Good Weekend Activities for 3 Young Kids

Updated on January 31, 2017
S.E. asks from New York, NY
11 answers

I'm looking for activities to do with my kids (3, 5,6) on the weekends. We are in a habit of going to the mall, driving here and there and generally have a good time but I'd like to begin to do stuff that might be a little more adventurous and fulfilling as well.

I'm at a loss for fun simple ideas, also I'd like to ditch the stroller too!

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C.C.

answers from New York on

Metropolitan Museum has great art classes for kids. Museum of City of New York has good family stuff too.

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B.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Everything MNN said and:

Library
trampoline park
toy lending library
indoor play space such as a climbing wall or ropes course
any local museum
pottery painting place
art studio geared for toddlers

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T.H.

answers from Kansas City on

Do you have a website for local/free things for kids. We have a few where I live and they are really helpful.

I would say though just offhand...the zoo, parks (look up all different ones), nature centers with hiking trails (even if the weather is cold!), trampoline parks, puppet shows, any local kids theater (we love that!), roller skating, ice skating, bowling, indoor swimming pools or water parks...

Those are all the things we did and still do. My kids are now kind of wrapped up in weekend sports so we don't have a lot of down time on the weekends for these activities, but even at 3 my kids loved all the above things!

Also, I think it's fine to ditch the stroller. I ditched mine when my kids were 2 and just made them walk. They were fine and it wore them out. I never carried my kids and they never whined about it because the expectation was set. I find that doing active things helps everyone. It wears out the kids and keeps them moving so that the parents don't constantly have to tell them to come back, sit still, stop touching, etc.

Updated

Do you have a website for local/free things for kids. We have a few where I live and they are really helpful.

I would say though just offhand...the zoo, parks (look up all different ones), nature centers with hiking trails (even if the weather is cold!), trampoline parks, puppet shows, any local kids theater (we love that!), roller skating, ice skating, bowling, indoor swimming pools or water parks...

Those are all the things we did and still do. My kids are now kind of wrapped up in weekend sports so we don't have a lot of down time on the weekends for these activities, but even at 3 my kids loved all the above things!

Also, I think it's fine to ditch the stroller. I ditched mine when my kids were 2 and just made them walk. They were fine and it wore them out. I never carried my kids and they never whined about it because the expectation was set. I find that doing active things helps everyone. It wears out the kids and keeps them moving so that the parents don't constantly have to tell them to come back, sit still, stop touching, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

put the toddler in a backpack, pack snacks in little backpacks for the older ones, and go for short hikes with a picnic in the middle.
pick a topic (stars, sharks, volcanoes, horses) and go to the library and have a scavenger hunt finding books and videos about them, then winnow it down to a couple and take them home and enjoy them together.
go to a discovery museum.
pick up trash in a park and reward yourselves with a pizza party afterwards.
visit a retirement home.
spend an afternoon at a botanical garden.
make blanket forts, light candles and have movie night.
help your kids write and perform a play and video it.
get everyone little disposable cameras and have a photography spree.
read.
khairete
S.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

In our area, the local paper lists free activities that are going on each weekend the week before. My daughter has a 3 yr old and has found TONS of free, fun things to do this way.

Also, our local library not only puts on a lot of activities - everything from reading games, storytelling, etc., but also things like cookie making and outside scavenger hunts! Additionally, you can "check out" passes to area zoos and museums that charge to get into for free. There is obviously a limit to this, but by doing this my daughter found a great children's museum near us, went the first time for free, then asked for a yearly membership for Christmas because they liked it so much.

Finally, our school has "community ed" programming each quarter. Some stuff is at the school, but some stuff is like star gazing at our local park in the summer twice a month or weekend workshops for parents and kids to make a little home garden and that kind of stuff. Usually free or very cheap to sign up.

Oh, one more thing. Our local Home Depot (are those everywhere?) does kids crafts once or twice a month like a bird house or such. Usually these are really cheap to attend and are a couple of hours long on a Saturday. Michael's craft store here does the same thing on Saturdays.

