Where to cool off or stay dry this summer

I'm offering some options for avoiding the hot sun or the rain this summer.

The weather report is calling for a hot afternoon today in Southborough followed by heavy rain tomorrow. Both forecasts may have you looking for indoor options to entertain yourself/your family – beyond staring at your own screens.

I also understand that those without A/C (or with inefficient ones) may be less interested in entertainment than simply escaping the heat on hot afternoons this summer.

(For those who aren’t put off by fun in the hot sun, as long as there is water to play in, click here for my post on nearby splash pads, wading pools and lakes.)

Most of the local options below are geared to families with kids. But there are also ones good for teens and adults (especially if you’re young at heart!) 

Free entertainment/relaxation

  • Free playspace: The Solomon Pond Mall playspace is open – geared to really little ones. (Unfortunately, the other usual area options are either closed or charging.)
  • Libraries

The Southborough Public Library is open today until 5:00 pm. In high heat, it can be a little warmer than usual – but certainly better than outdoors. Find a comfy chair and a good book to curl up with. The “Teen Space” is a good area for young adults to hang out. And the Children’s Room offers lots of summer reading activities for younger kids. (Hours are 10-5 on Monday and Friday, 10-9 Tues-Thurs.) This morning is their annual 4th of July parade for kids beginning at 11am.
Unfortunately, our Library is closed on weekends in July & August. Fortunately, Northborough, Marlborough, Westborough, Hopkinton and Hudson are all open on Saturdays this summer – and on the same library card system as Southborough. So you can check materials out there and return them in Southborough (or vice versa). (Framingham and Ashland are also open, but they’re not on the same lending system.)

Indoor Play for a price

  • Paid playspace: The Natick Mall playspace now charges for kids 0-12 yr olds to play there. (It’s usually open daily, but it’s closed this Saturday-Monday for the 4th of July.) Let’s Bee Kids playcenter in Hudson is another option, open Mondays – Saturdays. (Playtown Express in Southborough apparently never reopened after its “temporary” closure in 2020.)
  • Trampolines/inflatables – Both of these are open daily starting at 10:00 am, but require purchasing tickets:
  • Entertainment Centers/Arcades/Laser tag: 
    • Apex Entertainment Center in Marlborough has limited hours these days. But when it is open, it definitely has the largest range of indoor activities – ropes course, bowling, arcade, laser tag, Bumper cars, go karts, sports simulators, arcade, and mini golf. Bowling has to be booked at least 24 hours in advance. The facility is closed on Mondays. (Note: Altitude Trampoline Park and Breakout escape rooms share the facility but have their own hours. Apex Kids hours are also different – as listed above) 
    • Dave & Busters at the Natick Mall has an arcade, virtual reality games, and sports bar. Fun & Games in Framingham and Pinz Bowling in Milford also both have an arcade and laser tag. (Roller Kingdom also offers laser tag.)
  • Bowling: 
    • Apex (needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance and is closed on Mondays
    • Pinz in Milford (with an arcade and laser tag) is open daily. (You can sign kids up to bowl for free throughout the summer – two free games per day.)
    • Bowlero in Shrewsbury is open daily (varying hours)
    • Sawyer’s Bowladrome in Northborough is a small candlepin bowling alley. (I recommend calling ahead to check on their availability.)
  • Skating: Roller Kingdom in Hudson (Currently only open for Wednesday and Friday evenings, plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Wednesday’s are “Dollar Nights”.)
  • Challenges/Escape Rooms:
    • Breakout at Apex (open daily with options to book starting at 10:00 am)
    • Level 99 at the Natick Mall is described as offering “challenge based entertainment”. It includes a slew of physical and mental challenges that can be taken on individually or as a team. Instead of purchasing a challenge, you purchase the amount of time you want to spend in the facility. (It opens at 11:00 am daily with varying closing hours.) 
  • Painting pottery: PYOP Studio in Northborough (closed Mondays & Tuesdays), Clay Time in Shrewsbury, Plaster Fun Time (One opened in Marlborough. The Framingham location closed.)
  • Museums: Click here for museum passes offered by the Southborough Public Library. (Plus, Highland Street Foundation will be offering free admission to one Massachusetts museum/venue each day in August. Check that out here.)
  • $2 matineesIt won’t help today or tomorrow – but this one is a great option throughout the summer to break up the week. Solomon Pond Mall’s summer deal is back for kids’ movies matinees on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this summer. As usual, the discounted lineup doesn’t include recent releases. The times vary by movie.

Now – where do you like to find indoor fun for kids? Post your favorite places below.

(I’m especially curious if anyone knows of drop in or one-day-at-a-time gymnastics options for toddlers and preschoolers. I haven’t seen any options in recent years.)

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