When it rains, we sing this classic nursery rhyme: “Rain, rain go away / come again another day / little Johnny wants to play”
Who little Johnny is remains a mystery, but I’m pretty sure the kid lives in central Europe (maybe even Zurich – Europe’s rainiest city, according to The Telegraph). It can be wet and gray for days near Zug, where we live, too.
Jumping in puddles on a rainy day or playing at home only entertains the kids for so long. I can’t convince them to join me in curling up with a good novel. Play-Doh is good for a while (a while of playing, and a while of me scraping it off furniture and clothes). We love crafts – until the 2-year-old goes Edward Scissorhands on his sister’s hair.
There is fun to be had around Zug and Luzern – but where?
So we went on a hunt for the best indoor fun for kids around Zug, Luzern and a bit beyond. We tried as many of them personally as we could, and collected tested tips from other local families. We were liberal with the location and included a couple of options in surrounding cantons. (For rainy day ideas around Zurich, check out Any Working Mom’s 25 life-saving tips for rainy days.)
These rainy day tips are mainly sorted by type of activity, not location. (We don’t shy away from a little extra travel. It means an easy nap on the road.) Et voila – here you go!
Museums and more around Zug and Luzern
#1 Museum Burg Zug (Zug Castle Museum)
Nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2017, there’s a play area as well as hands-on features for preschoolers, and cards with a character to accompany older kids through the museum.
#2 Verkehrshaus, a.k.a. the Swiss Museum of Transport (Luzern)
Maybe the number-one experience indoors with kids in all of Switzerland. So much to see, learn, touch, climb, try – for all ages. Choo choos, planes, vehicles galore and much, much more.
#3 Gletscher Garten Luzern (Glacier Garden)
There’s a partially covered area outside where you can gape at the glacier ‘potholes,’ and the museum is child-friendly, with some fun features – though it’s not a children’s museum. But the real wet-weather wonderland here is the hall of mirrors maze with 90 mirrors. Foreheads will get bumped – but no one will mind. The famous ‘Dying Lion of Lucerne’ monument is next door, so if you brought umbrellas, you might as well have a look while you’re there. Note: Some parts of the museum are stroller accessible, but it’s better to come without wheels.
Bugs, animals, science – with extra activities on Wednesdays for kids 5 and up and other events for children (check the schedule online).
#5 Höllgrotten Caves (Baar)
Featuring bizarre formations with names like The Enchanted Castle and the Fairy Tale Grotto. My toddlers are the type who obsess about monsters in the dark, which leads to them crawling into my bed and kicking me in the throat all night, so we’re holding off on this one for now. But we’ll be all over this place when they are a bit older.
#6 ChocoWorld at Aeschbach Chocolatier (Root-Luzern)
A small museum, chocolate tasting and a toppings buffet where mini-chocoholics can personalize a Schoggitafel with sprinkles, Smarties and more (for an additional fee). Watch online for events such as decorating chocolate Santas and Easter bunnies.
#7 Chocolat Frey Visitor Center (Buchs/Aargau)
Welcome to the Disneyland of Swiss chocolate. If you can make peace with your kids having access to all-you-can-eat chocolate, there are a bunch of fun activities. The café has a small play corner (and there’s a big outdoor terrace with Bobby cars if the rain lets up). (Though not in Zug or Luzern, it’s worth the trip – especially if you have visitors.)
Indoor play centers
They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but we love ‘em. These all have separate areas for toddlers to play safely away from the hyper big kids. Everyone plays for hours and leaves sweaty, sleepy and happy.
#8 Paradisimo (Pfäffikon/Schwyz)
Board games, books, air hockey and a basketball game, plus the usual climbing and bouncing. The café has some options that might appeal to adults (think avocado salad) as well as the standards (pizza, ice cream, etc.).
#9 Lololino (Hunzenschwil/Aargau)
Riding a sled ride down rollers on an incline was fun for all of us, and of course they’ve got the classics, too – featuring a big climbing structure and slides. Lololino is friendly, spacious and airy, justifying the longer drive (and remember: longer ride = longer nap).
#10 Kids Arena (Emmen)
A bit dark and small – not our favorite – but it does the job and is manageable for younger kids. (Insider tip: Skip the café and grab burritos a few minutes down the road on the way home.)
#11 Wohncenter Emmen
A slide and a big ball pit in a light-filled area in the shopping center.
#12 Nuejo’s Family Center (Baar)
Nuejo’s is the new kid in town, with play zones, snacks and coffee, and drop-off activities.
Active rainy-day fun around Zug and Luzern
Swimming is great for everyone, even babies. Everything else can be done with preschoolers but is especially fun for the bigger kids.
#13 Swiss Holiday Park (Morschach)
It’s a resort with hotel rooms and holiday apartments, but you can also get a day pass to try the pool (including kiddie area and slides), bowling, table tennis, a climbing wall and more.
