We love to spend time outside, but on rainy or hot sticky days, there are many indoor alternatives.  Here are 37 ideas!!

If after reading this, you are still hungry for more ideas, check out No Monsters in My Bed’s great post for even more ideas to get you out of the summer heat or rain.

Indoor Playgrounds

Knee High Ninja

An indoor playground in Falls Church, located at the Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do.  Walkers” are $8 per child and $7 per additional sibling. “Infants/Crawlers” are $5.  There are lots of brightly colored climbing structures, and plenty of room to run around and play on the mats.  We have visited this playground, and really like it.  Our Kids also has a great review of the play area.


JWT Playzone

The JWT Playzone is located at JW Tumbles in N. Arlington, and is in a separate room from the Tumbles gym.  There are tons of climbing structures with tunnels to climb through and balls to climb over.  There are also slides, ropes and an obstacle type course.  Plenty to keep your kids busy for a few hours.  The website is not very helpful in giving information about the Playzone, or about the times in which it is open.  However, if you get on their mailing list, you will receive daily emails with open gym times.  Members enrolled in a class are $6, members not currently in a class are $8, and non-members are $10.  Siblings are 1/2 off.  Check out what The Meanest Momma had to say about this playground.  She has some great pictures to give you an idea about what to expect!


MoBu Kids Open Play

MoBu Kids is another large playroom in Falls Church (locally owned), with tons of balls, some slides, climbing structures (a banana, turtle, and a worm), a “tree house”, small trampoline, and rooms to run and play.  Again, not a great site for describing what open play entails.  Open gym is available most weekdays, and the cost is $8 for drop in per child for one hour of play.


Chinquapin Alexandria Soft Playroom

The playroom is located in Alexandria, and is designed for children five and younger, with play areas filled with soft toys and climbing structures.  We have been here a few times, and really like it.  I would say that it is better for those 3-4 and under.  It is especially a great place for little ones that aren’t quite steady on their feet- they can climb arounbd without fear of getting hurt.  Hours are 9am-5pm on weekdays. Cost is $4 per child, per half hour.


Mall Play Areas

Tysons Corner National Geographic Kids Play Area

Located in McLean, this play area has a recycling there.  There is plenty to climb on and K really likes to play there.  The main issue with this play area is that it is very popular.  It can get really crowded!  See The Meanest Momma’s review for more info.


The Woodlands at Landmark Mall Play Area

Landmark Mall in Alexandria is usually pretty empty, and although their play area is not enclosed, it is a really fun play area.  There are only a few things to climb, but kids have a great time running around on the super springy floor.


Open Playtimes

Barcroft Sports and Fitness Playgroup

Located in S. Arlington off Four Mile Run Dr, this playgroup is available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-12pm.  The play area is the huge main gym and there are toys, balls, bikes, cars, and walkers available.  Because the area is so big, the older kids can run around and ride bikes, and the littler ones can still play without (too much) fear of  trike hit and run.  It can get hectic with older kids, but other moms and dads have always been pretty hands on when we have been there.  Cost is $3 per adult (free for members).  No registration is required!


Falls Church Community Center

Meanest Momma suggests this Falls Church community center playtime.  It is open 10am – 12pm on Friday mornings.  There is padded equipment, tunnels, and riding equipment to play with.  Call the gym hotline at 703.248.5125 to confirm that tot time is happening before you go.

Nannie J. Lee Recreation Center Mother’s Play Group

This playgroup is in Alexandria, and is for infant – 4 years.  They meet every Wednesday from 10am – 11:30pm.  Parents and children interact with others through play and activities.  It is free to City residents only.


Nature Centers

Nature centers are a fantastic place to visit with kids.  They have great indoor areas to explore and play, and are surrounded by shaded wooded areas to explore even further.  Check out this post for more lot more places to visit nature.

Gulf Branch Nature Center

The Nature Center in N. Arlington is located in an old converted house.  Inside is a bee hive, snakes, turtles, an owl, puzzles and books, animal masks, coloring corners and activity stations, gardens, a viewing pond, a hollowed-out log/canoe, and pods and cones for touching, smelling and exploring.


Long Branch Nature Center

The S. Arlington Nature Center has various exhibits, the Children’s Discovery Room with books, puppets, and toys, live animal displays, interpretive gardens, and a viewing pond.


