Two little-known indoor playrooms are hidden in Chevy Chase — one in Maryland in the heart of Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Avenue and one in DC right on Connecticut Avenue. Although both playrooms are basic, they can be fantastic places to go with your kids if you need a low-key place to spend an hour or two or find yourself in the neighborhood running errands with little ones who need to burn off some energy. These playrooms have saved the day on many occasions when my kids needed to be active and I needed to get out of the house but the playground was not an option either because of the weather or because I didn’t have the energy to keep up with my kids in a large outdoor space.
The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center has a soft playroom good for infants through toddlers. Soft blocks, tunnels, balls, and a mini-basketball hoop are available to keep children busy. The playroom features a soft floor good for both crawling babies and older kids climbing on the soft equipment. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30am to noon a nearly identical set of play equipment is placed on the Recreation Center’s basketball court giving kids more room to run and play. Although you must purchase a pass to use the facilities, the Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center is very well situated for those shopping at the adjacent Whole Foods or one of the other numerous stores located within blocks. Having the option of popping in for a little playtime as a distraction from an afternoon of running errands is well worth the cost of admission. Moreover, the pass entitles you to use any of Montgomery County’s recreation centers, all of which have some playtime for children available on certain days of the week. The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center also offers several classes for children. Tacking some time in the playroom onto a class can make for a fun-filled afternoon.
The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center is open from 9:30am to 9pm Mondays through Thursdays, 9:30am to 5pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 1 to 5pm on Sundays. In order to access the playroom, you must purchase an annual Gym Rat pass for $30.00 for Montgomery County Residents and $45.00 for all others. Children accompanied by an adult do not need their own pass and a pass used for the purpose of taking a child into the Recreation Center can be used by a Nanny or other caregiver.
The Chevy Chase Community Center has a large playroom in the basement. Known as the “Toddler Closet,” each weekday morning children literally throw open a large closet filled to the brim with toys and get to work playing. Toys include several ride-on cars, dolls, puzzles, a bean-bag toss, a tunnel, a shopping cart, and even a small plastic slide. Children love the vast array of toys available to them and enjoy having the run of the large, open space. Toys get heavy use, but the kids don’t seem to mind and the toys are replaced periodically as funds become available. Children can stay occupied for hours in the Toddler Closet, although some parents and other caregivers find they cannot stay in the windowless basement for as long as their children would like. The Toddler Closet is a popular stop after story time at the Chevy Chase Library, which is located across a small plaza from the Chevy Chase Community Center. Situated on the Connecticut Avenue corridor of Chevy Chase, the Toddler Closet is near kid-friendly restaurants and makes a good add-on to lunch out.
Similar to the Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center, the Chevy Chase Community Center also offers several classes for children and is a good add-on to a class to make a full morning of activities. The Chevy Chase Community Center is open weekdays from 9am to 1pm and is free for everyone regardless of residency. The Toddler Closet is closed at times the Community Center is holding special events or classes so you may want to call before heading over.
The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center and the Chevy Chase Community Center are both located close to the Friendship Heights metro stop on the red line. The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center is across the street from the metro stop and the Chevy Chase Community Center is located about a 10 minute walk away. Metered parking is available by both Community Centers.