Please note: This post has been updated and expanded for 2014. To read this year’s version, click here.
Well, my friends, the inevitable has happened. I woke up last week to a rainy, chilly Fall day and realized that colder days are just ahead. Unfortunately, this change in the weather means that I will no longer be able to take my kids to our favorite outdoor play areas as often as I would like. Thankfully, it also means that we get to revisit some of our favorite indoor play spaces instead! To get you all excited for all the family fun to be had in Pittsburgh over the colder months, I created this comprehensive Family Guide to Indoor Play Spaces in Pittsburgh and Vicinity. I have included information about play spaces geared toward young children in local museums, libraries, shopping venues, as well as stand-alone play spaces. In some cases, I have also provided details about their costs and locations as well as links to their websites. I have not included information about hours of operation because these details change frequently. Although I will do my best to update this post regularly, please note that information about these play spaces may change.
Stand-alone Play Spaces (organized by location):
In my humble opinion, the actual city of Pittsburgh has very few stand-alone play spaces (with the exception of the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library described below). I think the best indoor play spaces for young children within the city are usually those found in museums and to a lesser extent in the libraries. In contrast, many of the neighboring communities have stand-alone play spaces as well as play areas found in shopping venues. Additionally, many have pretty wonderful play spaces in their public libraries. I have not included places like Gymboree where you must register for classes or become members to use their spaces.
The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library (PTLL)
A perennial favorite for us, we have been members at the PTLL for several years now. This volunteer-run facility has toys geared to children up to kindergarten, including a specific enclosed area for babies. There is also a nice arts area, a kitchen, child-sized seating and highchairs, and lots more. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about it earlier this year. Also, there is a FREE Art Group running now on Thursday mornings! Plus, they have an extensive collection of toys to borrow (must be a member for this service).
Cost: First visit free, $5/child up to $10/family. Children under 1 are free. In addition, membership is available
Location: 5401 Center Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15232
A family-owned indoor play space filled with giant inflatables available for Open Play. We visited this facility several times last Winter after I got a Groupon and my kids loved it! Bring socks!
Cost: 3 yo and older $9, 2 yo $5, Free under 2
Location: 4025 Alpha Drive, Allison Park PA 15101
Wildwood Highlands is a massive entertainment complex that includes both outdoor and indoor play opportunities for both little and big kids. Kiddie City, a 4-level indoor jungle gym with slides, ball pits, and soft mats is specifically geared towards young children. Bring socks!
Cost: 4 yo and older $5, 2-3 yo $4, 23 months and younger FREE
Location: 2330 Wildwood Road, Hampton Township, PA 15101
Fun Fore All
A large entertainment complex with outdoor and indoor activities. Includes a large indoor play space for all ages called Ballocity. Also a separate area for toddlers.
Location: 8 Progress Avenue Cranberry Township, PA 16066
Bounce U of Warrendale
A play space filled with giant inflatables. Offers several different Open Bounce opportunities, including a Preschool Playdate option for children younger than 6.
Cost: $8.95/child; reservations encouraged
Location: 65 Warrendale-Bayne Rd., Warrendale, PA
An indoor trampoline park offering open jump, a Foam Zone, 3-D Dodgeball, and a basketball court. All ages are welcome!
- 30 minute open jump- $10
- 60 minute open jump- $13
- 90 minute open jump- $17
- 120 minute open jump- $20
Location: Sky Zone Leetsdale, 740 Brickworks Drive, Leetsdale, PA 15056
Gymsport Athletic Center
Gymsport offers Preschool Playtime for children who are preschool-aged or younger. Children can burn off energy on their large Jungle Gym and other age-appropriate equipment.
Location: 98 Vanadium Rd, Bldg C in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania (note: website warns that GPS may lead you down the street)
The Seesaw Center
An indoor play space geared toward children up to age kindergarten similar to the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library.
Location: 935 Pine Avenue Castle Shannon, PA 15234
Lilliput Towne Center
An indoor play space hosted by Lilliput Play Homes, makers of some of the cutest kid-sized buildings that I have ever seen. Although I’ve never been to this spot myself, I’ve heard that Lilliput Towne Center is a pretend miniature town that the kids can explore. Sounds really cool!
