Escape the Chill: Erie's FREE Indoor Play Places for Frightful Days

For those days when you just need to get out of the house!

By Kara Murphy, publisher of Macaroni KID Erie January 9, 2024

'Tis the season for indoor adventures in Erie, Pa! With the upcoming frigid weather (lows in the teens next week), there's no need to stay cooped up at home. Discover five fantastic indoor destinations in Erie where kids can unleash their energy and have a blast without turning your house into a playground:

Visiting with a rabbit at Asbury Woods.

1. Asbury Woods

Asbury Woods Nature Center offers both indoor and outdoor fun. While their outdoor trails and nature exploration are always worthwhile of exploration, their indoor Nature Center is just as impressive. It features exhibits with live animals, educational displays, and a discovery room where children can learn and play. FREE admission.

  • April 1 - October 31: Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.
  • November 1  - March 31: Monday  - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Photo from TREC Foundation

From the second floor of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

2. Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) is an excellent destination for both education and indoor fun. While the interactive exhibits and educational displays provide valuable insights into the local environment and wildlife, the TREC also offers a play area for kids. Children can enjoy a hands-on learning experience while exploring the center's various exhibits and then take a break with some indoor playtime. FREE admission.

  • April 1 through October 31: 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. daily
  • Nov. 1 through March 31: Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Look at all these building blocks available to kids at Iroquois Library!

3. Blasco and the Erie Library Branches

The Children's Room at Blasco Library is a haven for kids who love books, with a wide selection of age-appropriate reading material. Additionally, the library offers interactive play spaces, educational toys, and cozy reading nooks where children can explore their imaginations. The other Erie County Public Libraries are just as welcoming. Visit all of them this winter! 


  • Mon.-Thur. 9:00-8:30 PM
  • Fri.-Sat. 9:00-5:00 PM
  • Sun. 1:00-5:00 PM


  • Mon.-Tues. 9:00-8:00 PM
  • Wed.-Sat. 9:00-5:00 PM

The entrance to the Widget Kidz Zone.

4. Widget Kidz Zone at Millcreek Mall

The play area features a variety of Erie-themed climbing structures, slides, and soft play surfaces designed for children to have a blast in a safe environment. Parents can relax on benches while keeping an eye on their kids.

Mall hours
  • Mon–Sat 10am-9pm
  • Sun 11am-6pm

5. McDonald's and Chick-fil-A

If you're looking for a quick bite to eat and a place for your children to play, both the neighboring Chick-fil-A and McDonald's on upper Peach Street in Erie, Pa., offer indoor play areas. These fast-food restaurants have designated play zones where kids can climb, slide, and have fun.

Have a favorite FREE indoor play place we're missing in Erie? Let me know at and I'll add it to the list!