my 5 year old’s favorite station. This was popular with lots of the kids! I apologize to all the kids out there who wanted a literal piece of the action as he stood guarding his castle, making sure it didn’t get knocked down.

In addition to the 5 activity areas, there is an additional toddler zone, STEAM Jr., which is separated from the other areas by a soft, immovable barrier.

My kids, age 2 and 5, were engaged for 3.5 hours at this play area! Honestly, that’s the longest they’ve ever spent at a mall play area before begging me to move on! I had to pry them away because I was hungry!!

Let’s address the number one comment/question I received on social media! There are no more walls! Will this be an issue? For the majority of preschool-aged children? I don’t think so. For your 9 month old crawlers? I don’t think so. For your 18 month old runners? Yes it will be.

After the sneak peek, the mall opened and the play area got busy! There were one or two runners during that time, but most of the kids were engaged in the activities that were presented. There is definitely a shift in focus from large muscle play to fine muscle activities. This isn’t a play area for running around, climbing and sliding, though there is room for a little bit of that.

The truth is that the soft toddler barriers are not large enough to keep bigger kids out and the lack of a barrier around the general play area also allows teenagers in, which I did witness the day I was there.

These are some logistical things that we as parents will encounter, HOWEVER, in my mind, the benefits and engagement level of the activities here outweighs the negatives. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my kids back here to play. The play area was designed by designers who create a lot of children’s museums, and I think if you shift your focus from what the play area at Tuttle used to be (gross/large muscle), to thinking of this as a small section of a STEAM children’s museum, you’ll be on target with what the play area is designed to be!

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