6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

It’s raining. Or cold. And you’ve been inside your home with your kids for way too long. What do you do?

Our son, ZJ, is two and exerts more energy in one hour than I do in a week. He is a runner and I am usually exhausted by the end of the day.  But it’s so important that we give him time and space to run and play.

This winter has been cold and rainy, which has severely limited his outside time. Spring is almost here but that promises more rain.

So, we’ve been forced to be creative.

Our criteria for a rainy-day activity is that it be relatively inexpensive and not too far away from our home. Our son needs a large space to explore, and ideally we want him to be exposed to new things.

Here are few of the places we took our toddler this year so far, which we highly recommend:

1. Pet store.

Take your kid to look at the fish and birds and reptiles at your local pet store. The pet stores near us don’t sell dogs, but many have pet adoption days. On one hand, it’s great because your kid gets to directly interact with the dogs who are up for adoption. On the other, if you are not careful, you may walk out with a new dog in tow!

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

2. Local hotels and convention centers.

We have found a hotel that is perfect for our two-year old. We recently went to the Washington Gaylord Hotel, which has water fountains, tons of tall staircases and beautiful views of the harbor nearby. We even ran into the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders! You need to be choosy which hotel you take your kid to, but they generally have plenty of space for roaming, especially if it’s also a convention center.

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

 

3. Bookstores and libraries.

Take advantage of bookstores and libraries, which often have book readings for young kids. Or, kid-size tables to explore new books. Our local Barnes and Noble has occasional book readings on Saturday mornings. Our library has readings too, but usually during the week when we work. It’s pretty easy to find these schedules online. The bonus part: If we are at the library, we always come home with new books!

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

4. Museums.

We are lucky to live near Washington, DC, where all the Smithsonian museums are free. This winter we’ve gone to the Museum of Natural History (to see the larger than life mammals on display) and the Air and Space Museum. We arrive right when it opens and he is tired after an hour of exploring. Aquariums are also great places for young kids.

If you don’t live near free museums, many throughout the country have a free admission day sometime during the month, or you can find various discounts through your library or city.  Most areas have children’s museums but look further to see what other museums your kid may enjoy.

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

5. Airport.

Warning, not all airports are suitable as a rainy-day alternative. Our nearest airport is clean, near by and has a lot of space before the security check-in. He can wander around (as it’s usually not overwhelmingly crowded in certain areas) or stand by the windows where he can see dozens of airplanes coming and going. Yes, this usually requires a parking fee, but it has been worth it.

6 creative places to take your toddler on a cold or rainy day

6. Your local in-door playground.

I can’t cover them all here as every community is different, but a quick search will show you what indoor gyms are in your area.

  • Local toddler gyms. There are tons of them out there. They often get crowded on rainy days but are loads of fun.
  • Community Centers: Every Friday our local center has a soft-block room available for kids for $1. Check out your local community center to see what it offers.
  • McDonalds or Chick Fil-A Playgrounds: Especially good for roadtrips.

We are always on the hunt for good indoor, rainy-day activities. Please leave a comment if you have any to add!

 

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70 Comments

  • ssuire March 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for the great tip! It is spring break here in Texas and it has rained the last two days. We took our kids to a 1/2 day gymnastics camp today. My other suggestion for indoor rainy day activities are the Aquarium, Children’s Museum and the Art Museum (which has children’s activities).

    Reply
    • Debbie March 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Gymnastics camp sounds great. It’s indoors and it’s so active. I will remember that for when he gets older. Our nearest aquarium is an hour away but is fantastic. Great suggestions!

      Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Gymnastics camp sounds great. It’s indoors and it’s so active. I will remember that for when he gets older. Our nearest aquarium is an hour away but is fantastic. We haven’t tried art museums yet. Great suggestions!

      Reply
  • PamelaMonahan March 11, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Good list for America. I wish I had that many options! I was just telling my husband how I miss American pet stores. I used to go there to hang out. Here they just sell food, collars, etc and maybe some fish, but it’s in a space the size of a large closet in America. (I am in India.) There are museums in Delhi, but that’s a metro ride away and there are no libraries here… My baby is only 9 months though so I am sure I have time to find stuff, as it is she’s not really running outside a lot yet to feel that cooped up by inside, it’s still plenty fascinating for her since she just learned to crawl and stand!

    Reply
    • Debbie March 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I never thought about the differences there could be in other countries such as India. I imagine getting around is not as easy. And I remember the days when my son couldn’t walk and stand! It was nice!

      Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I never thought about the differences there could be in other countries such as India. I imagine getting around is not as easy. And I remember the days when my son couldn’t walk and stand! It was nice!

