With so much to look forward to, a new year is the perfect time for a Bay Area family adventure. From art and science museums to playgrounds, waterparks and live theater, 2022 looks very promising! We hope you are as excited as we are—scroll down for all the details then mark your calendars and get ready for the best year yet!

Disney on Ice

HarshLight via Creative Commons

The Magic of Disney (on ice!) is coming to the Bay Area. Sail away with Moana, follow Miguel to the Land of the Dead, watch Ana and Elsa skate to stop an eternal winter and laugh along with Aladdin and his Genie. Event details.

Dates: February 3-6, 2022

Stockton Arena
248 W. Fremont St.
Stockton, CA 95203

Dates: February 9-13, 2022

SAP Center
525 W. Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95113

Dates: February 23-27, 2022

Oakland Arena
7000 Coliseum Way
Oakland, CA 94621

 

Do Napa

Napa Lighted Art Festival
After a two year hiatus, this popular lighted art festival is finally back! From January 15-March 13, take the kids to downtown Napa after dark for a series of lighted art sculptures all within four easily walkable locations.  Check out the Angels of Freedom, the 10 foot rhombicosidodecahedron (say that five times as fast as you can) and the electric dandelions—all guaranteed to dazzle! Event details.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean
Monterey Aquarium is introducing a new exhibit set to open in Spring 2022 that brings strange and fascinating animals from the deep sea up to surface. Using robotic submarines that navigate through complete darkness, this groundbreaking exhibit collects and brings animals to the surface and then utilizes technology to mimic deep-sea conditions. Come face to face with the rarely seen bloody-belly comb jellies and other unique animals!  Sign us up!! 

More Magical Bridge Playgrounds Are in the Works All Over the Bay Area

Christine Lai

With openings in Redwood City and Palo Alto already, 2022 will bring us Magical Bridge Playground openings in Morgan Hill and Sunnyvale and local families are thrilled! Designed to address the needs of all children, these all-abilities playgrounds were the first of its kind in the Bay Area. More info.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Rob Laughter on Unsplash

Did your child inherit your devotion for Roald Dahl? You're in luck! Broadway San Jose is bringing his amazing tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to the big stage—complete with songs from the original film: “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” Tap your toes along with Charlie Bucket, Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas as Charlie uses his golden ticket to experience the wonders of the marvelous chocolate factory. Event details.

Dates: January 18-23, 2022

135 W San Carlos St.
San Jose, CA 9511

James Corner Field Operations

Presidio Tunnel Tops
The highly anticipated Presidio Tunnel Tops is set to open in May 2022. Built on top of the Presidio Tunnels, this new national park land and scenic overlook will boast stunning views of the city, Golden Gate Bridge and more. Families will be able to picnic, enjoy a campfire circle and play at the “Outpost” natural playground. We are really excited for this one!

Harlem Globetrotters

Bob n Renee via Creative Commons

Jaw-dropping entertainment is heading your way! Watch these amazing athletes spin the ball, defy gravity and perform trick after trick like you’ve never seen before. This event will be a slam dunk for the entire family! Get your tickets here.

Dates: January 13-16, 2022
Location: various locations throughout the Bay Area

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

Allie_Caulfield via Creative Commons

The Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose offers two fun events in early 2022:

Three Kings Day program
Saturday, January 8
Join us at the museum to celebrate The Three Kings story. Decorate a festive crown to wear proudly, watch Mariachi youth performers, collect gifts from the kings (chocolate coins) and watch a short video in the theater to learn more about this widely celebrated story. Event details.

Lunar New Year Party
Saturday, February 12
Celebrate the Year of the Ox at the Children’s Discovery Museum’s annual Lunar New Year party.
Event details.

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child at The Curran Theater

Rae Tian on Unsplash

With 24 major awards in the U.K., this show is sure to be a hit in San Francisco! Bring the entire family and watch Harry Potter—now an adult with three children of his own—in this award-winning show. Best for kids 10 and older. Performances begin Jan. 2022. Event details.

445 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

de Youngsters (Free!) Day Out

Torehan Sharman via Unsplash

Mark your calendars! This in-person, all-day event includes art activities, in-gallery conversations and entertainment. Free for all Bay Area families! Event details.

Date: March 5, 2022

de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118

Bay Area Science Festival

Dominika Roseclay via pexels

It's back! The five-day Bay Area Science Festival will be in-person this spring! Bring the entire family and experience the wonder of science through hands-on activities, interviews with scientists and STEM story times. Stay tuned here for the full schedule and details about how to participate! Bonus: most Bay Area Science Festival events are FREE!

—Nicole Findlay & Kate Loweth

featured photo by Plunge San Diego 

RELATED STORIES

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The Most Anticipated Hotel & Resort Openings Coming in 2022

Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. Check location websites before your visit, for their most current COVID-19 protocols. Stay safe!

Do you have a train lover? Luckily, the Bay Area is full of opportunities for mini conductors to get their fill! From museums to model trails, we have the ultimate list for kids to enjoy tracks all over the Bay area and beyond!

San Francisco

Cable Car Museum

Shaun Koch

This stop will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s famous Cable Cars. The bottom level offers a peek at the cables that make the whole system work and upstairs, you can explore the mechanics of the cars themselves and see exactly what goes into powering them. The best part is, admission is free!

1201 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinecablecarmuseum.org

SF Railroad Museum and Gift shop

By allowing kids to take control of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar model, this compact and free museum near the Ferry Building offers a feel of what it's like to drive a streetcar  Hop aboard any of the historic F Market streetcars (along Market St. and the Embarcadero) for a front door drop-off.  Be sure to check out their train-tastic gift shop.

77 Steuart St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinestreetcar.org/museum

Little Puffer Miniature Steam Train

Marianne Hale

Located inside the San Francisco Zoo, a ride on the Little Puffer is the perfect way to take a walking break, and still observe a variety of animals from the cars. At more than a century old, it has a fascinating history, including being one of three of its kind in the world. Rides are $7, not included with zoo admission, and children under three ride free with a paying adult.

Sloat Blvd at the Great Highway
San Francisco, CA
Onlinesfzoo.org

Randall Museum

Little train-lovers will love a stop at the always-free Randall Museum. The museums basement houses one of the largest model railroad layouts in California, that you can run with the push of a button. Kids can also enjoy hopping aboard the Randall Pacific Caboose. Good to know: the museum is temporarily closed due to Covid-19, check their site for updated info. 

199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA
Onlinerandallmuseum.org

East Bay

Golden State Model Railroad Museum

Golden State Model Railroad Museum

This amazing collection of model trains and railways recreate the terrain of Northern and Central California in detail. The miniature trains run Sundays from noon-4 p.m. Admission is between $3-5, children 4 and under are free and families get in for $10. 

900-A Dornan Dr.
Point Richmond, CA
Onlinegsmrm.org

Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society

Your train-lovers are in for a treat at the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society, from mountains to drawbridges and an evening scene, complete with a thunderstorm—they’ve recreated tons of routes for train travel. This epic model is only open to the public a few times a year, so check out their schedule for specific monthly dates.  Admission is $3/adults, $2/children 6-12 and six and under are free, as are scouts who come in uniform!

2751 Buena Vista Avenue
Walnut Creek, CA
Online: wcmrs.org

 

Niles Canyon Railway

Niles Canyon Railway

History comes to life on this old-school railway and museum that runs south of Pleasanton and makes a round trip between Fremont and Sunol. You can choose to ride a diesel or a steam engine, and even rent out a caboose or whole train for your next event. Be sure to check out their locals favorite Holiday Train of Lights in November and December.

37105 Vallejo Way
Fremont, CA
Onlinencry.org

Redwood Valley Steam Train

High up on the hills above Berkeley, this mini-train winds through the redwoods of Tilden Park. You’ll travel over bridges and through a tunnel on the 15-minute round trips. Tickets are $3.50 for adults/children, ages two and under ride free and a five ticket family pack is $14. Open weekends all year round and summer weekdays, weather permitting. 

Tilden Park
At the intersection of Grizzly Peak Blvd and Lomas Cantadas Rd.
Berkeley, CA
Online: redwoodvalleyrailway.com

Golden Gate Live Streamers

If you visit the Redwood Valley Steam Train on a Sunday, you’ll likely get a bonus ride. That’s when the Golden Gate Live Steamers let the public take a spin on their small-scale model trains. They run Sundays noon-3 p.m. (weather-permitting)—rides are free, but donations are appreciated.

