Pop Quiz: On average, which month boasts Colorado Springs’ heaviest snowfalls? Despite last week’s epic storm, the correct answer is March. (Yikes!) So if you’re looking to add a few new indoor play places to your repertoire (especially as that epic snowfall turns into a muddy mess later this week) we have a list for you! Below you’ll find some of our contributor’s favorite indoor options when the weather is less than ideal. Some of these places will help your kids burn off energy – others will spark their imaginations.
THE BUG MUSEUM
You may have noticed the giant Hercules beetle perched on a hillside on 115 south of Colorado Springs. That’s the official greeter for the May Natural History Museum (also known affectionately as the “Colorado Springs Bug Museum”), which houses thousands of beautiful butterflies, exotic beetles, gigantic scorpions and spiders (along with countless other insects). It is the largest private insect collection in the world, right in our own backyards!
Just south of Fort Carson and Cheyenne Mountain State Park in an unassuming former Army barrack, the handmade museum boasts more bugs than you probably cared to know existed, many of which are over 100 years old. The late John May collected many bugs from missionaries in Asia and mounted them carefully by hand; now his family runs his museum and the associated campground. If you’re afraid of insects, this may not be the museum for you, but if you can stomach the hairy, long-legged creatures pinned to the board, your child will find this fascinating.
Good to know: Open May 1-September 30th, rates are $6 for adults, $3 for children (children 5 and under are free).
THE AIRPLANE RESTAURANT
If you’re looking for a change of pace when it comes to lunch or dinner, Solo’s Airplane Restaurant is one block east of Powers on Fountain Blvd. Open six days a week (closed Sundays), you and your kiddos can eat in a fully intact Boeing KC-97 tanker.
Good to know: Built in 1953, the plane has been a restaurant in southern Colorado Springs since 2002. The food is what you should expect from a diner with a huge helping of aviation novelty, but your kids won’t mind another helping of fries if they can explore the cockpit later!
A unique downtown establishment that houses a bookstore, toy store, wine bar, and restaurant across multiple storefronts, Poor Richard’s should have something for everyone, mom included! “Although the castle play area is in the back of the restaurant, your food doesn’t have to come from just the restaurant,” one of our contributors advise. “You can purchase drinks and pastries at Rico’s Cafe and Wine Bar, one of the several places connected to the Poor Richard’s strip area. I recommend you order food or drinks before sitting down.”
Good to know: The play area is best for ages 2-5. Watch your children. The kitchen is close to the play area, and many kiddos wander towards that area. Also, Little Richard’s Toy Store is a fantastic place to find unique, classic toys to be used as gifts or as more educational toys for your own children.
If your kids are ready to climb the walls, why not let them? CityROCK is an indoor climbing gym with a room designed specifically for kids under 6 (the aquarium-themed CLIMBarium, open during certain hours). Your kiddos can wear themselves out in the best way possible. Children under 18-months are free with another paid child, although one contributor mentions that leaving the toddler at home may be best. They offer an open gym during the week from 11am-1pm, and family climb on the weekends. With 43-foot climbing walls inside, CityROCK could be a great new place for your kids to burn off some energy.
Good to know: CityROCK has a snack and coffee bar, a pub with food, and free WiFi. Housed in the former Ute Theatre, many of the walls are painted with classic movies.
This local coffee shop devotes its entire lower level to moms and kids! A playroom with a slide allows kids to have fun and explore while you and your friends catch up. A separate room looks into the play area via windows if your kids can play on their own (and you want to enjoy your conversation with fewer distractions). The play area is best for younger kids, but there are tables and chairs and a coloring room for the older set.
Good to know: The bathrooms are upstairs, so go before you head downstairs. The coffee shop also offers a few kid-friendly snacks on their menu if you need it! Their Facebook page is the best way to make sure they are open, as they often have private events and special hours for holidays.
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY
On the lower level of the Welcome Center and bookstore is a great play area for kids, including A-Bend-A-Go, the three-story 76-foot corkscrew slide. There’s also a puppet stage, a reading area, a radio station, and the Whit’s End soda fountain made popular in their Adventures in Odyssey radio broadcasts. There’s also a room designed especially for toddlers called Camp What-A-Nut.
Good to know: The slide isn’t open the entire time the rest of the play space is, and you must be at least 43 ½ inches tall to ride it. Check the website link above for hours of operation; we recommend you call before you pack up your kids as they may have large group events that close the play area.
Located off of I-25 and North Academy, Monkey Bizness’ goal is to get kids moving. Recommended for kids 8 and under, there’s a multi-level soft playground with climbing structures and slides with a separate area for crawlers upstairs. One of our contributors said it was “so much fun! I was very impressed at the different play areas for different ages, and the whole facility is very clean! They also have a variety of snacks (some healthy, some not) and drinks if you forget to pack your own like we did!”
Good to know: Rumor has it that the first five people in line get a free pass for the next Monday. And if you’re desperate for a night out but can’t find a babysitter, they are now offering select evenings as a Parent’s Night Out service (check their website above).
UNCLE BUCK’S FISHBOWL (Bass Pro Shops)
Bass Pro Shops has a bunch of stuff for kids to do. Found just off the Northgate exit and I-25, your kiddos won’t believe their eyes when they find the huge fish tank (27,000 gallons!) in the back. Follow the animal footprints throughout the store to see what critter created them. You could also check out the boats and camping gear.
Good to know: If you have extra time (or lots of energy), try a little bowling at Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl, their undersea-themed bowling alley with 16 lanes. They have a great menu, too! If you like them on Facebook, you’ll see they often have kids events, like a recent craft day.
THE WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE (Parker)
Up north (but thankfully not into the worst of Denver traffic) is a relatively new museum that is now part of CU South Denver complex. The Wildlife Experience is an art and natural history museum with interactive displays. There’s a large area at the back for exhibits, often art or sculptures. But sometimes, it’s things like making music or building LEGOs. Make sure to check it out! Children ages 3-12 are $6 (children under 3 are free) and adults are $10.
Good to know: Per our contributor’s advice: Make sure to hit the kids’ play area on the way out. It’s good to do this last because if you start there, the kids will never want to go see all the cool things in the rest of the building.