The Ginormous Indoor Play Area You Have to See to Believe

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With chilly temps at peak performance, you’re probably spending much of your free time trying to keep your kids’ stir-craziness at bay. Luckily, there are plenty of drop-in play areas around the D.C. metro, but—believe us—you haven’t seen anything this big. Play N’ Learn: The Playground Super Store, with locations in Chantilly, Va. and Columbia, Md., boasts a whopping 14,000 square feet of combined showroom space filled to the brim with play pads, trampolines, and air hockey tables (to name a few). Of course, the play equipment is all for sale, but the stores’ main draw is their free and open play sessions that give kids warehouse-size space to run, jump and climb (without having to jokey for a five-second turn on the tire swing). Cabin fever, bring it!


Test Ride
Don’t judge a book (er, a swing set) by its cover. Even though this backyard superstore has been around for years, its free and open play still remains somewhat of a secret. On cold or rainy days, gather rowdy kids and head out to the Chantilly, Va. location for free play or the Columbia, Md. spot for $6 per kid open play (make reservations here). Surrounded by slides, ladders, basketball goals, and the like, your little one could probably spend a 12-hour day bopping from monkey bar to monkey bar. But, with a two-hour time limit, you can get in, get around and get out…hopefully sans a public meltdown. Bonus: both locations have changing tables, water fountains, and patio furniture for parents to kick back on while kids play.


Party Hop
Looking for a cool place to host a party for your little mover and shaker? Amazing birthday shindigs are offered in 2-hour blocks at the Columbia, Md. location. In addition to all of the playground doodads and wahoos that the birthday kid gets to run wild on, tablecloths, plates, napkins, cups, and plastic ware are included in the price of the party ($219 on weekdays to $269 on weekends). If party planning isn’t your jam, no worries–you get your own dedicated party coordinator to help set up, clean up, make sure you can hook your iPod up to the speaker system, or whatever else you may need.  Bring in Junior’s favorite food to share, or have something delivered. Insider secret: Book your party here sooner than later; they typically fill up about a month in advance.


Take the Fun and Go!
The store’s hottest piece of equipment at the moment is the Springfree Trampoline (which is like a giant bouncy playpen), but don’t worry about getting accosted by a salesperson to buy the backyard beauty right there, on the spot. They know that seeing the cheese-grin on her face as she bounces joyously is the best sales pitch there is.

Have you been to this HUGE play space? Tell us about your visit in the comments section below.

–Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Photos courtesy of Play n’ Learn: The Playground Superstore