Tilden Park
Located just below the boarding area for the Steam Train
Berkeley, CA
Online: goldengatels.org

Ardenwood Historic Farm

Ardenwood Historic Farm

Within this fully functional farm is a short railway operated by Ardenwood’s Railroad Museum, that takes you from one end of the property to the other. On board, you'll find staff and docents dressed in period costumes taking you back to when railroads connected the East Bay’s farms to towns and cities. Rides are included with admission, so your little passengers can ride as many times as they'd like. Admission ranges from $2-6 depending on month and day, children under four are free.

34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Fremont, CA
Onlineebparks.org/parks/ardenwood

Outback Express Adventure Train

Like the Little Puffer, this train is located within a zoo and can be accessed without buying an Oakland Zoo admission. You will still spy a few of the wildlife, as the train travels through the Australian exhibit (hence the name). Rides are $3/person, children under two ride free, however, you will still need to pay for zoo parking.

9777 Golf Links Road
Oakland, CA
OnlineOaklandzoo.org

Jolly Trolly at Children's Fairyland

For the tiniest train aficionados, take a ride on the Jolly Trolly, the oldest ride at Children’s Fairyland. This kid-size train travels through the parks Old West Junction area and through a tunnel and is always a hit with the itty-bitty crowd.

699 Bellevue Ave
Oakland, CA
Online: fairyland.org

Peninsula/South Bay

Roaring Camp Railroads

Nella DuBon-Koch

Roaring Camp hosts several events throughout the year, including its annual Thomas the Tank Engine Days. This railroad in the mountains travels through Redwoods and over trestles, take a ride to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and back for an extra-fun day of adventure.

5401 Graham Hill Rd.
Felton, CA
Onlineroaringcamp.com

Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History  

Located inside the Caltrain depot in Santa Clara, the South Bay Historical Railroad Society operates this museum. Displays include artifacts, paraphernalia and two working model railroad lines. Museum is free and open to the public on Tuesdays nights and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

1005 Railroad Avenue
Santa Clara, CA
Online: sbhrs.org

Central Park Bianchi Mini Train

Amber L. via yelp

This delightful tiny train gives rides around San Mateo's Central Park for $2 a ride. It runs between 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. on weekends year round and daily during the summer.

50 E 5th Ave.
San Mateo, CA
Online: cityofsanmateo.org

Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad

For just $2/person (2 and under are free) this historic, 1/3-scale railroad loops around Oak Meadow Park. This locals go-to has plenty of attractions to keep your group busy all day.  Visit the park in December for a special holiday ride during their annual lights exhibit.

233 Blossom Hill Rd
Los Gatos, CA
Onlinebjwrr.org

Marin/Sonoma Counties

Sonoma TrainTown Railroad

Nella DuBon-Koch

TrainTown is a hit with railroad lovers of all ages. The passenger train takes visitors through tunnels and over bridges before stopping at a miniature town and petting zoo (bring quarters for food). The park also offers a concession stand, a train themed gift shop and several amusement rides. Admission and parking are free and tickets are sold for individual attractions.

20264 Broadway
Sonoma, CA
Online: traintown.com

Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum

The lovely restored building at Shoreline Park captures the past in two museums. The ground floor houses the detailed operating HO-scale model that shows Tiburon, the railroad town c. 1900 to 1910, and upstairs is the Depot House Museum, where the stationmaster’s family lived. The museum is open weekends 1-4 p.m. and on sunny Sundays in October-April. Admission is free but donations are welcome.   

1920 Paradise Dr.
Tiburon, CA
Online: landmarkssociety.com

Ride the SMART

Nella DuBon-Koch

For your North Bay adventures, ride the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit or SMART train, as the locals call it. With stops from Larkspur to Santa Rosa, you and your little travelers can sit back and enjoy the Marin open-space views.

600 Larkspur Landing Cir.
Larkspur, CA
Online: sonomamarintrain.org

Howarth Park

This 138-acre park is home to a carousel, animal barn and train ride. The simulated 1863 C.P. Huntington steam train takes guests on a quarter-mile ride through a tunnel, pond, over a bridge and into the forest. Must be 42 inches tall to ride alone, children 12 months and under ride free.

630 Summerfield Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA
Online
: srcity.org

Further Afield

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Nella DuBon-Koch

Just 10 minutes from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park is the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad offering train rides, gold panning, an on-site museum and well stocked collectibles gift store. Their 1-hour narrated "The Logger" tour and 3-hour "Moonlight Special" are popular with families and offer boxed lunch and dinner options.

56001 Highway 41
Fish Camp, CA
Online: ymsprr.com

California State Railroad Museum

Take the Amtrak to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, just a block away from the Old Town stop, you'll find trains, refurbished cars, an elaborate model railway and a room with a whopping EIGHT train tables. For an additional fee, you can also take a ride along the Sacramento River on weekends during the Summer. Children 5 and under ride free.

125 I Street
Sacramento, CA
Onlinecsrmf.org

Western Railway Museum

Chug on out to Solano County to check out the dozens of railcars, engines and trolleys housed in this one-of-a-kind museum. Kiddos can climb on cars in the giant sheds out back and hop aboard one of the trains or streetcars for a ride around the hills. Be sure to check out their calendar for their Halloween and Christmas events.

5848 State Highway 12
Suisun City, CA
Onlinewrm.org

Railroad Park Resort

Kate Loweth

45 minutes past Redding is Railroad Park Resort where you'll find glamping at its finest.  Accommodations  include vintage railroad cabooses that sleep up to five, with fridge, microwave, full bathroom, WiFi, on-site pool, a nearby creek for exploring and a restaurant serving breakfast and dinner in a rail car. 

100 Railroad Park Road
Dunsmuir, CA
Online: rrpark.com

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Located in Jamestown on the way to Yosemite, this Gold Rush hot spot is a destination for California train lovers. One of the highlights is a guided walking tour of the Park’s authentic, working railroad roundhouse and air-powered turntable. Visit on the second Tuesday of every month for a behind-the-scenes tour or take a ride on weekends during the warmer months. Be sure to check out the Polar Express In December.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
10501 Reservoir Rd.
Jamestown, CA
Online: railtown1897.org

The Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train

While this train is usually used for wine-tasting, it transforms into the Santa Express every winter. Riders are treated to games, music, hot cocoa, fresh-baked cookies and a visit from the big man himself along the journey.

The Napa Valley Wine Train Station
1275 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA
Online: winetrain.com

The Skunk Train

The Skunk Train has been transporting passengers for over a hundred years on the world-famous Redwood Route, with depots in Fort Bragg and Willits, in beautiful Mendocino County. The railbikes at Fort Bragg, available March-November, are a must. While in Fort Bargg, stop by the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad , admission is free with your Skunk Train ticket. Visit in November and December for a ride on the Christmas Trains that include cookies, hot cocoa and a visit with Santa. 

Fort Bragg and Willits Depots
Online: skunktrain.com

Western Pacific Railroad Museum

This exciting, hands-on museum offers train rides, a "Run-A-Locomotive" program that allows you to rent a vintage diesel locomotive and operate it on museum grounds, a Pumpkin Express in October and Santa Trains in December.

700 Western Pacific Way
Portola, CA
Online: wplives.org

—Nella Dubon-Koch, Melissa Bouse & Kate Loweth

Featured photo: Toddlin’ Across America

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Epic California Road Trips You Need to Take with Your Kids

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Museums, aquariums, bookstores, and more. These indoor activities Seattle kids love will keep them happy (and dry) all season

Seattle parents know that rain is no excuse if the kids need to play. Thankfully, Seattle offers a plethora of rainy day indoor playspaces for kids of all ages. From museums and aquariums to bookstores, art studios and trampoline parks, we’ve rounded up 30 Seattle rainy day activities for kids to keep you and your crew from going loco during the drizzly months.

Plan a Day at the Museum

Sure, museums may be the go-to rainy day rendezvous places, but they are for a good reason. Kids love them; they’re educational; they get you and your kids out of the house; and Seattle is chock-full of fantastic ones. On the next drizzle or downpour, find an adventure-filled museums to help you conquer the day.

indoor activities seattle include the kidsquest children's museum in bellevue
KidsQuest Children's Museum

1. KidsQuest Children’s Museum

Migrate out of the mist and head to the Eastside to enjoy this hands-on, interactive children’s museum. Located in downtown Bellevue, this area favorite is filled with fun and brightly colored exhibits, geared toward the 10 and under set. All the exhibits emphasize skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math, but don't tell your kids—they'll just think they're fun. Kids love to play in the big rig, at the large train table, in the atrium climber, at the water gallery, or in the story tree. Check out the Museum's daily calendar for programs to fit your schedule (think art, engineering, and more), and remember to reserve your timed play session in advance. Trust us on this one, your wee ones won’t want to leave.

