116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — If your preschooler is bouncing off the walls after too much sugar and not enough exercise, welcome to Iowa winter.
For decades, the Iowa City Parks & Recreation Department has offered Tot Time, a low-cost indoor play program at Mercer Aquatic Center & Scanlon Gym on weekday mornings from early January through April.
There, preschool age kids can wear themselves out with tricycles, inflatables, tumbling mats, play castles, slides, basketball hoop, balancing toys and a rotating list of activities, such as LEGO toys, coloring and Play-Doh.
“It’s one of the most popular programs we have,” said Kate Connell, aquatics supervisor for the city. “It’s really fun and it’s always pretty busy.”
Tot Time is unique in that it is hosted in a public space at a fairly lost cost — $1 per child — which lowers the barrier to participation.
The admission cost allows Matt Eidahl, assistant recreation superintendent, to replace worn items and add new toys and inflatables every year, Connell said. Tot Time is a great place for kids to try out new toys their parents may want to buy for home use, she added.
“We try to have enough diversity so there are different things for kids and their preference for play,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything.”
The program gives young kids a chance to develop gross motor skills, get exercise and socialize with other children. It also provides a place for parents to meet up, sit on provided bleachers and socialize while their children play safely.
The program is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, Jan. 9 through April 28, excluding Jan. 16 and the week of March 13. On Thursdays, the Iowa City Public Library Bookmobile is parked outside Tot Time from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. for parents and children to pick up or return books, DVDs and other materials.
Iowa City also offers Tot Play Parties, in which parents can rent out the Tot Time space and toys for costs ranging from $100 and $135. For more information, call the Parks & Rec customer service desk at (319) 356-5100.
Tot Time: Open weekdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 9 to April 28, excluding holidays. Cost is $1 per child, for kids 6 and under. Address: Iowa City Scanlon Gym at 2701 Bradford Dr., Iowa City
North Liberty Community Center play area: Free, small indoor play space open weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekends 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Address: 520 W. Cherry St., North Liberty
Coral Ridge Mall play area: Free children’s play area near Barnes & Noble open during mall hours. Address: 1451 Coral Ridge Ave., Coralville
Iowa Children’s Museum: Open for all ages, Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for children and adults, $9 seniors. Address: 1451 Coral Ridge Ave., Coralville
Play Cafe: Open to kids 6 and younger (older siblings can come to help) Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Regular admission is $6 per child. You can buy a 10-play punch card for $50. Address: 143 Marion Blvd. Suite A, Marion
Synergy Gymnastics: Open gym for kids Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. Cost is $8 cash or $9 credit per child. Address: 455 Herky St., North Liberty
Twisters Gymnastics: Parent/Tot open gym Wednesday 11 a.m. to noon, Fridays from 2 to 3 p.m. or 3 to 4 p.m. $6 per child. Address: 4625 Tower Terrace Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
Fun Station: Play maze open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $11.99 per child, $3 on Wednesdays. Address: 200 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
The Shell, Indoor Play Space: Free play for kids 6 and under 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, $10 per child. Address: 4625 Tower Terrace Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
AirFX: Offers Junior Jumpers for kids 6 and under, Thursday to Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. Cost is $8 per child, parents can jump for free. Address: 1100 N. 18th Ave., Hiawatha
Sky Zone: Little Leapers is for kids 6 and under, Sunday 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. $14.99 for one child and adult. Address: 5515 Council St. NE, Cedar Rapids
Defy Iowa City: KidJump is for kids 6 and under. Ninety-minute passes are sold for $15.99 (for one child and parent) from 10 to 11 on weekdays. Address: 851 Highway 6 East, Suite 102, Iowa City
Comments: (319) 339-3157; email@example.com