A note about COVID 19 - this page has not been fully updated to reflect COVID safety and closures. We always recommend checking in with primary sources to see what is open and what activities are running. 


The Ithaca area has many indoor playgrounds and activity places for kids. Indoor spaces can be great on a rainy day, cold day, super hot day, or just anytime you need to get out of the house! This is not a complete list, but here are many, in alphabetical order. There is also lots of info on indoor pools in the Ithaca Family Fun Swimming section.

Atlas Bowl is an excellent venue for birthday parties. Located on main street in Trumansburg, NY, they offer family discounts every Tuesday and have private party options. Celebrators can come during normal business hours or schedule something during the day for a closed event. For more details please contact us at 607-387-3191 or at email


Barnes & Noble- This store has a train table, toys and lots of books to read.


Brooktondale Community Center - Free to community groups for play. You can sign up to be an opener/closer and use the calendar and key available at the Brookton Market. A great place for preschool playgroups, as it's often open in day and has a structure and some push/ride on toys. More info can be found here. 

Cass Park Skating Rink - Roller Skating in the summer, Ice Skating in the winter.

Cayuga Nature Center - Part indoors, part outdoors, the Cayuga Nature Center has lots of nature themed activities, some fun animals, a butterfly house, and Treetops, a 6 story tree house.

Circus Culture - Circus Classes, camps, performances, parties, free play and more for kids. Aerial fabric, trapeze, juggling, tight wire, acrobatics, hooping, props, and more!

Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Not so much a "play space," but the Lab of Ornithology has a visitor's center with large windows for bird watching, interactive exhibits with video and sounds, and an outdoor walking trail around Sapsucker Woods.


Discovery Trail - The Discovery Trail is made up of the following organizations which provide excellent indoor and outdoor opportunities. There is more info on these locations here at Ithaca Family Fun or by clicking the Discovery Trail link. Cayuga Nature Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell Plantations, The History Center, Johnson Museum of Art, Museum of the Earth, Sciencenter, Tompkins County Public Library

Eastlake Recreation - A three story climbing structure with a ball pit and slide open Fridays from 10am to noon and other times during school vacations. They are also available for birthday parties. For specifics on hours, call 607-277-2151.

Finger Lakes Toy Library - Improving quality of life by increasing access to toys, supporting play, and encouraging a culture of reuse and sharing. See their website for hours, open playtimes, and events round the area. See the calendar or visit their website for hours. 609 W. Clinton St., Suite 106, Ithaca, NY 14850

GIAC - The Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) is a center for all ages, particularly youth and teens. A wide range of programs is offered during the afterschool hours of 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. The program is very fast paced and exciting. In the summer, they offer day camps.


Buttermilk Falls -Buttermilk is a great State Park on the South West side of town near Home Depot. Aside from hiking, there are two large new playgrounds adjacent to each other (one for older kids and one for younger) in a nice shady area, and swimming at the bottom of the waterfall.  There is some limited free parking on Sand Bank Road where those wishing to play on the playgrounds without paying the entrance fee sometimes park.

Cass Park -Cass Park is on the West side of Cayuga Lake.  The sprawling park boasts great flat paved waterfront trails, playgrounds, the Ithaca Children's Garden (see below), plus a - Roller Skating in the summer, Ice Skating in the winter.


Cayuga Waterfront Trail - this flat ,paved, well-maintained ADA compliant trail follows the waterfront all the way from Stewart Park, past the Farmer's Market, through the inlet and up to Cass Park and Treman Marine Park. Because it's so flat, it's a nice trail for kids learning to ride bike. 

Cornell Plantations -  From taking a stroll through the Arboretum, playing on the large statues and feeding the fish  or touring through the beautiful botanical gardens, or take in one of their special events.

Discovery Trail - The Discovery Trail is made up of the following organizations which provide excellent indoor and outdoor opportunities. There is more info on these locations here at Ithaca Family Fun or by clicking the Discovery Trail link. Cayuga Nature Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell Plantations, The History Center, Johnson Museum of Art, Museum of the Earth, Sciencenter, Tompkins County Public Library

Elementary Schools - Every elementary school has an awesome playground that's open to the public during non-school hours. 

Ellis Hollow Community Center - This community center just out of town on the East side has a nice older large wooden play structure. 

Ithaca Children's Garden - Located on the West side of Cayuga Lake, this is a garden for and by the children, with storytimes, educational programs and a lot of fun. They have a "Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone" Open Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons in the summer.  There are also playgrounds nearby as part of Cass Park.

