By Rachel Hoeing

With temperatures dropping extremely low, many moms find themselves stuck indoors with rambunctious toddlers and preschoolers. A little time outdoors is good, but little ones can only last so long in that cold weather. (And sometimes MOM can only last so long in that cold weather, too!)  If you are ready to get out of the house, this blog’s for you!  Whether you are a stay-at-home mom looking for some entertainment during the week, or a working mom who needs reprieve on the weekend, we hope our list today will give you some ideas!

As always, please add your ideas in the comment section below!

1.) Playgroups – If you are not already involved in a group, this can be an excellent idea for your children, and also for the moms.  Kids get to interact with other kids their own age, and mom gets some adult time. Visit our Mom & Child Groups directory here for some ideas, or join our TMoM Chat Page and get a group together on your own!

2.) Bowling – Many moms are hesitant to take their little ones bowling because they are so young, but with the bumpers, most kids are guaranteed at least one pin to be knocked down!  Most bowling alleys also have moveable metal ramps that children can use to guide their ball down the alley.  These ramps are excellent for children with special needs.  Some of our favorite alleys are AMF Winston-Salem Lanes, High Point Bowling Center and AMF Alll-Star Lanes Greensboro.

3.) The North Carolina Zoo  – This is an obvious choice in the spring months, but is often forgotten about in the winter.  Choose a day that is not too chilly and hop over to the zoo.  It will be great to be outdoors and the crowds will be smaller than usual.  Visit the website here and visit Katie’s post here for some tips!

4.) Art Classes – There are three great art studios in the Triad where kids of all ages (including preschoolers!) can explore their creative side. One is ArtQuest at Greenhill Center in Greensboro, another is Sawtooth Center for Visual Art in Winston-Salem, and also Little Blank Canvas in High Point.

5.) Hanes Mall -When my children we younger, we spent A LOT of time here.  We would usually start out in the stroller while I got in some shopping.  Then when they had enough of being restrained, I let them run free!  During the week there are not many crowds (hours on website here), so toddlers can easily run a few steps ahead of you without any danger.  There is a choo-choo train, which runs along the upper level of the mall.  There is also a carrousel, and plenty of ride-on toys for them to enjoy.  (Most of the time they don’t even notice if you don’t put a quarter in to start those rides!)  The Brenner Children’s area is a perfect place for toddlers to jump and slide.  Best of all you can enjoy lunch without leaving the mall.  Perfect way to get out of the house when the weather outside is frightful!

6.) Museums – We are so fortunate to have a plethora of amazing hands-on museums in the Triad.  Many of these run promotions or discounts as well.  Take your preschooler to the Greensboro Children’s Museum, Children’s Museum of Alamance County, or the Greensboro Science Center and you will be able to entertain them for the entire day!  Again, these are great places where kids can run free without many safety issues.

7.) Krispy Kreme – You can always kill an hour here if you need to get out for a while!  Not only can you get a delicious treat, but your kids will be mesmerized by the doughnut machine!  Visit the website to find the location closest to you.  (As if you already didn’t know EXACTLY where that hot glazed doughnut sign was flashing!)

8.) The Public Library or the Book Store – You can drop by any time to browse the isles and sit on the floor to enjoy a book with your little buddy.  You can also plan your visit around the storytimes.  Book stores and the local libraries host preschool and toddler stories times that are just long enough to keep their attention!  We list many of these on our event calendar. A favorite storytime that has been recommended by many of our readers is the one at Kathleen Clay Edwards Library in Greensboro.  Check it out here.

9.) Day Trips – If you have an entire day free, check out our DayTrip category and choose a destination!  Some of these are best for visiting in sunny weather, but many can be explored any time of the year.

10.) Visit the Fire Station – I have never done this with my children, but I have heard many people talk about how welcoming the firemen were to their children when they stopped by for a visit.  The kids were in awe as they had a mini-tour of the station.  Since I have not been I am not 100% positive of the protocol.  If you have been, let us know below if it is best to call ahead or just stop by.

11.) Pet Stores, Humane Society, and Vet Offices – Children love animals and both of these places are not only fun, but free!  I personally love the pet stores where they have puppies and allow you to take one out for a visit.  The smiles and laughs from the kids are priceless!

12.) Swimming – Not exactly something we usually think about in the winter, but there are plenty of indoor pools around where you and your child can swim.  Many of the local Y’s also have zero-entry pools where you can walk with your toddler and can go in as deep as he/she feels comfortable.

13.) Manicures & Pedicures – If you think your preschooler is ready for some mommy bonding time at the nail salon, this can be such a fun adventure.

14.) Let them Jump!Sky Zone,  Bumper Jumpers, Rockin’ Jump Greensboro, Rockin’ Jump Winston-SalemSafari Nation, and Jump-N-Fun – five places where you kid can go NUTS!  Be sure to ask for specific play times for the younger kids so that your toddler doesn’t get steam-rolled by a ten-year-old.

15.) Get Dancy! –  Kindermusik is so much fun for children and also a great place for moms to meet new friends as well.  Follow the link above and type in your zip code to see a list of classes close to you.  You can also check out Musikgarten!

16.) Target – Yes, we consider Target a destination!  Why is this a good outing for you and your little one?  There is a dollar section where they can go nuts at the end of the outing.  There is inexpensive food galore with everything from apple slices to popcorn.  PLUS momma can shop, too!  Sounds like a win-win to me!

17.) Chick-fil-A – Any location with a play area is a great place to spend an hour and let your child blow off some steam. Plus, many locations also offer storytimes!  In addition, there are new grilled nuggets if you prefer a more nutritious option. And last but not least, any “toys” in the kids meals can always be traded in for an ice cream.  🙂

18.) Painting Pottery & Canvas
– I know you think I am crazy for recommending that you take your toddler into a place filled with breakable items, but it can be done!  Most children will love this adventure with mom.  A few of our favorite places to do this around the Triad are  The Mad Platter in Greensboro and Originals by You in Winston-Salem. We love Little Blank Canvas and Masterpiece Makers for canvas painting.

19.) Retirement Communities or Assisted Living – Remember our blog about Service Projects for Families?  Well visiting a retirement home is just one of the many ways you can show your children the gift of giving.  The people who reside in these homes are thrilled with visitors, especially when the visitors are children!  I remember my grandmother always getting so excited when she told us about the “cute little” kids who came in to visit today.  Be sure to call ahead when you visit to find a time that works well with the facility.

20.) Theatrical Productions – We are big fans of Twin City Stage, Community Theatre of Greensboro and High Point Theatre.  These activities will of course take a little planning ahead, but check the website’s linked here for event calendars.  There are plenty of shows that preschoolers would enjoy.  And if you think your toddler is not quite ready, he may surprise you!

What else do you do to get out of the house with your little ones during the winter months?