Maryland’s best indoor play areas on the cheap

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Open play at area museums

Chesapeake Children's Museum, Annapolis
Kids can climb aboard a 10-foot boat and "pier" to don a lifejacket or catch plush fish and crabs in the museum. Or they can check out an authentic dentist's chair with instruments or the doctor's area with a human body Stuffee. The Express Yourself art station offers a variety of self-serve art materials. Young engineers can build endless creations at the train table and blocks stations.
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5
25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis
410-990-1993 or

IndoorPlayBuildngMuseum5WNational Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
The construction play space at the National Building Museum has a Building Zone with an exploratory room designed for kids ages 2 to 6 that features blocks of every kind. Kids can drive bulldozers and trucks in the construction zone, build a tower or brick wall, curl up in the book nook or try on some construction gear.
Older kids can check out the Play, Work, Build exhibit where they can build small-scale structures, participate in virtual block play or use supersized foam blocks to exercise their muscles and mind.
Hours: Building Zone open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Museum open until 5 p.m.
Cost: $7 for ages 3-17; $10 adults.
401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Robinson Nature Center, Columbia
Kids play for free on Wednesdays at the Robinson Nature Center in Columbia, when admission is waived. Visit the Discovery Room for hands-on fun with rocks, fossils and branches. Little ones can try on costumes, host a puppet show, check out the multiple aquariums, or build with blocks and Lincoln logs. At the Life of the Forest exhibit, kids can experience the sights and sounds of the forest.
Hours: Wed.-Sat, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
Cost: $5 Adults, $3 for ages 3-17.
6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia
410-313-0400 or

Other places to be active indoors

Play N Learn Playground Superstore, ColumbiaIndoorPlayPlayLearnW
This indoor store sells play sets with twisty slides, climbing walls and swings and hosts open play every day with tickets required on weekends. The indoor facility with safe rubber flooring has swingsets, basketball goals, trampolines, air hockey and foosball tables best suited to entertain ages 2-8. There are also baby swings for the really young ones. Shoppers can let their kids test out equipment on a complimentary basis, but families looking for dedicated playtime can pay $8 for two hours.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; call for weekend times.
Cost: $8; weekdays are walk-in but online tickets required for weekends.
New location: 9033 Red Branch Road,
410-992-0992 or here

Skate Zone, Crofton
The Skate Zone in Crofton hosts a ton of fun events, from its winter Blizzard Blast when it snows indoors, to its Summer Sprouts where kids 10 and younger can bring ride-on toys, small scooters and bikes to ride inside the rink. Admission includes skate rental and a small drink.
Hours: Mon., 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: $5
1082 Route 3 South, Crofton
410-721-7155 or

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