If you’re like me and you have a rambunctious toddler or an ornery baby at home, you want to get out and about. Fresh air, exercise and sensory stimulation all work wonders for kids whilst sitting at home bouncing off the walls is good for no one and, especially not us parents. This week with the torrential rain we’ve been having I’ve compiled 10 ideas for days out that can be taken even when it’s raining.
1. Local Library
Modern libraries just aren’t about loaning books – they’re now community hubs and almost all of them will offer some sort of children’s activities. From arts and crafts to singing and dancing sessions, to access courses and using PCs for the older ones, you should absolutely give your local library a call or visit their website and find out what activities they offer. Don’t forget to check out a few books whilst you’re there as well.
Museums will almost always have some facilities for children. Whether it’s arts and crafts or toys available, even if the art on display isn’t of interest, you should be able to find something local that will keep your little ones occupied. Science museums are often interactive and educational, whilst natural history museums will often include prehistoric animals, skeletons or explosive exhibits about earthquakes and volcanoes. Many museums are free or have very low costs and I have no doubt you can find a museum nearby that can help with boredom on a rainy day.
3. Ikea (or other shopping centres)
Yes, you read that right. Ikea! I remember when Ikea in Cardiff opened, we all wandered around lost, full of wonder. Ikea offers a fully staffed play area for children that you can drop them off at whilst you shop – but it’s also a great way to burn some energy, because the place is HUGE and full of lots of different things. The cafe is well priced and full of food kids can eat, but I recommend you avoid the bargain basement if you want to get out without spending any money!
This really applies for any shopping centres – you may as well get your shopping done inside on a rainy day and you can always make it fun for youngsters. My son absolutely loves grocery shopping (I think he’s the only one though…)
4. Aquarium, Zoo or Butterfly House
This is the most expensive option on the list, but most aquariums, zoos and other animal attractions like rainforest or butterfly houses will offer a very well priced annual membership. My local zoo (Bristol Zoo) has an annual pass that saves you money in just three visits, so if you have something local then it could be an excellent option all year round. Even though zoos have a lot of outdoor exhibits, they’re quite likely to have some indoors as well such as a reptile, rainforest or aquatic house. Zoos are amazingly fun, educational and your money goes towards important conservation work at the same time. Just remember to take a packed lunch as the cafe is inevitably very expensive.
5. Cafe or Restaurant with a Kids Area
If you’re in Cardiff check out my guide to local Cafe’s with free play areas, but wherever you’re located, you should be able to find something. For the price of a cup of coffee you can often enjoy a coffee shop or family restaurant that has a small play area or kids section and the whole family can have a relaxing hour.
6. Cinema for under 5s
Find out if your local cinema offers any morning showings for those with young kids. My local cinema offers showings that you can take under 5s into, and even special newborn showings. These are usually with higher lighting than a regular show and it’s expected that there’s going to be quite a bit of noise and movement during the showing. They are priced very low and hopefully by the time the movie is over, the rain might have cleared enough to burn some energy outside.
7. Garden Centre or Pet Shop
My husband and I own an exotic pet shop in Cardiff (Reptile Cymru) and we get tons of parents bringing in their kids to look at the animals. I often get people ask me if I, as owner, mind people coming in and treating my business as a free zoo but the truth is, I don’t mind at all! I welcome all parents to bring their kids in, look in all the tanks, learn about our animals and even hold them if we’ve got time. Maybe one day you’ll be coming back and buying a pet for yourself or telling your friends about how clean my enclosures are, happy my animals are and friendly my staff are – but even if you don’t, it’s cost me nothing and I’m quite happy for people to come in and browse without having any intention of buying.
So find out if you have any local garden centres or pet shops. Garden centres in particular are good as they often have a cafe and plenty of space to run around in, whilst pet shops such as aquatic shops and reptile shops will offer something exotic and exciting to look at. Independent shops rather than large chain stores are more likely to have time to talk to you one on one and may even let you hold something if you ask nicely. If you do feel guilty about taking up a lot of that salespersons time when you had no intention of spending money, remember that both word of mouth and social media reviews are critical for small businesses. It takes 2 minutes to pop a review on Facebook saying that the staff were friendly and the animals looked well taken care of and it will mean a lot to a small business, trust me!
8. Go on a train or bus
When you’re a toddler or a young child, the destination doesn’t need to be important – the journey can be magical! Heading on a 15 minute train ride followed by some time spent on the platform spotting a few trains, grabbing a special drink of hot chocolate and then heading back can be a lot of fun for a little one. Local train journeys are often very inexpensive and this also helps children to learn about using public transport and traveling and can build confidence as well. One of my friends daughters loves buses and will squeal in delight at the prospect of riding upstairs on a double decker bus, so that’s an option too. A lot of buses have circular routes so you may not even need to get off!
9. Leisure Centres
Council leisure centres often have a lot to offer, but very often their websites aren’t the best which is a shame! It’s worth giving your local leisure centre a call and finding out what they’re running. Many will have a swimming pool, whilst others might offer trampolining, soft play, arts and crafts, children’s gymnastics or more – and they’re usually at lower prices than privately run activities too!
10. Rainy Walks
This one is a bit of a cheat compared to the others, but the fact that it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. As long as they’re dressed appropriately, children can go outside from any age in any weather – rain, wind, snow or sunshine. So get those waterproofs and wellies on, drag out your poncho or your rainjacket and run through the mud, jump in puddles, feed the ducks and then head home for a warm bath and a cup of hot chocolate, hopefully followed by a long nap.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed thinking about which of these 10 places to go on a rainy day would be suitable for you and your family and given you some ideas for where to go in the rain. Where are you heading out to? Swimming? An aquarium or a reptile shop, or to the local library. Is there anywhere I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!