In a way, having kids is like having dogs: you have to run them. Helping kids to get their energy out in creative or expressive ways is not only good for bedtime and the furniture, but it’s also good for the kids. Parents know this best (or suddenly remember it) on cold, wet, and wintry days. But when you have a skinny two-year-old who shivers no matter how many layers of clothes, or a four-year-old who won’t keep her boots on, it’s not always feasible to bundle them up and take them out to the playground. Luckily, people all over the Hudson Valley have already been there, and solved it, by creating a slew of indoor playspace options.
In Greene County, there’s KidZone, the indoor family recreation center with a variety of activities, including a ball pit. Dutchess County has Poughkidsie, which offers various settings for imaginative play as well as an art lab. Jumpin’ Jeepers in Putnam County provides a nut-free environment and gluten-free options in the café, along with theme days and special events. The Fun-e Farm in Ulster County specializes in bouncy houses. While KidZone is just for kids up to age 8, the rest tender to all ages. All are open most days and year-round, and offer affordable, all-day-play rates (usually under $15), as well as membership options and coupon packages.
Bounce in Poughkeepsie has an amazing array of trampoline courts where kids (and adults) can live the dream of slam dunking a basketball or playing the best game of dodgeball ever. There are afterschool classes and free time for older kids, along with a separate space for littles all day. It’s the priciest of the bunch, with an hourly rate, but makes up for that with lots of amenities like a swanky wi-fi lounge for parents and an arcade.
Some towns and cities run mostly-free cooperatives at community centers for the not-yet-in-school set (preschoolers, toddlers and babies). As of this week, they’re all open for business through mid-spring. All operate mid-week mornings and offer riding toys, balls, and small climbing structures on gym mats. The Little Rascals Open Gym at the Fishkill Recreation Center also has parachutes and musical instruments for kids 4 and under. They ask for contributions of just $3. New Paltz is run by parents, with support from the town, and volunteers are welcome. It’s best for kids under the age of 3, as the older ones easily outgrow the space. Saugerties’ is housed in a huge auditorium (with ample room to run) above the firehouse for an extra thrill. Along with free play options, Kingston’s playspace partners with the Seniors’ Lounge, also housed in the Murphy Midtown Center, to provide an inter-generational story time and craft. That’s scheduled this winter for 10:30a on Thursdays.
Indoor playspaces aren’t just a godsend for Hudson Valley families, they’re also great for socializing, gross motor skills, and exploration, and all in a warm space for winter.