As the Texas temperatures wildly swing from balmy in the morning to downright frigid at night it is hard to make plans and ensure your kids aren’t sitting at home reminding you how bored they are all winter break. As an aside, don’t you wish you fully took advantage of how great you had it as a child when school was on break? I wish someone would nag me to read and relax for a while. Ok, ok, I am now wearily getting off my soapbox. When the wind is whipping too hard to send the kids out into the yard, prevent winter break meltdowns by being a tourist in your own city and taking full advantage of all the child-friendly museums and activities the metroplex has to offer. Find your winter coat and put on your walking shoes because this winter break the kids aren’t going to whine and complain and they may actually learn something. Well, we can all dream right?
Tired of acting like a chauffeur or having your younger ones fight their booster seat every time you get in the car? Try taking a ride on the DART train through Dallas. Mid-day the trains are relatively empty and it is a great way to keep transportation-loving kids engaged. Make a full afternoon of it as well. Stop in downtown Dallas for lunch and walk around looking at Christmas decorations. Or head to Reunion Tower for story time presented by the Dallas Public Library. Taking place on the GeO-Deck, kids can listen to stories while parents enjoy a 360 degree view of downtown. The DART Rail system is far-reaching, so picking a station near your house will a breeze.
If you are looking to soak up every last ounce of holiday cheer then head to the Galleria for ice skating around the Christmas tree. In true Texas fashion, the tree in the middle of the rink – which stands 95 feet tall – is said to be the largest indoor tree in the country. In addition, this rink is more popular than the one in Rockefeller Center, with more skaters circling this tree than the one in NYC. Parents, if lacing up skates is not your idea of fun, let the kids go and enjoy watching them while sipping a warm beverage or a margarita at Mi Concina rink side.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is fun for adult and kids alike, and an added benefit is you will not even realize how much you are learning. I know it’s every parent’s dream to have their kids do something – no matter how little – educationally redeeming over the break. While this is normally met with groans and resistance, a trip to the Perot Museum can achieve all these goals while eliciting giggles and pleads to return for more. One of the best parts of this museum is all the opportunities for hands on learning. Dance like birds while you mimic the elaborate courtship dances of the birds-of-paradise, or become a super sleuth while you gather evidence and conduct an investigation throughout the museum. Plan to spend all day here as kids can easily become engrossed in a single activity for hours on end. If your kids gain a love for science, make sure to check out the Noble Planetarium in Ft. Worth where they can see more than 7,000 stars. For the younger audiences, the planetarium is currently featuring “Big Bird’s Adventure” that introduces children to the night sky and basic astronomy. This is a great way to instill the love of learning at a young age.
Draw your kids away from the TV and take them to see a live-action play. This time of year there are great holiday classics tailored specifically for children. Check out the Dallas Children’s Theater for kid-friendly versions of the Nutcracker and A Charlie Brown Christmas. For those with older children, the Bass Performance Hall has unique holiday programming as well. Dressing up as a family and attending the Nutcracker is a great family tradition to start.
The start of winter break doesn’t have to mean a constant struggle to provide entertainment for your children at home. Head out and explore all that the metroplex has to offer!