Good luck - my daughter always asks another mom when she goes to these things "hey, what is your favorite thing to do" and has gotten a few ideas she wouldn't have thought of herself.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

In addition to housework, we always got outside hiking, biking, going to the beach, museum or zoo. We did one or two ski trips during the winter (easy day drive from here.) We went to the movies or just rented and watched at home. My girls liked to bake and do crafts too. We had dinners and BBQs with our friends with kids, so we could spend time with other adults. My husband liked to take the girls to the driving range to hit golf balls on Sunday morning, I usually enjoyed that time sleeping in and making a big, late breakfast.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Our family likes doing things outside. Spend the day at a botanical garden. Nature centers and environmental centers are some of our favorite places. They always have fun family hikes, and activities for kids. Go skiing. (Both our kids were doing the bunny hill at age 3 and doing the regular ski hill by age 4/5...we are from a small town with an affordable ski area so look for one of those little family ski hills.) Take them for a walk along a river or lake and throw stones. Bring a fishing rod. Both our kids were crazy about casting and trying to fish by age 3. Take them ice skating. Both our kids loved ice skating by age 4. Go tour something where you do the tour yourself...like if there is a fish hatchery nearby, or a dam, or some kind of monument. Spend the day at a national park. Go snowshoeing or xcountry skiing. Pull little sleds behind you and tired kids can sit in the sled. We have taken our kids on yurt trips since age 1 where we ski in and then spend a night or two at the yurt. We would book the ones that have the shortest ski in...3 miles or less. Take them to a hot springs. Take them swimming at an indoor pool...put floaties on any kid who cannot swim yet. Take them to an indoor water slide place. Take them to a weekend farmers market. In July/August take them to a U-Pick place to pick your own fruit/veggies. Take them to a petting zoo...or a small farm that does tours. We once took our kids to a reindeer farm. The man who owned it gave us a tour of all his animals...he also raised tilapia...he had a calf that was super playful and delighted our kids, and he had a white turkey that loved him and followed us the whole tour. Go to an observatory and get a tour. This weekend we are taking the kids to one of the largest telescopes in the US and we are doing a tour. Go to a state park. Go to an aquarium. Go to a fort or monument. You learn a little US history and the kids can also run around. We like to take our kids to indoor rock climbing centers every now and then. Your 3 year old won't be able to do much but your 5 and 6 year old will have a blast. What hobbies do you and your husband like to do? My husband is a huge bike rider...he made sure we had kid bike seats and a tag along bike (where one kid can sit and pedal behind you). Both our kids could use the tag along bike by age 4. We did a lot of family bike rides. I like to do art...so I always like coming up with art projects for the kids...or going to art museums or kids arts and crafts activities. We really like doing family hikes. Our kids love it when we collect things along the way...neat rocks, feathers, lava rocks, obsidian, pick berries.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You are in New York. Go snow tubing at a local ski area.
Bowling (yes, even the 3 year old can do it, they will have special equipment)
Indoor mini golf (outdoor once the weather breaks)
Children's museum
Aquarium

ETA: I can't believe I forgot to list the library! Libraries have amazing programming for kids. If the one closest to you doesn't look at a few others. The closest library to me gears its programs mostly to adults, but there is one about 5 minutes further away that has a really creative group running the children's programs. They do everything from book clubs for early readers to robotics programming to puppets shows to magic shows and much more.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

Library, museum, park (if it's not to cold). Are there any indoor play places? McDonalds is great, but you might not want to do that every weekend. Sometimes there are private business that are just indoor place places. We have one in Springfield that is 3 stories tall. It's like a giant McDonalds, but without the food.

Ditching the stroller is a completely different topic. Do your kids still like the stroller? Mine absolutely did not long before they were 3!!! It's a personality thing. But if you want to ditch the stroller, I suggest you let them know ahead of time and you plan for breaks. They will not be used to walking (and you might not be used to carrying things, like a diaper bag, snacks, drinks, babywipes, etc.), so you'll need to consider that when you plan your outing.

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F.B.

answers from New York on

Try mommy poppins for NYC it has great ideas for what is going on in all five boroughs. We enjoy the museum of natural history, Central Park zoo, the Long Island children's museum, riding the statement island ferry, riding the Roosevelt island tram, going to the Brooklyn botanic gardens, indoor rock climbing, ice skating. At home we cook, bake, clean, and do laundry. Try skiing at thunder ridge in Patterson,ny or going to the Brooklyn aquarium. Sometimes we just do a subway adventure where we look at the map and choose a subway line and take it for a bit. Getting on the Z is exciting enough for my son.

Have fun.
F. B.

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Trip to the zoo, nature reserve, museum, art gallery, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, ice tubing, beach, hiking, biking, bowling, mini-golf, trampoline place, laser tag, water slides, movies, theatre, orchestra, ballet, YMCA…We used to buy memberships for places we liked to go to regularly, like the zoo, the museum, the YMCA. My kids wouldn’t sit in the stroller once they could walk, but sometimes if we were going to be doing a lot of walking (like the zoo or hiking) I would bring the wagon or the bike chariot.

ETA: Fishing, berry picking and library too!

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