Cost: $10 for first child, $6 for siblings, non-walkers free
Location: 4125 Washington Rd, McMurray PA 15317
An interesting spot for young children to practice their fine motor skills through Lego play in the Discovery Center play space. Snapology just opened a new 5000+ sf space in Mt. Lebanon. It has lots more than Lego play too! Features an imagination playground, preschool play area, IPads with Lego games, remote slot car racing, and tons more.
Cost: $8/hr with opportunities to get a discounted rate if you buy multiple hours
Location: 1699 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228
Seabase Family Fun Center
A Greensburg family favorite–has 2 large indoor play gyms with tubes, mazes, and slides as well as a specific toddler play area.
Cost: Children 1-13yo $8, Adults FREE
Location: 770 East Pittsburgh Street, Greensburg, PA 15601
Shopping Venue Play Spaces
I have also included a category for shopping venue play spaces. At some of these places, parents can actually drop their children off while they do their shopping. At others, parents must be present.
Most of the local malls have free play areas where parents must stay with their kids. I have frequented some of these with my kids and found most of them to be pretty traditional in design. However, there are a few really creative play spaces, such as the Monroeville Mall’s Play Area modeled after Mister Roger’s Neighborhood of Make Believe. Also, Station Square‘s Freight House Shops has a (very) small train-themed play area with the Station Square Express, a trackless train that winds throughout the building.
Giggles and Smiles
The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills and the Monroeville Mall also have a play space called Giggles and Smiles. This is a supervised play area where you can drop your child (aged 3-10) off for up to 3 hours while you explore the mall (or even leave if you want). If your child is younger than age 3 then you must stay in the play area with them. Admission rates vary depending on the length of stay and number of children attending. As an example, if 1 child stays for 1 hour it costs $11/hr. If 1 child stays for 2 hours it costs $10/hr. Here’s a link to the pricing chart.
Other Shopping Venue Play Spaces
Eagle’s Nest Child Care at Giant Eagle
Select Giant Eagle locations offer the Eagle’s Nest Child Care option for parents to use while doing their grocery shopping. You can check your 3+ yo child into these facilities and they can play with a variety of imaginative play items, computers, arts supplies, etc. You MUST remain in the store!
IKEA Smaland Play Area at IKEA Pittsburgh
IKEA Pittsburgh also has a free supervised play area in the entrance lobby for children between the heights of 37″-54″ who are potty-trained. Kids can play for up to an hour while you shop! Also, the children’s department in the store has lots of toys available for the kids to play with. I frequently take my two year old to visit!
E2 Toys 2 Try
A unique toy store focusing on eco-friendly toys that promote creativity and imagination. Has a special indoor play area where children can test the toys while you shop!
Cost: $8/one child, $14/two siblings, $18/three or more siblings. Also, opportunities to get discounts if you purchase multiple visits at once
Location: 426 James Street, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania 15017
Fun Buy the Pound
A unique toy store in Sewickley, where children can play and build with the toys. Then, you can pay for their creations by the pound!
Cost: $2.75/hr, $1.50/half-hour
Location: 406 Beaver Street, Sewickley, PA 15143
We are huge fans of Pittsburgh’s many museums. In general, we purchase Family Memberships at local museums if we are planning on visiting them more than once per year because it ends up being more cost effective. Although I wish we could be members at them all, we have definitely had to limit our choices for financial reasons. Probably the single biggest factor that impacts our decision of whether we purchase a membership at a Museum or not, is the availability of a play space that our children really enjoy. Here’s my listing of Pittsburgh’s museums with information about their play spaces geared toward young children.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The Children’s Museum is an obvious choice for an indoor-type day. The entire facility is geared toward kids and there are plenty of play spaces for children of all ages and with all sorts of interests. To give you some examples: my 3 year old daughter loves flexing her creative muscles in both the Studio and the MAKESHOP. My 2 year old son loves splashing around in the newly renovated Waterplay exhibit (bring an extra set of clothes). Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about it when it first opened.
Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm
Cost: Adult: $13, Children >2 yo $12, Parking in the museum’s lot is $3 for members and $5 for nonmembers
Location: 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phipps Conservatory is one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. In fact, I love it so much that I actually got married there! Since having kids, it has also become one of my go-to destinations with them. My kids enjoy exploring the entire facility. However, they especially enjoy playing in their indoor play space, the Phipps Public Market. It is a pretend Farmer’s Market where the kids can put food into grocery carts and then pretend to check out at a cash register.
