Just wanted to throw together a little list of some inexpensive local options for entertaining those little ones when it’s raining. I know that it only takes Ginny and I a day or two to go stir crazy. Most of these activities are geared towards children younger than 5 years old, those a few may be good for children up to 10 years old. So keep an open mind and remember: it’s only water.
- Visit your local library!
Entertainment value: 1+ hours, depending on child’s attention spanIf you time it right you can probably hit a story time or other activity, but remember these will be more crowded on rainy days, so be sure to show up a little early. If there aren’t any organized activities, there is still plenty to do the library. Compile a list of interesting subjects with your child, then just spend some time finding those books, a comfy chair, and you’ve created your own story time. The atmosphere makes it easier to encourage relaxed, still behavior. You don’t even have to check the books out!
- The Marine Corp Museum
Entertainment value: 2-3 hoursThis is a multi-purpose option. It’s perfect for a date with the little ones during the week, or the whole family on the weekend. There’s usually something for every one, and special events on the weekends. Adults and teenagers can appreciate the movie theater, interactive activities like the target practice and gear pull, and the traditional museum portion of the building. Younger children will appreciate the dress up, coloring station, and story time area. There are full size planes and tanks as well, that most little kids find fascinating. Be sure to throw a towel in the trunk, and if the sun peaks out you can go to the playground (and wipe off the slide!) on site for a quick chance to get some wiggles out! When you’re done
- Leesylvania State Park
Cost: $4 weekdays, $5 weekends per vehicle
Entertainment value: 2+ hoursOn those days with “scattered” showers, this is a perfect option! The visitors center at Lessylvania has two areas. In one area you can explore the animal world – with live examples of invasive species of fish and a little albino snake. The table in the center has pelts from various local animals that children can touch and try to guess which fur belongs to which animal. There are also many taxidermy examples of local birds. It’s truly fascinating, and the perfect place to play a little game of “eye spy”. A small display of local types of rocks is also surprisingly entertaining.On the other side of this building are colonial era artifacts and interactive displays. Dress-up like people used to, try your hand at spinning yarn and weaving fabric, then you can take a little while trying to play the colonial era children’s games. If the sun decides to peak out, just a short walk will take you to a play ground (bring a towel!), nature pond (you can almost always see turtles there), and a nice walk along the Potomac River.
- Go to a Matinee
Cost: ~$7/person, some theaters have free admission for under 2
Entertainment value: about 2 hoursGoing to the movies is such a special experience, and going during the day is the perfect time to take kids! The nice thing is that most of the other patrons at that time will be parents – and a little more understanding of a child who needs help adjusting to the theater experience. Additionally, if you are polite, most theaters will give you a replacement ticket voucher or refund if your little one just can’t handle it, and you have to leave in the middle of the film.5. Go to the Mall
Cost: your will power will decide…
Entertainment value: maybe an hour, maybe moreAll off out local malls have small playgrounds inside of them! Perfect for the third day of rain! Pick up a little cup of pretzel bits at Aunty Anne’s (or bring your own snack!), sit back, and let those little ones expend some energy.
6. Ikea… yes… Ikea!
Cost: your will power will decide…
Entertainment value: ~2+ hours
This one is a little out there, but I’m serious: it’s our go-to rainy day activity. I go with the intention of just buying lunch (on Tuesdays you can get two free kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal – kids must be present at check out). So for about $6 both of us can eat lunch, walk around indoors, hang out in the toy area for a bit, and then if Ginny is feeling adventurous she can spend 30 minutes in the ball pit while I sip my coffee and surf my phone… or walk around some more. Either way, it’s a cheap, dry, opportunity to get out of the house!
7. Go for a Walk or Hike
Cost: Free/park entrance fee
Entertainment value: varies
As a child in England we had rain clothes, and we went out in the rain, and we played in the rain and biked in the rain and existed in the rain. When it rains constantly it’s really the only option.
When all else fails, just remember that it’s only water. Being wet does not make you more likely to get sick, and with the right gear (poncho, rain pants, and a good pair of wellies!) you can even spend hours in the rain enjoying the wonderful smell of freshly wet earth.
What to you do when you’re going stir crazy and the weather report threatens to hold you prisoner?