As a mom of toddlers, I’ve become pretty picky about mall play areas. There are three in Anne Arundel County that I’ve frequented with my boys enough to feel qualified to review their pros and cons.
Due to proximity, the Westfield Annapolis Mall play area is our usual location for play dates and quick gotta-get-out-of-the-house-NOW trips.
- Covered parking garage with entrance directly into the play area.
- Starbucks a few stores down from play area.
- Small food court near play area that has two awesome large fish tanks.
- Great family restroom in food court area that has a lounge with kid seating and TV, baby changing stations, vending machine with toddler snacks and drinks and two large bathroom stalls with both little and big potties.
- Nautical-themed play area with soft floor, two slides, three climbable structures (a submarine and giant octopus), hands-on activities along the wall like bubbles that make sounds, cubby wall for shoes (wish it was outside the play area though, as my little one likes to pull all the shoes out), benches lining the walls for parents to sit and hand sanitizer station at the entrance/exit.
- Play area is kept fairly clean and closes a couple times a day for disinfecting.
- Small play area, and usually very crowded, as it’s the only play area in the mall.
- A ride-on train is parked right outside the play area. (Many a meltdown has ensued because mommy doesn’t want to pay $6 per person to ride it.)
- Small food court currently has a limited menu for toddlers, and the closest Chick-Fil-A or pizza place is on the opposite end of the mall.
- The frozen yogurt place and Moonbounce center inside the small food court are costly attractions.
My next choice is the play area at Arundel Mills in Hanover. I go here for stroller walks because the mall is one big loop that’s a little over a mile, so three or four times around is a great workout.
- Maryland-themed play area with soft floor, fun replica of the Thomas Point Lighthouse with a slide, a giant tree slide that’s bumpy which my boys love, fun things to climb on like a Maryland Blue Crab and an Oriole in a birdbath that tweets when stood on, an area with a fun mirror and things to spin and turn, a piano wall that makes sounds when touched and lots of benches with shoe cubbies under them.
- Starbucks not too far from play area.
- Bass Pro Shop nearby which has a gigantic fish tank, airplane hanging from ceiling, waterfall and tons of stuffed animals around the store.
- Play area is small.
- A coin carousel right outside the play area.
- No hand sanitizer or schedule of cleaning times, so not sure how often it gets cleaned.
Marley Station Mall
Our last choice is the play area at Marley Station Mall. We go here for specific activities throughout the year, like the Train Garden at Christmas.
- Very large storybook-themed play area with soft floor, large and small things to climb on (like giant books, rulers, pencils) and a slide with tunnel underneath.
- Benches to sit and tables around the outside perimeter.
- No major distractions close-by to lure kids out of the play area.
- Not the cleanest play area, but hand sanitizers are at the exits.
- Two entrances/exits to play area which makes it hard to keep a lookout for escaping toddlers.
- Crowded, mainly with older children, whenever we’ve gone.
- Not close to food court or coffee.
So the next time it’s a cold, dreary winter day and you’re wondering which mall could help you kill some time with overly energetic kiddos, I hope these reviews help you out!
Check out a story on cheap or free indoor play spaces in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area here
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.