While the Indoor Exercise venues are appropriate for kids up to 12 years of age, this page is devoted to indoor and outdoor venues where parents can feel safe their toddlers aren’t going to get mowed down by bigger kids. These sites offer activities, programs and events that are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, and don’t require memberships or class attendance for drop-in play. Some programs take older kids, but these often take place during school hours so they’re likely to be attended mostly by preschoolers.
Arlington Drafthouse N Cinema
2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington
Family friendly events and performances such as The Great Zucchini and Rocknoceros, usually on weekend mornings. Tickets range from $8-$10. They also offer a Family Night every Sunday from 5-9 p.m. in Drafthouse’s Old Arlington Grill restaurant, where they’ll show a family film geared to 3- to 10-year-olds.
At Play Cafe
2254B Hunters Woods Plaza, Reston
For children up to age 6
This small cafe is a great place to catch coffee, light snacks or sandwiches with other moms as your litle ones play in a gated area with a tree house and slide structure. (An added bonus: attendants also keep an eye on the little ones in the gated area) There’s a separate room used as a gym studio where art, music, movement and storytelling programs take place for children 6 months to 6 years of age. The gym also is available for the kids to play in when there aren’t any classes. To play in the play area, the cost is $8 first child and $6 for each additional sibling (babies under 8 months are free). You can get a punchcard for $80 for 12 visits or a season pass for $120 for 3 months of unlimited visits. Play area time is free for children registered for classes before or after the class.
4911 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria
Mr. Skip performs every Tuesday at 11 a.m. at this community coffeehouse that serves the West End of Alexandria.
Centreville Multiplex Cinemas
6201 Multiplex Drive, Centreville
At the Nick Jr. at the Movies program, parents and children can enjoy special sing-along music videos and exciting episodes from popular Nick Jr. shows every Thursday and Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Tickets are $6.
Fair Oaks Shopping Center FREE
11750 Fair Oaks, Fairfax
Located on the bottom floor in front of JC Penney, this play area sports foam Looney Tune characters with a train theme.
Fairfax Corner 14: Cinema De Lux
11900 Palace Way, Fairfax
Fairfax Corner 14 offers these kid-friendly programs. Check the Web site for a schedule of movies.
KidToons, G-rated movies that play at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Sunday (movies change every month); admission is $3.50 per ticket. One weekend a month, KidToons is followed by a free KidToons Storytime, which includes a story, activities and a coupon for free pizza.
Baby Pictures, a monthly program that allows parents to enjoy first-run movies in a baby-friendly setting. Tickets are $6.25.
Nick Jr. at the Movies, parents and children can enjoy special sing-along music videos and exciting episodes from popular Nick Jr. shows every Thursday and Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Tickets are $6.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
134 N. Royal Street, Alexandria
The weekly Tavern Toddlers program for toddlers (walkers through 36 months) and their caregivers takes place on Mondays between 10:30 a.m and noon through Nov. 17. Explore the City of Alexandria through books, crafts, and activities. Cost is $7 for a group of three, which must include one adult. 5 week passes $30. Pre-registration not required.
Greater Reston Arts Center
12001 Market St. Suite 103, Reston
In the Explore More! program, kids can take an art bucket that includes art supplies and use it to learn about the artwork on display and create their own projects. The program is offered Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; there is a $3 re-stocking fee for individuals, $5 per child for groups of more than five people. The center also offers weekday after-school art workshops and weekend workshops. Check the Web site for schedules and fee information.
Jammin’ Java Club and Cafe
227 Maple Ave., Vienna
Tot Rock occurs at 10:30 a.m. every weekday and provides wholesome family entertainment. In addition to the weekly children’s shows, Jammin’ Java also regularly hosts special weekend shows. Check the calendar to see when your favorite act is performing, and also check here to see if a show has been cancelled. Cost is $5 per child older than 12 months; parents aren’t charged.
Lakeshore Learning FREE
7009A Manchester Blvd., Alexandria
Free crafts for kids ages 3 and older on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Check Web site for weekly project.
Lee Highway Multiplex Cinemas
8223 Lee Highway, Merrifield
During KidToons presentations, G-rated movies that play at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Sunday (movies change every month); admission is $3.50 per ticket.
Noodles & Noggins
7145 Main Street, Clifton
This educational toy store sponsors regular Rocknoceros concerts at the Clifton Town Hall every first and third Mondays; performances at the Pink Pantry every Friday morning and at the Town Hall on Thursday afternoons. They also have a Fun Club with activities on Tuesday mornings. Click here for a calendar of events. Cost is $5 per child.
Reston Town Center Pavilion FREE
11900 Market Street, Reston
Mr. Knick Knack performs his unique, heart-centered music at a free concert every Monday from 2-2:45 p.m. through Oct. 13.
Tysons Corner Center FREE
1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean (off I-495 at the intersections of Routes 7 and 123)
The mall has a third-floor kids play area in the AMC Theatres wing, where a rock ‘n roller for the stroller set, Mr. Knick Knack performs every Friday from 11-11:45 a.m. Being located next to the food court helps. Kids Club program, which will include entertainment provided by Tysons’ children’s performer, Mr. Knick Knack, as well as storytimes, prize giveaways and more. You can join the mall’s Kids Club by signing up at Guest Services on the first floor by Macy’s and get a free child’s T-shirt and kids discount card. The club meets for a “fun activity” every first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. in the 3rd floor food court.
41 Carlisle Drive Suite A, Herndon
Drop-In Open Play at this available for children walking to 5 years old with an adult on Mondays from 5-6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. The Wee Play studio is set up with plenty of hands-on fun with the bean tables, play dough, the play kitchen and other fine motor materials. The play area is set up with balls, hoops, the “roller coaster”, tunnels, hoppers, ride-on toys, foam hockey, and more. No food or drinks; soft-soled shoes must be worn in all areas. Cost is $10 per child, $18 for two kids of families not enrolled in a Wee Play class; $5 for enrolled kids.
Dulles Town Center FREE
21100 Dulles Town Circle, Dulles
The Jet Blue toddler play area on the second floor near the food court features foam slides and tunnels in the shape of an airplane, control tower and truck, with benches surrounding the entire area to keep the kids penned in. Some things to note: there is a maximum height requirement, I think it was 42 inches; and it closes daily at 1:45 p.m., probably so they can clean up for an hour or so. Other attractions include a carousel in the back of the food court (rides are $1.50 but parents can stand for free) and a mini train on the first floor that charges $1 a ride (parents pay) or you can get a 12-punch pass for $10. Parents have to pay to ride, though. Sign up kids 2-5 years for the Mall Munchkins Kids Club at the Customer Service Desk on the first floor and get the monthly newsletter, a chance to pre-purchase tickets to mall events and first notice of all children’s events. Kids Club events include a monthly performance by Mr. Knick Knack 11 a.m.-noon in the Center Court. For event dates, click here.
Dulles 28 Centre FREE
22000 Dulles Retail Plaza, Dulles
Small outdoor playground in the middle of the retail central, also known as Dulles 28 Centre, anchored by Wegman’s and Target. Conveniently located in front of a Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery.
2700 Potomac Mills Circle, Prince William
The mall offers a Simon Kidgits Club that sponsors an event at 10 a.m. every third Thursday of the month. Activities include storytime, singing and dancing, snacks for parents and kids, giveaways for kids and moms. Cost is $5 for annual membership.