1116 108th Ave. N.E.
Bellevue, WA
Online: kidsquestmuseum.org

PacSci seattle, museums, indoor playspaces
Pacific Science Center

2. Pacific Science Center

Run from the rainfall and take your little Einsteins to Seattle’s premier science center. PacSci not only offers a safe haven from the weather, but most importantly it gives your young scientists a day to explore the many wonders science, nature and culture PSC has to offer. Flutter about in the Butterfly House, take in the critters in the living exhibits, see how the body works, play in the Science Playground or stomp around with the dinosaurs. You will experience all that and more during your visit!

200 Second Ave. N.
Seattle
Online: pacificsciencecenter.org

Related: A Family Guide to Seattle's Pacific Science Center

Allison Sutcliffe

3. The Museum of Flight

Sprint in from the sprinkle and make a rainy day visit to The Museum of Flight. Your tiny Earharts and Lindberghs will go gaga over the full size aircraft they get to tour, the space exhibits they get to explore and the kid’s aviation play area they get to conquer. This huge museum will keep you tied up for hours as your mini pilots and astronauts learn about all things flight and space. Psst...the Weekend Workshops are great for families.

9404 E. Marginal Way S.
Seattle
Online: museumofflight.org

Related: To the Moon & Back! Your Guide to the Museum of Flight

MoPOP Seattle, best seattle museums, indoor seattle activities
courtesy MoPOP

4. MoPOP

Take a break from the torrent and pop over to MoPOP, Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture located next to the Space Needle. This museum is so full of wonders your minuscule inquisitive types won’t know what to check out first. Get the feel for various instruments in the Sound Lab, step through the intricacies of science fiction, or jump into the world of video gaming. MoPOP’s got all this and more.

325 5th Ave. N.
Seattle
Online: mopop.org

indoor activities seattle a diver at the windows on washington exhibit at Seattle aquarium
Seattle Aquarium

5. Seattle Aquarium

Duck out of the wet stuff with more wet stuff at Seattle Aquarium. All the delights of our local underwater habitat are there to greet you and your mini marine biologists. Wonder at the huge Windows on Washington Waters tank (and learn about the PNW waters from a real scuba diver!), watch giant Pacific octopuses eat lunch, dab at the sea cucumbers and urchins in the touch pool and surround yourself with your water-faring friends in the Underwater Dome. The Seattle Aquarium is a great option to get you and your little fishies out of the house and into some seriously fun aquatic adventures.

1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59
Seattle
Online: seattleaquarium.org

Related: One Fish, Two Fish: Your Insider's Guide to Seattle Aquarium

point defiance zoo and aquarium, seattle indoor playspaces
Oona Copperhill/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

6. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Race out of the raindrops and add the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to your rainy day, get-the-wiggles-out fun list. A zoo? In the winter? Why yes, because Point Defiance Zoo has two awesome indoor aquariums. Hightail it to the Pacific Seas Aquarium, a 35,000 square foot aquarium that was years in the making and now has its doors open to you and your nautical Nates and Nellies. Mingle with hammerhead sharks and sea turtles, touch sea stars, get a glimpse into the waters of the Puget Sound and be mesmerized by the moon jellies. You and your crew will be drowning in the wonders of the sea in no time. It’s indoor fun at its finest.

5400 North Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 
Online: pdza.org

seattle childrens museum, best kids museums, indoor activities seattle
Allison Sutcliffe

7. Seattle Children’s Museum

Yep, another great kid-centric spot next to the Space Needle is the perfect place to play the rainy day blues away. The Seattle Children’s Museum has over 22,000 square feet of play space with numerous exhibits to delve into as well as programs and activities that are free with admission cost. Send your tots around to figure out how gravity works in Cog City, hit up the play Eye Clinic (no pupil dilation required!), make art of all sorts, get your favorite munchies in the mini Metropolitan Market and more. This is yet another rainy day classic sure to occupy even your most rambunctious rascal.

305 Harrison St.
Seattle
Online: thechildrensmuseum.org

Related: Play Is Back! Seattle Children's Museum Reopens

Spend the Day Sliding, Climbing & Bouncing

Maybe a day at a museum or aquarium just isn’t your kid’s jam. No worries. Indoor play spaces abound in and around the city. And more than likely, there’s at least one near your neck of the woods that is worth a visit. From tunnels and slides to climbing nets and bounce houses, here are some solid ideas to wear your kids out.

kids birthday party indoor, indoor activities seattle

8. PlayDate SEA

Looking for a place to park your bum while your lovely lads and lasses go loco? Then, saunter out of the showers and head to PlayDate SEA. With a huge play structure, ball launchers, fast slides and sky-high climbing options, this place is a mecca for happiness during the rainy months. Need another incentive to check it out? PlayDate SEA has a café at your disposal, and it's more than just popcorn and goldfish. They offer a full menu filled with kid and adult–friendly options such as pizza, salads, wraps, and paninis, plus apps like hummus and mozzarella sticks, as well as coffee and drinks.

1275 Mercer St.
Seattle
Online: playdatesea.com

indoor activities seattle
Arena Sports

9. Arena Sports

Hop over those puddles and hit up this one-stop shop for indoor fun. Sure, it’s a place for indoor youth soccer leagues, but it’s also so much more. With locations throughout the area (Issaquah, Magnuson, Mill Creek, Redmond, SoDo), each Arena Sports has an Inflatable FunZone to get out those rainy day wiggles out, and some even have bowling, laser tag and arcades. Make sure and check the FunZone times before you head out as each location offers different hours. Really, what more could a cooped up kiddo ask for?

Insider Tip: The new Issqauah Family Fun Center is now open.

Locations in Issaquah, Magnuson, Redmond, SODO & Mill Creek
Online: arenasports.net

Dave & Buster's

10. Dave and Buster’s

Dodge the droplets and head down to D&B’s for an afternoon filled with every arcade game your gangly little gamers can think of. Grab a family table outside of the bar area (you’re free to stay as long as you like, just keep a coat in your booth and you’ve claimed it 'til you leave!) and set your little ones loose, Pac-Man style, to devour as much video game time as they like (or that your prepaid card will allow!). There's also carnival-type games for your tiny Wreck-It Ralphs in addition to more sophisticated games for the bigger Donkey Kongs in your crew. Since you’ve got that table, take the opportunity for lunch, if you can wrangle the kiddos back into seats, that is.

11639 N.E. 4th St.
Bellevue, WA
Online: daveandbusters.com

Elevated Sportz

11. Elevated Sportz

The weekends aren’t exempt from the drizzles, so when it happens, you might find that you have more than your precocious preschooler to entertain. As you know, the big kids need outlets, too! Avoid that precipitation and cloudy day fatigue and let the energy escape at Elevated Sportz Trampoline Park. With 10,000 square feet of bounce habitat, including a foam pit, a ninja course and trampoline dodge ball area, you will have no problem wiping the kids out. And tiny tykes, you aren’t forgotten. There is also a Kidz Adventure area just right for pint-sized sprouts. No better way to get the jumping beans out!

18311 Bothell-Everett Hwy., Suite 140
Bothell, WA
Online: elevatedsportz.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd-Ap13rIs7/?hidecaption=true

12. Wunderkind

Another indoor play space fit for both parent and child? Seattle, you have our backs! Escape the elements and head to the 1,800 square foot Wunderkind facility, dedicated to kiddos and their vivid imaginations. You’ll first enter the DUPLO space with bins full of pieces, just waiting for little hands. This area is also filled with train sets and figures for your young conductors to create their own train world. The older set will also find an upstairs room full of LEGOs, train tracks and the hit of the second level—a remote control train! Best part? Think of Wunderkind as a safe space where you won’t have to live in fear of stepping barefoot on a forgotten LEGO piece in the middle of the night! Psst…the other half of Wunderkind is for you, parents! Complete with a café serving espresso and coffee concoctions as well as sammies, salads, kiddo foods, and, wait for it, local craft beers and wines if you want to unwind.

3318 N.E. 55th St.
Seattle
Online: wunderkindseattle.com

Hit the Mall

Looking for an indoor play place for your little Wiggle Wart, but you also need to get some shopping done? On a the next rainy day, kill two birds with one stone. Seattle is full of ways for your minis to get the cloudy day squirmies out and for you to hit that flash sale you’ve been eyeballing. Here are some of our favorite shopping malls with play spaces.

indoor activities seattle girl near a ball pit
Jennifer B. Davis

13. Funtastic Playtorium

Definitely one of the more active, crowded and wild of play indoor spaces, the Funtastic Playtorium is a large, friendly, ready-to-romp spot in Factoria Mall (with an additional locations at the Alderwood Mall and Tacoma Mall). Don’t let the clouds keep you down. Head to this space to entertain your most climby-est, slidey-est adventurer. Within a huge meshed-in structure, kids up to 10 years old can tunnel, side, bounce, creep, climb, blast and ride. Unlike smaller play areas, it’s tough to keep an eye on junior the entire time, but the structure is sturdy enough for adults should you need to venture in and be a hero. Psst… bracelets are provided for adults and kids alike to monitor comings and goings.

