If you live in Houston, at some point you will desperately need an indoor playground. Whether it’s because of the heat, humidity, mosquitoes and rain or because you just need to get out of the house, a playground can be a welcome getaway. I’m not saying it’s a day at the spa. But, sometimes, a place where you can drink some coffee and watch your kid run around without wrecking your house can feel pretty close.
The really wonderful thing about playgrounds, though, is the diversity of kids that your kid can play with. As I watched my son play at different playgrounds, he engaged with kids of different jumping abilities, language abilities, ethnic backgrounds and upbringings. As long as the kids were nice and wanted to play, that’s all that mattered. And I loved that.
So here’s a rundown of indoor playgrounds from Sugar Land up to The Woodlands.
PAY TO PLAY
All of the paid indoor playgrounds have different personalities with pros and cons. All require socks. Be sure to call ahead on weekends for opening hours. Some modify hours based on birthday parties or exclusive events. Note: this list does not include bouncy house playgrounds. But check out Monkey Joe’s if that’s up your alley.
Giggles and Fun (Katy)—This is a great play space. The new owner has a background in early childhood development and the space reflects that. There is equal attention given to stimulating the imagination, developing social skills and developing large motor skills (aka running, jumping, climbing). The pretend play area has a Katy Hardware shop, General Store, Barn and Boutique—all with dress up costumes. If your kid wants a more chill environment, the “park” area has a reading space with books. A climbing wall, ball pit, soccer area, and all new playscapes should keep active kids busy. For the littles, there are separate under 2 and older toddler areas. While there, one of the mamas told the owner how great the newly updated space was. You know it’s a good thing when a mom starts gushing voluntarily. Certain months, the playground hosts activities like storytime. There’s no café but you can bring your own food and drinks.
Kid ‘N Play (Pearland)—Half playscape and half pretend play, this indoor playground has something for every kid. The owner’s goal was to have a playground while encouraging kids to use their imagination. There is a separate infant/toddler area and a playscape for older kids. The playscape is tall enough for moms and dads to enter without having to duck all the time. Yay! The pretend play area is a cute little town. The “road” is lined with shops and buildings. Plenty of costumes and props stimulate kids’ imaginations. You can visit the pretend fire station, boutique, “Abuela’s house” (Dora the Explorer anyone?), grocery store or hospital. While hanging out in the little town, one mom picked up a tambourine and started an impromptu music time for a crew of littles. So fun! If you or your kids need to refuel, there is a café with hot food.
Majestkids Playland (Sugar Land)—This indoor playground is pure play. There is a small toddler area with a big foam pit and soft play slides and props. It’s loads of fun for the littles. For older toddlers and preschoolers, there is a nice playscape next to the foam pit, so you can keep an eye on both areas. There is also a fun, bigger play structure. The only thing I don’t like is the drop off from the bottom of the slide. If you have little ones, just watch that your child doesn’t land on their bottom and then fall backwards against the slide. The jumping pillow area has plenty of padding around it, but I tried to keep my son off of it when there were bigger kids on it jumping hard and high. The foam building blocks seem to be a hit with many kids. And there is a couch conveniently placed there for the parents. If your kids get hungry, the café makes pretty good pizza…and plenty of coffee for mamas.
We Rock the Spectrum (Sugar Land)—This indoor playground is designed to be a calmer play space for kids of all abilities. You won’t find a typical playscape. Instead, active kids can explore the rock wall, mini zip line, foam swings and trampoline. There is a small pretend play area and an activity area with lots of table top learning activities, crafts, puzzles and sensory play. My son’s favorites were the tabletop train tracks and the zip line. In case your child needs some quiet time, there is a calming room with toys and a tent. There aren’t any benches or tables for parents, so options are to sit on the floor or stay with your child. The playground sometimes holds special activities for kids and parents (check their page). There are other We Rock the Spectrum locations in Houston Memorial, Cypress, Katy and The Woodlands. All are individually owned.
Wonderwild (Houston Heights)—This is the only paid indoor playground inside the Beltway that made the list. It has an area for little kids and one for bigger kids. The little kids area has a playscape, an inflatable slide with a massive crocodile on top, jumping pillow, pretend play kitchen and lots of soft play structures. The bigger kids climbing zone has some cool tire swings and a tricycle track below the structure. Wonderwild definitely has some unique features that differentiate it from other playgrounds. This is also a bring your own snack kind of place.
Hooray (Katy)—Located in Cinco Ranch, this playground has fabulous play structures for older kids with cool tunnels, climbing nets and long slides. However, I was not a fan of the foam ball shooters. They kind of look like tennis ball machines and are really loud. You have to be careful not to get bonked in the head with one of the foam balls. My son seemed to keep slipping on the balls all over the floor, but I didn’t see any other kids doing that. Guess we need to work on some balance skills! The smaller playscape for toddlers is great and out of the way of the balls. There isn’t really an infant/small toddler area. It can get crowded when birthday parties are on, so go in the morning on weekends for a calmer atmosphere. There is a snack bar with coffee but no hot food.
We didn’t make it to the below two playgrounds but wanted to mention them for those that live in Southeast Houston/Friendswood/League City area or in the Woodlands.
Houston Party Playland (Webster)
Kanga’s Indoor Play Center (The Woodlands)
FREE INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS
There are several malls with play areas these days (including Willowbrook Mall, Katy Mills and the Woodlands Mall). The below two were our favorites.
Frolic’s Castle at Memorial City Mall (Houston)—This is supposed to be the biggest indoor mall playground in the world, so naturally, we had to go check it out. It is a good size with lots of magical creatures and dragons to climb on. The castle playscape is big, but it’s hard to see your kids unless you’re standing right at the castle gates. The good thing is that the structure is enclosed, and there’s always a security guard at the entrance, so kids just can’t run off (as mine would do). The toddler area is a little perplexing. There’s a rowboat to sit in and some other things to sit on, but it’s just not what I would have designed for toddlers. Littles would probably enjoy the tunnels in the main soft play area more anyway. Note that the play area is for kids 48” and under.
Little Galleria (Houston)—During the summer and on weekends, the Galleria can get very hectic and overwhelming for kids, so it’s nice to have a play space to take a break. Sponsored by MD Anderson Cancer Center, this soft play area is like a mini Uptown. Kids can crawl through the Williams Tower Tunnel, drive mini cars on Westheimer and climb on miniature versions of Galleria stores like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. (Not surprisingly, the Neiman Marcus building looks much better in foam than in real life.) This play area is not quite as entertaining as Frolic’s Castle, but it does the trick.
Church indoor playgrounds typically have more limited hours than the paid playgrounds and are usually closed to the public on weekends. The exception is Safari Stop, which has longer daily hours and is open on Saturdays, too. Below are ones that had websites and were also recommended by moms.
Main Street Indoor Park (First Methodist Houston)
Memorial Drive United Methodist Church (Houston)
Sugar Creek Baptist Church (Sugar Land)
Safari Stop (The Woodlands United Methodist Church)
Woodlands Church (The Woodlands)
Please share with other parents who could use this info.