Ithaca Trails Guide - Greater Ithaca and Tompkins County offer numerous trails for the outdoor activity of your choosing.  There are tons of fantastic trails for walking, hiking, running & biking in Tompkins County. East Hill Recreation way and South Hill Recreation way are both very stroller friendly. The Game Farm Road section of East Hill Recreation way is especially flat to hike and bike. Six Mile Creek trails (wildflower preserve) can be stroller friendly, but most are at least baby carrier and small child hikeable. You can also find comprehensive trails info on this Wikipedia page.

Myers Park - This park in Lansing has a great playground and Swimming.


Parks - The MAP OF PLAY website is a fabulous resource for learning about all the playgrounds in our area. You can learn about the playgrounds in your neighborhood and contribute to info to help others!

Primitive Pursuits - Primitive Pursuits has outdoor recreation programs for kids of various ages, including their new Forest Preschool and free outdoor preschool playgroup.

Sciencenter -On top of their amazing indoor activities, the Sciencenter also has a fabulous outdoor play area with a climbing structure, duck and water play, bubbles, bridge, sand and more. They also have a Mini Golf course.

Sciencenter 18-hole Mini-Golf Course The Sciencenter has constructed a new 18-hole mini-golf course. (fully wheelchair accessible with ADA approved clubs). Watch this summer as we install science-themed challenges, from physics to astronomy, at every hole! Mini-golf pricing does not include nor require museum admission. Sciencenter members,$5; Toddlers (ages 0-3), free with paid adult; Players (ages 4+), $6. Does not include nor require museum admission. Sciencenter, 601 1st St, Ithaca, NY 14850. or 607.272.0600.

Six Mile Creek Wildflower Preserve - An easy-to-walk trail (much of it is actually all-terrain stroller friendly) that winds along Six Mile Creek with plenty of spots to throw rocks in the water or dip your toes.

Sports - Find some info on various sports on the Resources page. 

Stewart Park - Located on the Eastern side of the lake near the Ithaca Youth Bureau, Stewart Park has a brand new accessible playground that's fun for kids of all ages and abilities. There's also a merry-go-round carousel, and sprinkler fountain area for water play. Stewart Park also has lots of green space for ball games & running, pavilions, a pond where people can fish, and paddle board and kayak rentals. There's the flat paved Cayuga Waterfront Trail you can take to the Farmer's Market or even all the way to Cass Park and beyond. Great for bike learners. It can also be a little chilly as it is on the lake.

The Stewart Park Carousel is open in the summer Memorial Day weekend through the first week of September, Wednesday - Sunday and on holidays. Hours are 11-6:45, rides are 75 cents each. 

Swimming - There's a ton of information on Swimming in Ithaca -indoors and out- on the "Learn" page!

Taughannock - This state park North on 89 near Trumansburg has a large new playground conveniently located close to where they have Saturday night concerts in the summer, and the swimming area. The walk to the dramatic, tall waterfall is 3/4 a mile and very easy and stroller friendly on a wide smooth path.  Many people choose to walk along the dry riverbed as well.


Town of Ithaca Parks - This link goes to a map that shows Town of Ithaca Parks. Unfortunately, it's not a great map, but you can zoom in to find some small parks close to where you live.

Treman - The nice new playground at this park is located close to the entrance and pretty far from the picnic and swimming areas at the lower entrance to the park South of town off 13.  Although it has really fun play structures and lots of swings, it does not have a lot of shade.  At the upper falls, there is an old mill that has some historical information inside.  The walk to the upper falls (Lucifer Falls) is my personal favorite in the area. The walk is not stroller friendly, as it has many steps, but is short enough and has enough breaks between steps to make it easy enough for those with mild mobility issues.

Trumansburg -  A favorite T-burg play area is the "Little Houses"/"Tiny Town" as it's referred to by locals, is a group of three wooden play houses: mini-library, mini-fire station (complete with fire pole to slide down) and mini-house) located right on Main St.

Varna Community Playground Varna Community Center, 943 Dryden Rd. (Rte. 366) Ithaca. Large, professionally designed & recently built playground with activities for toddlers and older children - swings, slides, climbing wall, overhead rings, lots more


Head over Heels Gymnastics-  Fun gymnastics classes for 1 and up, as well as camps during times school is out and Unstructured Playtime fall through spring. Unstructured Playtime is an open gym time for parents and kids to play together and get out some energy during those cold months. (6 months - 1 Year Old - $3 for members & non-members; 1 Year Old - 5 Years Old - $5 for members & $7 for non-members), and regular "parent's night out" events. Check the Head Over Heels website and Ithaca Family Fun calendar for current schedules.

