It’s cold. It’s gray. The park is deserted. And Starbucks has too many things for your 2-year-old to knock over. What’s a pent-up mama with an energetic toddler or two to do?
On a day when you’ve run out of finger paint, cookie dough and ideas, escape to Great Kids Village in Columbia.
Let the kids run around in the 24,000-square-foot warehouse-like space with 20 themed “rooms” divided by waist-high walls. Cinderblock walls and unflattering lighting give it a drab feeling, but your toddler won’t notice. She’ll be too busy exploring.
Would-be princesses can pretend to be Snow White or Cinderella in the “Dress Up and Dance Room,” which has a big mirror reminiscent of a dance studio. In the “Space Room,” kids can climb over and under a big plastic rock. No one will miss the real fire truck parked in one of the rooms, right next to the tractor with a small slide down the back. Another room doubles as a sandbox, overflowing with shovels, trucks and buckets.
“There’s something for everyone here,” said Breinny Mosella of Severn, who comes to Great Kids Village once a week with daughter Sophia, 3, and a couple of her mom friends and their kids.
The moms agreed that the low walls and enclosed play spaces make it easy to keep track of a crowd of youngsters.
“For the winter, it’s something nice to do,” said Rachel Richardson, who came from Annapolis with her two boys, ages 4 and 6, and a friend’s kids. “We do a lot of running around, so this is a little quieter.”
And indeed, some moms brought their books and read as their kids played.
Great Kids Village seems best suited for kids ages 3 to 6. The weekends are the busiest, when the space hosts a lot of birthday parties, but you can call ahead to get a sense of the crowd size.
A cafe offers hot dogs, chicken tenders, soda and packaged ice cream; outside food is not permitted. No gourmet coffee here either, but with ample room for kids to roam and plenty to keep them occupied, it’s a good setup for parents to chat with one another on their own play date.
Where is it? 6570 Dobbin Rd., Columbia. There’s another location at 8040 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, but it’s a fifth of the size. Both locations are open Monday 3-7 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. In Columbia, Sunday hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; in Silver Spring it’s 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. 410-497-7529 or 301-309-2386.
How much is it? One-day pass: $15 per child ages 9 months to 10 years, $7.50 for additional siblings, free for age 10 and older.