Spring Break is here! The snow outside my window makes this hard to believe, but it's true! A large portion of the country is blanketed in snow, and very few people are happy about that. Many of those unhappy folks are at home trying to find a way to make a spring break staycation feel less Arctic. Here are some ways to forget about the snow and at least mentally transport yourself and your family to warmer places.
These spring break activities may not be radical, but a change of pace may be just what's needed to keep the peace in a household that's fighting cabin fever instead of spring fever. Lily Pulitzer said it best: "Despite the forecast, live like it's spring."
- Check out a Conservatory. When I walk inside the beautiful glass building, I like to pretend with my tween that we are stepping back in time to when the conservatory was built. Even better than a time trip, though, is that the warm and humid air combined with lush horticultural wonderland make us feel like we're on a trip to a tropical island. Sometimes the fern room combines both and it feels like a prehistoric trip. My tween and I love it. The Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, is the one I visited growing up and it really is beautiful. I'm also partial to the two in Chicago: Garfield Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It's a great dose of nature, but climate controlled.
- Look into your Museum of Natural History. In Chicago, the Field Museum has some amazing exhibits on the South Pacific, Africa and other warm parts of our world. Visiting them feels like a trip to a warmer land. Let your tween take the lead and be your museum navigator. Here's what happened when I relinquished control at the Museum of Science & Industry.
- Find a butterfly garden. Lots of Nature Museum (like the Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago) and zoos have them open year round. Just like the conservatory, they are bright and warm and feel tropical or at least NOT snowy. This may seem like a place to take younger kids, but tweens can enjoy it as well, and probably actually learn a lot more about butterflies than when they were here last time as first graders.
- Host a beach party or luau. Leaving the house may not be necessary (or possible for those telling me they have 11 inches of snow on the ground). A luau or beach party can be the perfect way to snap multiple generations out of a "it's gray and cold and I'm sick of winter" funk. Fight the permacloud blues with a warm weather celebration. The same winter break party tips apply here, including that parents will be so grateful that you're hosting their kids that they will happily contribute to the party, with drinks or munchies or other party supplies. You don't need a lot of party goers to have a great time, so don't worry if a lot of friends aren't near. Host some tweens, another family, or just have a family luau for dinner tonight.
Beverages: You could do all kinds of fun punch ideas, or if you are okay with serving mocktails to tweens, you could do a virgin pina colada drink. Weigh in on the mocktail debate here.
Atmosphere: ask guests to wear warm weather clothes, turn the heat up, and crank on some fun music like the Beach Boys or check out the numerous luau offerings on iTunes.
Food: order pineapple pizza, or make your own; make some fruit salad; or get menu ideas here.
Activities: LIMBO! Seriously, it's hard to be in a bad mood after a bit of limbo-ing. Or dance to Hot! Hot! Hot! Play some beach blanket bingo, or musical beach towels. Tween parties have taught me that classic party games are fun for all ages, even tweens.
You may also like: Spring break reading list for tweens, and activities to go with each book
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