Switzerland landlocked? Pshaw! This is Switzerland’s biggest water park, and a beloved destination for “joker days” from school. With a kids zone for the 6-and-unders.
#15 More swimming
- Hallenbad Allmend (Luzern) Indoor swimming and watersliding
- Hallenbad Lättich (Baar) An indoor (and outdoor, in summer) pool much loved by families
- Ägeribad (Oberägeri) A new indoor pool by the lake with lovely views, a slide and a great kiddie pool
With bumpers for the little ones (and the clumsy big ones, ahem).
- Fun Bowl Stockmatt (Affoltern am Albis)
- Bowling- and Freitzeitcenter Whiteline (Meierskappel) – This place also has a nifty stand with a slide for the ball to help little kids get momentum, and air hockey and pinball.
#17 Ice skating
- Eiszentrum Luzern
- Bossard Arena (Zug) Outdoors, but covered – seasonal. Check the website for dates.
Cafés and restaurants with play areas near Luzern and Zug
When you need to work or want to read, or crave a play date that with a chance of actually talking with your grown-up friend, these are the best.
#18 Libelle (Luzern)
A café and restaurant with a neighborhood feel that’s as nice for dinner as for Z’nuni or Z’vieri (morning or afternoon snack). It’s got ambience and an innovative menu, and there’s a play corner and space for strollers and kids.
#19 Kaspar (Luzern)
A new café and bar that feels trendy and very grown up, with a small but well-stocked play room for babies and tots.
#20 Umami (Cham)
Luscious scones, hummus and teas, very cozy, and a small corner with toys. Warning: This place is best with non-mobile babies who will stay in the corner or kids who are old enough not to run around and endanger the fine table wear and decor.
#21 Cafe Luzia (Cham)
I got 99 problems, but keeping my kids happy in an ice cream parlor isn’t one. Still, the little play corner at this homey gelateria lets the good times roll even longer.
#22 Café Spatzentreff (Cham)
Made for families, who much appreciate this welcoming space.
#23 Café and Bistro Plaza (Cham)
A gem, despite being dim on a gray day. The roomy dining/play room is filled with toys, and separate from the rest of the café (to the mutual delight of the families and other guests).
#24 Intermezzo (Zug)
A charming café in the old town of Zug loved for its crêpes and play section.
#25 Chärnsmatt (Rothenburg)
There’s a room apart from the dining area with a decent-sized climbing structure, a room with paper for coloring – and on Sundays, a nanny to mind the kids. (There’s a huge playground outside, too, worth visiting in nice weather.)
#26 uno e più (Kriens)
Jackpot! A quality restaurant with plenty of kiddie entertainment. The play space is light, near the tables and adjacent to the terrace. If the rain lets up, kids can move to the outdoor playground that’s also in sight of the tables.
#27 Ristorante Centro (Luzern)
Similar to uno e più (above), though the toys seem more worn and the play area is smaller and separate from the dining room.
#28 MyStop (Affoltern am Albis)
Believe it or not, families can spend hours in the restaurant (upper level) of this highway rest stop. The food is great. The restaurant is clean and bright, with big windows for watching the cars on the Autobahn or gazing at the Alps. And the play area provides a surprisingly big dose of entertainment. The only drawback is that the toilets and changing table are one level down and require a token. Make sure to get tokens (they’re free) in advance from the cashier so you’re ready for a quick trip when someone has to go NOW.
Also important: Exit the Autobahn at Affoltern am Albis and enter the rest area from the surface road, across from the Oil! gas station. Otherwise, when you leave you will be forced to continue driving in the same direction on the highway you came from, instead of turning to head back home.
#29 Tibits (Luzern train station)
A small corner in the back of the restaurant with books, coloring pages and trainspotting over the tracks. This is not the place for your wild thing to burn off pent-up energy (nor is it the place to eat steak, since Tibits is a beloved Swiss vegetarian chain): But it is a welcoming, child-friendly area good for when kids are in a calmer state and receptive to quiet activities.
#30 Neubad (Luzern)
This is where the kids can get their crazies out. It’s not posh, but this community center with a former swimming pool that’s now used for events (yes, IN the pool – now empty) welcomes visitors with a cool, urban vibe. Watch the schedule for events such as children’s theater. The bistro has a separate kids room with a few toys; but mostly, there’s lots of space and a diverse, chill crowd unlikely to glare if your kids run around.
#31 Dany’s (Ibach/Schwyz)
The place has a fast-food feel, but a good-sized play room apart from the main dining room.
#32 McDonald’s (Baar)
Featuring: fresh o.j. and croissants, a clean indoor play structure and running space. At McDonald’s. Weird but true! Also, free balloons that double as fencing swords. We’re generally not Mickey D. fans, but this place has been a haven for my toddlers.
