8 Travel-Inspired Indoor Activities to Entertain Kids When Winter Weather Hits

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Not digging the arts and crafts movement? Try these travel-inspired ideas to keep your kids (and yourself) entertained the next time a snow day rolls around.

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Snow is snowing, wind is blowing, but while most are weathering the storm by going full-on Doomsday Prepper, stocking up on gallons of water and every last can of beans on the shelves, you’ve got an even bigger potential crisis on your hands: what to do with your bored, winter-bound children. Inspired by some of our favorite hotels and travel trends, we came up with eight unexpectedly creative things to do with your kids when the usual arts and crafts projects and cookie bake-offs just won’t cut it. Read on for ideas on how to expand your horizons when you can’t even get past your front door.

Go glamping in your living room

Whether you pitch an actual tent or simply step up your pillow-fort game, you can turn your living room into the ultimate luxury camp with just a little ingenuity. Set your television screen to your preferred nature documentary—the African savannah will feel particularly balmy given the weather outside, but the Northern Lights skies of Finnish Lapland could also do the trick—break out the board games, and cue the light dimmers to feel like you’re sleeping under the stars. Bonus points for actually spending the night there.

Recreate your own Algonquin Hotel Round Table

The likes of Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, and The New Yorker co-founders Jane Grant and Harold Ross met at the landmark hotel every day for lunch from 1919 to 1929, exchanging ideas, playing poker, and challenging each other to rounds of charades and witty games like Twenty Questions and “I can give you a sentence,” in which members turned words into puns in under 10 seconds. Whip up some no-fuss hors’ d’oeuvres—simple cheese and crackers will do—pair them with a specialty mocktail for the kiddos, and let the conversation commence.

Send the little ones on a scavenger or treasure hunt

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes with a primer on the “science of deduction” no matter how old your kids are. Simply provide a short distraction—a collaborative puzzle or a short movie—draw up clues and riddles, then hide them around your home and watch as your little ones work together to find every last one. You can get help online if you’re not feeling particularly creative, or just round up small, easily concealable objects and map them out. Just make sure you’ve got a good reward on tap for the big reveal.

Go on a cultural journey

School may be on hiatus, but that doesn’t mean your minds can’t wander to far-off lands while you learn something new together—it’s the foundation of the au courant immersive travel experience after all. Replace the regular reading, writing, and arithmetic with an unexpected lesson that teaches kids the beauty of other cultures, perhaps with a tutorial on the basics of hula, a hands-on cooking class that ends in a soul-warming spicy Thai curry, or a deep dive into the fusion of Cuban-Cameroonian music. You’ll make memories while passing the time, or find a new passion you can share with them for a lifetime. In other words, everybody wins.

Find your bliss

Outside it may be storming, but you can turn your home into a cocoon-like temple of calm by having a spa day with your little ones. The good news is that your pantry and refrigerator are likely already stocked with the items you need to create indulgent treatments that rival anything you might find at your favorite hotel’s wellness center, from cucumber slices for tired eyes and sugar for skin-brightening elbow scrubs to oatmeal for clarifying facials and mayonnaise and eggs for masks that enhance your hair’s shine.

Get sporty

You know how the best luxury hotels have their own sporting grounds? All it takes to turn your home into a mini golf course or croquet court is some painter’s tape and a few strips of card stock. Want to make it even more interesting? Create elaborate obstacles using recyclable paper towel rolls, plastic containers, or milk and juice cartons. Then repurpose your hockey sticks, golf clubs, or baseball bats to putt away bad-weather boredom.

Travel the globe via the small screen

A themed movie marathon lets you see the world from the comfort of your couch. You can use the screening as research to explore a destination you’ve been dying to visit—think Roman Holiday for a dolce vita–seeking famiglia—or let each kid choose a movie they’re interested in to make a case for an upcoming family trip (say, a visit to Scotland with Brave, or a jaunt to Brazil with Rio). Want to take it one step further? If you’re all in agreement, make a snack or dish that coordinates with at least one of the movies, like buttery croissants for a Paris-themed film like Ratatouille.

Play hot chocolate bartender

Take your cues from the recent cocktail butler trend on display at some of the most legendary luxury hotels (we’re looking at you, gin and tonic trolley at the Hendricks Bar in Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach—an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property) and create your own kid-friendly hot chocolate bar with all the fixings: peppermint-stick stirrers, fresh-whipped cream (or the canned stuff because who’s judging?), snowflake marshmallow cutouts, or even a little chili powder or cinnamon-infused milk for a Mexican twist. Another good idea? Adding a swig of Bailey’s or Kahlúa for the adult chaperones who have made it through the day like champs.