Locations in Factoria Mall, Alderwood Mall & Tacoma Mall
Online: funtasticplaytorium.com

14. Safari Place

Don’t just hang at the homestead. Check out Safari Place at Southcenter Mall, a prime play spot for kids under 52 inches. The facility is equipped with moving structures, padded surfaces, slides and a ball pit which are guaranteed to stimulate your sidekick. So wear out your little angels and then hit the Nordstrom sale. 

Insider Tip: Westfield Southcenter also has a free play space on the first floor if you need a quick drop-in area to kick back and take a break before your next stop.

Southcenter Mall
2876 Southcenter Mall
Tukwila, WA
Online: safariplayspace.com

a kid sits at the stop of the slide smiling at this indoor kids birthday party seattle location
WiggleWorks

15. WiggleWorks Kids

Leave the low clouds behind and make a date with your little monkey to get all the wiggles out at WiggleWorks Kids in Bellevue or Puyallup. This soft indoor play spot, complete with moving parts, is a toddler’s dream. And the great bar stool seating along the counter makes is a no-brainer when it comes chillaxing, or keeping a covert eye on your little daring darling while he or she plays. 

Crossroads Mall
15600 N.E. 8th St., Suite F15
Bellevue, WA

South Hill Mall
3500 S. Meridian, Suite 215
Puyallup, WA 98373

Online: wiggleworkskids.com

16. The Kid's Cove

If the cloud coverage is making you and your crew antsy and you feel like a Bellevue Square visit would be just the ticket for a pick-me-up, head to The Kid’s Cove located on the 3rd floor. Geared towards kids under 42 inches tall, this enclosed play space is home to soft climbing toys with fun maritime themes. There are boats to steer, a ferry to crawl through and lots of sea critters to touch and explore. There’s also plenty of room for parents to catch up while your wee ones work out their wiggles.

575 Bellevue Square (3rd Floor, above Center Court)
Bellevue, WA 
Online: bellevuecollection.com

Go to the Movies

Maybe going to the movies seems like a no-brainer on a super soggy day, but going to the movies with your mini film aficionados is a crowd-pleaser, and should definitely be on your indoor funday list. Check out what these family-friendly theaters have to offer and plan a day at the movies for the next weather-challenged day.

iStock

17. Cinemark Theaters

Located throughout the area, Cinemark will give you and your mini movie lovers that quintessential movie experience. With nearby locations in Federal Way, Lincoln Square, Totem Lake and Point Ruston, there is probably a theater relatively nearby your area. Cinemark also offers discounted pricing and special showings, so check their website to see if your neighborhood theater participates and what discounts you can get your deal-seeking hands on. Psst...every Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Square location parents and infants under age one can take advantage of the Mommy & Me showings, where parents and tots can watch current movies without having to worry about bothering other movie-goers with a fussy baby. Strollers are accepted and encouraged and the theater even leaves the lights on a bit brighter, so that parents can attend to their little one while they watch!

Online: cinemark.com/washington

18. Regal Theaters

Throw a stone toddler-style and you will probably hit a Regal Theater. They’ve got locations all over Western Washington from Bonney Lake to Puyallup and Auburn, to Seattle, Tukwila, Renton, Redmond, Issaquah and Bellevue. There’s no doubt you’ve got a location close enough to easily pull your whole motley crew in and out of the drizzle. Check the Regal website for movie listings at your preferred location and don’t forget to check out the perks offered by the Regal Crown Club for frequent movie-goers.

Online: regmovies.com/theatres

Related: Lights, Camera, Action! Movie Theaters That Cater to Families

Roll & Bowl & Putt

What better way to keep the kids busy on a drizzly day than with sports? But when it’s too wet to go outside, you can play inside at these area arenas and rinks.

indoor activities seattle

19. Go Roller Skating

Does your bevy of babes need more than a movie to get the energy out? What about a day at the roller rink? Strap on those rad rollers and get your giddy gliders out on the floor! There are several family-centric roller rinks around the area that are just waiting to take the brunt of your beginning skater’s flails. Seattle, Auburn, Federal Way, Lynnwood, Everett and Puyallup all have skate centers perfect for getting rid of the drizzle downers. Get out there and show your budding bladers how it’s really done.

Related: Skate into Seattle's Best Roller Rinks for Families

a young kid rolls a bowling ball down a ramp
Josh Applegate via unsplash

20. Go Bowling

What better way to burn off that rainy day energy than rolling an 8-pound ball down a big ol' lane! These days, many of our area's lanes are fantastically family-friendly and accommodate even the littlest Lebowskis. Most also boast cool extras like arcade games, groovy jams, gourmet grub and even ginormous screens playing your favorite sports teams. From souped-up hipster havens to totally traditional lanes, these Seattle bowling alleys are where families go for strikes and spares.

Related: Strike Up Serious Fun! 11 Bowling Alleys for Seattle Families

indoor mini golf seattle

21. Play putt putt

Although usually reserved for the summer months, Seattle's got a few spots where families can play mini golf inside during the rainy fall and winter months. Flastick Pub (with a few city locations) is a prime spot to eat and play, and maybe try your hand at Duffleboard when you've made your way around the course. The Forum Social House in Bellevue is another family favorite, and not just because you get to sit on a Game of Thrones-style throne.

Related: The Hole Story: Seattle's Best Mini Golf Courses

Head to Your Local Bookstore

Seriously, what’s more cozy than a bookstore when it’s raining? The next time you’ve got to get your bouncing-off-the-walls bambino outta the abode, consider one of these amazing local bookstores.

photo: Elliott Bay Book Company

22. Elliott Bay Book Company

Clouds moving in? Head over to Capitol Hill and visit the Elliott Bay Book Company. It’s a full service bookstore, home to over 150,000 titles, and features one of our area’s best selections of new books, including a stellar collection of children’s books. The bookstore has great character and an inviting atmosphere for book lovers of all ages. If you have a tween or teen, check out the Underground YA Book Group. The friendly and helpful staff can help you find the perfect book or spend time scanning the shelves to find something that strikes your fancy. While you're there, be sure to visit Little Oddfellows, the cozy, in-house café that offers baked goods, sandwiches, coffee from Caffe Vita and beer and wine for the more mature patrons.

1521 10th Ave.
Seattle
Online: elliottbaybook.com

23. Third Place Books

Third Place Books at the Third Place Commons is more than a bookstore; it’s a community gathering place where families, friends, and neighbors can connect over a love of books and playfully lament over the lack of sun. With three Seattle-area locations, you can find one close by that has just what you’re looking for. The flagship store in Lake Forest Park offers a large public commons area, three restaurants, free WiFi and a jam-packed events calendar. Moms and dads, perch yourself at the half-wall, hit up the Honey Bear Bakery and let your toddlers giggle with glee in the safe, enclosed play space.

Town Center at Lake Forest Park
17171 Bothell Way N.E.
Lake Forest Park, WA 
Online: thirdplacecommons.org

Related: 7 Great Indie Bookstores for Pint-Sized Bookworms

kids sit and listen during a nearby storytime
iStock

24. Secret Garden Books

Just off bustling Market Street in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, you’ll find Secret Garden Books. This full-service, independent bookstore offers something for everyone, but their primary focus is children’s literature. The knowledgeable staff includes longtime booksellers who are ready to help pick out books for all readers. For the wee ones, there are toddler-sized tables perfect for looking at books. Stop by and peruse the shelves (and shelves!) of books that are waiting to spark your child’s imagination.

2214 N.W. Market St.
Seattle
Online: secretgardenbooks.com

25. University Bookstore

You don’t have to be a Husky to enjoy the University Bookstore. Yes, the store is filled to the brim with purple and gold, but it also boasts an amazing children’s lit department. Don your raincoats and head to the UW Bookstore, that's morphed into a Seattle-area favorite, serving every reader from college student to preschooler.

4326 University Way N.E.
Seattle
Online: ubookstore.com

Go Swimming

a mom and baby swim at an indoor swimming pool

26. Indoor Pools

Dreaming about lounging by the pool? Grab your pool floats, goggles and cooped up kids and head to one of our favorite indoor pools for lots of energy burning fun. It's an easy and fun way to banish those rainy day blues.

