Budget Friendly Activities for School Vacation

By Kelley Boymer
10 Feb 2022

Winter and spring vacations are fast approaching in year 3 of a pandemic. Maybe discomfort with recent spikes in COVID cases or an immunocompromised family member limits your access to travel. Perhaps it’s just not in the budget this year. It can feel disappointing not to be able to getaway, but there are so many other ways to take advantage of school vacation and make it one you and your child will remember for a lifetime.

Below I’ve outlined some budget friendly activities to keep your kids entertained, all the while keeping you sane!

Budget Friendly Activities for School Vacation

Local Vermont Camps/Day Trips

Artist Tree (Pomfret, Vermont)

We are so incredibly lucky to have this amazing resource in our town! Artist Tree is a community arts center that provides opportunities for both children and adults in music, theater, visual arts, movement, and so much more! There’s a range of morning and afternoon camps available for ages 5-12 (with limited availability/some with a waitlist-so act fast if you are interested!) over winter and spring vacations. Check out vacation camps here.

Montshire Museum (Norwich, Vermont)

Montshire Museum is fun for both kids and adults. They run fantastic programs and events and are a perfect option for a day spent indoors out of the cold and muck. You can sign up for special programs here or just show up for the day to enjoy the exhibits. They have everything from the science of making music, bubbles, exploring motion, discovering the natural world, aquariums with native animals, scientific investigations and much much more!

Swimming at The Upper Valley Aquatic Center (White River Junction, Vermont) or Athletic Club (Woodstock, Vermont)

If you are looking for an activity that is dependable regardless of weather, but also sure to give your kids a good workout, indoor swimming is just what you are looking for! Camps at the UVAC are full over February break but both UVAC and the Athletic Club have swim hours available. UVAC requires a reservation so be sure to call ahead of time as I’m sure it will be busy over the vacation.

VINS (Quechee, Vermont)

This list is really just making me realize how lucky we are to have so many incredible resources in our area! VINS is another local resource that promotes the importance of taking care of nature through its interactive and educational exhibits and activities. Although VINS’ camps are currently full over February break you can still plan to visit and enjoy the canopy walk, exhibits and activities.

Budget Friendly Activities for School Vacation

Local Vermont Outdoor Adventures

Skiing/Snowboarding at Suicide Six (Pomfret, Vermont)

Suicide Six is such a great family friendly ski mountain. With great conditions after some fresh pow from this past weekend, now is the perfect time to get out for a fun-filled day on the mountain with your family. Suicide Six offers skiing and snowboarding although rates are a bit higher for holiday breaks. Check for rates and special offers here.

Hiking, Walking, Snowshoeing & Fat Biking

We are also fortunate to live in a place where you can literally walk out your door almost anywhere and experience the bounties of nature. Whether it’s just a walk in the woods behind your house, down the road or a destination hike or snowshoe, simply taking the step outside will be sure improve your whole families mood!

Some of our favorite hike/Snowshoe/Nordic skiing/Fat Bike Options include:

The Pogue and Mt. Tom

These trails are currently only open for Nordic skiing/snowshoeing and require a pass from the Woodstock Inn for access. See trail map here for route options.

Mt. Peg

These trails are open for snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and fat biking. You can access the trails from the Woodstock Nordic Center or Maple Street in Woodstock. See trail map here for route options.

Woodstock Aqueduct Trails

The Aqueduct Trails are a great option for hiking, fat biking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. These trails are also dog friendly! See trail map here for route options.

Sledding/Playing in the Snow

Sledding and snow play are always a great option for winter vacation! This allows your kids to enjoy the outdoors cost free and be creative in their play. Encourage them to build a snowman, snow sculpture, igloo or a slick track for sledding down. I remember spending time outside with my siblings building snow forts and sledding luges that provided hours of entertainment without structure!

Indoor Activities

When the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can feel imprisoned by the idea of being stuck indoors with a bunch of rambunctious children. Be prepared with some indoor activities to help structure this time to avoid chaos and boredom.

Themed Movie Nights

Kids love movies and it is a fun way to spend time together as a family. Try a series like, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ice Age or Toy Story and watch throughout the week. Some favorite animated films include: Encanto, Up, Soul and Inside Out. And of course, oldies but goodies- E.T., Parent Trap, Jumanji, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire and Homeward Bound.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts aren’t for everyone and if your kids are little, be prepared to provide a lot of help. BUT if arts and crafts are your jam this can provide so much fun for you and your little one(s). Here are some fun ideas to get you going! Follow these IG accounts for some more fun toddler crafts and activity ideas: Busy Toddler, Happy Toddler Playtime, and Simplifying Play.

Building/Creating

Legos, magnetic tiles, trains, marble shoots… the options are endless when it comes to building and creating. If you have a little engineer on your hands, help them to imagine and create their own machine using materials around the house. Struggling to get your creative juices flowing? Here are some ideas to get you started: 11 Engaging STEM Activities for Kids that Will Foster Curiosity.

Reading

There is nothing better than picking up a good book and cuddling up with a little one. Books allow us to travel through our minds when we cannot physically travel. Here are few of my favorite read alouds for elementary age children: Buddha at Bedtime, Charlotte’s Web, The Stories Julian Tells, The Tale of Despereaux, Harry Potter and Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and of course any Roald Dahl books (The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Board Games

Board games are a great way to stay cozy inside while also avoiding screens. They engage the mind and can create some competitive fun for the whole family. Some of our favorites are: Sorry, Candy Land, Scrabble and Clue. Cards are so fun too! Try Go Fish, Spoons, or Kings in the Corner.

And if you are just too gosh darn tired to do any of these things? That’s okay too. Remember, when in doubt, TV time is ok. No one here is judging. Survival mode people!

Have any fun plans for school vacation? We would love to hear in the comments below!

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