When searching for that perfect sweater for grandma, it’s only a matter of time before your preschooler starts hiding in the clothes racks. You can avoid the hassle by acquainting her with one of these drop-in play spaces that welcome children up to age 12. Coordinate with friends and make a play date out of it. Have a kid that won’t stand for being separated from you? Check out the holiday-themed activities for kids at area malls. Downtown Plaza boasts the nearby Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink. Then hit the stores (quickly!).

(credit: kidscampfamilies.com)

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Hours: Mon. to Thurs. – 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. – 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sat. – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun. – 9 a.m.
to 7 p.m.
Price: One child – $7.79 per hour; two children – $12.79; each additional child – $3; infants 6 weeks to 24 months – add $1 to base rate

There’s a one-time registration fee of $25. Kid’s Camp accepts children up to age 12. Add $1 to the hourly rates for infants from 6 weeks old to 24 months old. There are additional locations in Elk Grove, Eldorado Hills, Folsom and Roseville-East.

KidsPark Sacramento

Hours: Mon. to Thurs. – 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri. – 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sat. – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun. 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: First child- $7.95 per hour; second sibling – $4.55; each additional sibling – $3 http://

There is a $25 registration fee. Children ages 2 to 12 are welcomed and socks are required. This location closes at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. There also is a Rocklin location that is open until midnight Friday and Saturday nights and open noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Kids Jousting

Photo Credit: Keilah Woodard

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Hours: Pre-K and Play Tuesdays 8:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Price: $20 per session or $65 for four consecutive sessions

Check out the Pre-K and play drop-off program for kids ages 3 to 5. There are structured lessons, crafts, snacks and, of course, bouncing. Admission must be pre-paid. There’s a $10 discounted trial session for first-time customers.


Hours: Thursdays 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Price: Free

Meet in Center Court near JC Penney for fun activities for kids up to age 5. Enjoy storytelling, crafts and music. Stop by the customer service desk and fill out an application to sign up or sign up on the spot. The program has been at the mall for two years. Rent a stroller at customer service for $5.

Hours: Daily through Dec. 30 – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Dec. 24 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: Two-hour session – $6; skate rental – $2

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Westfield Plaza again presents the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Find parking at the mall’s garage. Be prepared to walk a few blocks to the ice rink.

Laura O’Brien is a freelance writer and mother (swap that) living in Roseville. She blogs occasionally at www.diaperdispatch.blogspot.com.