Indoor Play Places in the Iowa City Area

The weather is turning colder and the snow is ready to fly! On those days when it’s too cold and icy for outdoor play, or your kids are just tired of the snow, there are some awesome local play places where your little ones can burn off their energy–snow boots not required! Thanks to our friends at the Iowa Children’s Museum, you can refer back to this guide all winter long and keep the cabin-fever away!

Indoor Play Places in the Iowa City Coralville North Liberty Area

Coralville Play Places

The Iowa Children’s Museum

Age Range: All ages
Cost: $9 per person, $8 for seniors, free for kids under 1 (military families receive discounts and some free admissions, check the website for current details)
Days/Times: Tues-Th-10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday 10-8, Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun-11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Closed Mondays, although open some Mondays when the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids School districts are closed. Holiday hours may vary. Members-only hour on Fridays from September to May from 9-10 a.m.

At The Iowa Children’s Museum, playing is learning! In this one-of-a-kind space, children can imagine what it’s like to walk on the moon, create masterpieces in the art studio, discover how the human body works, and explore the science behind skateboarding. Conveniently located in Coral Ridge Mall, this interactive space is designed to encourage free play (a critical part of child development) while also building skills related to school readiness, STEM, financial literacy, health, and the arts.

Members of the museum can visit as often as they like and receive a 10% discount on summer camps, birthday parties, purchases in the Think Tank Toy Story, and other museum programming. As a part of the Association of Children’s Museums’ Reciprocal Network, members also get half price admission at nearly 200 other children’s museums throughout the country. There’s always something new at The Iowa Children’s Museum, so COME PLAY!

There is never enough time to explore everything offered here! If you plan to go frequently or have a large family, you will save a bundle with their membership plans. Check out their website for free days, special guests, and themes.

Iowa Children's Museum

Iowa Gym Nest Lunch Bunch

Age Range: All Ages
Cost: $5 for members, $6 for non-members, punch cards available for purchase.
Days/Times: M-F 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Children are able to play with various equipment throughout the gym in a supervised but unstructured environment. Children must be accompanied by an adult during the Lunch Bunch play time. Pack a lunch and eat at one of the tables when you’re through.

Coral Ridge Mall Play Area

Age Range: Crawling and up
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: M-Sat 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

Easily watch your kiddos play while you sip an Orange Julius. Head down to the mall carousel and coin-operated riding toys when you’re done.

Tot Lot at the Coralville Rec Center

Age Range: 1-4 yrs
Cost: $1.00/child (discounted punch cards available)
Days/Times: Fall & Winter Hours only. See website for details

Smaller than Scanlon and not operational all year, but locals love this indoor play area for kiddos.

Iowa Gym-Nest Open Gym

Age Range: All Ages
Cost: $10 per session or $15 for both sessions
Days/Times: Open gyms are held about once per month, check the website or Facebook page for dates.

Kids can play with all the equipment throughout the gym in a supervised but unstructured environment. Kids 5 & up drop off is available, while kids 3 and under will need an adult to stay with them. They also run a drop-in program on Sundays from 5-6 with challenging obstacles to conquer. Cost for the C.O.R.S.E Fitness Open Gym is $10 per session and it is open to persons 10 years old and older.  Children under 10 may attend accompanied by an adult.

Iowa Gym-Nest also offers classes and open gym events for individuals on the Autism spectrum or with other special needs.  Check the website or call the office for more information.

Coralville Public Library

Ages: All Ages
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: M-Th 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., F 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun Noon-4 p.m.

More than books, this library offers a play area for your little ones to enjoy. Go to their website for upcoming events and special guests. For story time hours check here.


Iowa City Play Places

Tot Time at Mercer Park

Ages: 1- 6 years
Cost: $1 per child (13 punch card pass available for $10)
Days/Times: M-F 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Head to Scanlon Gym for all things fun! Inflatables, climbing and riding toys, play houses and more! Kids will absolutely stay busy and burn off energy. Check their website linked above for other additions to the daily schedule like crafts and guests. Don’t forget to say hi to Herky in the Lobby and take a dip in their indoor pool! For older kids ask about using their game room and equipment rentals and schedules.

Iowa City Marketplace Play Area

Ages: Under 42 inches in height
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: Daily from 630 a.m.-8 p.m.

