“Mama, I’m Bored” |Ten Fun Places to Take Toddlers

As a new mom of my toddler, I always felt like a magician of sorts in trying to come up with ideas for fun activities that we could do together that wouldn’t a) break my bank or b) bore her (or me) to death. But with time and some creativity, I can honestly say that I’ve honed in on my talent to entertain my toddler. I now have a list of go-to places that I know are guaranteed to work (on any given day).

Since I know that the whole “mama, I’m bored” deal, the glazed eyes and slouched shoulders are frustrating for most parenting, I wanted to share my list here with you. So, without further ado, my list of 10 places I take my toddler for fun are:

The Mall. Yeah, I know. Malls can be very bad places if you’re a one-time recovering retail therapy addict, but for the sake of my toddler, well, you can let that whole thing slide, right? I began really going to malls for fun with my toddler when I was pregnant with my second daughter. “Why?” you ask. Oh, well, if you’ve ever been pregnant with a toddler running around, you know that the main thing that you need when being a parent who entertains is easy-peasy entertainment. And that’s what malls are for me.  To learn about the happenings at your local mall, just check out its guest services department. Seriously. It’s just that easy.

The Aquarium. Aquariums are a fabulous place to go with toddlers because they provide ready-made, easy fun for your toddler. If you plan to go more than once a year, consider getting the most bang for your buck and buy an annual membership. As a member of my local aquarium, along with being able to go whenever I want, I’m often sent great deals and coupons on current or forthcoming attractions.

The Library. Mmmm. Let me count the ways I love libraries. Well, they’re free. They are in every city. They have children’s section that don’t require silence or slow-paced walking. Oh, and they also have lots of weekday and weekend events, like storytimes and picnics that are designed for toddlers. Libraries, like malls, are another hidden gem in communities that most parents overlook when looking for inexpensive ways to entertain their toddlers.

The Park. What’s not to love about parks? I mean, really. They’re free and they’re outside. And in case you haven’t heard, toddlers love to be outside! Finding hot new parks at this point in my life is my equivalent to finding a hot restaurant or lounge in my past life. I know. It’s sad. But it feels so right!

Aquatic centers. For broke parents like me, aquatics centers are great places to go for easy, drop-in fun. Most aquatic centers offer swimming lessons for toddlers and drop-in rates for open swim fun.

Pet stores. I discovered this one during my first trimester of pregnancy. We stumbled upon a pet store on a trip somewhere else. We didn’t take any furry creatures home. No, no, that would be too “normal.” Instead we just looked around, pointing to odd looking lizards and sad looking puppies. Now, with both my daughters, I go to the pet store almost weekly, just because it’s loads of fun and, oh yeah, free.

The Zoo. Need I say more?

McDonalds’ Playgrounds. Okay, before you throw your keyboard at me, hear me out. I like McDonalds and Chik fil’ A playgrounds. I like that they’re free and that lunch is nearby. I also like that nine times out of ten, they’re filled with other children who are ready to have a blast and parents who, like me, are ready (eager) to take a break.

The City. I live in the suburbs, so I enjoy going to the city for fun. I enjoy the city for all it represents—or the smells, the buildings, the crowds, and the fabulous parks. Oh, and my toddler likes it, too.

Petting Zoos. Much like pet stores, petting zoos are a big hit with my toddler. And they’re a bit hit with me because they’re usually free or very cheap.

What are some of your favorite things to do with your toddler?


  1. Sorry those McDonald playgrounds are the pits and the ones near me don’t have apparatuses for 19 month olds. The mall sounds like a good idea kind of.

  2. I love indoor playgrounds too, especially on rainy or cold days when we can’t go to the park. I try to put the nasty stories I’ve heard out of my mind and wash up afterwards! We always make sure to wash our hands well after playing at any playground (at least in theory, haha). We love to visit all these place on your list, especially the library. Local bookstores also often have storytime and crafts for kids that are free. Also Lowes and Home Depot have saturday building project for kids that I think are also free, you just have to reserve a spot.

  3. The last time I was at a McDonald’s playground with my kid was 6 1/2 years ago when my oldest was about 18 months old. I went up into the tunnels with her and we started climbing all over the place and it was so much fun…. until we came across some discarded chewing gum that was smeared all over the inside of the tunnel (thankfully we saw it in time to stop- another kid wasn’t so lucky)! The gum wasn’t the worst thing, though. AFTER we were out, and getting ready to leave, a kid ran over to his mom and said (and this is a direct quote), “She’s throwing up again!” Genius mom brought her kid with a stomach bug to the playground because she thought it would be good to get her little precious out of the house for a bit. So little precious threw up in the tunnels. My children and I have witnessed all sorts of nasty things happening on those playgrounds. Kids throwing up, kids covered in snot, kids who aren’t completely potty trained, toddlers with nasty diapers breaking open on the slide and smearing all sorts of disgusting goo all the way down. Thankfully, we have only witnessed these incidents from the outside looking in (and being grateful the whole time that we weren’t in there!).

    Indoor playgrounds are nasty, nasty places! I miss the good old days when playgrounds were outside in the sunshine. If anything nasty happened, a worker would just hose it down and life went on. Literally, they hosed it down water hose and let the sun kill all the germs and everyone was happy. Those were good times.


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