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Published October 9th 2016
An emergency list for when the rain sets in
Last year I wrote an article Free & Cheap Rainy Day Ideas To Entertain The Kids In Canberra, for those wet and miserable rainy days. This included op shopping for toys, visiting libraries and playing at indoor playgrounds at shopping centres, clubs and the local Bunnings. If you get a whole week of rain however, (which Canberra recently saw in the Spring school holidays), the situation becomes even more challenging. We are lucky here in Canberra that there are so many museums to walk around that have free entry, however what do you do when you have visited them all?
Unfortunately it can be hard to find more free activities, so this list includes indoor activities that you may have to pay for as well, to keep abit of sanity when the rain sets in for more than a few days. Of course the interactive Questacon Science Museum is the Number 1 family attraction in Canberra, however the following are some more ideas on what to do on the next rainy week in Canberra...which thankfully doesn't happen often!
Cosy reading corner at Play Up, Old Parliament House
1/ Play Up at Old Parliament House (the Museum of Australian Democracy), is a fun and interactive area for kids where they can get crafty, read books, build towers, play with new toys and relax in their colourful and large space inside the museum. On the way there, stop in at Dress Ups, where kids can try on tiaras, hats, gowns and suits and parade in the mirror. Entry to the museum is $2 adult / $1 child entry. See details here.
2/ The National Capital Exhibition at Commonwealth Park near the CBD, is an interesting place to walk around to learn how Canberra was designed. They also have a Lego and Duplo play area called Brick By Brick, where you can get a Lego plan of a Canberra building and follow the instructions to make it - or you can just enjoy free play. See details here.
3/ KSpace at the National Museum of Australia has free entry and is suitable for ages 5-12. It is an interactive adventure game for kids and adults, which takes about 30 minutes to complete. Firstly you use touchscreens to create a time-travelling robot, then you send the robot back in time to a different era in Australia's history and complete missions. Technology, fun and learning all at the same time! See details here. See the You Tube clip below to get a preview of what the game involves.
5/ Craft Stores are a cheap rainy day activity for crafty kids, to buy a basket of craft packs, pom poms and glue and set up a play area at home. Bargain shops can have a good range as well as Spotlight in Queanbeyan or Lincraft (at Fyshwick, Belconnen, Woden or Tuggeranong). If your kids would like to join a class, Belconnen Arts Centre has one day kids craft workshops and also check out Tommy and Me Café in Macgregor, for cupcake decorating and crafts in their kid friendly café.
6/ Build-A-Bear Workshop is located at Belconnen Westfield Shopping Centre, where kids can choose the components of their own bear to make, stuff, decorate and keep. Their range includes other soft toys, not just bears, so there will be something for boys and girls of all ages. See details here.
7/ Indoor play centres will keep families with small children busy on a rainy day, as long as you don't mind noise and mayhem - which the kids will love! In Canberra there is Kid City (Mitchell), Monkey Mania (Fyshwick) and Lollypops Playland (Majura, near the airport) for indoor fun. If your kids love to try out their tricks at trampolining centres, then try Flip Out Trampolining (at both Mitchell and Hume) and Skyzone (Belconnen). IKEA at Majura Park also has a free supervised play area for toilet trained children. For indoor mini golf, the two indoor mini golf centres in Canberra are Jungle Mini Golf at the Power Kart Raceway and Mini Golf King at the Canberra Outlet Shopping Centre.
8/ Board Games are a great way to get the family together and have a laugh at the same time. Although kids these days are tempted to play the ipad or Play Station, a good old fashioned board game or 300 piece puzzle can easily take up some time on a rainy day. You don't need to spend a lot of money, with second hand games piled high at Canberra's op shops. If you would like to enjoy a family friendly meal and play a host of board games, check out Guild Café in the CBD.
9/ Kids Stage Shows are on each school holidays and throughout the year, with a wide variety of options for all ages. See the websites for Canberra Theatre Centre and The Street Theatre in particular, with the Canberra Repertory Society occasionally presenting family shows also. Check local advertising around the region for community groups and schools also putting on performances.
The Mr Maker Show - coming to the Canberra Theatre in January 2017. Source: Canberra Theatre Centre website
10/ Gold Creek Village in Nicholls, north of Canberra, is a village dedicated to family friendly activities. It is a great place to explore on a sunny day with Cockington Green Gardens and the Canberra Walk In Bird Aviary, however on a rainy day the National Dinosaur Museum and the Canberra Reptile Zoo are the two indoor locations to spend a family friendly couple of hours.
11/ Hire a DVD from the local shopping centre DVD kiosk. For only a few dollars you can pick the latest release family movies from the automated kiosk and then get cosy on the couch. You don't need to join up to anything, just pay by credit card and return it the next day to the kiosk. See here for locations of Hoyts and Video Ezy kiosks. If you belong to ACT Libraries, they also have free family and kids DVD's to borrow.
12/ The National Film and Sound Archives often have $5 - $8 movies for families each school holidays and weekends. Introduce your kids to some old school classics, or see new ones together for the first time. See details here.
13/ Movie Cinemas can be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon if the rain hasn't stopped outside. Around Canberra the movie cinemas are Dendy (CBD), Hoyts (Belconnen and Woden), Event Cinemas (Manuka) and Limelight Cinemas (Tuggeranong). Look out for reduced kids prices for certain family movies.
Source: Limelight Cinemas Tuggeranong Facebook
14/ Events around the region are held each weekend and school holidays - with festivals, expo's, open days and markets happening all year around. Many are located under cover so they aren't affected by the weather. Events held at the EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra) in particular, are held inside large warehouses as well as the outside courtyards. Action-loving kids would enjoy the Big Boys Toys Expo (August), crafty kids will have fun at The Craft and Quilt Fair (August), young children will enjoy the freebies and balloons at The Canberra Home Show (October) and also get into the Christmas spirit at Canberra Christmas Market (December). See the EPIC calendar here. Also check local advertising for circus's that travel through the region during school holidays.