Like most things 2020, this year’s winter break will be different. Most family getaways are postponed, many communal play places are closed and all of the high-touch museums and educational learning centers now have restrictions. But if you’re desperately searching for ideas to keep your children busy during the holiday vacation, there are options.
Mask up and get out
If you’re seeking in-person entertainment, there are still opportunities for that.
At the American Dream shopping and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, N.J., Big SNOW is open daily with new health and safety precautions in place. Billed as North America’s first and only indoor, year-round, real-snow ski and snowboard resort, the attraction allows guests to ski and snowboard on a temperature-controlled mountain in two-hour increments. Daily packages, which include equipment rental and helmet, are priced at $69 per person. All guests must wear face coverings and gloves and the number of tickets sold is currently limited to accommodate for social distancing. Online reservations are required. For more information or to book your experience, visit bigsnowamericandream.com.
Rab’s Country Lanes is currently operating at 50 percent capacity, utilizing every other lane. And while no events are currently scheduled due to coronavirus restrictions, the bowling alley is encouraging families to visit during winter break.
Other in-person ideas include: iPlay America (check out their family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration), Showplace Entertainment Center, the Staten Island Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History (see their spectacular Holiday Origami Tree featuring 1,000 origami cranes symbolizing peace), and the New York Aquarium, public skating sessions at SI Skating Pavilion or the WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink at Clove Lakes Park. Be sure to call ahead to make reservations and for information on Covid-19 safety regulations.
Host a video game marathon
Like it or not — especially if you were lucky enough to land a Play Station 5 or Xbox Series X — video games will be a big part of your winter break. But no worries if those big ticket items did not find a space under your tree. There are plenty of educational and fun apps that can be downloaded to your children’s devices for free. No judgment here, during winter break screen time is our friend.
For a few moments of sanity, download LEGO Tower, an app in which your little builder can construct, operate and manage their own apartment complex or business. Minifigure residents live, work and play there and you can visit your friends’ LEGO towers and trade items.
There’s also Super Stickman Golf, an award winning physics puzzler that allows you to swing your way through over 280 holes using special abilities like sticky balls, ice balls, air brakes and nitro balls.
And if you want to take a family approach to your gaming, try out Spaceteam, a “cooperative shouting game” for phones and tablets that encourages players to work together to prevent their ship from exploding. Players are assigned a random control panel with buttons, switches, sliders, and dials and have to follow time-sensitive instructions that are sent via your teammates.
Take a trip to the Louvre
The historic French museum might be on the other side of the globe, but you can tour its famed galleries and get a close-up look at the Mona Lisa herself virtually. Guests can click through the Louvre’s empty halls, zooming in on most paintings and sculptures. A retrospective to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci which was scheduled to run from October to February has turned into the museum’s first virtual reality experience, bringing life to the artist’s most famous masterpieces.
And the Louvre is not the only museum to offer virtual tours.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is allowing kids to take a ride in a time machine at www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/time-machine, choosing their own adventure based on timeline and geography.
The British Museum of the World offers a pretty cool look at mummies and kids can view dinosaur skeletons and other interesting artifacts at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour | Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.