Though the city that’s now Sterling, Virginia, was mostly farmland until the mid-1960s, savvy developers recognized that the area’s close proximity to Washington, D.C. made it prime real estate -- and soon the former farmland was transformed into a bustling city. Though all the attractions of the nation’s capital city are just 30 minutes away, Sterling and the surrounding areas offer plenty of toddler-friendly indoor activities.
A quick 10-minute drive from Sterling in the neighboring city of Ashburn, Chibis Indoor Playground (chibisindoorplayground.com), designed just for kids age 6 and younger has lots of equipment for climbing, bouncing and exploring. Indoor Playground has open play hours every day, so you don’t have to plan a trip in advance. To burn off more energy, you can take your toddler to a play session at MoBu Kids (mobukids.com) in nearby Falls Church, less than 20 miles from Sterling. The play studio’s soft sculpture play area and safety flooring make it safe for preschoolers to roll, run and play. At Dulles Town Center mall (shopdullestowncenter.com), kids can play in the toddler play area located upstairs near the food court. Chuck E. Cheese’s (chuckecheese.com) also has a Sterling location with the usual roundup of games and rides, including a special toddler zone designed especially for younger kids.
Toddlers can get a hands-on taste of what farming life was like in Sterling’s agrarian past at the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum (loudounfarmmuseum.org), which has children's farm exhibit where toddlers get to milk a life-like cow, ride play ponies, collect eggs from the artificial chickens, pretend to be an old-fashioned storekeeper or deliver mail to the general store. At the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (airandspace.si.edu), an outpost of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, located in Chantilly, which is only about 15 minutes from Sterling, toddlers can get an up-close look at all kinds of aircraft and space ships. The museum has some toddler-friendly events, including story times, so check the website’s calendar to see what’s coming up. About 30 minutes away from Sterling in Alexandria is Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (alexandriava.gov), which offers a weekly open playtime called Tavern Toddlers -- and is a fun way to introduce your little one to the historic museum.
Classes and Activities
Just a 20 minute drive from Sterling, My Gym Chantilly (mygym.com/chantilly) in Chantilly has development-specific classes for toddlers, designed to help your child improve skills like balancing and jumping while having fun tumbling and climbing. The Loudoun County Public Library (library.loudoun.gov) has branches throughout the county that offer toddler classes like Rhythm, Rhyme and Storytime and Babygarten Storytime for younger toddlers. Ten minutes away in Reston, kids can explore the gallery at the Reston Arts Center (restonarts.org), and then head into the Explore More! Learning Center to create their own masterpieces inspired by the center’s collection.
Most toddlers love splashing in the water -- and the indoor water park at the Claude Moore Recreation Area (loudoun.gov) has plenty of toddler-friendly extras, including a giant slide, a kids’ play area and a lazy river for inner tubing fun. If your toddler is enthusiastic about hitting the water, the center also offers private swimming lessons. The Potomac Swim School (potomacswimschool.com) in Ashburn, 10 minutes from Sterling, also offers toddler swimming classes. Here, parents get in the water with the tots, making for a great bonding experience. At the Cub Run RECenter (fairfaxcounty.gov) in Chantilly, toddlers can get in more splash time on the indoor water playground and special, tot-size slide.