By Michelle Reese
Those cold winter days between New Year's and the first signs of spring often feel long and daunting, especially when you have kids to entertain! Throw in nearly a year of widespread closures and cancelled events and activities and Winter 2021 is bound to have everyone feeling a little stir crazy.
We've put together a list of places and activities to consider when you just can't take another day of hearing, “I'm bored!” Grab those masks and hand sanitizer and get out of the house to explore these local destinations.
Visit a Local Farm
Local farms are always popular spring through fall because of the pick-your-own activities and festivals. You might not realize, however, that there are a few farms that you can visit even during the colder months!
Suggested Spots: Gorgeous Goat Creamery in Stockton, NJ offers family-friendly events such as tours and hikes where you get to interact with goats. Make an appointment for a small group 1-hour farm visit at Head Over Hooves Farm in Coopersburg and meet the horses and ponies, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, a donkey, and chickens. And Ryerss Farm in Pottstown is a peaceful spot where you can visit retired horses.
See the Animals at the Zoo
There's always something new to see at the zoo! While many exhibits are closed at local zoos to limit gatherings of people, you can still have a fun day checking out the animals.
Suggested Spots: The always-popular Philadelphia Zoo is temporarily closed with hopes to reopen this spring, however, Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown is open limited hours Wednesday through Sunday. (Tip: Ask your local library about free passes!)
Learn at a Museums/Educational Destination
We're probably all guilty of some extra screen time these days, so we could all use some intellectual stimulation. Luckily, many local museums and other similar indoor attractions are limiting capacity and making other changes to make things safe for families to visit.
Suggested Spots: Michener Art Museum (reopening February 5), Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle (Happening List Finalists) are all located in Doylestown, so you could even make a day out of museum hopping and then get dinner at a local spot. The Academy of Natural Sciences (reopened January 8 with their new Permian Monsters exhibit), The Franklin Institute, and Adventure Aquarium are always family favorites. And Wonderspaces Philadelphia, an interactive family-friendly arts venue originally opened in January 2020 and after several mandated shutdowns will reopen on January 29th, 2021! For younger kids, take the drive out to Easton for the Crayola Experience.
Get Active, Play or Create at a Local Spot
Kids always seem to have a TON of energy, and there's only so many ways they can get that out at home! If your child is bouncing off the walls, consider bringing them to a local spot to release that energy with either physical or creative activity.
Suggested Spots: Playpad is a brand NEW indoor play area located in Langhorne. Designed for children up to 9 years old, you can book a time for “Open Play” or “Private Play.” Funzilla in Fairless Hills recently reopened. With activities ranging from Toddler Time and Sensory Friendly Jumps to go-karts, climbing walls, ninja obstacles, trampoline fun and arcades, there's something for every age and child. If your child is more of the artistic nature, sign them up for a class at Penelope Fox Art Studio in Bristol, Art Dept Studios in North Wales, Newtown or Doylestown or The Painter's Loft Art Studio in Pennington, NJ.
Explore an Outdoor Destination
Getting outside is always a great way to entertain both the young and old. And as long as you dress appropriately, there's no reason that the fun has to end just because the temperatures have dropped. If you're tired of your usual parks and playgrounds (see a list of great ones HERE), try visiting someplace new. If you usually go by foot, try biking this time. (HERE‘s an article about that.) Print out a scavenger hunt before leaving, or take along a picnic. (Thermoses of hot chocolate or soup could work for this!) There are plenty of ways to switch things up for a fun day out of the house.
Suggested Spots: If you're looking for more of an outdoor attraction, there are some incredible options for that, too. Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope is open year-round. Current hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are required. Longwood Gardens in Chester County is almost completely open, including the Conservatory, Treehouses, and more. And Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey is a museum, sculpture garden and arboretum all in one. In Philadelphia, Winter in Franklin Square has been extended through the end of February, so you can enjoy a round of mini golf, some food from Square Burger and see the lights. And the ice rink and the Wintergarden will remain open at City Hall's Dilworth Park through February 28.
Go For a Stroll
There are plenty of charming towns and destinations that you and your family can go for leisurely strolls, do some shopping, and grab a bite to eat.
Suggested Spots: If you enjoy quirky shops, antique stores and waterfront dining, spend an afternoon in New Hope and Lambertville. Go for a walk over the bridge and snag a pic while straddling between 2 states at one time. Peddler's Village is another spot that's now open for shopping and both indoor and outdoor dining. January is considered Sales Month with discounts/clearance throughout the Village. During the month of February, you can celebrate the “month of love” with outdoor heaters, warm beverages, live entertainment and fire pits during select weekends. Also starting in February, they'll be hosting a new Murder Mystery Walking Tour on Saturdays that's suitable for all ages.