Jillian's Drawers and Mama Goose  Now together as one store, Jillian's Drawers and Mama Goose have everything you need for babies and kids - new and used. The new location has outdoor space and will have a community room for indoor play, classes and meetings. 

Jump Around Inflatables In the Mall and at their Indoor Family Fun Center 10 Cayuga Vista Drive in Lansing -. Jump Around has party facilities that feature inflatable fun for children and adults of all ages. Inflatable Slides and bounce houses to burn off excess energy and helps keep kids fit, Toddler Playground, Video Games, Air Hockey, Private Party Rooms, open admission rates are available with unlimited times. They also rent.

Lansing Drop-In Center - This drop-off "playcare" has 3 paid staff and a parent volunteer each week. They are open MWF 9:30am-12:15pm during the school year, following the school calendar. You pay $2-$5 depending on what you can afford. They have circle time, on Wednesdays a music teacher comes in, and they provide a snack. They also do crafts, playdoh, etc.

Museum of the Earth -This museum has exhibits on rocks, fossils, dinosaurs and much more. There's a great mastodon skeleton, interactive exhibits and special events throughout the year.

Sciencenter -Possibly the Ithaca Area's finest indoor activity, the Sciencenter is full of hands on fun for children of all ages. There's a triceratops skull, toy ducks in moving water, toy trains, a touch tank, an animal room, outdoor mini-golf, and tons and tons of other exhibits. The Sciencenter regularly hosts storytimes, movies, and interactive programs. 

Shipwreck Mini Golf - In Cortland, this is the nation's largest indoor mini golf course, illuminated with black lights.  They also have a large outdoor mini golf course, and bounce houses.

Shops at Ithaca Mall - Home to play places like the SPCA and Niki's Party Place bounce houses, the mall is nice place to spend a few hours on a cold or rainy day. There are several seasonal attractions like tractors, Halloween stores, Santa, the Easter Bunny, and a toy store around Christmas time. Plus ride on cars and an arcade near the food court. BTW, the food court high chairs are kept near the entrance to Sears. They DO exist.

SPCA Annex in the Mall - This place is a great spot to play with a kitty or two. The workers are friendly and welcome children to grab a cat toy and dangle it for the cats to bat at. They sometimes have a Story time, though the program is dependent on a volunteer organizer. Donating a dollar or two when you visit is a great way to help the non-profit organization. Just be warned, they have a sign that claims "unattended children will be given an espresso and a free kitten." :)

Sunny Days is a gift shop / art gallery / performance space that has a chalk wall that kids can draw on and a basket of musical instruments. Not much but it’s something for Parents looking to do some shopping while with their kids!

Tompkins County Public Library - 607-272-4557 ext 273 Located in downtown Ithaca, the Library has a large children's area, regular story times and many programs. The programming takes short breaks throughout the year, so check the calendar or their link for storytimes. In general, regular storytimes happen Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. 

In the summer, the library also hosts storytime at the downtown Farmer's Market on Tuesdays at 11:30. 

Toy Stores - Alphabet Soup on the commons and Cat's Pajamas in the Dewitt Mall both have train tables to play with, as well as toys & books to look at.

Tot Spot- 607-273-8364  The Tot Spot is a fun indoor play area with two slide/climbing structures, many push and ride toys, books and other fun things.  Located inside the Ithaca Youth Bureau at 1 James L. Gibbs Drive in Ithaca, The Tot Spot is generally open from the end of October to Mid-April. Days and times are as follows: Mon/Tues./Thurs./Sat. 9:30 - 11:30.  The Tot Spot is for children ages 5 months -5 years.  5-12 months $2.50, 13month- 5 yrs. $4.50 per child.  Passes 6 visits for $22.  Scholarships available. 

Wkids at Wegmans - *W kids is a safe play area for 3+ up potty trained kids. Plus they have a free service where you can drive up and have your groceries loaded into your car for you. Parents must stay in the store, but sometimes mommies plan a Wkids playdate while the grownups eat or drink coffee in the cafe

YMCA - The YMCA has daycare rooms, pools, a playground, equipment and a gym. Aside from membership options (which provide tons of great classes, discounted lessons, etc), day passes are available and fun activities are often open to non-members as well. Also, Family Swim in the small pool is inexpensive available much of the week

Beyond Tompkins

The Play Space in Auburn  - A fun indoor play space for families to play, learn and grow together.