Rainy Day Survival Guide in Newcastle & Surrounds
Got the rainy day blues? Rainy days can strike fear in the hearts of parents but don’t worry. Here are some ideas on keeping kids occupied on rainy days in Newcastle and Maitland.
With free entry, Newcastle Museum (open Tuesday to Sunday or 7 days a week during school holidays) is a top spot to visit on a rainy day. The interactive Supernova science exhibits will keep children entertained while the Newcastle and Fire and Earth’s exhibitions will educate them on the history of the region. For toddlers, there is a small indoor play area called Mininova featuring plenty of equipment and soft mats to keep them safe while they toddle around. Make sure you hop on the tram as well!
Another place to visit is your local library. Your local library will have lots of children’s books, CDs and DVDs to borrow, perfect to keep kids occupied on a rainy day. Enquire at the desk to see if there are any programs for kids as libraries often run story time sessions during the week.
Another rainy day option is to visit an art gallery such as Newcastle Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery or the Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG). All are open from Tuesday to Sunday. Take your kids on a tour of the gallery and point out interesting artworks. Then provide them with some crayons and a sketchpad and let them create their own works of art. MRAG features a dedicated exhibition space for children and families called The Art Factory. It includes interactive art displays and a comfy reading spot complete with a selection of books. This is conveniently located next to Seraphine Café allowing parents to enjoy a coffee and cake or lunch while keeping an eye on their young ones. On the weekend, check out Free Art Sundays from 11 am to 1 pm at MRAG for free art activities for children and their parents.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Newcastle Art Gallery runs ArtCart sessions from 10:30am to 12:30pm. ARTCART is a free workshop which aims to engage children with art through discussion and hands on activities. Kids, with the help of their parents, are encouraged to get creative and make their own art based on the Gallery’s current exhibitions. If you’re close to the Lake, visit Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. As well as having interesting exhibitions and great views, the gallery has a Family Activity Corner to keep kids occupied.
If you don’t mind paying, indoor play centres are a great destination when it’s rainy outside. Kids have plenty of room and equipment to run around and play and use up all of that excess energy while mums can relax with a coffee or meal. Most centres cater for children up to 10 with separate areas for toddlers. Just don’t forget socks or else kids won’t be able to play. Local indoor play centres include Megamania at Charlestown and Play4Kids at Rutherford.
If mum or dad needs to do some shopping, let the kids play in the playgrounds inside shopping centres. Charlestown Square has an indoor playground, The Secret Garden on Level 2 conveniently located near children’s shops and a cafe, perfect for a mum who feels like shopping or a coffee. This playground, for kids aged 1 to 6 is a unique play area featuring caterpillars and snails in a garden of giant toadstools and plants.
Westfield Kotara features two kids’ Playworlds. One is located outside Target on Level 2 in the Kids precinct while the other is near the Food Court on Level 1. Both are close to coffee shops! Bunnings also have indoor play areas as well as a café so you can get all your home and garden stuff, entertain your kids and grab a coffee.
Don’t forget about the movies. For those with babies who need to get out the house, enjoy a session of Babes in Arms at Event Cinemas at Glendale or Spit the Dummy at Reading Charlestown. Hoyts Junior offers shorter movies at Charlestown targeting the preschooler crowd. For older kids, there are usually family movies screening at the cinemas especially during the school holidays.
Bowling is another activity which will keep kids busy. Visit SuperStrike in Warners Bay, Mayfield, Maitland or Salamander Bay. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, SuperStrike offers Cosmic Bowling, glow in the dark bowling with laser lights and music. If the kids can’t decide between bowling and laser tag, do both. Strike Charlestown Square offers both bowling and laser tag and provides a special deal to let your family do both.
A great option for rainy days or week, is the Charlestown Square Entertainment Pass with two different options, Kids and Super. Each pass includes a ticket to Reading Cinemas, bowling or laser tag at Strike, 30 minutes play at Time Zone and lots more. Perfect for indoor fun days. What’s great about these passes is that you decide how you want to use them. You can use the pass in one day for a mega-filled fun day. Or you can use them over multiple days or even over months as the passes don’t expire until the end of the year.
One of my favourite spots on a rainy day when I just have to get out of the house is Foreshore Park. The nearby historical railway Carriage Sheds provide plenty of shelter on when it’s raining with plenty of room for kids to ride scooters or bikes or draw pictures with chalk undercover.
If leaving the house isn’t an option, don’t despair. There’s plenty to keep kids occupied at home. Organise a movie day and sit and watch children’s movies with a big bowl of popcorn. (Tip – keep a stash of new DVDs in the cupboard to pull out on a rainy day or sign up for Netflix). Another option is to play kids board games.
Do crafts with your child. Finger painting is a fun activity. Use items like cut up sponges or old toothbrushes to make different patterns with the paint. More craft ideas include stringing pasta shapes onto string and making necklaces and bracelets, making sock puppets out of old socks or gluing fabric or paper scraps onto paper. (Tip – Buy a bucket of craft supplies. They contain a variety of things like coloured paper, glitter and pipe cleaners that can be used in craft activities).
Cooking is a fun indoor activity with kids. Even toddlers can participate in mixing and throwing ingredients in the bowl. Make cookies or cupcakes and let kids go wild decorating them with icing and sprinkles. You could even make mini pizzas. Lots of fun to make and to eat.
Get kids to use their imagination. Create an indoor cubby house using chairs and sheets or set up a tent and camp indoors. Playing dress ups is always fun and can lead to a fashion show or drama production.
If you have instruments, get children to perform an impromptu concert. Don’t underestimate the fun of indoor games like hide and seek, treasure hunts (especially involving chocolate coins) and a sock or stuffed animal toss into a laundry basket.
When all else fails, embrace the rain and go splash in the puddles with your kids.
Throw some rain jackets and gumboots on the kids and yourself and have fun jumping in puddles, counting worms and slugs, making mud cakes and catching raindrops on your tongue.Yes, you will all get wet and likely very muddy but at least you will have heaps of fun on a rainy day.