I used to go to indoor play parks only when it rained. Now I go when it’s over 100 degrees as well. At this time of year, it could be either.
“We are an indoor play center,” said Jill at Kid Ventures in Liberty Station (619-573-9625; two other locations at Eastlake and 4S Ranch). “We have a castle with lights, a pirate ship with gangplanks for the kids to walk up, a rock wall, a theater, and dress-up costumes. There’s also a market and a fire station. We do activities every 30 minutes; it might be a craft or it might be an obstacle course. We also host birthday parties, and we have a preschool program onsite.”
Your day-pass ($18 for a single child; $9 for each additional sibling; babies under 12 months $5 if not accompanied by paid child; adults free) gets you in-and-out privileges, and there is an outdoor patio for dining. “And we have a café that sells food and drinks. But we do not allow food and drink inside the play center, and everyone needs to wear socks.”(Discounts available; call for details.) Hours: Monday, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; Tuesday–Friday, 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–noon; Sunday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
My friend Mimi favors Play Town in El Cajon (619-447-PLAY). “I take my two- and four-year-old there. The climbing structures are designed with younger kids in mind; everything is easy to reach. They have things like a small plastic castle, rocking horses, wheeled sit-on scooters and cars, tube slides, and bouncy houses. My kids love to flop in the bean bag chairs.” Play Town also offers extra events and classes: story time on Monday is free with paid admission, but a small additional fee is required from non-members for craft time, mess time, or music time.
Admission is $11 per child, $9 for each additional sibling. Babies under 12 months $5 if not accompanied by paid child. Discounts are available; call for details. Monthly passes are $40 per child, $30 for each additional sibling. Socks are required for both adults and children. Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; call for weekends as hours vary.
Socks are also a requirement over at the Playground in La Mesa’s Grossmont Center (619-916-9963). There, you can bring your own food for snacking, but they ask that it not be nuts or anything messy. Play area is geared toward kids ten and under, but there is a separate space for two and under. Soft playground equipment includes a climbing structure, a trampoline with foam blocks, and a ball blaster area, as well as wheeled fun and puzzles. The playground is also available for private parties.
Admission is $14.95 per child, $11.95 per additional child; six months and up but not yet walking is $10.95. Two adults free with each paid child, $5 for each additional adult. Monday and Wednesday special pricing of $10.95 per child. Hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday. Hours are subject to change in the case of private events.
Adults have to wear socks at We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym in Carmel Mountain (858-798-5353), but kids can let their little piggies breathe free. “We are a kids’ gym specialized for kids who are on the autism spectrum or who have other special needs,” says Carmen, “but we do welcome all kids. Our equipment may seem standard, but a good number of items are designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. Things like the zipline, the carpet spinning swing, and the hammock swing. Of course, we also have slides, tunnels, trampolines, and climbing structures. And there are toys: train tracks, kitchen sets, and costumes. There’s an arts-and-crafts room; in back, we have a quiet room where kids can build puzzles or read books. And check out our website for special classes in things like yoga, martial arts, or autism movement.” Guests can bring in snacks, but they must be consumed in the lobby eating area.
Admission is $12 per child, $10 for each additional sibling. Discount price for military: $10. An all-day pass with in-and-out privileges costs $20. Discounts available for packages or monthly memberships. (Call for details.) Hours: 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday, though Carmen advises calling to confirm or checking the Facebook page, as hours may vary.