The outdoor playgrounds where I live are pretty great, as long as the weather is, too. On rainy days or hot-and-humid days, though, a mom with a car full of energetic, stir-crazy kids can run into problems. There are only so many times (read: one) that I can deal with indoor play spaces populated by costumed rodents and filled with blaring horns, flashing lights, bad pizza, and cheap plastic prizes before my sanity goes down for the count. Thank goodness for Perpetual Motion in Lowell, which offers all of the great parts of a well-appointed playground - a huge sandbox, traditional and tire swings, climbing structures, ride-on toys - without the sensory overload.
Perpetual Motion is air-conditioned (a bonus, since my house is not), with huge frosted windows that let in plenty of light. The 18,000-square-foot carpeted space is divided into two areas: one for toddlers and preschoolers, and the other for older kids. And the prices are reasonable: An all-day pass to play in either area is $9.50 (toddlers age 10 months to 23 months are $7.50, adults and infants are free), and school-age kids can play in both for $12.50 (cash or check only, though - no plastic). They're open seven days a week.
The little kids' space features an enormous four-car train with tunnels, ramps, and a ball pit; there's also a toy-filled sandbox, swings, and a double-wide sliding platform to explore. The "school-age" side is designed for kids who are at least 5-years old and 42 inches tall; it offers a huge foam pit, rope climbing structures, an obstacle course, and a challenging climbing wall. The two play areas are divided by an eating area and a concession stand (with surprisingly good pizza).
We met up with some friends and found that our tweens didn't want to leave the foam pit, our preschoolers loved being able to race around the open spaces freely, and my toddler came home covered in sand and ready for a nap. Which makes Perpetual Motion perfect, in my book.