 

Pass the Day With Pottery

You know what’s a fab way to brighten a gray day? Throw some art in it! It can be sunny inside even if it isn’t on the outside. Consider taking your angels to a create-your-own-pottery studio the next time it downpours or when the wee ones are going cuckoo.

Mudhouse Pottery

27. Mudhouse Pottery Painting

This relaxed studio in Gilman Village offers daily hours for any time the pottery painting bug bites you. There are no studio fees and their prices range from $12 to $45, depending on the piece you choose. Their friendly staff will also help you with your arty ideas, and when you’ve completed your masterpiece, they’ll glaze it, fire it and have it ready for pickup in 7 days. No need to make a reservation—just stop on by anytime, rain or shine!

317 N.W. Gilman Blvd.
Issaquah, WA 
Online: mudhousepottery.com

28. Paint Away

When the rain, rain won’t go away, step out and head to Paint Away, your one stop shop for everything arty. Conveniently located in Redmond Town Center, Paint Away's pottery prices include studio fees and glazing and firing of your bisqueware piece. If you want to try something new, check out their glass-fusing center, a unique way to create an art-tastic piece for yourself or as a gift. You start with a blank glass base and create a design on top with smaller glass pieces. They even have "kiddie glass” which is glass that’s been fired to give it rounded, smooth edges, perfect for little fingers.

7329 164th Ave. N.E.
Redmond, WA
Online: paintawaynow.com

29. Paint The Town

It's raining, it’s pouring. What will you do in the morning? Paint The Town. This ideally located paint your own pottery place in U Village offers up a wide variety (as in 250!) do it yourself painting options, from mugs to bowls, figurines to picture frames. One price includes the piece you choose and all paints, glazing and firing of your piece. Best of all, you can drop in anytime during business hours to create your masterpiece, and they've got indoor and outdoor tables where you and the kids can paint.

4611 Village Ct. N.E.
Seattle
Online: paintthetown.studio

Get Gaming

30. Board game stores

If getting the kids out of the house is key, why not head to a local game store and raid their library? Not only do they have the coolest and newest games out there, they've also got knowledgeable staff on hand to help you find the perfect game for your crew and help you play it, too. Did we mention that many also have cafes inside? Grab a bite and a warm drink to enjoy while you play.

Related: From Board to Virtual: Where Seattle Families Go to Game

Lots of families discovered hiking this year, and well, we’re thinking the trend will continue into the winter months. After all: hiking is basically free, it’s an outdoor activity you can do with kids and you can even socially distance as you walk. And so, we rounded up the best winter hikes in and around NYC. Some are in the city, some are mellow and stroller-friendly; others are upstate and beyond or a bit more challenging. So put on that long underwear and hit the trails!

MANHATTAN

Central Park

winter hike nyc
Wikimedia CC

The sheer size of Central Park means that there are many options to choose from when it comes to family winter walks. Plus, the variety of options means you can cater the walk to your family — whether you decide to go off the beaten path or follow a paved and stroller-friendly walkway. 

You could walk around the pond in the south, where the trees and bridge make a magical sight after snowfall. Climb to the top of Belvedere Castle for a winter wonderland view or wander around the Ramble for a chance to spot some wildlife like squirrels and birds. In the north, the North Woods are a great place to get a taste of winter hiking without ever needing to leave the city.

Online: centralparknyc.org

Roosevelt Island & Lighthouse Park

Allen c yelp

Hop on the tram or take the F train to Roosevelt Island for a nice walk alongside the city without actually being in it. You can take your time walking along the East River and see sights of both Manhattan and Queens on either side of the island. Benches along the way and a fully paved promenade make this a very easy walk to take with the opportunity for plenty of stops along the way. 

Pay a visit to Lighthouse Park at the northern tip of the island for a photo-up next to the titular lighthouse. After your walk, visit the island's quaint shops along Main Street for a grab to eat!

Roosevelt Island 
Online: tclf.org

BROOKLYN

Prospect Park 

Wikimedia Creative Commons

Prospect Park is an excellent choice for a winter amble. Enjoy a beautiful winter view of the lake as you wind around the park's paths. Follow the official perimeter loop for a 3.68-mile walk around the entirety of the park, or stick to the inner loops for shorter walks. Some views are only visible in the winter — like the excellent view from Lookout Hill, which is mostly obscured by trees in other seasons — and the Prospect Park Alliance even has a suggested path you can take for a winter walk. 

When you're ready to end the walk, there are plenty of winter activities to do in Prospect Park, including ice skating and sledding. 

Online: https://www.prospectpark.org

QUEENS

Forest Park Loop in Forest Park Reserve

Steve R. via Yelp

For a bit of wilderness right in your backyard, take a walk around the Forest Park Loop. This oak forest path is heavily wooded and it's easy to forget that you're in the middle of the city when you're immersed in the area. It's a great place to see wildlife as well, like songbirds and small mammals, and if you're really lucky, you might even spot a wild pheasant!

There are several trails to choose from, although some aren't as clearly marked as others and it can be easy to get turned around, so keep a map handy — you can get one from a park Ranger at the visitor's center.

Online: nycgovparks.org 

Alley Pond Park Loop

NYC Parks

Take your walk to the trees with Alley Pond's adventure course, which features rope courses accessible for all ages. If you'd rather stick to the ground, there are plenty of sights to see, including a few ponds, one of the city's oldest trees in an oak-hickory forest, official hiking trails and more. Along your walk, stop by the Environmental Center to pay a visit to Alley Pond's 80+ animal ambassadors (visits are free but a $5 donation is encouraged). 

Although Alley Pond is technically in NYC, don't be fooled — the trails are considered moderate difficulty, with some areas providing a bit of a challenge for visitors. In the winter, be sure to stay on the trails as some areas can get muddy and slippery due to the area's marshy nature.

Little Neck Bay to Springfield Blvd, Union Tpke
Online: nycgovparks.org

BRONX

Van Cortlandt Park

Cam E. via Yelp

Located in the Bronx

Grab a map at the Nature Center and embark on a walk that'll take you through various types of scenery in the city's third-largest park. The park provides fairly easy and tranquil walks and you may even spot a few horses, due to the nearby stable and much of the path being open to equestrians. 

You can stay on a flat, paved track for most of your walk, or choose to veer off into the John Muir trail for a slightly more off-road experience.

For the John Muir loop, enter at Broadway & Mosholu Avenue or Van Cortlandt Park East & Oneida Avenue

Online: nycgovparks.org

St. Nicholas Park

Mardory V. via Yelp

Although it's a relatively small park and is much more of a city park than a wild spot in the middle of the city. If that's the kind of walk you're looking for, then this park is one of the best winter spots to visit.

St. Nicholas is a hotspot when it snows, as many people come to sled down its sizable hill. It's a nice place to visit for a brief and pleasant walk, whether you plan to partake in the snowy fun or just watch people having a good time.

Intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue, 127th Street, and St. Nicholas Terrace and 141st Street
Online: nycgovparks.org

STATEN ISLAND

Greenbelt Loop

Greenbelt Conservancy

The Staten Island Greenbelt is the closest you'll come to visiting a forest without leaving the city. The large park (the city's second-largest) boasts many forested areas and natural-feeling trails and paths. While many of the other parks mentioned previously constantly remind visitors that they're in a city park because of noise from cars along nearby roads and highways, the Greenbelt is a truly peaceful, scenic oasis, and it becomes truly quiet as you head deeper into the trails. You might even get to see a deer (or a few — the animals frequent the park and are a fairly common sight there). See more info on the many trails here.

There are some hillier and more difficult areas, but nothing too difficult for most kids to handle. The winter months are the best times to see the abandoned Farm Colony in the center of the park, when the vines that cover the structures are stripped of their leaves by the weather. (Just maybe don't share the lurid details of the place's past with your kids!) 

Online: sigreenbelt.org

HUDSON VALLEY

Cornish Estate Trail in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve

Raphael S. via Yelp

Located in Cold Spring, NY, 1h 9m from NYC

We now leave NYC and find ourselves just over an hour away from Penn Station, at the Cornish Estate Trail in Cold Springs. This trail might be outside of the city, but it's still a super easy walk and a great first step toward hiking outside of NYC. 

Most of one trail is stroller-friendly and paved, although there are challenges to try as well if your family is up to it. If you're a fan of ruins, the Cornish Estate ruins are a great spot to check out (though they aren't accessible along the main, paved path). This trail is the perfect choice for families who want to try something similar to but much easier than a hike.

