Are the kids in your world a little overwrought this month, thinking too much about that big guy in red? Reserve part of the coming weekend to calm them (and yourself) down with a not-Christmas diversion that is also healthy for their bodies and minds. Here are some excellent ideas, both indoors and outdoors:
Mosaic Stories at Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA
A bear and stag hunt from the 6th century BC portrayed in a giant floor mosaic. How hard would it be to get kids involved in games and explorations of this piece of artwork, speaking to them across 26 centuries? This glorious mosaic floor, excavated from a home in Antioch that was destroyed by an earthquake in 526 AD, is a centerpiece exhibit at Worcester Art Museum in Worcester and also the topic of a Family Guide exploration. A brochure invites kids to count animals and sketch the mosaic. Can you think of a better way to get your kids loving art and history? Map.
Faces of the Rainforest at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI
This new exhibit at the zoo showcases creature of the rain forest, including tropical birds, monkeys, plenty of reptiles, and giant river otters in an above-the-floor tank. Their swimming maneuvers alone will keep you spellbound. If the day, is nice, the entire Roger Williams Park, with lots of walking and biking trails, a carousel, and a planetarium provide a full day of fun exploration for kids and parents. Map.
Santa’s Holiday Express Train with Conway Scenic Railroad from North Conway, NH
Pile the family onto the train at the nostalgic North Conway station for an 11-mile round trip on the Valley Train of Conway Scenic Railroad. Enjoy an old-fashioned railroading from the 1874 train station in North Conway Village to Conway and back again. Children under 4 ride free in Coach, and well-behaved dogs are always welcome. Santa’s Holiday Express Trains run on weekend in December, leaving at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Map.
Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier, VT
Explore the world of maple on a family farm. If it’s an indoor day, take a tour of the sugar house tours; watch the humorous educational video in a theater in a woodshed; enjoy the whimsical carved folklife characters created by Burr Morse; shop at the country store. Outdoors, race around on the walking trails and explore the Vermont farm life museum. You don’t have to think of things to do here: your kids will lead the way to pure refreshment in the Vermont winter air. The farm and sugarworks are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Map.
Model Train Show at Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT
How did model trains get linked to the Christmas season? Who knows? In any case, Connecticut River Museum in Essex hosts a Holiday Train Show, created by hobbyist and artist Steve Cryan. The operating 26-foot model train layout has tons of new trains and scenery this year. Visitors can also challenge themselves with the I-SPY scavenger hunt for objects hidden with the displays and throughout the exhibit gallery. There’s an American Flyer and Lionel Train layout designed for toddler-size viewing. .