Ten Fantastic Winter Playdates


We’ve reached the time of year where outside play requires approximately eighteen layers of clothing followed by the dreaded, “Mommy, I need to go potty.” Summer gives us beaches, pools, parks, and playgrounds to enjoy with friends. Winter gives us freezing temperatures, wind, and cold.

Don’t let winter keep your family stuck at home; invite some friends along and shake-off the winter blues together with these easy indoor playdates. These ideas are great for homeschoolers & preschool groups too – and for after-school, holiday-week and weekend fun!

 Jump for Joy  

Kids love to bounce and it is a great way to burn off all of their pent-up winter energy. Bounce houses are perfect for little ones, while older kids (and moms and dads) love to jump at the indoor trampoline parks that are popping up all over the country. Make sure you go over safety rules with the kids ahead of time; these attractions are best enjoyed with lots of adult supervision.

Local facilities with trampolines: In Redding: Rare Air Trampoline Park, G-Force Gymnastics, NorCal Elite Gymnastics Center. In Siskiyou County: Mt. Shasta Gymnastics.   

Check Out Books and Play 

Storytime is so much more than stories; kids learn songs and watch puppet shows, do art projects, and pick out books. Even without storytime, libraries with children’s areas are a great place to meet a friend and let the kids play. Most libraries have a children’s department with books and toys geared to the younger crowd. Ours has a train set, a dollhouse, and a puppet show set. In addition to your local library, check with local bookstores for more options. Find a big array of local storytime offerings in North State Parent’s Going Places Events calendar. 

Find Your Bathing Suit

Explore your local YMCA and numerous other fitness facilities to find an indoor pool near you. Many allow non-members to pay a drop-in fee to swim without joining. It’s a treat to play in the warm water and escape winter’s chill outside.  

Explore, Touch, and Learn 

There are so many kinds of museums to enjoy! Art, natural history, science and train museums are a few that kids enjoy most for exploration and learning. Many history museums have hands-on areas for youth to explore. Read museum websites ahead of time, as some offer special gallery tours and programs for families visiting the museum. Programs designed for younger kids can make adult-oriented museums interesting for little ones.

A few of many local museums offering hands-on exploration: In Butte County: Chico Creek Nature Center, Gateway Science Museum, Chico Museum, Bolts Antique Tool Museum, Patrick Ranch Museum, Paradise Depot Museum. In Shasta County: Turtle Bay Exploration Park. In Siskiyou County: Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum. In Tehama County: Gaumer’s Mineral and Mining Museum. In Ashland, OR: ScienceWorks Hands on Museum. 

Take the Playground Indoors   

Can’t play outside because of freezing temperatures? Stay warm and dry at a local play center. These offer open play times for children and their caretakers in environments designed for creativity, play, learning … and just plain fun. Some even cater to infants, and most encourage parent-child time together. Gymnastics centers and fitness facilities also offer open-play times for kids and parents. Check out North State Parent’s Going Places events calendar to find listings for local open-play times and for local playgroups too.

Local drop-in supervised indoor play centers & open gyms: In Chico: visit KidsPark, Sunny Garden Montessori, and Bricks 4 Kidz. In Redding: Adventure Recreation, G-Force Gymnastics, and Galaxy Gymnastics Center.  

Show Them How It’s Done

Try going retro and take the kids to the skating rink. Ice skating and roller skating are fun ways to stay active all winter long. Learning to skate might even lead your kids to try a new sport, like ice hockey. Be sure to regale your kids with stories of your skating prowess in years gone by. Little kids love stories about “when I was a kid,” and big kids love to laugh at them.

Local rinks: In Butte County visit Cal Skate Chico (roller skating and roller hockey), Paradise Ice Rink (seasonal ice skating) and the North Valley Hockey and Sports Complex (ice hockey). In Shasta County visit Viking Skate County (roller skating) and Big League Dreams (roller hockey). In Siskiyou County visit the Siskiyou Ice Rink (seasonal ice skating and ice hockey). Also visit the Lithia Park Ice Rink in Ashland, OR (seasonal ice skating).

art-1215-winter2Get Creative 

Winter is the perfect time to allow your budding artists extra time indoors to create. Local paint-your-own pottery places offer a fun way to create a lasting memory.  Some studios offer opportunities to work with raw clay from scratch. Think about creating gifts for upcoming birthdays or holidays. When creating gifts, it is good to get there a few weeks in advance to account for the time it takes to get your masterpieces fired in the kiln and ready for pickup. Other types of art centers and studios offer hands-on classes, workshops and open studio times in a variety of mediums. Many offer weekday classes for charter and homeschool students, as well as after-school and weekend classes for youth. 

Local ceramic studios: In Butte County: Chico All Fired Up. In Shasta County: All Fired Up. In Siskiyou County: Shasta Clayworks, and Bella Art Works. For more art studios info, visit http://www.northstateparent.com/VisualArts.

Rock Walls & Towers

For a unique, fun and physically challenging experience, try your hand/s (and feet) at climbing a rock wall or tower. These are offered for different ages and skill levels in safe indoor environments. Learn climbing skills to enhance your outdoor adventures in the summer.

Local indoor climbing: In Shasta County at Shasta Rock Club, and Rare Air Trampoline Park. In Siskiyou County at Shasta Base Camp, and Siskiyou Family YMCA.

Whether you and yours are looking for culture, exercise, or just need to get out of the house, these indoor playdate ideas are sure to keep everyone in your family active and creative all winter long!  


Sara Simeral
About Sara Simeral

Sara Simeral is the mother to energetic 6-year-old twins. In between snowstorms, she enjoys inviting her friends and their kids out for playdates and coffee. 

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