Beat the HeatStill trying to stay cool this summer?  Or maybe just get rid of some energy on a hot, rainy day?  Well, aside from the more expensive membership-only gyms, Charlotte has a lot to offer families looking for some affordable inside fun.  Inflatables, bounce houses, climbing structures, arcades, even bowling alleys are great places for little ones to have fun (and let’s be honest, even us big “kids” can enjoy a little play every now and then).

When my friends and I are looking for a way to beat the heat and only spend a few bucks, we love to check out some of these great pay-to-play places:

Monkey Joe’s

Located in Pineville, Matthews, University Area, SouthPark, and Gastonia, Monkey Joe’s offers bounce houses, arcade games, and a cool-down rest area with refreshments and TVs.  The typical price is around $10 but kids 2 and under bounce for only $6 and we like to go on half-priced Wednesdays.  Also, always look for half-price coupons and other promotions before going.


Plaza Fiesta Carolinas

Looking for an indoor playground to dwarf all others?!?  Located in Fort Mill, SC, near Carowinds Blvd, Plaza Fiesta is the largest indoor playground in the Southeast with play areas for all ages.  In addition, there is an arcade and food court.  The cost is $5/child, making Plaza Fiesta’s 6 story play place a great value.

Adventure Landing

While Adventure Landing is better known for outdoor fun, it also boasts a large arcade. Check out their two locations in Pineville and Gastonia.

Chuck E Cheese’s

For many of us, Chuck E. Cheese’s is a childhood throwback.  Video and arcade games, singing animals, and tiny rides make this a fun place to take the little ones on a hot day.  With two locations in Charlotte, and one in Concord and Gastonia, it’s easy to just get lost in memories for the day.

Sports Connection

This little spot came as a big surprise to us.  Inside what looked to be a modest building located near the intersection of Johnston Rd. and Ardrey Kell Rd. in Ballantyne, there was a secret fun zone filled with bounce houses, arcade and video games, laser tag, and even a bowling alley.  And there’s also one in the Northlake area!  Activities are individually priced but for about $10-$15/child, you can have a great, cool afternoon with the kids.

Various Bowling Alleys

I had never even considered taking a 2 year old to the bowling alley until my friends told me about a promotion.  We tried it and loved it!  Very young kid can use a special bowling ramp in addition bumpers which help get the ball down the alley and to the pins.  With so many alleys in the Charlotte area, it’s definitely worth a try.  Kids can be active indoors and have a great time.  Visit to register your child to receive a pass for two games, every day, all summer long (more about that in my next post – Free Indoor Play in Charlotte).

Always remember: Look for coupons, pack socks, and come ready to play!

Up Next: FREE Indoor Play and Low-Key Play Options (think train tables, books, and unstructured educational activities).

Read Vol. 1 of this series here.