Badlands just opened it’s doors this summer and is already my families favorite place to play in Maryland. If you haven’t visited this epic 30,000 square foot indoor play space yet than you will definitely want to check it out! This one of a kind facility brings outdoors inside through a nature inspired play space that advocates learning through play. It is the perfect place to bring children ages 2 to 13 years old to interact and explore in an environment that encourages creativity and autonomy. At Badlands young ones are challenged and empowered to run, jump, play and test their abilities in a safe environment. This article will highlight why this kid-centered play space is Playful Parent approved!
The first thing that catches your eye is a gigantic mountain featuring: slides, multiple climbing slopes and tunnels! In this area you will also find a hill with a short slide and tunnel all covered by soft AstroTurf; making this area great for children of all ages. This section is great for kids to climb and test their abilities and boundaries in safe way. I love that staff members are placed at the top of the mountain to help assist and supervise kids.
In the forest you are surrounded by a thicket of floor-to-ceiling birch trees that have been abstractly placed to create a natural environment. There is a little camping site with a creek and bridge that leads to a area where little’s can practice their balancing skills. There is a really neat gated area where kids can play games such as dodge ball. It was really neat to see the kids come together to create their own fun games and meet new friends. You will also find stadium style seating for parents to sit back and relax while the little ones have fun.
My boys who are ages two and four had a great time exploring the workshop. In this section you will find STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities that promote problem solving and creativity. Some of the activities available on the day we went were circuit building, parachute making and clay station. My boys had a blast making a parachute and sending it through a wind tunnel. There was also a really awesome marble run that you could create on a magnetic wall which I want for my kids playroom at home now. One of things I appreciated that most about this section was how the staff encouraged the kids to think about what they could use to make a parachute. Instead of providing step by step instruction, they were encouraged to discover and experiment.
BUILDER ROOM & LEGO STATION
If you have hands on learners like me than your little ones will be in heaven. My boys spent a great amount of time building creations they came up with. Not sure if you can tell from the picture but my oldest built a train out of awesome giant wooden connectors.
We didn’t get to spend a lot of time in this room; however, I thought it was pretty great to have a room where the lights are low and a movie is playing while you relax in a bean bag chair. This could be a great option for little ones who need a break to nap or sensory process.
What ever you do don’t overlook the greenhouse where little ones can observe real butterflies in there natural environment. On the hour you can get a personal tour and learn information about the butterflies. Little ones are given a magnifying glass to explore the greenhouse with. It was magical to have the butterflies soar around you and even land on you.
I think you would win the parent of the year award for hosting a party at this awesome place. There are four stunning 40’ x 20’ party pavilions for celebrating birthdays and hosting events. There are 90 minute party packages that start out at $339 for 12 children!
The onsite cafe was really impressive. I was happy to see that there were plenty of healthy options. The wraps and salads were super fresh and the gourmet coffee menu was worth bragging about. It’s also an added bonus that there is wifi available and even a selection of beer, wine, and craft cocktails for parents.
FAMILY STYLE FACILITIES
All the bathrooms at Badlands are family style and equipped with changing tables!!!! The designer know what parents need and made sure families have everything they need to be comfortable.
- A great way to save time is by completing the waiver form online before you go.
- Dress comfortably and most importantly wear tennis shoes (no flip flops)
- No need to stop at Starbucks along the way, the cafe’s specialty coffees are amazing. I had a caramel latte and it was heavenly.
- To avoid crowds go on a weekday between 1 PM – 6 PM.
Address: 5200 Randolph Road, Rockville, MD
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-6pm
Admission: Drop in rate: $20.00 (ages 3 and up), $12.50 (under 3); up to two adults free admission with purchase of child’s admission. Also check out the membership options available.