Nichole Schrafft writes-
So, Joey asked if I’d like to put together a little list of things to do to help keep the kiddos busy while on February Vacation (I read that as a challenge in how to keep parents somewhat sane during February vacation). I’d like to make note that there are some great options in town that are already highlighted on the blog…such as The Hive and Art Haven. If you follow GMG, you have heard of them! They are beyond cool and are an incredible asset to the city! Be sure to check them out! I also have to point out that while I have been to most of these places, I am no expert. Please check out the links that I’ve provided before heading anywhere incase things have changed since I have visited!!
I’d like to start by saying that, while I know this post is about finding possibilities of things to do outside of the house, I’d be remiss to not mention that the Winter Olympics are AWESOME and having your kids get excited about watching these amazing athletes wouldn’t be a bad choice either!
There are lots of great ways to get their brains and bodies moving while enjoying the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a family. My kids are psyched to make flags from the participating nations, cook some treats from some of the countries (HELP!), make torches (not real ones), keep a chart of the medal counts, and simply watch the events!
We’ll be tracking the Olympics here:
Fairly local activities:
1. Kids bouncing off the walls? Here’s an idea…take them to a place to bounce off the walls…literally!
School vacation screams, “TAKE ME TO SKY ZONE” if you ask me!! They have a toddler jump for little leapsters under 45″ or regular jump times for bigger kids! There is an Everett location as well as a Boston location. If they don’t leave Sky Zone tired, you’re just plain out of luck.
2. For some great indoor rock climbing check out MetroRock!
They have a location in Newburyport and one in Everett. Their website was “under construction” last time I looked, but you can find it yourself with Google or any other search engine….obviously.
3. Snow Tubing at Amesbury Sports Park! Come on, a no brainer. Fun! The kids need to be 4, I think, to hit the tubes. Helmets are required for younger kids.
4. Eurostove in Beverly offers all kinds of cooking classes for couples, families, girls nights out, and even for young kids. Check out their website and see if you find anything that looks good to you or contact them to set up your own small group event!
5. While, I do not have little girls, what little girl wouldn’t love a tea party? The Wenham Tea House is such a special place for some one-on-one time with a daughter, granddaughter, niece, etc.
6. Skating at Talbot Rink at O’Malley Innovation Middle School is super cheap and easy. If the kids can skate independently then the grown-ups can sit and relax (think hot coffee and Baileys) while they get their crazies out on the ice. Win, win.
Skating is offered most days from 2:00-3:50 but be sure to check their schedule first incase games were scheduled.
They rent skates also if need be!
7. Skating at the Market Street Rink and/or Bowling at Kings in Lynnfield
Dinner at the Yard House either way afterwards…the Spicy Tuna Roll is a must have!! It has to be about 8 inch in diameter and is SOO good!
My warning here is that when we’ve gone, there has been a long wait for bowling and for dinner. So plan accordingly! We put our name in for bowling, took the pager with us to the skating rink, and it buzzed nicely when it was our turn to bowl. One person headed to Kings to save our lanes for us while the others took off their skates and we were good to go!!
8. In the category of, I’ve never gone here but want to is, The Melting Pot in Burlington. Who doesn’t love fondue?
9. As of late, if I’m in Burlington, I’m at The Rainforest Cafe, but I’m happy to report that my boys are beginning to outgrow that venue!
10. Lowell Winter Fest’s claim to fame is the National Human Dogsled Competition…with an award for best costume. Need I say more? In all seriousness…it is actually loaded with fun activities such as ice skating, snowman building, horse drawn carriage rides, music, poetry slam contests, etc. Check out the link to see a whole list of activities. The festival takes place on Feb 21st-22nd and begs the question, “When will we be having our own Winter Fest because this looks really cool?”
Fun in the city!
11. I love this Boston Scavenger Hunt text style!!!! Check out the link for more information, but the premise is that you head to Boston, purchase the pretty inexpensive clues right on the website and they get sent right to your phone. Once you arrive to one location, you do what you need to do, and then the next clue is sent! Fun for groups of 2-12! They do these scavenger hunts in other cities too, fyi.
The next two go together…kind of. It’s my “one if by land, two if by sea” duo because my boys like anything that moves on land or at sea.
12. The “by land”
I have yet to visit this place, but as a mom to two young boys who like all things shiny and fast, it is only a matter of time. I was actually surprised to learn about it not long ago, and have wondered why I’ve never heard about it before. The Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline looks beyond cool and is definitely near the top of our little bucket list.
13. The “by sea”
My boys love going to the Charlestown Navy Yard and on the USS Constitution. During vacation week there is also a Ship Model show for the budding boat builders in the group!
14. Skating at the Frog Pond is such a great activity just because it is truly so cool to look up and see the city of Boston rising up all around you. You can’t beat the view and it is, in my humble opinion, a nice treat and an easy way to get the kids into the city if they don’t go in that often.