Hours of Operation: 9:30-5pm every day except open until 10pm on Friday nights. Also extended hours during the holidays
Cost: Adults $15, Children $11, Members Free, Free Parking
Location: 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Carnegie Science Center
We have only been to this museum a few times so far, but my kids really enjoyed exploring it. They especially liked the children’s play area called Exploration Station Jr where they played with the water table, practiced some building, played with balls, and lots more! In addition, the Miniature Railroad and Village was unbelievable. I could have spent hours exploring this part of the museum!
Hours of Operation: Sunday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm, Saturday- 10 am – 7 pm. Closed usually during Steelers home games. Also open later on Friday and Saturdays for Omnimax and Laser Shows and other special programming
Cost: Adults $17.95, Children (3-12) $11.95
Location: One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212
Carnegie Museum of Natural History (and Art)
Although we are not members of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (yet), we have visited this facility several times. My 3 year old loves exploring the entire museum, but my 2-year old son usually gets himself into trouble by trying to touch priceless artifacts (and everything else). The Museum does have a specific play area geared toward younger children called Discovery Basecamp. Unfortunately, the space is pretty small and geared more toward older toddlers and preschoolers. I will probably wait until my youngest gets a bit older before visiting this museum again. On a related note: there is no specific children’s play area in the adjoining Carnegie Museum of Art (although they do have the Lozziwurm outside to peruse on a nice day).
Hours of Operation: Tuesday–Saturday: 10–5 p.m, Thursday: 10-8 p.m, Sunday: noon–5 p.m, Hours will change in January
Cost: Members Free, Adults $17.95, Children >3 $11.95, Admission after 4 p.m. on Thursdays is $10 adult and $5 child
Location: 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
The National Aviary
Although the National Aviary does not have its own young child-specific play area, it is a still a great place to visit with the little ones. It is a nice alternative to the Pittsburgh Zoo on a wet, chilly day.
Hours of Operation: 10-5pm
Cost: Members Free, Adults $13, Children $11. Parking $5 for nonmembers, Parking is free for memberes
Location: 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Although the PPG Aquarium does not have its own specific play space for little ones, my kids still love exploring it. Unfortunately, it does not have its own separate entrance and is located far from the entry gates of the Pittsburgh Zoo at the top of a very large hill. For this reason, we rarely visit it during the colder, wet months.
Hours of Operation: 9am-5pm in the Fall, but hours change throughout the year
Cost: Entry included in Zoo admission, Members Free, Adults $14, Children $12. Rates change during the winter months
Location: 7340 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15206
I used to be a Carnegie Library junkie when I had my first child. I dragged her to libraries all over the city for free Mommy & Me-type classes almost every day of the week. In the process, I had a chance to check out the children’s play areas in them. Although I have definitely not visited ALL of the city’s libraries, I’ve seen a lot of them. In my opinion, the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library has the best play area for little kids within the city. They have some toys, puppets, activity cubes, etc. Also, it’s usually pretty busy with other kids, which makes it more fun! Also, I’ve heard good things about the Oakmont Carnegie Library, too!
Last year, I ventured outside of the city to visit a community library and discovered the Shaler North Hills Library. My GOD! This library is incredible. It blew away all the other city libraries I had visited previously. The Children’s Department is nicely tucked away on the 2nd Floor (away from the mean, grouchy adults who don’t like kids disturbing them). It has a huge selection of books and audiovisual items as well as TONS of classes for kids. In addition, it has a WONDERFUL large play space for kids. Plus, since it’s a member of the same library consortium as the Carnegie Libraries, you can return and check out books there. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about it.
Although I have not personally visited the Northland Public Library or the Bethel Park Public Library, I have also heard great things about their children’s play areas as well.
So, there you go! It’s my comprehensive (I hope!) list of indoor play spaces in Pittsburgh and its neighboring communities. I really hope you and your little ones have fun exploring some of these this Fall and Winter! Also, if I have missed anywhere, please comment below and I will add it to the list.
© Copyright 2013 Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
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