      Reply
  • satrntgr March 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Great list!! I sure wish our small town had things like this. My son is 14 and I still need ideas to take him places when I get the “I’m bored!!” 🙂

    Reply
    • Debbie March 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Ha ha! I wouldn’t even know where to start with a 14 year old! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Ha ha! I wouldn’t even know where to start with a 14 year old! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • Bonnie March 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    This are GREAT ideas!! I hadn’t thought of some of those things. Our son is 19 months and I know he would love a bunch of these. I’ll definitely check out the rest of your blog, too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • Glenda Cates March 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Lots of places I never thought about and even though my son is 7 now still things he would enjoy and so I would like to say thank you for sharing this post with us as we have new and fun things to do now.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks so much!

      Reply
  • Alexander Vasquez March 11, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Great post, Debbie, and I can relate! Living near DC has been great, especially if they just HAVE to get out of the house. Two other life savers to keep in mind have been the free workshops they offer for kids at Home Depot and Michael’s.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 11, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion for the free classes. The Home Depot one sounds fantastic! I didn’t realize they did those for kids too. Thanks again!

      Reply
      • Alexander Vasquez March 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm

        Great post, Debbie, and I can relate! Living near DC has been great, especially if they just HAVE to get out of the house. Two other life savers to keep in mind have been the free workshops they offer for kids at Home Depot and Michael’s.

        Reply
  • Lerie March 11, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    I have a 13mo and this list will and actually can already come in handy! He loves to explore and he loves animals. I especially love the idea of bringing him to the pet shop.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 12, 2015 at 8:26 am

      I love the pet shop too! Luckily when they are young, they don’t realize that you can actually bring home the animals!

      Reply
  • Heather M March 12, 2015 at 8:16 am

    These are such great tips. I love the idea for the airport. What little kid doesn’t LOVE watching airplanes?

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 12, 2015 at 8:23 am

      I know! I actually still like watching the airplanes. 🙂

      Reply
  • Laine Klokner March 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Great ideas! Especially the airport and pet store. When my kids were little and we lived in snowy, cold Wisconsin.Our go-to place was a big shopping mall. Lots of space to run, always had options for little kiddy cars to ride on, and a place to eat lunch.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 13, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      A shopping mall is a great place too. Our nearest one is always so crowded but there is so much room to play. Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply
  • Jozi March 13, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Some great ideas, though a museum or library might not work with younger kids who cannot stay quiet for too long. Oh and they love pet stores but it always ends in tears when I leave without buying one.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 13, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Jess March 13, 2015 at 7:02 am

    We do pet store, library, book store, children’s museum and Chick-fil-A playground. Sometimes we wI’ll do the mall, but my daughter is 4 and loves to buy stuff. So we don’t go that often anymore. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 13, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Ha! I am sure the Mall is dangerous for that reason. Luckily my son doesn’t know what money is yet!

      Reply
  • Karen Wilson March 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I live in a small town and the library is the best place to take my granddaughter on rainy days. They have a castle where she can sit and read books, legos, computers and so much more that can keep her entertained for hours. I also take her to the indoor playground at McDonald’s which she loves!

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks! I love the library too. That’s fantastic about castle. I’ve never seen that!

      Reply
  • Morena March 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Fun ideas! We love Chuck E Cheese on bad weather days.

    PS…I wish it was easier to comment! I had to create an account first.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 13, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks for the feedback on the commenting. And Chuck E Cheese is a great idea!

      Reply
  • Bakari Chavanu March 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Great tip. I could used this when my kids were toddlers, though I did take them to the park a lot. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Yes, the park is great. Thanks so much!

      Reply
  • Morgan Lewis March 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Great ideas! No kids yet, but will certainly store these ideas away for when we do – or for when my niece is in town!

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • phoward336 March 13, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    We did all of these when my kids were toddlers – in fact, we joined a local museum and would go there ALL the time in the winter.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Joining a local museum sounds like a very good idea. Thank you!

      Reply
  • Dawn @ I Think We Could Be Fri March 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    These are definitely ideas I’ve never thought of before 🙂 we are just far enough outside of the Twin Cities that I always have to way if it’s “worth the drive”…but when the winter gets long I can usually justify it 🙂

    Reply
  • Julie S. March 14, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Great list! Ooh bookstores and museums – he will be a brilliant kid.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Wouldn’t that be great if he turns out brilliant and can support his parents?! thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • Debra March 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    This is a good list for moms with toddlers. Mine have outgrown that stage 🙁 but I do remember the days trying to find something to keep them all busy and not spending a ton of money.
    Thanks
    Debra
    http://www.ncborn.com/

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Jeryl M. March 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Some children’s museums have areas for toddlers.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      That’s a great idea. Thanks!

