Even more “outdoor” things to do when outdoors isn’t cooperating

Last year I made a list of things to do when the outdoors isn’t cooperating. Well, here we are in that unpleasant time of year again. It’s freezing one day and raining the next. The snow is either a slushy mess or an icy expanse…or gone altogether. Every time I mention going outside the kids look at me blankly, and who can blame them?

So here are even more things you can do that get you thinking about the outside when you absolutely don’t, under any circumstances, actually want to go outside.

Play a game

My children received the game Trekking the National Parks for Christmas and, while we were dubious at first, it has turned into a family favorite. The idea is pretty simple–you make your way around the country, visiting and claiming various parks–but the conversations it sparks are the real winner. The game includes a park guide with write-ups about each park which feeds the feeling of a virtual visit. Our parks visit list has expanded dramatically and we even learned of a few we didn’t know about before. The game is indicated for age 8 and up, and the rules take a little mastering at first so that’s pretty good guidance. Younger kids could definitely play as a “team” with an adult. (Note: I’ll fully admit that this is much pricier than a typical board game. That’s because it’s made by a small, independent game company and is of very high quality. This thing will last.)

Trekking the National Parks

Trekking the National Parks in action (Bink Ink, $49.95)

Watch a show

Last time I mentioned nature documentaries (Wings of Life was another hit in our house) but sometimes you don’t want to sit and watch butterflies or monkeys for two hours. Sometimes you want something a little shorter or a little more…fictional.

A bit ago, a friend recommended the new anime version of Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter. Based on the book Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren (of Pippy Longsticking fame), this is the latest offering from the studio that did the anime classic Spirited Away. It feels dangerous to recommend a show when we’re only about six episodes in, but this has become our Sunday afternoon viewing. While Ronja isn’t about the outdoors in particular, Ronja is amazingly brave and adventurous and her joy in exploring the forest around her father’s keep is infectious. I strongly suspect that my kids will be spending a lot of time pretending to be Ronja and Birk in our woods this summer.

So far this has been very family-friendly, but be aware that if you watch this with littles that my kids find the mythical harpies that make an occasional appearance a bit frightening. It hasn’t hurt the show for us at all, but it’s something to be aware of. Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is available on Amazon Prime.

Visit a Museum

During February vacation we visited the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor for the first time in a while. I’d worried my kids, especially the nine-year-old, were too old for it, but they spent hours (and hours and hours) exploring the exhibits. Top of their list was the Nature Trails section of the first floor with the giant treehouse and the river to play in. They also got some time at the touch tank and spent quite a bit of time hanging out with Roy, the blue-tongued skink. (For a bit I thought we were going to have to take Roy home with us.) It was a nice rediscovery of a resource we often take for granted and a great way to get the wiggles out in a place that understands wiggles.

Maine Discovery Museum

They haven’t been able to go ice fishing all winter, so the fishing station was a welcome diversion. Good catch rate, too!

So there are a few more suggestions to see you through this time of mud and ice. March in Maine isn’t anyone’s ideal, but it’s a great time to build anticipation for the better months ahead.

And if all else fails, start planning your summer vacation.

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.