It’s cold and gray outside. Inside, your kids have given up on toys and board games and are either climbing the walls or sitting in isolated silence, glued to the screens of various devices. We came up with seven ideas for getting everyone from toddlers to teens out of the house.
Lots of parents say the best sledding hill is one that their children can get to on their own. But some snow days call for a special outing. There are several popular hills in the area, but the slope behind Takoma Park Middle School is guaranteed to produce a rush. The hill is long, steep and wide—and there’s plenty of parking, so everyone can head home quickly once the mittens get wet and the toes get cold.
Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring
WHIP UP A GOURMET MEAL
At L’Academie de Cuisine’s recreational cooking school in Bethesda, kids can learn how to make Nutella crepes and sticky buns, or how to steam a fish in banana leaves. The school offers cooking classes for parents with kids (ages 5-8), parents with older kids (ages 9-12), older kids alone, parents and teens, and teens alone. Taught by professional chefs—many of whom graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine’s culinary school in Gaithersburg—the classes range in price from $75 to $135.
L’Academie de Cuisine, 5021 Wilson Lane, Bethesda; (301) 986-9490; www.lacademie.com
SEE A PLAY
Round House Theatre sets aside free tickets for high school students who live in Montgomery County and the District as part of its “Play It Forward” program. High school students can reserve one free ticket for any play in the 2015-2016 season. A school ID is required at the box office. Parents, other adults or students who are not eligible but wish to accompany the teen receive a $5 discount per ticket.
Round House Theatre, 4545 East West Highway, Bethesda; (240) 644-1100;
PLAY A ROUND OF MINIATURE GOLF
Putt-putt golf may feel like a distant memory from last summer’s vacation, but it’s a year-round activity at Monster Mini Golf in Gaithersburg. The indoor, glow-in-the-dark, 18-hole miniature golf course features moving monsters, black lights and a live DJ. The course charges by height, so admission is $8.99 for “little monsters” (under 59 inches) and $9.99 for “big monsters” (over 59 inches). There is also an arcade and two private party rooms.
Monster Mini Golf, 9116 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg; (301) 330-6464; www.monsterminigolf.com
GO ROCK CLIMBING
With more than 38,500 square feet of climbing walls, some of which tower 40 feet high, Earth Treks Climbing Center in Rockville is a good spot to burn off some energy. But it’s not only for the teenage set: The center also has shorter walls that aren’t as steep, which are ideal for younger kids and novice climbers. Kids need to weigh 40 pounds to participate, and the smaller ones wear a full body harness. “Open Climbs” every Saturday and Sunday ($30) don’t require reservations or experience and include three climbs, a harness rental and supervision from an Earth Treks instructor.
Earth Treks Climbing Center, 725 Rockville Pike, Rockville; (240) 283-9942;
GET A HAIRCUT
Even the squirmiest toddlers get distracted by the Bethesda Kidville’s shiny airplane and fire truck seats, where they can sit and watch DVDs as stylists work on their hair. A child’s haircut is $22, a bang trim is $10, and haircuts for adults (they have conventional seats, too) are $30. The salon will also do a doll’s hair in an updo or braid, and create a matching style for the child ($22 for both; haircut priced separately).
Kidville, 4825 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda; (301) 656-5030; www.kidville.com
HIT THE GYM
Sometimes, parents need their own outing. At least that’s the idea behind “Parents’ Night Out” at Sport & Health in Rockville. Two or three times a month, the gym hosts themed evenings (think ice cream and pajama parties) where parents can drop the kids while they have their own excursion. In addition to toys, arts and crafts, and board games, there are high-tech video game systems such as an Xbox 360 Kinect and an EyePlay Interactive Floor. The service is available for kids 11 and younger (very young children must be potty trained). The cost is $42 for one child ($35 for members), and $15 for each additional child ($10 for members).
Sport & Health, 4400 Montgomery Ave., Bethesda; (301) 656-9570; 11594 Old Georgetown Road, Rockville; (301) 656-9570; www.sportandhealth.com