By: Kris Berry
It’s been a long winter here in the Berry house (as I’m sure it’s been in your house too). It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the winter. I don’t like to drive in the snow. I don’t own a pair of snow boots or snow pants. I don’t even have a hat. A hearty New Englander I’m not. The thing I love the most about winter is when it melts away and leaves a warmish, slushy spring! It puts the bounce back into my step. But spring can be a bit of a tease, it’s here one day and gone the next. A few weeks ago my kids were running around outside wearing short-sleeved tee shirts and I was right there with them in my capris and flip flops. Then it snowed again!
The good news is that here in our little neck of the woods there are so many fun indoor facilities for kids to keep them busy (and out of the house) all year long. While the weather is, without a doubt, going to continue to get nicer there will still be those rainy spring days or days that you are just looking for a change of pace from the playground. These are just a few of the places my kids love. We hope you try them and love them too!
We had the boys’ third birthday party there this past December after I stumbled upon it one rainy day last spring. It is a showroom for outdoor playground structures. There are slides, swings, and (my husband’s favorite) trampolines. They are open for “Pay and Play” during the weekdays for $7 a child and you can host your child’s birthday party there. Their facilities are really clean and the staff is really nice. It was such a breeze having the boys’ birthday there and everyone who attended seemed to have a really great time.
The Totplex has a lot to offer. They have tons of sports and craft classes for children aged 2-6. My boys have taken tumbling, skating, and are currently in a gym class where they sample different sports. The coaches are great and have a ton of patience. They have been wonderful with my shyer of the two in gently coaxing him into the class. In addition to the classes, the Totplex has a playspace filled with bouncy houses, cozy coupes, climbing structures, and other ride-on toys. They are open during the school year and drop in play is $8 per child (with sibling discounts). One thing to note is that the play area is on Astroturf. Because of this, your child will likely be covered in those black Astroturf balls (as will their socks and clothing). I highly recommend you dress them in old play clothes or dark clothing.
We love it here. The museum itself is in an old fire station. It is not too large that it is overwhelming, yet is big enough that it keeps my children entertained for a few hours. They have an outdoor area that is perfect for a picnic or to explore on warmer weather days. And because I’m cheap frugal, I always pick up a pass at my local library for 50% off admission. Check to see if your library also offers the pass!
A zoo in the winter? Yes, Franklin Park is open year round. Their exhibits are a bit limited during the winter months (the rainforest and the barns were open) but it was still a lot of fun for the kids. One of the best investments I made last spring was to join Zoo New England. For a minimal donation (around $70) we gained “free” admission to both Franklin Park and Stone Zoo for 14 months. We also get admission discounts at zoos all over the country (including other local zoos like Capron Park). We got our money’s worth in the first month. My kids love going to the zoo and it’s an easy way to fill a day that we don’t have a lot planned.
5) Local Public Library
I can’t say enough about my local library. We were there so much this winter we’re all on a first-name basis with the librarians. My library offers weekly story time for children 3 and under. They also have monthly music classes, pajama story times, theme-nights for older children, and meetings for homeschooled children and their parents. When kids are able to “sign” their own name they can get their very own library card. It’s a great (and free) resource. Check out what your library has to offer!