Cornish Estate Trail
3206 Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy
Cold Spring, NY
Online: google.com

DELAWARE WATER GAP

Delaware Water Gap: Council Rock and Lookout Rock

hikes near nyc
Wikimedia Creative Commons

Located in Bushkill, PA, 1h 10m from NYC

This trail is definitely a ramp up in challenge from your leisurely walks. For families who want a bit more of an adventure, the Delaware Water Gap is a fun hike that's still easy enough for kids to tackle. The payoff is worth it: There are spectacular views at the end of the Council Rock and Lookout Rock trail, especially when the land is blanketed in snow.

It's a fairly well-populated trail, so you're unlikely to be entirely alone here. Be sure to stay on the markers and don't follow worn paths away from the main trails, as it can get slippery in the winter.

Delaware Water Gap
Lake Rd.
Delaware Water Gap, PA (just off Route 611)
Online: nps.gov

PUTNAM COUNTY

Old Mine Railroad Trail, Sunken Mine Road & Three Lakes Loop

New York State Parks

Located in Cold Spring, NY, 1h 17m from NYC

This spot is a great beginner's hike for families, and it's gorgeous in the winter. The trails feature a variety of terrain and scenery, including fairly flat paths, more challenging rocky sections, and, as the name implies, lakes and an old rail trail. 

Though there are a few scrambles to tackle here, this is a favorite among parents of young kids. Despite this, it typically doesn't get much traffic, so you can really get out there and enjoy some family time without seeing too many other hikers.

291-295 Dennytown Rd.
Putnam Valley, NY 
Online: hikingproject.com

ULSTER COUNTY

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail: New Paltz to Rosendale

Wikimedia Creative Commons

Located in New Paltz/Rosendale, NY, 1h 30m from NYC

If you want to make your walk a whole day adventure, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a great choice. This bike trail is wide, spacious and mostly flat, so it's a great walk for families with young children and even strollers (in most places). 

The entire trail is probably too long to tackle in one go, so we recommend completing the Rosendale portion of the hike. That on its own is an impressive 11-mile path, so only undertake this one if you have some experience and the kids have enough endurance. If you can manage the length, though, be sure to visit the Rosendale trestle bridge, which spans 940 feet and rises 150 miles over a creek — at one time, this was the largest bridge in the states — and features spectacular views in the winter (and all year round!).

At the end of your hike, stop by the hamlet of Rosendale to explore and grab a bite to eat.

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Sojourner Truth Park
55 Plains Rd.
New Paltz, NY
Online: wallkillvalleylt.org

ALBANY COUNTY

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center Game Farm Road

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Located in Delmar, NY, 2h 28m from NYC

A favorite among hikers with children, this trail is a must-visit in the winter. It's a fairly flat walk throughout, and has opportunities to snowboard and cross-country ski if you're looking for a bit more excitement than just a walk. If you're just walking, make sure to wear grippy shoes as the path does get icy in places in the winter. 

This is a top spot to visit if you're hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife, like birds, deer, bunnies and much more. Pavilions and rest areas are scattered throughout the trail for a chance to catch your breath. Stop by Beaver Tree trail for a burst of nature — though it's best in the spring and summer, you may still get to see a variety of critters in the winter.

Five Rivers
56 Game Farm Rd.
Delmar, NY
Online: dec.ny.gov

—Yuliya Geikhman

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From what to bring to where to eat and activities to keep kids busy; everything you need to know about driving from SF to LA (and back) is here

There are so many reasons to head south to L.A.—Disneyland, beaches or just a change of scenery and we’ve got all the tips to make your drive south as painless as possible. Whether you choose the scenic 101 or head inland on the 5 for the express (but boring) route, we’ve got all the details on pit stops, dining destinations, and tips to make the trip go by in a snap.

Preparing For Your Trip:

Kate Loweth

Make your family road trip more of a "vacation" and less of a "trip" with a little planning!

  • Download a bunch of podcasts like Story Pirates and Wow in the World. Boost the learning and keep the brains interested! More recs here and here.
  • Pack a personal cooler for each kid. You can nab these retro coolers at garage sales for super cheap and kids will love being able to eat what they want when they want.
  • Contain the trash. Make it so each person has easy access to a trash bag so that the floor doesn't become contaminated with loose wrappers.
  • Contain the toys. A car seat lap tray can keep tiny toys like LEGO bricks in one spot for the duration of the journey. We love bringing tiny gear in ZizzyBee Bags. They are perfect for LEGO bricks, Matchbox cars, Brainflakes, and more.
  • Keep them occupied with drawing paper fastened to an old clipboard, old-fashioned travel games like I Spy, movies on a portable DVD player, or educational and fun iPad or smartphone apps. Wiki Sticks are also fun to bring along (and bonus, they won't make a huge mess in the car like Play-Doh).
  • Let them play DJ. Hook up your phone's playlist to the car stereo and let your little one choose the songs.

You can find more road trip hacks here.

Pick Your Route: Any way you slice it, it’s a long drive. The drive on I-5 is both incredibly boring and long, so one suggestion is to take 101 on the way down and I-5 on the way home (or vice versa). That way, you can plan to be on the flattest, straightest, stinkiest part of the drive (Harris Cattle Ranch).

https://www.instagram.com/p/ClOkfFksbgG/?hidecaption=true

If You're Taking 101:

When to Leave: One tried and true method for making the trip down 101 is to get on the road early—like 5 a.m. at the latest. That way, if you’re leaving on a weekday, you get out ahead of rush hour traffic. Toss the kids in the car in their jammies and hit the road. The non-driver can catch a few Zs on the way down, or, fuel up on coffee and take advantage of the rare opportunity to have an adult conversation and enjoy the early morning scenery. After a couple of hours, the sun starts to come up, and the kids may or may not start to stir. If you're lucky, you might be able to make it almost all the way to Pismo Beach before that starts to happen.

Suggested Bathroom Break Stops: Stop at Soledad, King City, or Atascadero (including a McDonald’s with a PlayPlace).

https://www.instagram.com/p/CZCgUqMlF1L/?hidecaption=true

Where to Eat: If you can make it all the way there, Pismo Beach is an ideal stop. Pull up in front of Old West Cinnamon Rolls for more coffee and a sweet breakfast. The rolls with walnuts or pecans are satisfyingly crunchy and the cream cheese frosting packs a sweet wallop. Just make sure to grab a bunch of napkins if you plan on eating them in the car!

The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is another family-friendly dining spot, especially for the pink lovers in your crew!

Farther down the road in the Santa Ynez Valley, swing by the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company Taproom in Buelton to relax on the patio and enjoy some good eats. There are cornhole and giant Jenga games for the kids to play and it's totally family-friendly. (Bonus: it's just down the street from the ostrich farm mentioned below!).

https://www.instagram.com/p/CWGuFl_vkZ_/?hidecaption=true

Activities & Attractions Along the Way: There are plenty of stops along 101 and since you're along the coast, the beach cities are a good excuse to get the kids out of the car and run around in the sand to tire them out. Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach is a picturesque spot to picnic and let the kids climb for a bit.

In addition to having an adorable Danish-inspired downtown, Solvang is home to Ostrichland USA. This spot is right off the 101 and the kids will get a kick out of feeding these massive birds.

The Central Coast Veterans Museum is a fun stop in San Luis Obispo for military buffs. In addition to its massive collection of military memorabilia, the museum is marked by a real tank out front! Best of all, admission is free (and they have bathrooms).

Explore the "Three Magical Miles" of Mulholland Highway, where you can hike at the beautiful Peter Strauss Ranch, fish at the Trout Dale, shop for antiques at Charme D'Antan, eat at the local spot the Old Place, and even go wine tasting, all within walking distance of each other.

If you need more stops along your trip, there are plenty of options in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and beyond.

There’s a sweet outlet mall in Camarillo (Las Posas exit) to stock up on essentials that you might have accidentally left at home.

If You're Taking I-5:

Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

There’s not much to do or see other than trucks and cows when you drive the I-5. About those cows, you may want to roll up the windows when you see signs for Harris Ranch, the smell can get pretty strong when you cruise by the cattle lot.

When to Leave: If you are driving on a weekend, the best time to take I-5 is before 11 a.m. On weekends the traffic gets progressively worse throughout the day. During the weekdays, the best time is actually the middle of the day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Suggested Bathroom Break Stops: For the fam that packs a cooler full of snacks and just needs a place to potty, there are about a half dozen rest areas on I-5 between the Bay Area and L.A., including a decent one by the Grapevine (Tejon Pass) with vending machines, etc.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CfFAmHQhFIo/?hidecaption=true

Where to Eat: There are serviceable restaurant clusters in Los Banos, Kettleman City, and Fort Tejon. If you feel like stopping for a special fast-food excursion, don't miss the burgers and shakes at In-n-Out Burger in Santa Nella or Kettleman Station. If the weather’s too rainy for kids to run around outside, you could hit up the McDonald’s with a PlayPlace in Santa Nella.

The Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant is about halfway between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. If you’re in the mood for a steak, this is a great place to stop and eat while the kids run around the fountains.

Activities & Attractions Along the Way: Fort Tejon was built in 1854 and abandoned 10 years later. They feature interesting Frontier Army Days demonstrations on the first Saturday of the month, a fun diversion during a leg-stretch stop. Bravo Farms in Kettleman City is a fun Old West town with a restaurant and ice cream shop.

 

Brush up on your DC trivia with this list of fun facts about the Nation’s capital. Want to know why so much of the city is built in white granite? Look up fact #5. Ever wonder how many windows and doors the White House has? Check fact #59. Curious what was originally planned for the Lincoln Memorial? Scroll down for fact #7. Whether you’re a tourist or live in town, there is something new to learn below.

 

Andrew S. via Yelp

1. Look up at the ceiling of Union Station. All that glimmers isn’t paint. It’s solid 23-cart gold gilding.

2. During World War II, over 200,000 travelers passed through daily. 

3. Today, more than 5 million passengers pass through Union Station every year.

4. As you exit Union Station, see if you can find the replica Liberty Bell in Columbus Circle.

5. The use of white granite set a trend in The District. It became the preferred stone for monuments and many buildings. 

6. This train station was originally the intended site for the Lincoln Memorial. 

Balee D. via Yelp

7. Both the site of the Lincoln Memorial and the design were controversial. Other proposals included a Mayan temple and an Egyptian pyramid.

8. Sculptor Daniel Chester French used actual molds of Lincoln's hands when creating the memorial.

9. Rumor has it that Lincoln is signing his initials in American Sign Language. This was the intention of French, but it sure looks like he's loosely flashing an "A" and an "L".

10. The statue of Lincoln was originally supposed to only be 10 feet. As plans for the monument expanded so did the statue, which wound up being 19 feet.

11. There is a typo in the Gettysburg Address on the north wall. Instead of “future” the word was inscribed “euture.” Though the typo has been corrected, the original spelling is still visible.

12. The same team that designed the Lincoln Memorial also designed another DC landmark: Dupont Circle. The fountain in the middle of the circle was state-of-the-art in 1921 when it boasted an electric water pump.

13. The Patterson House at 15 Dupont Circle served as a temporary residence for then-sitting President Calvin Coolidge while The White House was being restored. 

 

Shirly C. via Yelp

14. The United States Supreme Court is a relative "newcomer" to the city. It was completed in 1935. Before then, the Court used the Old Senate Chamber, as well as spaces in the basement of the Capitol and even Philadelphia’s Old City Hall.

15. While becoming a Supreme Court Justice is the dream of many lawyers, you don’t need to have a law degree to be on the court. In fact, a majority – 57 percent - didn’t have law degrees.

16. Talk about a resume! William Howard Taft is the only person who has served as both President and Chief Justice. 

17. There’s a gym with a basketball court on the top floor – meaning that there’s a high court inside the Highest Court in the Land.

18. A fruit or a vegetable? Everyone knows that tomatoes are actually fruits – not vegetables – but that didn’t stop the Court from arguing the point in an 1893 case. The Court ultimately decided that tomatoes are vegetables because they are served during the salad or main course and not during dessert.

Sivilay T. via Yelp

19. Across the street from the Supreme Court is the US Capitol, which is topped by a statue officially called the Statue of Freedom. She weighs in at 15,000 pounds.

20. Plans to bury George Washington in a crypt in the basement were scrapped. Visitors, however, can still see where the tomb was going to go and browse the gift shop.

21. While GW isn’t under the Capitol, its own subway system is. 

22. The Capitol is literally strewn all over the Capital – original stone blocks litter Rock Creek Park and the original columns stand in the National Arboretum.

G.D.S. via Yelp

23. If you head west from the Capitol you will arrive at the National Mall. Before this National Park was dotted with Smithsonian museums a train ran down the strip of ground. 

24. Trees have always been part of the Mall. Today there are over 9,000 of them.

25. The Mall continues to grow and change – with the Martin Luther King Jr. and World War II memorials being the most recent additions. A World War I, Disabled Veterans, and Eisenhower Memorials are all scheduled to open on the Mall in the near future.

26. While sometimes used synonymously, the Smithsonian and the Mall are two different things. The Smithsonian is a group of 19 museums only some of which are on the Mall.

27. Today's most visited museums almost didn't exist. The Smithsonian’s founder and namesake, James Smithson, never set foot in the United States and because of this Congress was skeptical of accepting Mr. Smithson’s gift. 

28. The Smithsonian’s collection is HUGE! Remember those 19 museums? Together they display only about 1 percent of their Institute’s collection at any given time.

29. There are nearly 30 million visitors a year to the Smithsonian.

30. One of the most popular Smithsonian museums is the Museum of Natural History. Not only does the museum host roughly 8 million visitors a year, but it also employs close to 200 natural history scientists – the largest such group in the world. Even better, you can watch some of these scientists at work during a visit.

31. Aside from some of the most famous items in its collection – like the Hope diamond – the museum has unknown artifacts waiting to be discovered. One of these is a 20 million year old dolphin fossil that scientists only identified in 2016 because it looked “cute.”

 

 

The Air and Space Museum

32. Across the street from the Natural History Museum is another Smithsonian blockbuster: The Air and Space Museum. It is the most visited museum in the world! 

33. While the glass façade looks solid, the East wing of the Air and Space Museum acts like a giant garage door opener that allows the museum’s artifacts to be brought in and out.

34. The museum has the largest collection of aviation artifacts in the world – ranging from the Wright Brothers’ flyer to a rock that was brought back from the moon (they also have the capsules that went to the moon).

35. The Air and Space Museum's artifacts are housed in not one, but two museums. The second campus, known as the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, is located in Dulles, VA. 

36. While all Smithsonian museums are free, Udvar-Hazy charges for parking. You can score a free space after 4 p.m. 

 

Damian Patkowski

37. Though not on the Mall, the National Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian and is home to over 2,700 animals. 

38. The zoo has been home to giant pandas since 1972, though they are officially “on loan” to the United States from China.

39. The zoo’s original location was behind the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall.

40. Pandas aren’t the only famous bear residents. Smokey Bear – yes, THAT Smokey Bear – was a resident from the time he was saved from a forest fire in New Mexico.

41. Like The Air and Space Museum, the National Zoo also has two campuses. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is a 3,200 acre is located in Front Royal, VA. It is not open to the public. 

 

Kaitlyn via Yelp

42. The original plan for the Washington Monument called for it to have a flat roof. The pyramid on top wasn’t added until 1879.

43. Three future presidents – including Abraham Lincoln – were at the ceremonies at the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848.

44. When the Washington Monument opened on October 9, 1888, it was the tallest man made structure in the world. It only held the title for about five months until the Eiffel Tower opened the following March.

45. It is still the largest obelisk in the world.

46. If you look about a third of the way up the Washington Monument, there is a slight difference in color. That’s because construction was halted during the Civil War and had to get stone from a different quarry when construction started back up.

 

47. The Washington Monument might be made out of stone, but Washington’s home on the Potomac River, Mount Vernon is not. It is made out of wood that has been made to look like stone.

48. The home is approximately 10 times larger than the average home during the same period. 

49. A weathervane with a bird of peace was commissioned by Washington for the mansion while he was presiding over the Constitutional Convention. 

50. Despite what some movies say, there are no secret entrances out of Mount Vernon’s cellar.

51. The kitchen garden has been continuously growing herbs and vegetables since the 1760s.

Wikimedia

52. George Washington never lived in the White House. The first to do so was John Adams, though it was still called the Executive Mansion then.

53.. The name wasn’t changed to The White House until President Theodore Roosevelt changed it in 1901.

54. The Oval Office wasn’t added until 1909.

55. The White House was burned by the British during the War of 1812. The White House almost collapsed a second time – in 1948 – when it was found that the wooden, load-bearing columns were rotted through.

56. The White House has been home to some unusual pets. Two presidents kept alligators at the people's house (Adams and Hoover).

57. Some other unique pets include a hyena (Roosevelt), bears (Roosevelt, Coolidge and Jefferson) and a zebra (Roosevelt).

58. Over 100 dogs have lived in the White House. President Joe Biden's dog, Major, was the first shelter rescue.

59. The White House has 412 doors, 147 windows, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms.

60. None of The White House bathrooms are public. If you take a 45 minute tour, go before you go!

best spring blooms in seattle, cherry blossoms in seattle
Kazuend via Pixabay

61. Washington is known for its cherry blossoms, but these trees aren’t a native species – they come from Japan and were first given as a sign of friendship between the two countries in 1912.