Potomac Overlook Nature Center

In North Arlington, Potomac Overlook has over 70 acres of woodland, trails, gardens, a small picnic area, and a Nature Center.  The Nature Center features live snakes, turtles and fish.  Next to the Nature Center is an exhibit featuring 4 rehabilitated birds of prey, including 3 owls and a hawk!  In the picnic area next to the nature center is a table for the kids, as well as chairs and picnic tables for adults. There is also a butterfly garden and lots of room to run.  It is all shaded, so even if it is hot, we won’t fry!  There is also a playground right next to the parking lot.  Follow Marcey Rd to the end, and you will see the parking lot.  Follow the paved trail and walk down to nature center. It is very stroller accessible and a bit of a walk for young legs, so a stroller may be a good idea for youngsters.


Hidden Oaks Nature Center

The playroom of this Annandale nature center is quite large and perfect for kids. There are lots of interactive stations for the kids, like drawers in walls, indoor climbing structures,various animal exhibits, tents, and toys.  There is also a tower/play structure for them to climb on, places for dress up, and many books and stuffed animals in the book area.  There is even an indoor turtle pond!  It is a pretty contained area, so it also a great place to meet friends and hang out.  We love this nature center!  It is also home to Nature Playce, an 1/3-acre, free-play outdoor area outdoor play area designed to safely introduce youngsters to the wonders of nature.  In Nature Playce, there is a small pond/mini-waterfall, In addition, there is a wooden sandbox and plastic wading pool with plastic dinosaurs to play.


Places to hear Weekly Kids Music

Dulles Town Center

Kids Club in Dulles is every Thursday at Dulles Town Center, lower level outside of Sears.  At 11am Rocknoceros performs, and it is free!


Jammin’ Java

Located in Vienna, Jammin’ Java is a great venue to hear the up and coming bands, and is a really fun place to hear kid’s music.  Every day of the week at 10:30am is a different show: Mondays are THE GREAT ZUCCHINI, Tuesdays are MR. DON, Wednesdays are ROCKNOCEROS, Thursdays are OH SUSANNAH, and Fridays are BANJO MAN.  They also have great shows on the weekend.


Lebanese Taverna

The N. Arlington location has Kids Day every Wednesday from 10am – 11am.  The Banjo Man plays on the first Wednesday of the month, Groovy on the second and fourth Wednesday, Oh! Susanah! on the thurd Wednesday, and Ukelele Phil on the fifth Wednesday.  After the show, children enjoy complimentary lunch with each adult purchasing a sandwich platter, mezza platter, or entrèe.


St. Elmo’s Coffee Shop

In the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, every Monday at 3:30pm Groovy Nate performs at St. Elmo’s Coffee Shop.


Tyson’s Corner

Kid Krusaders Kids Club Fiesta! is every Wednesday from 11am – 2pm in McLean.  Enjoy caricatures, balloon animals, and face painting in the Food Court on Level 3.  Kids can sing and dance along to Mr. Knick Knack.



Barnes and Noble- Clarendon Market Commons, Arlington

Saturdays and Wednesdays at 10am


Barston’s Child’s Play- Arlington

A storytime for all ages, featuring board books and picture books.  Fridays at 10:30.


Pentagon City Borders- Arlington

Storytime on Tuesdays at Pentagon City Borders is not one to be missed.  Mary has worked there for over four years and hosts a great storytime with songs and stories.  Although their site says that it starts at 10:30, it never gets started until 11.


Kinder Haus Toys- Arlington

Kinder Haus Toys has Storytime every Monday and Friday at 10:30am.


One More Page Books- Arlington

Story Time with Katie- Fridays at 11am for babies and toddler, and Saturdays at 11am for preschoolers and kindergartners


Hooray for Books- Alexandria VA

Fridays and Saturdays @ 10:30am. Wee Ones Storytime for children 2 and under.


Alexandria Public Library Storytimes

Each branch has regular story programs for different age groups. Because of high demand and limited space, a few programs require registration.   Click here for the event calendar.


Mary Riley Styles Public Library- Falls Church

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays @ 10:30 am



International Spy Museum

The Spy Museum in Washington, DC has many programs, workshops, demonstrations, and action-packed missions for mini-spies.  There are workshops on disguise, gadgetry, spy science, codes and ciphers; Spy Magic performances; Spies on Screen; Operation Secret Slumber overnights; and Spy camps are offered on a monthly basis.


Library of Congress

Even if your kids are too young to understand where they are, this Washington, DC building is really fun to explore.  The Great Hall is amazing, and the tunnels between the Capitol, Jefferson Building, and Library are a lot of fun to take.  There is also a Young Readers Center that has three rooms and a collection of about 2,000 books.  Kids are invited to come and read the books while they are visiting.  There is also an interesting Discovery Guide that kids can use to explore the Thomas Jefferson Building and its architecture, learn about the Library’s history, and discover interesting exhibits.