The former Sycamore Mall has a play area for little ones. Have your kids explore the barn with a play picnic then get lost in the adjacent maze. Coin operated ride-on toys are next to this space, and adults can watch on with a treat from Panera Bread, then hit up the Dollar Tree on the way out.

Iowa City Public Library

Ages: All Ages
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: M-T-W from 10-9, F 10-8, Sa 10-6, Su 10-5

More than books the ICPL offers several play areas including train and block tables, a play kitchen, indoor slide and many toys, puzzles and games, several even available for check out! For story time hours and special events for Iowa City Public Library check here.

Dodge Street Coffeehouse

Ages: Not listed but geared towards kids who use imaginative play
Cost: FREE for customers
Days/Times: M-F 630-5, Sat-Sun 7-5

Technically not a play place, but this coffee house has a great space for little ones and delicious treats for parents! Meet up with friends for a play date or bring out of town guests for an easy catch up lunch while the kids play in the background.

Planet 3 Extreme Air Park

Ages: 0-99
Cost: 2 and under-free; prices start at $10 for an hour for ages 3-6, $13 for age 7+, plus the cost of socks
Days/Times: M-T-W-T 9-9, F-S 9-11, Sun 11-7

Enjoy endless trampolines, foam pits, a trapeze line, a ninja obstacle course and more. Parents of little ones can enjoy the designated area so they don’t sustain injuries with the big kids and adults. Check out their website linked above for discount dates and times.

Colonial Lanes

Ages: All ages
Cost: Bowling: Under $4 a game per person + Shoe rental at $2.25. Mini-golf: $3.50 per person
Days/Times: Hours vary per season and leagues so check their website for the most up to date schedule.

Break out your moves for a family game of bowling or putt-putt golf at this Iowa City gem. Food and drink are also available for purchase.


North Liberty Play Places

Kids Campsite at the North Liberty Community Center

Age Range: Under 48 inches in height
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: M-F 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat/Sun 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Kids Campsite is similar to the Coral Ridge Mall play area, however this one is enclosed in a room with a door that closes fully, which makes it much harder for little ones to escape! It is slightly smaller than the mall play area but also generally quieter and a little less busy.

Open Gym at Synergy Gymnastics

Age Range: All Ages
Cost: $6 per child, cash only (If you are taking classes there you can charge the fee to your parent account.)
Days/Times: Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11 a.m.-noon; Thursdays 3-4 p.m.

Come for an hour of fun! There are areas set aside for the crawling/just walking age, small gymnastics equipment for toddlers, and larger equipment for bigger kids. Enjoy the trampoline, foam pit, and the inflatable bounce house.Synergy Gymnastics

North Liberty Public Library

Age Range: All ages
Cost: FREE
Days/Times: M&W: 9-8, T&T: 8-8, Fri: 9-5, Sat: 10-5, Sun: 1-4

More than books, this library also offers a play area for your littles to enjoy. Go to their website for upcoming events and special guests. For story time hours check here.

Looking for indoor ideas in Cedar Rapids? Check out our sister site’s post here.

What did we miss?  Where are your favorite indoor places to play with your kiddos?

This is a sponsored post. ICM was compensated for sharing this piece.  However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!


About Our Sponsor

At The Iowa Children’s Museum, playing is learning! In this one-of-a-kind space, children can imagine what it’s like to walk on the moon, create masterpieces in the art studio, discover how the human body works, and explore the science behind skateboarding. Conveniently located in Coral Ridge Mall, this interactive space is designed to encourage free play (a critical part of child development) while also building skills related to school readiness, STEM, financial literacy, health, and the arts.

Members of the museum can visit as often as they like and receive a 10% discount on summer camps, birthday parties, purchases in the Think Tank Toy Story, and other museum programming. As a part of the Association of Children’s Museums’ Reciprocal Network, members also get half price admission at nearly 200 other children’s museums throughout the country. There’s always something new at The Iowa Children’s Museum, so COME PLAY!


Sarah Bengtson
Sarah is a proud Iowa native who currently lives in North Liberty with her husband and 2 sons. She grew up in rural Benton county and moved to the Iowa City area in 2005 to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy. Now she balances raising two growing boys with a work as a pediatric physical therapist. Outside of work and family, Sarah loves music, playing her cello, running, baking, crochet, church activities, and cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Vikings.

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