It happened. Seemingly overnight, the gorgeous colors and warm afternoons of September have dropped, and we’re officially in “stick season.” No foliage. No snow. Just sticks. I actually don’t mind this time of year– it makes me want to hunker down, light the fire and get into a good book. But the transition to indoor living is brutal on the boys. Their boundless energy is WAY too big for our little house, and inevitably their games turn into wrestling, which turns into fighting, which turns into me looking for something to do that burns energy and gets us all out of the house.
On days that are just too miserable to go outside (and trust me, we have a pretty high threshold for “miserable” weather), we are fortunate to have some great options just up the road in Burlington. Of course, there are movie theaters and museums (check out Find & Go Seek for a comprehensive listing), but if your kids needs something a little more physical, here are my top three picks for rainy day outings in Burlington, Vt.
1. Petra Cliffs Indoor Climbing Center
The boys do a week of summer camp at Petra Cliffs every year, and love going back to practice their climbing and bouldering skills. The indoor climbing center has a number of different areas that vary in difficulty, and a pretty cool high ropes course. Petra Cliff rents all the gear you need for the day, and their Beginner Package offers basic instruction on how to use the harnesses and safely belay your kids while they climb. You can also sign the kids (or yourself) up for private lessons to really work on footwork and more challenging routes. It’s incredible (and mildly terrifying) to see how high they go…and just awesome to see their confidence grow with each move. 802-657-3872; 105 Briggs Street, S. Burlington; www.petracliffs.com.
2. Green Mountain Freestyle Center
We were introduced to the Green Mountain Freestyle Center (GMFC) last fall during dryland training for snowboarding. GMFC is a freestyle trampoline training facility with four in-ground trampolines, a foam pit (which you launch into from a springboard), and tumble track- basically heaven for my 8 and 10 year old boys. I have to drag my kids out, dripping with sweat every time we go. The trampolines are surrounded by huge foam blocks, and everyone must go through a “Jump Start Into,” which covers basic safety instruction, so even though the kids are flying high, the environment feels safe and professional. Check the schedule for Open Trampoline Sessions, usually in the late afternoon and early evening. 802-652-2455; 260 Avenue D, Williston; www.greenmountainfreestyle.com.
3. Talent Skatepark
Talent is such a gem for kids who love to skateboard, scooter and/or BMX. The largest indoor, year-round skatepark in Northern New England, Talent has 4 distinct zones suited to various levels of ability. I’ve watched my kids graduate from the Micro Mini Ramp to dropping in on steeper ramps as their confidence and ability grew. One of the best things about Talent though is the staff. The guys that work behind the counter and in the park are so awesome with kids, teaching them tricks, talking gear, and encouraging them to safely try something new. A three hour session is really affordable ($11) and on Saturday mornings, they have a beginner only skateboarding session so that younger kids don’t get run over. Talent is also a shop, with all sorts of cool gear, shoes and clothing– my kids always bring their wallets and rarely leave without a new flat brim or t-shirt. Such a great way to spend a few hours! 2069 Williston Rd, Burlington; 802-864-2069; www.talentskatepark.com.
And a few other favorite stops…
A few hours at anyone of these places almost guarantees happily exhausted and very hungry kids. Our favorite lunch stop in Burlington is The Spot, a surf-style restaurant with the best fish tacos in Vermont. I’ve also been known to enjoy their carrot cake on occasion. American Flatbread downtown is also excellent, with lots of local and organic ingredients topping their delicious pizzas.
And, if you’re in Burlington for the day and have snowboarders, Burton’s Flagship Store is another great stop (especially if you need to gear up for the season). If you’re kids aren’t into shopping, they can check out the original “snurfer” board, hang out on the couch playing X-Box, or test out a Vermont made Vew-Doo balance board.
And then, we can all return to that fireplace and a good book.