Coop and Migros Restaurants
Many of the restaurants attached to the bigger supermarket chains Coop and Migros have a play area. Some are quite good and others are just meh, but convenient as a bribe for good behavior during a shopping trip.
Here are a few around Zug, Luzern and Central Switzerland.
#33 Coopark (Affoltern am Albis)
A bit worn and grungy, but there’s a decent-sized space for kids to get physical. (Also, there’s a nice Vitalis kids shop around the corner with a small space for breastfeeding and a little play area.). Psst: If you put money in the carousel here, please don’t tell my kids: They think it’s broken….
#34 Coop City (Zug)
Bigger than some and set back from the main dining room – all the better to keep the little runners from escaping.
#35 Coop Restaurant Seewen Markt (Seewen/Schwyz)
Small and open, and rather easy for the little runners to escape. But it will keep little ones busy long enough for one coffee.
#36 Coop Restaurant (Baar)
Conveniently located near the train station.
#37 Migros Restaurant Zugerland (Steinhausen)
On school holidays, the multitude of children climbing all over the play structure reminds me of ants swarming in an ant hill. So. Many. Kids. But it’s a nice play space, anyway.
Small and dim, but it’s not super easy for running toddlers to break free. That is a huge plus in my book.
Family / Community centers
These tend to be welcoming, with inexpensive cafés. Sometimes they provide drop-off child care on certain days, as is the case with the Familienzentrum in Affoltern am Albis and kindLine in Unterägeri. Make sure to check schedules online first, as they change depending on school vacations and special events.
#40 kindLine Family Café (Unterägeri)
kindLine also features a program in English, making it especially welcoming to the international community.
#41 Lili Centre (Luzern)
A multipurpose space aimed at the international community, with a calendar full of activities and a Parents & Tots playgroup Friday mornings.
#42 International Mums and Kids Club (Zug)
This is not a locale for a spontaneous one-off visit. But members can attend one of the daily playgroup sessions for babies and preschoolers, all held in a newly renovated space with toys and comfy seating (and outdoor play when the rain stops).
Drop-off play rooms around Zug, Luzern and Central Switzerland:
Some might say that we saved the best for (almost) last…. These places generally allow stays of one to three hours.
#43 Kaleidoscop (Mall of Switzerland, Ebikon)
We love it. Unlike most drop-off childcare, you can bring kids of all ages, even babies. It’s separated into spaces for 5-and-unders and 5-and-ups, and occasionally a dancing robot stops by. Liberated parents can shop or make use of the abundant seating with power outlets, USB ports and Wifi. Around the mall, various hallways showcase fun, interactive displays to make music or animal sounds.
#44 Ikea Småland (Rothenburg)
For ages 3 through 7, and it’s free.
#45 Purzelbaum (Zugerland, Steinhausen)
This childcare has a good reputation and newly renovated premises. Ages 3-7. Shopping and Wifi await you in the mall.
#46 Kinderparadies (Emmen Center in Emmenbrücke)
Also for ages 3-7. Neither we nor friends have tested this one yet, but #goodtoknow.
#47 kindLine Takatukaland (Unterägeri)
Also untested, but recommended.
#48 Many gyms include childcare (examples: Migros Fitnesspark National in Luzern or one of the branches of One Training Center). So if it rains, your kids can play and you can workout… or you could just drink some green juice and pop into the sauna….
#49 And finally: follow local activity listings
- Browse the new website Zug Families for more inspiration for outings and events as well as classes and other practical information.
- Check out the calendar of the Lili Center in Luzern and sign up for the newsletter.
- Find more ideas on Kinderregion, which covers Zug, Zurich, Lake Zurich, Baden and Winterthur.
- Look up kids’ activities at the library in Zug (Bibliothek Zug).
Where do you take your kids when it’s wet? We’d be grateful for your tips to help make this the most useful list ever for rainy days around Zug and Luzern! Please comment below (all the way down if on a mobile phone) – thank you!
Thanks to Tia Fueter as well as Kaccey Mayer and the other superhero moms of International Mums and Kids Club of Zug for suggesting some of these excellent rainy-day escapes.
If you’re looking to stay busy indoors, venture to some of these rainy-day havens around Zurich. Or make some yummy treats in the kitchen: Easy Brunch Recipes for Lazy Parents (Easter Edition) (which are not actually just for brunch, or Easter. Or lazy people). Or just daydream about sunnier days and read up on summer and beach hacks.
Beth G. Bayley is a US-born freelance writer and German-English translator with three kids, ranging from toddler to teen. They’ve got a drawerful of passports among them and a penchant for both Cheerios and Rivella. Beth’s Swiss adventures started on the playgrounds of urban Basel, but she now counts goats and cows among her neighbors in the countryside near Zurich. Follow Beth on Instragram and check out her word-nerd powers at Bayley Communications.