Indoor Playgrounds on Seattle's East Side

Entertaining toddlers during the gray, rainy winters in the Pacific Northwest is made much more bearable by the many indoor playgrounds within a twenty-minute drive of our home. 


Hanging out at the mall playground this morning. #seattlewinters #embracethegray

Bellevue Square Play Space. This play area is the only thing on the third floor of the Bellevue Square mall. It's clean, not too terribly crowded and, best of all, free! I like to combine it with a few returns or a quick browsing through Anthropologie. And we usually end our excursion with mini doughnuts from Top Pot.

 You know, just riding a giraffe at the children's museum.

Kids Quest Children's Museum. My parents gave us a membership here last Christmas. As it was about to expire, they ran a promotion - if you renewed, you got a free membership for a friend. So, a friend and I split the cost - $50 each for unlimited play for all our children for an entire year. That's hard to beat! In my opinion, it's way better than the Seattle Children's Museum downtown. I especially like that there's a separate, enclosed area for children under three. It's in the Factoria mall, so we usually combine it with a little browsing at Nordstrom Rack and a cheap lunch of bagels at Panera.

Balloons! Is there anything better?

Wiggle Works. This play area, in the Crossroads mall, is pretty pricey. The first child is $10 and siblings over age one are $8. It's a maybe once a year special treat. If you get a group of four other friends together and reserve in advance, the price goes down to $7 per child. There's plenty of cheaper fun to be had in the mall as well - we like to look in Half Price Books and the toy store, go on a few of the quarter rides, and grab ham-and-cheddar croissants from the French bakery for a light lunch.


The swing set showroom turns into an indoor playground during the week. So smart!

Rainbow Play Systems Show Room. This swing set show room doubles as an indoor play space during the week. Smart, right? It's open Monday through Wednesday for $6 a child. Our kids had a blast, but it's not a great place to meet friends because you'll end up sprawled all over the room helping your children on the various play structures and will have no time to visit with each other. There are baby swings, but they're scattered around the room as well.

A rather stoic Maggie at the jumping place this morning.

Pump It Up. One of those places with lots of inflatables to jump on. It's open Tuesday through Thursday - $7 for the first kid and $5 for siblings. We met all our friends from playgroup here over Thanksgiving break and it was much easier for the moms to chat. Just like the rainbow showroom, it's a little hard for kids under two to manage without direct supervision.

Maggie had no fear at the trampoline place this morning.

Sky Mania. This is basically just an gigantic trampoline. It's the simplest concept of all the places in Kirkland but probably my favorite. Open Tuesday through Wednesday for $5 per child, so it's also the cheapest option. We went with playgroup over Christmas break and even just barely walking Maggie was happy to bounce around with a ball while I got to chat with friends.

We probably go to Bellevue Square and KidsQuest once a month, but we just made one trip each to the other four this winter. Now, if you have an under nine-month-old baby, I wouldn't really recommend any of these spots. However, you could take advantage of another option: mom's morning at the movies! Both the Lincoln Square Cinema in Bellevue and the Parkplace Cinema in Kirkland offer morning showings of films (not-necessarily kid appropriate) during which babies are welcome. The Bellevue showings are every Thursday at 10:00 and the Kirkland showings are every other Friday at 9:45.

Still on my list:
Lil Diggers indoor sandbox - This is in Georgetown, so it's a little bit of hike, but it's an indoor volleyball court that doubles as a giant sandbox on weekday mornings.
Snohomish Aquatic Center - Also a bit of a hike, but this indoor pool has a beach entrance shallow end and a spray/play area with special preschool hours each morning. Important note: one adult can only accompany two children under the age of six.

Bainbridge Island also has an aquatic center and a children's museum, but I'd probably only venture there with Adam or with visitors. On this list, I specifically included places that I'd go during the week, either by myself or to meet friends. I'll have to devote a separate post to activities for rainy Saturday mornings!

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