National Air & Space Museum

Kids will love the enormous planes and exhibits all while learning about aviation and space flight in this Washington, DC museum.  There are IMAX films and planetarium shows several times a day.  Kids can practice their piloting in flight simulators.  Also, the Albert Einstein Planetarium shows One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure,  a 20-minute planetarium show follows Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Elmo as they explore the night sky with Hu Hu Zhu, a Muppet from the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street.  This is a great show for toddlers and preschoolers.  Also visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the second location, near Dulles International Airport.


National Building Museum

One of our favorite museums in Washington, DC!  The building itself is fantastic.  There is a wide open Great Hall, where kids can run free.  You can attempt to build a 7-foot tall arch using numbered foam blocks (much harder than it looks).  A favorite of the toddler crowd is the Building Zone,  designed for children aged 2 to 6.  There are many types of building materials, such as giant legos, magnetic tinker toys, and cardboard blocks.  There are also dress-up costumes, a large scale play house, building focused books, and much more.  There can be a line to get into the Building Zone, as there is a capacity of 40 children.  There are also “Family Tool Kits”  that help to bring the building to life for school-aged kids.


National Children’s Museum- Launch Zone at National Harbor

While the National Children’s Museum is being built (to open in 2013), the NCM opened the Launch Zone at National Harbor on Waterfront Street.  Open seven days a week, the Launch Zone is a place where children can participate in fun and educational programs.  They are always trying out new exhibits to see what would be a good fit once the museum opens, and they love to receive feedback about what you liked or did not like.  The exhibits are designed to welcome drop-in, child-led explorations.


National Gallery of Art

Although the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC may not be very appealing to young children, kids will also enjoy the lighted underground concourse between the West Building and the East Building.  Along the concourse is a great cafe and a museum store with a children’s’ section.  There is a beautiful waterfall sculpture against the glass wall.  There is also a class for children ages 4-7- Stories in Art.  This series of programs uses storytelling to introduce children to works of art.  Led by museum educators, each program includes reading a children’s book, looking at one work of art in the galleries, and completing a simple hands-on activity.  This class is a free drop-in program is designed for individual families, first-come, first-served basis. For information, call (202) 789-3030.


Natural History Museum

At this favorite Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC you are greeted by 8-ton, 14-foot-tall African elephant in the rotunda as you walk in the front door.  Kids love checking out the Insect Zoo, Dinosaur Hall, and Sea Life Hall (K loves finding Nemo and Dory).  The Butterfly Pavilion is also a lot of fun.  You can view live butterflies as they flutter around you. Tuesdays are free but it is worth visiting anytime.  The discovery room is also very cool, but is only open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from October to May.


National Postal Museum

Surprisingly, this is a great place to visit in Washington, DC with young kids (and old).  There are big trucks like a postal train car, horse drawn carriage, and tractor trailer, all of which can be boarded.  There are many interactive exhibits,and kids can learn the story of Owney the Postal Dog.  Also the tower has an observation deck at 270 feet, and is a great place to to see the city.  While others are waiting in line at the Washington Monument, you can be checking out the city with no line and big windows.


National Museum of American History

Kids will love seeing Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, Kermit the Frog, and the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns.  There is also a hands-on center called the Spark!Lab, which uses fun activities to help kids learn about the process of invention and history.  Kids can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors’ notebooks, and even invent.  Most activities are designed for children ages 6-12, though younger and older visitors are welcome.  There is also a section designed especially for children under the age of 5.  Also check the events calendar before you go to see if there is something of interest happening that day.


Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Come on a tour where you can see how paper money is printed.  Tickets are required and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The ticket booth (located on 15th Street), opens at 8am, and you need to be there very close to 8 in order to get one of the limited number of tickets.  The tour is 45 minutes long, and very informative.  Best for elementary and up.


National Aquarium in Washington DC

OK, so this does not really compare to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, but it is still worth a visit- especially if you have young children.  The tanks are small and easy to view, so it makes it easy with preschool age kids.  Plus, it is usually not crowded!  Every day of the week they have different animal feedings- piranha, shark, or alligator.  It is the nation’s oldest aquarium, tucked away in the basement of the Department of Commerce located just a block away from the Washington Monument.  Check out this review by Moneywise Moms.