How do you recreate the vacation experience when you’re staying home?

“What are we doing today?”

I’ve barely opened my eyes when there are many more little eyes standing over me, asking me something I have no idea how I’m going to answer.

All I can say to myself is, “Thank G-d these boys have school on Sundays.”

I would have no idea how I’d entertain them if I had to think of something exciting every week. But now it’s winter break, and since we won’t be traveling to Florida this year, I’ve simply got to brainstorm and make this last day of vacation a fun one.

Here’s some things that might be on the agenda.

The Arts n’ Crafts Vacation

When I was a little girl, I remember one trip to Manhattan, where we visited a bead store. In that store, I was able to pick whatever beads I wanted, then string them together into my own custom bracelet. The store no longer exists (I suppose the price of beads doesn’t stack up to cover Manhattan rents) but the idea of a vacation centered around Arts n’ Crafts and DIY activities is totally exciting for young girls.

Mom, We’re Bored. We’re Totally Bored. Entertain Us.

Start out at a Paint-Your-Own Ceramics shop. I visit either one of these or this one near me, but there’s most probably one close by no matter where you live (Note to moms: get something small to paint yourself, or you might be a little impatient sitting around waiting for the kids to finish their projects…but don’t tackle anything too time-consuming, because they may want your help).

For another day in our “Arts N’ Crafts” vacation, we plan to visit The Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. There’s so much to do there, definitely enough to fill a whole day with activities. It’s less than 90 minutes away from most NY-NJ area, short enough for a day trip (there’s not much else to do in the area). There’s also locations in Minneapolis and Orlando (not that you need more activities to do there).  

Bead Jewelery. What to do with kid's on vacation days or when they are really bored.As far as beading and jewelry making, if you can get all the girl cousins and friends together, it might be worthwhile to purchase the beads and supplies and recreate this experience at home.

Stay Active

Mom, We’re Bored. We’re Totally Bored. Entertain Us.Go ice skating. Everyone will feel good after an active day and they might be tired enough afterwards to recreate home for hot cocoa. You can also go bowling…or try this fun DIY Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling activity with your kids in the evening hours. Look for Groupon deals on SkyZone or other bounce-until-you’re-tired spots. Boys might enjoy a few rounds at a local batting cage or a round of indoor mini golf at Monster Mini Golf. And though skiing is never cheap, there’s lots of local mountain ranges within a couple hours driving time in the Tristate area such as Mountain Creek and plenty of places in the Poconos. If you start the day out early enough, skiing can be a day trip.


Check into a Local Hotel

Often, kids don’t know or care how far you’ve traveled. They like being in hotels, period. Check into a local hotel for the night and plan some activities in the next town over instead of in the familiar spots. When it’s not busy season, and especially in business hotels, you can often have the pool to yourself. This is especially fun if you’re going with a bunch of families. My kids love running back and forth to their cousin’s rooms, playing different games in different rooms, when we go with the extended family. It’s just fun to be somewhere else! During off season, decent hotels can be $100 a night or less or be booked for a minimum amount of credit card points. has lots of great hotel deals too.


Hotel at Home

One of our friends makes a family hotel instead of shlepping everyone out. Breakfast is room service, served on trays in bed. The mini fridge is stocked with drinks and snacks, and they enjoy popcorn and a video at night. How else can you transform your home to capture that “away from home” experience?


What are your Staycation ideas?

P.S. Staying in a hotel without a kitchen? See Renee’s tips here or Chayie’s sandwich maker ideas here. See a Pennsylvania road trip itinerary here.

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Victoria Dwek
Victoria holds a B.A. in English Literature from New York University and a M.F.A in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She’s the editor emeritus of Ami Magazine’s Whisk and is an obsessive cookbook writer (with seven to date). When she’s not writing, she’s busy entertaining her cuties, all aged 11 and under.


  1. Great ideas! My boys like to paint ceramics too. Another at home fun activity for all ages is a take on paint night. With or without kids take a trip to Michaels or Walmart. Buy a pack of canvases, brushes, and lots of colors of the 50 cent bottles of paint. Buy a big white and a big black. Google paint party pictures, pintrest has tons.
    Cover the table with a disposable tablecloth, take out the junk clothes or use smocks (IKEA has great ones). Have fun!

  2. Did someone mention Beading Activities for Mid winter break? That is our specialty! We have prepared jewelry making kits for all ages! We have so many different fun and trendy designs available!

  3. My children’s book, Aliza in MitzvahLand can genuinely solve the problem of children being bored as it instills a gigantic and wondrous attitude shift: This world is for giving, not taking – and there are always mitzvahs that can be found, bringing great lasting joy!

    • I know this post is from a while ago but I would love to hear some ideas of volunteer activities that I do with young children as a way to give to the community. (Besides visiting nursing home/hospital)


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