62. How seriously do Washingtonians take their 4,000 cherry trees? Very. It is considered vandalism of federal property to pick the flowers, so look but do not touch!

63. Originally, 3,020 trees were gifted. Most of the originals have died, but you can still visit the few remaining trees still stand near the John Paul Jones statues near 17th street.

64. While the average cherry blossom tree lives for 30 years, these gifted trees are now over 100 years old!

 

—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Chris McGurn

featured photo: Jared Short via Unsplash

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81 Amazing Facts Every Kid Should Know

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One of the loveliest elements of the holiday season, the Christmas tree, can lose its luster pretty quickly once the new year arrives. Good news! The city’s Mulchfest program makes it easy for you to recycle your Christmas tree and do some good for the city’s parks and young trees. Here’s how to get rid of your Christmas tree and do a little green good this year. (Plus: the last day for sanitation tree pickup and recycling!)

Treecycle it: MulchFest2021

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

MulchFest is back! NYC’s own “TREECYCLE” tradition is taking place from December 26, 2021 to January 9, 2022. Last year the city mulched more than 29,000 trees, and it's pumped to set a new record for 2022!

Bring your tree (free of all decorations, netting and wrapping) and it will be recycled into wood chips to nourish trees and plants on NYC streets and gardens. Drop it off at one of the many Mulchfest locations around the city (there are many in every borough), or bring it on "Chipping Weekend", January 8 and 9, to see your tree reduced to bits live.

Bonus: If your own backyard needs some sprucing up, you can get a free bag of mulch to take home with you after your tree is chipped. (Locations marked with an asterisk have mulch for the taking.)

Click here to find all Mulchfest info, including chipping and drop-off locations.

distelAPPArath via Pixabay

Spread the Love — and the Mulch!
Feel like spreading some of that green love around? You and the kids can volunteer to add that awesome mulch to city trees.  (The mulch helps protect young trees, shrubs and garden beds from the winter cold, helps plants retain moisture and provides a nice decorative touch.) Sound like the green, civic activity your family's been seeking? Events are happening in all boroughs on weekends in January. Click here to see locations, dates, and times and to register! (And remember, dress warmly, wear closed-toe shoes and a mask!)

Kick it To the Curb — and Still Recycle It!

Dates for Department of Sanitation Pick-Up
Bring your tree down for curbside pick-up by the Department of Sanitation from January 6-15. Trees will be recycled into compost for NYC’s public spaces (parks, gardens, etc.). Be sure to remove all decorations from the tree and do not place the tree in a plastic bag.

Note: trees left curbside with holiday decorations of any kind remaining on them will be collected as garbage. If your metal or plastic imitation tree has worked its last holiday season, dispose of it with your normal recycling and it's off your hands.

Have Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting — and Still Recycle It!: Removal Services

If you’re unable to physically take your tree down to the curbside or to a MulchFest chipping location or drop-off site, don’t worry. Services like NYC Trees can come to your home, remove the tree, and take it directly to a recycling location for you. Starting at $80 for a four-to-five-foot tree, NYC Trees makes the tree removal process (and clean up!) about as easy as it gets. (If you want them to take off your lights, ornaments, etc. expect to pay more.)

908-318-4220
Online: nyctrees.com

—Ilyssa Smith

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No rainbow in the sky today? No problem. Just pick one (or all) of these easy kid-friendly science experiments with your rainbow-making know-how. From reflection (mirror) to refraction (water glass) to learning about density, we’ve found six science experiments to make or learn from the rainbow. Scroll down for the details.

Julia Zolotova via Unsplash

1. The Mirror Method


Lesson: Demonstrate the principles of reflection and refraction with this easy experiment. Light bending, aka refraction, takes place as light waves pass through the water. When you shine your flashlight (or position your glass so the sun comes in) you are bending the light waves, each one of the waves at slightly different angles resulting in the different colors of the rainbow. This is the same basic principle that occurs when water and sunlight create a rainbow in the sky. Reflection is the light bouncing off of the mirrored surface.

You will need:

A small mirror (like a compact mirror)

A glass of water (big enough to hold the mirror)

A flashlight (or sunlight) 

A piece of white paper or a white wall

1. Put the mirror in the glass of water.

2. Turn off the lights and draw the curtains. Make sure the room is totally dark.

3. Shine the flashlight on the mirror and check out the cool mini-rainbows that appear above the mirror. Put your hand behind the glass for extra fun. 

 

Trini3680 via Pixabay

2. The Garden Hose Technique

Lesson: Refraction, as above. This time, instead of using a mirror to reflect the light, you are going to basically mimic the natural formation of a rainbow by causing the water to hit the light in a fine mist.

You will need:

A spray bottle or a hose

Sunlight

1. Put the hose on mist or grab your mister and spray it into an area of your yard/house/garden that has natural sunlight hitting it.

2. Let the kids ooh and ahh over your rainbow-making skills, then let each of them take a turn.

Steve Spangler Science

3. Water Density Rainbow

Lesson: By adding more or less sugar to each water solution you are creating different density levels. When you add coloring to the glasses you will be able to see which solution is the heaviest. Add the colors in rainbow order to impress the kids. Visit Steve Spangler Science to get the complete how-to.

You will need:

Food coloring

Tablespoon

Five glasses or plastic cups (clear)

Water

 

Giorgio Trovato via Unsplash

4. The Glass o’ Water Approach

Lesson: The most simple form of light bending, this lesson in the light waves is similar to #1 above.

You will need:

A glass of water

A piece of paper

Sunlight

1. Put the glass of water in the sunlight.

2. Put the paper next to it.

3. Let the sunlight stream through the water and create a rainbow on the paper.

 

5. Advanced Glass o’ Water Approach:


You will need:

A glass of water

A spray bottle

A piece of paper

Sunlight

1. Put the glass of water on a table or windowsill where there is sunlight.

2. Put the piece of paper on the floor where the sunlight hits, in the line of the glass.

3. Spray the window with warm water where the sun is coming through, and so it lines up with the paper. 

4. Move the glass and paper around until you see a neat little rainbow on the paper.

photography (c) by Carl Tremblay, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

6. The Bubble Method

It doesn't get any easier than making a rainbow by blowing bubbles. You can use regular dish soap and a bit of water and shake ingredients inside a bottle, or just blow bubbles and observe. Want to up the fun factor? Make your own bubble mixture out of ordinary kitchen ingredients.

—Amber Guetebier

 

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Every year as the holidays wrap up, we start to focus on good habits and goal-setting for the new year ahead. Maybe you want to work out more, go to bed earlier, clean out your closet or even try to spend less time on your phone. Your children may be curious about the routine changes they see their parents implementing and may even want to participate—something that should be encouraged.

Just like adults, children thrive on healthy routines with little goals to strive toward. Setting daily habits allows kids to experience continued growth socially and emotionally by helping them develop self-regulation skills, gain responsibility and build confidence.

How do we help our children set these reasonable, consistent routines?

A great rule of thumb is to choose a small number—just one or two goals to start for younger children and no more than four for older children. You can certainly add more as your kids achieve success with the original habit(s). But keeping a small number allows them to understand clearly and concisely the priorities they will be working toward and will enable them to stay focused.

Keep in mind that children should choose which new routines they select. Providing the opportunity for choice allows your little ones to have some autonomy with selection, which will make them more inspired to practice the habits they have chosen.

Here’s what to do when establishing healthy routines with your kids:

1. Together, make a list of potential goals using pictures for visual cues and allowing your children to pick. Some ideas include trying new foods, eating healthier snacks, enjoying more nature/outside activities, engaging in more mindfulness activities and participating in community events. You can include tasks to help out around the house, too.

2. Keep the list and photos in a visible location to serve as a reminder.

3. Consider making a chart of the habits with pictures, and don’t forget to include a completed side. Allow your children to physically move the photos into the completed section once the goal has been achieved, which will allow them to feel a sense of pride.

4. Review progress and give praise as they succeed. Offer words of encouragement when progress is delayed to help your child continue to strive for success at their chosen routine.

You and your children can start the year out in a healthy way by setting small, achievable and beneficial practices for 2022. If you’re looking for resources to help you and your children explore developmentally appropriate ways to practice good character in the year ahead, head over to Kiddie Academy’s website to download the Character Essentials Activity Book.

Photo: Kiddie Academy

Joy has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. As Vice President of Education at Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care, she oversees all things curriculum, assessment, training and more. Joy earned a B.S. in Education from Salisbury University.

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