Westfield Montgomery Mall
7101 Democracy Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20817
It has been so warm that we haven’t had much need for indoor play areas, but last week temperatures dipped closer to normal and it was time to explore our indoor options. We headed to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland. I grew up going to Montgomery Mall and am quite familiar with its offerings, but the kids play area is a fairly new addition. We parked and immediately checked out the directory to figure out where we were headed. The play area is near Sears on the lower level.
As we approached the PlaySpace, I immediately noticed how small it was as compared to other mall offerings. My 4 year-old was definitely the oldest child there and is now barely below the maximum height allowed of 42″. Despite this, he still quickly pulled his shoes off and stored them in the cubbies provided. I sat on one of the padded benches surrounding the play space while he went and explored.
The space is filled with structures made of the typical painted slightly squishy material common to all of the mall play areas. The theme of this area was the “outdoors” with toad, caterpillar, flower and cave structures. These structures are on a very small scale matching the scope of the space itself. The flooring is well padded carpeting and the walls are covered with bright cheerful designs. It is the perfect area for young toddlers to play and explore while their parents take a break from their shopping. It is not large enough for preschoolers to stay for any length of time. I recommend it for ages 18 months to 3 years.
One other issue to be prepared for are the enticing group of arcade type rides just outside the play space. My child and another child that was in the same age range both managed to walk right out of the play area over to the rides. I stopped mine before he managed to leave, but the other child was playing for a few moments before his mother found him. It would definitely be a good idea for the mall to move the rides to another location.
- Children must be 42″ or under to play.
- No shoes are allowed, but cubbies are provided. No food or drink is allowed.
- There is a stroller parking area, but it is behind the play space and not able to be observed from within the play area. You should definitely bring valuables in with you.
- There is no hand sanitizer in or around the play area – definitely bring your own.
- The play area closes sporadically for cleaning.
- There are story and craft times on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month located outside of the Macy’s wing on the lower level – check the website for details.
Dulles Town Center
21100 Dulles Town Circle
Dulles, VA 20166
Just a few days later we headed to Dulles Town Center to check out their play area. We parked near the Cheesecake Factory and entered the mall on the lower level below the food court. We checked out the directory once again and realized that we only needed to head up the escalators just ahead and Kidtopia would be right in front of us. We walked right by the kiddie train making its way around the lower level and headed upstairs.
We were pleasantly surprised this time by the large delightful play area that awaited us. Once again we repeated the routine of taking the shoes off and placing them in a cubby. After that my 4 year-old raced off to explore. The structures in Kidtopia are all based on an airport theme and include a plane, luggage carrier, air traffic control tower and a long low structure made to resemble the roof line of the airport terminal. The play area has been around since the creation of the town center and shows some wear in spots, but everything appeared clean. The floor is not carpeted, but is still soft and has good traction for running, playing children.
The maximum height is 42″ just like at Montgomery Mall, but due to the scope of the play area, there were many more preschoolers there right around the maximum height, with a few definitely taller than that. I witnessed quite a few smaller toddlers nearly upended by rambunctious older children. The plane is hollow with a slide on one side, a ramp up the middle and stairs up the other side. Both the luggage carrier and plane have drivers seats for a lot of excellent pretending and the control tower has a tunnel through the bottom. My son played endlessly and was only coerced to leave by the lure of a soft pretzel and a ride on the carousel (the lovely carousel is in the food court on the second level – it is $1.50 per ride and lots of fun).
We look forward to heading back again, but we don’t have long, one more growth spurt and we will have to leave Kidtopia to the younger, smaller children!
- Children must be 42″ and under to play and no food, drink or shoes are allowed.
- The play area has padded benches on the outside for parents, but also has a very large entrance/exit space. Definitely something to keep an eye on.
- There was no hand sanitizer available.
- The play area is open during mall hours, but closes for about 15 minutes each day at 1:45pm.
- Rocknoceros plays every Thursday between 11:00 and 11:45am. Read the Our Kids Review.
- Restrooms are available at the entrance to the food court.
My 4 year-old had fun in both play areas, but Kidtopia was definitely more appropriate for his age and size. The Montgomery Mall PlaySpace is lovely but a much better option for toddlers and younger preschoolers.
Photos by Carly Blair.