Last week I shared some of our favorite indoor activities to keep the kiddos occupied at home, but sometimes crafts just don’t cut it and cabin fever gets the best of us. When that happens, I end up bundling my boys up, grabbing a coffee and heading out — but where??
Now that 18-month old Luke is super mobile and throws a fit when he has to be confined to a stroller or cart for too long, I’ve been on the hunt for indoor places that are fairly confined and entertaining for him and his 3-year-old brother, James. Here are some of our favorite places we’ve discovered so far this cold, icy winter.
BWI Airport Observation Gallery
Since both my kids go nuts whenever they see a plane, this spot is a big hit for us. We park in the hourly garage ($2-$4 depending on how long you stay), take the skywalk over to the terminal, have fun running on the moving walkways and then ask for directions to the Observation Gallery (because seriously, I always get turned around in that airport).
We then enjoy at least an hour or two of up-close-and-personal airplane action from a nice confined space. There is one staircase that I keep an eye on since my little Luke still isn’t great with steps. The gallery includes kids play equipment to climb on and giant replicas of airplane parts like the cockpit, tail, wing and a jet engine to check out. There are lots of model airplanes in cases to look at and a huge rocket hanging from the ceiling. A glass observation area has comfortable rocking chairs where you can watch the planes take off, land, pull in to the gates and all the other cool airport activity that kids are fascinated by. There are even binocular viewers at the windows to get a closer look. We usually pack a lunch, but there is a little cafe that opens at 11 a.m. Check out the BWI Observation Gallery website.
Skate Zone in Crofton
Every Monday the Skate Zone on Route 3 in Crofton has a “Tot Rock ‘n Roll” time just for kids younger than 6 from 10 a.m.-noon. You can bring anything with wheels onto the skate rink, so we usually bring a ride-on toy, scooter or small tricycle.
Most everyone brings something, plus the rink provides fun objects like giant balls, so all the kids share and get to ride on different toys. They play music and sometimes turn the lights down and play the Hokey Pokey with the disco ball glittering. Luke absolutely loves chasing the lights on the floor.
It’s $5 per child and that includes skate rental and one small drink. We haven’t attempted skates yet, but it’s still a lot of fun for both the kids. When Luke was younger, I would take my stroller out onto the rink where there are places for parents to sit, and I could keep an eye on James as he cruised around. There are a couple exits from the rink so sometimes I have to chase Luke down when he makes a beeline for the arcade area or men’s restroom. It’s always a fun time and gives the boys practice sharing and taking turns. Check out the Skate Zone website.
Indoor Swing Set Stores in Columbia
One of the biggest things my kids miss the most in the winter is playing on a playground. So we have found two indoor swing set stores (both ironically about a mile away from each-other on the same road) that offer open playtime for kids to use their equipment.
Prices and hours range depending on which place you go, but it’s usually about $6-$9 per child and both stores offer multi-visit reduced-rate packages. There are lots of different playground sets for the kids to play on, all of which are housed inside giant warehouse sized facilities. The only trouble I have had so far is that sometimes it’s hard for me to keep an eye on both my boys at the same time since the facilities are so large. It’s definitely a fun way to get the energy out while staying warm and dry! Check out the websites Rainbow Swing Set Superstore and Play ‘n’ Learn Playground Superstore
So warm up the car, zip up the kids and head out to give everyone a much needed energy boost. Naptimes are always more productive when the little ones are tuckered out, and that makes this mama very happy and ready to take on another winter day!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.