Thursday, January 9, 2020

Weather Day Adventures

Wet skies and cold temps don’t necessarily have to mean a housebound day. The minute the weatherman tells me we’re in for “you’ll-be-staying-in-today” weather, I start scanning my mental list of indoor active adventure options – something to get us moving, stimulate our minds and exhilarate our family time together.

While trampoline parks, climbing centers and indoor gyms are nice, there are plenty of low-cost/no-cost ways for families and kids to burn some energy and have fun without breaking the bank.

Here are some of our favorites:

Indoor Pools

One of the best ways to beat the cooped-up blues is to spend a good hour or two playing in the water at a nice, warm indoor pool. Guaranteed to wear you out in the most pleasant, satisfying way, there’s something exceedingly gratifying about flexing those swimming muscles – whether you’re doing laps, playing tag, or water-walking. Your whole body will thank you.

We belong to the Y, which offers nearly a dozen warm indoor pools, some of which also include kid-friendly amenities, like slides and zero-entry wading areas. Our favorite indoor Y pool is Stratford Richardson.

But there are other great local options, like the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation aquatics centers, which include Ray’s Splash Planet.


Hey, don’t knock mall-walking ‘til you’ve tried it. Yes, it’s mostly retirees taking laps. But I invite folks of all ages to consider what a wonderful option these cavernous spaces offer for taking a climate-controlled stroll with plenty to look at along the way. That includes families with young kids who just need to move -- especially since area malls are open to walkers long before the stores crack their doors.

Over the holidays, we hit SouthPark Mall, which is accessible before-hours at the Food Court entrance starting at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sundays. Carolina Place opens to mall-walkers at 7 a.m. every day and Concord Mills opens at 7:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. Sundays.

Another option: Overstreet Mall in Uptown Charlotte. This network of hallways and skywalks is open at all hours most days of the year. Pick an entry point at one of the buildings along the route and you can make your way from MLK Jr. Blvd. to E. 5th St. without going outdoors. Bonus: Shops and restaurants along the route are open weekdays mostly during business hours.

County Recreation Centers

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation runs 18 area indoor Recreation Centers, which offer everything from basketball courts to computer labs, fitness centers, and arts and crafts rooms. Here’s a map of local Rec Centers. Scattered throughout the county, these make for easily-accessible, safe, fun spaces to move and learn.

Mecklenburg County Recreation Centers also provide a number of special programs and sports for all ages. They range from things like chess club and guitar lessons, to reading and music, to basketball and flag football. Check out the extensive offerings.


I know it’s a little counterintuitive, but public libraries actually make for great places to stretch both your mind and your legs. Especially Imaginon, the children’s library uptown, where wiggles are welcome and invited.

This large, open space, full of centers of activity, offers both entertainment and room for engaging gross motor skills. Plus, Imaginon is located across the street from First Ward Park, perfect for mixing it up with a dose of fresh air if the weather allows.

I also recommend checking out library programming at Imaginon and other local public library branches. Some offer things like “Listen and Move Storytime” and library scavenger hunts, great for a more curated active learning experience.

Weather Walks

Sometimes the best course of action is not to beat the weather, but join it. Do this by taking a weather walk. Bundle up or grab an umbrella and pick a destination. We like to walk to eat — whether it’s to the grocery store to pick out a special snack, a restaurant for lunch, or a donut shop for a sweet treat.

If you don’t live in safe walking distance from an establishment, drive or take the bus or light rail to a spot that gets you close enough, but leaves room for a stroll. A great option for this is to park somewhere along the urban section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and walk to the Metropolitan area, where there are a handful of restaurants, Target and Trader Joe’s.

It’s admittedly a little more work to get moving on a weather day, but I always find it to be worth the effort. And, with some great local options, it might just be easier than you think.

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