      Reply
  • Michal March 15, 2015 at 4:30 am

    Great ideas! My kids are older, so what we like to do is play games together, or do some art work together. Also, we love to make cookies when it’s raining!

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      I can’t wait to make cookies with my son. Such a bonding thing. Thanks!

      Reply
  • Debbie March 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Fantastic tips, and I remember those days so well! My kids are 15 – 21 and all of those types of places were go-to’s for me too. Your tips will help lots of Mommies. Enjoy your sweet boy! I’m also smiling because I recently wrote a blog post about how we’re all “born to run” based on how much little kids instinctively run around. You said it yourself, “He is a runner.” 🙂

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      🙂 Thanks!

      Reply
  • Diane Cransac March 15, 2015 at 11:51 am

    An indoor pool might also be a great place to take your little one. Swimming is a great exercise and it is never to early to start 🙂

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      That is a fabulous idea. I will look around for indoor pools. Thanks!

      Reply
  • anne @ Learningtable March 16, 2015 at 1:50 am

    What a fun list! Some days you simply have to get out of the house, and these are such neat ideas for entertaining your little ones.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • Katrina March 16, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Never even thought about hotels. Good one and great pic. My Dad used to
    take us to the end of the runway at airports ( outside the fence of
    course) to watch the planes. Boys Clubs and YMCA are great for older
    kids. On rainy days in Everett, Washington everyone disappears. You’ll
    find them all at the indoor pool at the park.

    Reply
    • Debbie Hodges Walyus March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      I love the idea of a airport runway. That must have been great!

      Reply
  • Pam Russo March 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    it’s been a long time since my children were toddlers. Your ideas bring back memories although I never thought of hotels or airports. Good suggestions.

    Reply
  • gradybird March 16, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    These are some awesome ideas — some I never would’ve considered before! A hotel or an airport?! Such a great idea and a “different” place for kids to explore and play! Very very cool!

    Reply
  • Jessica "Jebbica" Bowman March 17, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Great ideas! I don’t have children, but these are great rainy-day places for big people, too. 🙂

    Jebbica
    http://JebbicasWorld.com/Blog

    Reply
  • Cortney Hogan March 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Awesome list of places. I love the idea of libraries or museums. These might be ideas for my husband and I too!

    Reply
  • Betty Bite March 17, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t have any children, but if I did, these are wonderful rainy day solutions. I can remember as a child going to the museums and having such a wonderful time. Great posting and thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  • Shelbi March 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    This would definitely depend on the age of your child but places like color me mine or the places that have indoor trampolines are always fun!

    Reply
  • foundfrolicking March 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan for the rainy days! I have a ton of craft stuff for my son who will be 3 in August. For activities away from home, we go to our library on a regular basis for their library program, and there are tons of museum-like places for kids around here, as well as some neat “family cafes” as they’re called!

    Reply
  • wagthedoguk March 18, 2015 at 3:21 am

    These are great ideas, a trip to the local pet shelter could be great too!

    Reply
  • Junebug March 18, 2015 at 7:33 am

    We LOVE the pet store. My daughter calls it the fish store and could spend hours watching the fish tanks. She loves it more than the aquarium we paid money to visit. Our mall has several play areas. Sadly our airport is too small to be toddler friendly but I have been to some that are. We have a few museums but I’m jealous of the Smithsonian!

    Reply
  • Dawn March 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I love the idea of going to a pet store and never thought about it as an indoor activity for the kids. Both my 3 year old and 8 year old would love getting to see all the animals. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  • Lesley Swanson Thomas March 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    My daughter loves pet stores. We could spend a whole day just visiting different ones around town.

    Reply
  • Nikki Giacobone March 18, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    You definitely don’t have to stay indoors on a rainy day, and so much of these activities don’t cost a lot and kids can burn off energy or learn something new. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

    Reply
  • Lori's Culinary March 18, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    We have a pet store here in SLC called “Mark’s Ark” and I see parents bringing their kids in to show them the animals just like going to the zoo. Really cool place.

    Reply
  • Marie March 18, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t have toddlers anymore, but these are great ideas. I think I used almost all of them when my kids were little, except maybe the airport or hotel – unless you count hotels with water slides. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • owensmom March 19, 2015 at 12:29 am

    My oldest kids loved going to an airport or train station for a little watching. #2 surprised me. I would have never thought of a hotel or convention center.

    Reply
  • Marissa March 19, 2015 at 7:11 am

    The pet store is one of our favorite places to visit! We also go for ‘walks’ around our mall. There are lots of sites and sounds there to keep my toddler and preschooler entertained.

    Reply

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