We all look forward to the weekend, but when you wake up on Saturday morning and the rain looks like it has set in for the day, or the temperature isn't going to get above 10 degrees, all your great ideas go out the window. Your next thought is,
"What on earth will we do with the kids today?".
Of course there are Canberra's Museums, which are all mostly free, and they all have something to offer even if you have been there before. In particular Old Parliament House has a dedicated kids area ("Play Up") and The Royal Australian Mint has upgraded their Factory Viewing Platform with touchscreens for the older kids (informative and 3 with games).
However, here is my list of ideas of other free or cheap indoor activities that comes to my mind, so it may be a starting point for your family. Hopefully you will find something here to entertain you - for a few hours anyway!
FREE INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS
Most shopping Centres have indoor playgrounds, so spend a few hours at the shopping centre, stop for morning tea and then let the kids have a long play at the play area to wear off some energy. Of course the playgrounds will be heaving with kids on a rainy day, so even though it may be noisy for you, most young ones will probably love it. We have found some great ones at Westfield Belconnen and Westfield Woden (in the shape of a pirate ship -see photo below). If you have small toddlers, there is a toddler area outside of "Target" at "Tuggeranong Hyperdome" (also with a handy coffee shop nearby for takeaways!)
Yes, you don't hear that often, but "Bunnings" here in Canberra have some great indoor playgrounds. The play area at Fyshwick "Bunnings" is quite small (no slippery dip), however the playground at Tuggeranong "Bunnings" is the size of an outside playground. With ramps to run up and down, slippery dip, hopscotch - it is a great source of entertainment for all ages.
Bunnings Tuggeranong Play Area
Bunnings" at Belconnen has a smaller area, but with a more advanced playground for the older kids. Our daughter, Miss Three, couldn't climb up the stairs within the tubes to get up, and she was too old for the toddler area, so this playground is for the younger and older kids. Both stores have a coffee shop nearby for something to eat afterwards (or another coffee while you watch them play!).
Masters" at Majura Park may not have a playground or cafe, but they do have trolleys in the shape of cars (for free). They are huge to manoeuvre around the store (you will need your muscles!), but the kids love them.
I eagerly await the opening of "Ikea" across the road from "Masters" at Majura Park (out near the airport), expected to be opened late 2015. This will provide another great rainy day option as well with a café inside. It will be huge!
THE LOCAL CLUB
Although this isn't free (unless you are a guest of a member or a visitor to town), your local Club is usually cheap to join and most in Canberra have a Children's Play area, so you can pop in for lunch and a play in a warm environment.
If your child is old enough to experience the movie cinema without getting overwhelmed or scared, there are cinemas in Canberra that play the latest releases but also some old school Disney Classics at reduced prices (eg. $6 tickets).
"Tuggeranong Limelight Cinemas" in particular regularly put on these special screenings, so keep an eye on their website to see what is happening this weekend.
Have you been to your local library? If you live in Canberra you can borrow more than books these days, you can also borrow kids dvd's - for free! As a visitor to Canberra you can always pop in and have a read with your kids.They also have CD's for both kids and adults, magazines, and many have craft or colouring in stations set up in the children's area.
All the libraries in Canberra are linked, so if you are a resident you can borrow books from every library in the ACT, which is a handy service. Once you have joined you can borrow up to 50 items and keep them for almost a month! Most libraries are close to the large shopping centres, and the Kingston library is small and very cute - also a great location for a nice lunch afterwards at one of their many trendy cafes.
Each library has more than just books - they have plenty of kids dvds to borrow for free!
Of course there are indoor playgrounds that you pay for here in Canberra (eg. Monkey Mania, Lollipops, Kids City etc) however there are plenty of other cheap and free ideas here in our city when you have a look around.
Enjoy this time with your family. It is amazing how much even an old fashioned board game can provide quality family entertainment, so think outside the usual activities and have a better day than you ever would have expected.