21 Ways to Have Fun Indoors in St. Louis This Winter

It hasn’t been snow that’s keeping St. Louis families indoors this winter; instead, heavy rains and historic flooding have conspired to keep many of us at home – or at least inside where it’s warm and dry. But no matter what form this year’s wintry precipitation takes, most parents can agree that it’s helpful to keep a list of indoor activities on hand during the long, cold (and sometimes wet) winter months.

Whether it’s rain or snow keeping you inside, here are some family-friendly ideas of things to do and indoor destinations to visit:

1. Play with holiday gifts. January is the perfect month to put those brand new Christmas and Hanukkah presents to good use. Their novelty will wear off eventually, so encourage kids to play with them now.     

2. Create a family bucket list for 2016. Why not sit down together as a family and map out your hopes and dreams for the upcoming year? Check out Lara Krupicka’s Family Bucket List book for inspiration.  

3. Make your own vision boards. Even kids can benefit from the law of attraction and the power of positive thinking, so have each member of the family create a vision board with pictures of their personal goals. Let children decorate theirs with stickers and glitter.    

4. Visit the local library. Winter is a great time to curl up with a good book. At your local library, you can check out many of the best children’s books of 2015, and also participate in classes and programs for toddlers through tweens.

5. Host a family game day (or night). Board games help kids master concepts like grouping, counting, letter recognition and eye-hand coordination. Plus, experts agree that you don’t even need to let your children win, since important life lessons about winning and losing begin at home.    

6. Visit indoor playgrounds. Outdoor playgrounds may be, well, out this time of year, but that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t run and play and burn off all of their excess energy.  Wear them out by taking them to the City Museum, the Discovery Room at the Saint Louis Science Center, Open Gym at Miss Kelly’s Gym, or Kids Night Out with Circus Kaput at Chesterfield Mall.  

7. See a movie. Stay home and introduce your kids to the all the films in the Star Wars saga or get out of the house and head to free Firehouse Movie Nights at the Clayton Firehouse or Winter Movie Nights at Ballpark Village. For a treat on the big screen, take in an OMNIMAX film at the Saint Louis Science Center. Here's what's playing now.

8. Do winter science experiments. Take advantage of the winter weather to teach some science. Here are 20+ Winter Science Experiments for Grades K-5. Or, check out the Mad Science of St. Louis YouTube channel, where the mad scientists themselves conduct demonstrations and experiments you and your kids can watch and then do at home, like the latest, Bubble Catching.

9. Have an indoor camp-out. The fire pit and the starry sky will have to be pretend, but you can still pitch a tent in your living room and roast marshmallows and s’mores (in the microwave, of course). An indoor camp-out is the perfect way to switch up your routine on an otherwise dreary winter day.

10. Try something new. Have your kids ever been rock climbing? What about roller skating? Even toddlers can learn the basics of bowling or miniature golf. Search a site like Groupon and you’ll find great deals to local family fun centers and other indoor activity destinations.

11. Invest in indoor play equipment. If you have basement or indoor play area, toddlers and preschoolers (and let’s face it, older kids too) can burn energy and have a blast with equipment like a mini trampoline, a small slide or a homemade ball pit.

12. Throw a dance party. Crank up the music and start dancing. For hours of fun the whole family can enjoy, invest in a few Just Dance video games, which feature popular songs and allow players to compete against each other with their best moves.

13. Play balloon tennis. Bring outdoor sports indoors by replacing balls with balloons, which are less likely to knock over lamps or priceless family heirlooms. Balloon tennis – and balloons in general – can keep kids busy for hours.    

14. Make glittery snowflake window clings. No snow outside? It’s easy to pretend with this simple craft project that transforms puffy fabric paint into beautiful snowflakes.

15. Learn about Martin Luther King Jr. MLK Day falls on Jan. 18, making the entire month a good time to teach your kids about the accomplishments of this historic figure. The Missouri History Museum’s Storytelling at the Museum: Celebrate MLK, for example, is a perfect introduction for preschoolers ages 2-5.    

16. Feed the birds. Pinecone bird feeders made from pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed are a classic winter activity, but there are many more ways to feed the birds in your own backyard. In fact, here are 32 Easy Homemade Bird Feeders to Make with Kids This Winter.  

17. Go swimming. Pools aren’t only for summer. Open Swim at the Lodge at Des Peres, for example, is available to both members and non-members throughout the winter, and so is Water Waddlers, at the Lodge's tot pool, complete with fountains and a beach-like entry. Area YMCA’s and other facilities offer open swim times too.  

18. See a show. Like Charlotte’s Web at the St. Louis Family Theatre Series, for example (all tickets are just $7) or the amazing Flying Children of Circus Harmony in their winter show Giocoso. And who doesn't love Dr. Seuss? Treat your family to a kid-friendly performance of the St. Louis Symphony at The Zany World of Dr. Seuss. And when is the last time you did some serious stargazing at the Planetarium? Here is what's playing daily.

19. Write thank you notes. January is National Thank You Month, so take the opportunity to have your kids write thank you notes for the holiday gifts they received.

20. Show some love to local favorites. It’s easy to take St. Louis family attractions like the Magic House, the Science Center and the Museum of Transportation for granted, but each one offers its own unique variety of indoor fun for families, and there's always something new happening, such as the new Science Storytime at the Science Center every Wednesday and Thursday. If you haven't taken your kids to explore the Very Eric Carle exhibit at The Magic House, be sure to catch it before it closes Jan. 24. And the museum's Wonder Works exhibit area can keep curious kids busy for hours. You can also visit the World Chess Hall of Fame and explore the life-size Kings, Queens and Castles exhibit for hands-on, chess-centered fun (and some great photo opps!). 

21. Make plans for summer. It may be cold outside, but we can all still dream about summer vacations and beachfront destinations. Research places where you may want to travel as a family, and don’t forget to check out our Summer Camp Guide so you can sign your kids up early for the best summer camps St. Louis has to offer.  

Remember, you can always check our Things To Do calendar for fun events and activities for you and your kids happening daily across the St. Louis area. Better yet, get our Daily Things To Do email newsletter and get a handy list of the day's activities delivered right to your inbox. 

Photo courtesy of The Magic House.




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Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco


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