Best indoor fun for kids

Hudson Valley destinations will keep the kids busy and active this winter!

When the kids are climbing the walls, you know it’s time to get out of the house. But when it’s too cold to play outside, you may think your options are limited. Don’t worry, there’s a lot going on in the Hudson Valley during the winter months to keep kids active and entertained. We’ve got the best ideas for fun, safe places for kids to explore, burn some energy, and learn without having to bundle up!

Burn off all that energy with indoor sports
Don’t let the kids hibernate all winter in front of the television or computer screen. Skating, climbing, jumping and bowling are just a few ways to get kids moving.

If your kids aren’t regular skaters, look for facilities that offer open public skating times. Ice Time Sports Complex in Newburgh has open skating on certain days for ages 3 and up. In fact, open skating for kids ages 5 and under is free on Tuesdays & Thursdays 11am-1pm, Fridays 7:15-9pm, and weekends 2-3:45pm. On the other side of the river in Poughkeepsie, the NHL-sized rink at McCann Ice Arena is open for skating, but you’ll have to check for dates and times.

In the mood for a swim? Check out the programs at your local YMCA or YWCA. Some of the larger high schools also have swimming programs for local kids and adults in the community. This might be a great time to start swimming lessons! Maybe your kids are ready to climb the walls – literally. Why not go to a place where they can do it safely? The Inner Wall in New Paltz is a fun place for kids to stretch and maneuver up indoor rock climbing walls.

There’s a whole lot of jumping and tumbling going on in Ulster County at The Little Gym in Kingston. Led by trained instructors, toddlers can jump and tumble their way to increased balance, motor and social skills through movement, music, gymnastics and games. Look for other locations in East Fishkill, Middletown and New Windsor.

Many local gyms  and YMCAs also offer toddler or mommy and me programs where you can share
special time with your child, while you both stay fit and have fun. Remember how much fun you had bowling when you were a kid? Plan a family night out at your local bowling alley. You’ll keep warm indoors, and your children will love playing a game (or two or three) with you!

Take some time out to teach them how the game is scored, and for the little ones ask for “bumpers” so they won’t get discouraged. Call ahead to make sure there are open lanes; some alleys even offer special rates for kids.

Indoor learning experiences
The Hudson Valley is full of educational and interactive museums, libraries and discovery centers. Keep your children’s young minds turning even on the weekends with a trip to your local library or a nearby museum. They’ll learn about local history, ecology, geography, and science, and you might even learn a thing or two as well! 

In Poughkeepsie, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is a unique interactive museum created just for young kids! Hands-on exhibits and regular monthly programs teach kids about energy, science, history and ecology while having a blast! For programs, visit our calendar. The Interactive Museum in Middletown also features weekly activities for kids including make-and-take crafts. Just remember the museum is only open on weekends.

Are your kids interested in animals? In addition to their nature programs, the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall has a special “Meet the Animals” program for kids every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm at The Wildlife Education Center. “The kids love it,” says Marian Goldin, the museum’s marketing associate. “If you’re home with the little ones on the weekend with nothing to do, sign up to be a member, then admission is free!”

Encourage your children’s enthusiasm for science and technology, or any other subject, long after you leave the museum by visiting your local library. Libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System (Dutchess and Ulster counties) and Ramapo Catskill Library System (Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties) offer free year-round reading and craft programs (and so much more) for all ages, from infants to teen to adults.

With aisles and aisles of books, magazines and audio tapes, libraries are the perfect place to develop your child’s imagination, curiosity for knowledge and love of readings and learning. You’ll find many local library programs in the Hudson Valley Parent calendar.

Feel like staying home instead? We've got some fun indoor ideas too!

Coleen McDonald is a student at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. She will be graduating in May 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.