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Rainy day fun: 10 great indoor activities for families with young children

Rainy day fun: 10 great indoor activities for families with young children

Does the upcoming forecast have you scrambling to make alternative plans for your family over the next few days? In a follow-up to our outdoor family activities article, we’ve compiled 10 indoor activities that families with young children can enjoy in the area this summer:

1. Explore the children’s museum
Since 2012, the Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester has been providing children with a hands-on and stimulating environment to explore and discover. Although small in size (5,000 sq. ft.), the museum regularly rotates exhibits to keep things fresh. Now through Sept. 27, the Amazing Castle exhibit and its eight themed areas occupy the museum.

Photo: Minnesota Children's Museum Rochester

2. Attend a do-it-yourself workshop
On the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot offers a free kids workshop that gives children a chance to build a project like a toolbox, firetruck or birdhouse. In addition to bringing out their inner carpenter, each child receives an orange Home Depot apron and an achievement pin. Prefer blue over orange? Head to Lowe’s, which offers similar clinics on select Saturdays as part of their Build and Grow program.

Photo: Michael Olson

3Catch a free flick on the big screen
Year-round, Cinemagic offers free kids matinees every Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m. at the Hollywood 12. Additionally, Paragon Theaters – Chateau has scheduled free kids movies all summer every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10 a.m.

The upcoming lineup includes titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Penguins of Madagascar, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Book of Life, The Croods, and Epic. Wehrenberg Theatre’s Galaxy 14 Cine also gets into the action with their Family Summer Series, featuring family-friendly movies on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. for $1.

4. Play smart
In addition to thousands of children’s books, the Rochester Public Library offers a plethora of activities for kids of all ages, including story time, puppet shows, and science and art activities. The library also houses a “Smart Play Spot”, which includes a variety of interactive exhibits including a post office, canoe, garden, and more.

5. Roll a strike
If you haven’t checked out Bowlocity (previously Recreation Lanes), now is the time. In addition to the alley’s traditional 16 lanes, Bowlocity recently completed an expansion that includes an 8-lane bowling suite, arcade complete with ticket redemption, and a two-story laser tag arena. Bowlocity, along with Colonial Lanes, also participates in the Kids Bowl Free program. Registered kids receive two free games of bowling daily all summer long.

Photo: Bowlocity Entertainment Center

6Get in touch with your inner Pinterest
On select days throughout the summer, Michael’s craft store offers kids crafts as part of their Kids Club and Passport to Imagination programs. Cost ranges from $2-5 with classes typically held from 10 a.m. to noon. Upcoming crafts include everything from button frames and paintings to pencil pouches and duct tape bracelets.

7. Enjoy story time
Take in a children’s story at A Child’s Kingdom (Saturdays at 10 a.m.) or ABC  & Toy Zone (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.). Also, be sure to check out A Child’s Kingdom’s event calendar for various dress-up parties, craft projects, and game tournaments. The Rochester Public Library also offers story time on various weekdays.

8. Jump around
Burn off energy at the 15,000 sq. ft. indoor bounce play land at Bounce World. Bounce World is packed full of inflatables and includes areas designated for kids of all ages. You can also take your best shot at riding their mechanical bull. For parents, there is a designated lounge equipped with WiFi and a big screen TV. Cost ranges anywhere from $3–9.50 depending on the day, time, and kids’ ages.

9. Chuck E. Cheese’s
Most parents have a love-hate relationship with Chuck E. Cheese’s, but there’s no denying that kids love it. The pizza joint’s arcade and amusement area is split up into three unique sections, each geared towards different ages and skill levels. In addition to traditional arcade games, the Skytubes play area allows kids to burn off even more energy and get a little exercise at the same time.

10. Visit one of the best toy stores in the world
Less than an hour drive northeast of town in Kellogg, Minn., Lark Toys is the one of the largest (more than 20,000 sq. ft.) family owned and operated specialty toy stores in the country. Named as a top 10 Toy Store in the world by USA Today, Lark Toys features a hand-carved wooden carousel, a bookstore, candy shop, and various interactive play areas including a puppet theater, train tables, dress up and play kitchens. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a close-up of the toy store’s four miniature llamas  — Franci, Eliot, Irving, and George — who are known to occasionally parade through the store.

Photo: Lark Toys Carousel Wizard and Dragon / Courtney "Coco" Mault / Creative Commons)

Honorable Mentions:


About Brian Olson: Born and raised in Rochester, Brian enjoys spending time with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Henry (1) and Finleigh (4), and their golden doodle rescue dog Duke (age unknown). When not playing Dad, Brian works as a marketer, enjoys traveling, and can’t seem to get off the roller coaster that comes with being an avid Minnesota sports fan. Follow Brian on Twitter.


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(Cover photo: File / Steven Depolo / Creative Commons)

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