Oh, Winter. The holidays are over, school is back in session, and it’s still kinda cold and dark (and sometimes rainy). Finding things to do with the kids in the Winter is always tough because there’s a lull in some of the regular happenings as everyone adjusts to post-holiday life. But don’t worry! We’re sharing a few of our favorite activities for the winter months, including a few indoor activities for rainy days.
El Dorado Trails and Nature Center
El Dorado Park West has several different trail options and all of them are kid-friendly. You can opt for the short half mile paved walk, the 1 mile trail, or the longer 2 mile trail. The trails are also stroller-friendly – I would recommend one with the larger wheels for some of the dirt trails. We’ve done them with an umbrella stroller but it was a little challenging. After your nature walk, you can visit the Nature Center. Here you’ll find a lot of touch and feel nature items such as horns, antlers, and pinecones. There are also insects on display in cages like a walking stick, cockroach, and tarantula. There are areas for interactive learning where you can do things like look at x-rays and listen to different bird songs. The nature center is small but it offers a lot of activities for its size. Parking is usually $6-7 and admission to the trails and nature center are free, so this is a great winter activity for the cost.
This one is great for a rainy day! Kidz Town is an indoor “soft play” gym – and it’s one of the last few around since the closing of We Rock the Spectrum an Gigil. Kidz Town has slides, a ball pit, and a jungle gym with tubes to crawl around in. There is a small rock climbing wall, STEM toys, and an area with cards that kids can sit on and push themselves around. For the parents, there’s a sitting area with tables and chairs, and they also sell snacks and beverages. This is a fun place to take the kids to burn some energy. Kids must be 54 inches and under.
Farmer’s Market and Playground
It’s grocery shopping and play date in one! This particular farmer’s market is at Bixby Park from 3pm-8pm on Tuesday and 10am-3pm on Saturdays. We love to go and get fresh produce that’s locally grown. My kids usually don’t enjoy food shopping, but here, there are a ton of yummy samples for them to try, there’s live music, and we usually grab dinner from one of the food trucks too. After we’re done with our shopping, we head over to the playground that’s adjacent to the farmer’s market and I let them play for a little while. This playground has a lot of climbing equipment and plenty of swings, so it’s great for both big kids and little kids.
Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is another one that’s great for a rainy day because there’s so much to do inside. It’s a bit on the pricey side if you don’t have a membership, but you can get one for slightly more than the cost of one visit for a family of 4. It’s $159/year for 2 parents and all of their kids under 18. While inside, you can check out the otters, sea lions, octopuses, and more. There’s a great IMAX movie about taking care of the earth (it’s only about 10 minutes and it’s interesting enough to hold the kids’ attention). You can color your own fish on a touch screen, and they’ll come to life on the wall. If you venture outside, there are touch tanks where you can touch jellyfish, rays, and leopard sharks. There is a lorikeet forest where you can feed the lorikeets (and they will probably land on you – so be alert!). Another bonus is that the aquarium has a water play area that’s perfect for summer. And did I mention that they sell beer and wine?!
Shoreline Village Arcade
This is one of our favorite DIY-type outings. We usually head over to Shoreline Village and take a walk around the marina. You can grab a quick meal if you want to eat along the water. We like Tugboat Pete’s for hot dogs, or Gilan’s to share a pizza. We’ve found those are usually the cheapest options and we can eat for around $25-30. Then we head over to the arcade. There’s a carousel ride, racing games, skee-ball, and more. If you play ticket earning games, you can redeem tickets for a prize when you’re done. After we’ve finished at the arcade, I usually give the kids each a couple of dollars to get some candy at Sugar Pop Sweet Shoppe. They sell a huge variety of bulk candy, including fun vintage options like Pez and candy buttons! This is an outing you can reduce to a marina walk and carousel ride if you want to save time or money (I know grocery prices are crazy lately), or you can stretch it into a full afternoon with a meal, games, and candy.