15. Likewise, ice skating at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge is cool too. I used to spend a lot of time in Harvard Square and it can be a really nice place to take the kids if the big city overwhelms you at all.
and then lunch/dinner at Fire and Ice
16. Also in Cambridge…and good old fashion fun…is the Bugs Bunny Film Festival. Come on, right!? If you want to get your “What’s Up Doc” fix, it is showing at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square throughout the entire vacation week!
17. Celebrate Chinese New Year in Harvard Square…not sure about the timing of this event as it seems a few weeks late, but it is happening over vacation, so cheers.
February 23 1:00pm – 3:00pm
18. Hairspray is playing at the Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston….which for the record, has never disappointed me. I’ve seen 4 shows there and each one has been fantastic! This particular production says, “Recommended for adults, teens and youth 9+.”
19. If Eurostove doesn’t work out for you and you don’t mind traveling to Newton, check out Create a Cook for some pretty awesome parent/child cooking classes. Their vacation schedule is loaded with fun activities, but is filling up fast!
20. My favorite museum in Boston by far as I tend to like the smaller, less obvious choices….check it out for sure sometime. All museums, etc are obviously going to be a bit more crowded over vacation….so if not now, be sure to head back there later.
21. You don’t need me to tell you that the Museum of Science is a cool place to go, but you may not know that the Planetarium will be showing a Magic Tree House adventure. I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE the Magic Tree House series and those little adventurers named Jack and Annie. I’m so psyched to go see this (insert, sigh, what has my life come to)!
There are also several great shows in the IMAX theatre over vacation week. The one I’m the most excited about is called Journey to the South Pacific. With an introduction that says, “Swim with the world’s largest shark, encounter mysterious creatures of the sea, and explore the planet’s most spectacular coral reefs” I’m in!!
22. If you’re a Beatles fan, RAIN: a Tribute to the Beatles is playing at the Wang Theater on February 21 and 22nd. This is a pricier option than most of the others that I’ve shared, but is a pretty cool way to infuse some culture into the kids without it be too formal and straight laced.
23. Of course, there’s always Disney on Ice. I personally dread it a bit, but it is back at the TD Bank Garden for all of vacation week…
Just a bit out of state to the North or to the South!
24. While a bit of a drive… if you’re looking for a longer day trip or a quick night away, head to Providence. The Roger William’s Zoo is my favorite zoo around…even in the winter. During January and February they charge half price admission. For a mere $7.50 for adults and $4.95 for kids you can see zebra, giraffe, elephants, eagles, river otters, wolves, buffalo, kangaroo, etc. I’m pretty critical about animal enclosures and the treatment of normally wild animals when in captivity, but I assure you that this place does it right. I was super impressed with their habitats and the knowledge of the many volunteers we met along the way. Again, we were there in January, and were still not disappointed!
25. Also in Providence, if you have any hockey fans in the family, are the Providence Bruins. If you’re not keen on paying hundreds of $$ to see the Boston Bruins, this is a phenomenal option. We recently attended a game in the 3rd row and paid a total of $78 for our family of 4! Their only home game of vacation week takes place on Sunday, February 16th @ 3:05 pm. You can opt for a “Buy one, Get one” option or a “Family 4 Pack” option. Some come with hotdogs and drinks. Fool around a bit with seat availability and price/package options and get yourself a great deal. Parking at the mall that connects with the Dunkin’ Donuts Center cost us a whopping $2 and we left our car there for easily 4 hours!
26. IF you happen to land in Providence and have kiddos between say 4 and 18, you could also check out Dave and Busters. For the record, you won’t catch me in a Chuck E. Cheese or Bonkers ever, but this place is awesome!! You can load a card with as much, or as little, cash as you’d like and the kids simply swipe and play. The place is loaded with cool games..some that the whole family can play together. The kids will score tickets to spend on the way out and, as is typical for this type of place, a gazillion tickets will buy you a rabbit’s foot key chain or a pair of whacky giant-sized plastic sunglasses. My 4 and 6 year olds had a blast running around playing games for a couple hours after we enjoyed a pretty decent dinner!
If you don’t land in Providence, Dave and Busters has a location in Braintree, Massachusetts too. Worth the drive for some fun.
27. This is a small but nice museum about 15 mins away from Portsmouth, NH…in Dover. This place is really cute and user friendly, so to speak. You’re only going to spend about 2 hours here, but it is easy, manageable, pretty quiet, really clean, and full of original, educational, and really fun activities. My boys loved it here and I felt like they could really take their time in the exhibits without being rushed by the massive crowds that we experience at bigger museums.
28. Speaking of Portsmouth, the small-but-packs-a-big-punch SeaCoast Science Center is a must. Ordione Point State Park is gorgeous if the weather is nice, but the science center is a hit no matter what the weather!! It isn’t crazy like the New England Aquarium, which I love…but I leave there feeling exhausted. It is hands-on and really cute, while being super educational! It is perfect for kids between 2-10 or maybe even a bit older.