Baby, it's cold outside! What's a parent to do after all the snow angels have been swooshed, too many videos have been watched and the kids' pent-up energy is making everyone a little edgy? Consider indoor playgrounds.
For a modest fee, children can bounce, run, jump and slide while parents relax and maybe even chat with one another. Most places have "open play" times (infants and adults usually don't pay to enter) with no reservations required and staff to help. Many are in airy hangar-type settings with lots of room for romping.
Brian McMillan, pastor of the Centerpoint Church of Bellmore, says he enjoys taking his sons, Conor, 2 and Brady, 4, to Le Play Cafe in Bellmore. The venue is divided in two with a low wall so parents can watch the little ones while they sit at the cafe. "I bring my laptop, jump on the Wi-Fi and my kids go and play," McMillan says. "I get a cup of coffee, get work done and I feel productive."
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday (open seven days a week in July and August) at 11 Davis Ave., Garden City
WHAT: Some kids call it the spider's nest and others the climbing thing, but either way it's a two-story labyrinth of fun. The undulating pathway inspires imaginations. "Some kids think of it as an ocean or as mountains," says Maureen Mangan, museum spokeswoman. A ramp surrounding the climber accommodates parents with strollers as well as wheelchair users.
INFO: Kids must be at least 42 inches tall to enter the climbing structure; general museum admission is $10 for ages 1-64, $9 for those over 64; 516-224-5800, licm.org
WHEN | WHERE: Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 1074 Pulaski St., Riverhead
WHAT: Kids won't get bored with inflatable bouncers, video games and a 1,000-square-foot four-level playground boasting tubes, tunnels, slides and obstacle courses that can hold about 100 kids. Nursing moms have their own room, and the Lion's Den Cafe offers healthy options like salad. "It's a place where kids can get their energy out and the moms can bond and talk," says Donna Boughal of East Quogue during a visit last week with daughter, Maiya, 3, and friends Tracy Belmonte of East Moriches and her son, Dean Tristan, 3. She says other indoor playgrounds they'd visited were not nearly as spotless as Safari Adventure.
INFO: $12 for kids over 3, $8 for kids under 3; 631-727-4386, thesafariadventure.com
THE CHILDREN'S SAFARI
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 6 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream
WHAT: "The kids really enjoy it there," says Candi Callahan of New Hyde Park, who brings her sons, Ryan, 17 months, and Nicholas, 4, here often. "They meet other kids. All the toys are age-appropriate. It's supervised and the entrance and exits to the play areas are blocked so the kid can't leave without you seeing them." Kids can get their first taste of rock climbing here, along with sampling a sand pit, arcade games and a multilevel climbing unit of slides and tunnels. In the stuffing area, they can make a safari friend. Upcoming monthly theme events include a winter treasure hunt carnival and arts and crafts hosted by "Toy Story" characters.
INFO: $11 for kids from 1 to 12, $15 for events; 516-872-2600, thechildrenssafari.com
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 2465 Merrick Rd., Bellmore
WHAT: Lounge with a cup of coffee and schmooze with a friend while watching the offspring play under supervision. Half cafe, half play area for preschoolers, Le Play has a low wall separating the two zones. For the little ones: stations where they can climb, dress up, play musical instruments and pretend to bake or shop in a market. And if mom or dad wants to bring the toy cookies home, they're available for purchase in the shop. "Parents and children can both relax and have a good time," says owner Katrina Wells. "They're separate and they're together."
INFO: $10.95 for children under 6, siblings $7.45; 516-308-7053, leplaycafe.com
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday and noon to 2 p.m. at 1835 New Hwy., Farmingdale,
WHAT: This creatively named establishment (an owner invented the word "Slydos," which has no meaning but is supposed to be fun, silly and catchy) boasts a variety of inflatable structures, including a double racing slide, a pirate ship bouncer and ones for shooting basketballs.
INFO: $12 per child 5 and younger; 631-752-2324, bouncersandslydos.com
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 151 Dupont St., Plainview
WHAT: A real eucalyptus tree trucked in from California standing 18 feet high serves as an enchanting treehouse. Kids can also explore a village: train station, grocery store, schoolhouse and other rooms with interactive play.
INFO: $12 per walker up to age 7, $6 per crawler; 516-349-1140, onceuponatreetop.com
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday at 111 Milbar Blvd., Farmingdale
WHAT: Kids can test ride all the WoodKingdom swing and play sets in this showroom. (The swings have been removed to avoid anyone getting clunked.) Snack on free juice and cookies. If the kids fall in love with any of the equipment, be forewarned that a set can set you back anywhere from $1,000 to $14,000.
INFO: $8 for ages 18 months to 7; 631-845-3804, woodkingdom.com
WHAT: The three-level adventure maze sports tunnels, web climbs and a spiral slide. In the rock-climbing zone, younger climbers can try the traverse wall that is two feet off the ground while older ones can go up with a harness. There's also a gym for playing softball, soccer and basketball and a toddler area.
INFO: Adventure maze: $10 per child, ages 3 through 12, rock climbing $15 ages 3 through 12, combo pack of $20 for adventure maze and rock climbing; 516-621-6600, activekidzlongisland.com
WHEN | WHERE: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week at 200 Wilson St., Port Jefferson Station
WHAT: The centerpiece of the space is a tower with five trampolines - one on top of the other - surrounded by slides on both sides. There's climbing equipment, an obstacle course, a toddler area and a Moon Room with rubber mulch that interacts with sand toys.
INFO: $13 ages 2 to 15, $6 ages 1 to 2, free for infants and over 15; 631-331-9000, fun4all-ny.org