Boredom Busters This Winter . . . All Systems Go For Adventure!
By Rebecca Wright and Julianna Bonnett
Wintertime can sometimes be a drag for kids. It gets dark out early and oftentimes it’s too cold to play outdoors — at least for prolonged periods.
You may find that in the winter children overuse technology, play too many online/video games or spend too much time in front of the TV.
Looking for a more exciting way to break the boredom your kids may be experiencing? Across Windsor Essex you’ll find many activities to keep your young ones, not only occupied, but getting out and having a good time!
Read on to learn about just some of these fun-filled adventures (both inside and out) that can be enjoyed after school, in the evenings or on the weekends and even on “Family Day”, which falls on February 17 this year.
The François Baby House and Chimczuk Museum are great places for families to visit and spend quality time while exploring and learning together, according to Craig Capacchione, Museum Coordinator, Exhibitions.
Both locations fall under the Museum Windsor umbrella, which is a municipally funded not-for-profit organization.
“Museum Windsor offers some exciting family friendly activities at both the François Baby House and Chimczuk Museum,” he notes.
Built in 1812, the François Baby House played a pivotal role in the War of 1812 and Rebellions of 1838. Today, it features exhibitions about the War of 1812, Rebellion of 1838, and over 300 years of French history in the region.
“The Chimczuk Museum features a permanent exhibit chronicling Windsor’s history and hosts several changing exhibits throughout the year,” he describes, adding the exhibits feature interactive elements to engage visitors and create lasting memories. “In addition, it features the Original Peoples Culture and Legacy Gallery and a Hands-on-History gallery filled with interactive games, crafts, and dress up for the young and young at heart.”
The François Baby House, 254 Pitt Street West in Windsor, opened to the public in 1958 and is open for visits Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free admission. The Chimczuk Museum, 401 Riverside Drive West, opened in 2016 and is also open to visitors Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with family-friendly admission rates.
“Visitors are able to explore the exhibitions and learn about Windsor’s diverse and fascinating history, all while interactive exhibit elements keep children engaged and interested,” Capacchione asserts.
The Hands-On-History gallery was designed with children in mind and features self-guided crafts, toys, musical instruments, and costumes for dress up.
“The François Baby House and the Chimczuk Museum both offer rare opportunities for families to spend time together, have fun, and learn something interesting about the city they call home,” he states.
The Windsor YMCA, at Central Park Athletics, is a place where families can come together to get healthier, along with programs and services designed for the entire family in mind, describes Centre Manager Terra Armstrong.
“Our facility ensures that anyone, regardless of age, can get healthy and active in ways that are meaningful to them without breaking apart the family unit,” she explains.
The YMCA is filled with action-packed programs for children three to 12 years of age, including: swimming lessons, basketball programs, draw and sketch programs, cartooning, all sorts of sports, dodgeball, kid fit, dance (ballet/jazz), silly science, animal discovery, preschool gym and swim, lil yogis, preschool story and craft, soccer programs, and child minding, according to Armstrong.
“Families can enjoy time together in the pool, in the gymnasium and in fitness classes,” she asserts. “Families often describe us as putting families first, (having) a welcoming environment, and a place where they feel safe and assured that their children are in good hands. It’s accommodating for all.”
The Windsor YMCA is a not-for-profit community-based charitable organization located at 3402 Grand Marais Road East and is one of 45 autonomous charitable organizations across Canada.
Adult fitness programs include: Zumba, volley ball recreational leagues, yoga, kickboxing, cycling, aqua fitness, aqua Zumba and more.
Bi-weekly membership rates range from $23.25 for a child; $24.50 for a youth; $29.75 for an adult and $64.25 for a family. The Windsor YMCA is open Monday to Friday 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Through our ‘YMCA Strong Kids’ fundraising efforts, we are able to provide financial assistance for those that are unable to afford the full fees of the YMCA membership,” notes Armstrong. “The Windsor YMCA provides financial assistance to one in every three children.”
She says the YMCA is dedicated to the enrichment of communities through growth in spirit, mind, and body for people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities.
Armstrong wraps up her section with: “Our work is guided by the core values of honesty, caring, responsibility, respect and inclusiveness.”
John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area
The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area is “a living-history museum and conservation area” operated by the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), describes Kristin Ives, Curator/Education Coordinator.
“The Homestead is a wonderful place for families to bring the children out to run, play, and explore the outdoors at any time of year,” says Ives. “The Homestead site also features the original 1842 home of the early settler family that developed the property — John and Amelia Park.”
The Homestead opened to the public in 1978, and welcomes approximately 12,000 visitors each year. It is located at 915 County Road 50 East, Harrow (on the shores of Lake Erie at the intersection of County Road 50 and Iler Road, east of Colchester).
“As a conservation area, visitors are welcome to enjoy the Homestead’s beautiful 19 acre grounds, on the shores of Lake Erie, from dawn to dusk daily,” states Ives. “The home and the 10 related outbuildings — including a blacksmith shop, sawmill, and more — are a living-history museum, where families can get hands-on learning experiences while discovering the rich human and natural history of our region.”Making maple syrup “the old-fashioned way, is such an important part of our country’s culture and heritage. It is the busiest time of year at the Homestead and a great opportunity for families to get outside in the winter and to really experience it first-hand,” says Ives.
Maple tours for groups (adult groups, schools, Guides/Scouts, etc.) are available from February 18 to March 31.
Maple syrup-focused special events for families include: the “Maple Syrup Festival” on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days; “Maple March Break” on Tuesday, March 17 and repeated on Friday, March 20 starting at 1:30 p.m. sharp (90 minute maple tour for families); and “Maple Moon Evening Program” (recommended for ages 13 and up) where you can attend a sugaring-off party by candlelight!
“In this rare chance to see the Homestead after dark (“Maple Moon Evening Program”), guests can enjoy an old-fashioned sugaring-off party with taffy making, live music, sweet treats and merry making,” Ives mentions. “You won’t want to miss the fun!”
For “Maple Syrup Festival” and “Maple March Break” programs, a special event admission applies, which is $6 for an adult, $4 for a child (ages three to 16), or $20 per family. Admission is paid at the door for the festival and March Break programs
Admission for “Maple Moon” is $15 per person. Space is limited for “Maple Moon” so those are interested should pre-register online.
Adventure Bay Family Water Park And The City Of Windsor
With the winter blues in full effect in February, splishin’ and a-splashin’ at Adventure Bay Family Water Park is the place to be during the chilly season! From the “Splash Zone” to the “Master Blaster” there’s something for everyone at Adventure Bay.
Opening their doors in January 2014 and known as southwest Ontario’s largest indoor water park, the “wet and wild” excitement found here is perfect for the whole family to enjoy a fun-filled day with lots of activities.
According to Jen Knights, Manager of the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre and Adventure Bay, the park is open to vacationers and staycationers alike, Thursday to Sunday throughout the winter.
“We often offer extended hours on P.A. days, holidays and extended school breaks,” Knights lists. “In addition to daily drop-in rates, short-term memberships offer an alternative to the full year term for events like March Break, winter holidays and the academic year.”
This municipally owned business, located at 401 Pitt Street West, is a great place for winter recreation seekers because, at Adventure Bay, it’s always summer no matter what the weather is doing outside.
“It’s always summer at Adventure Bay and it’s a great place to splash in for a tropical escape, guaranteed to beat even the bluest of the winter blues,” expresses Knights.
Adventurous kids and grown-ups alike will love the big and thrilling slides, while parents can enjoy chilling in the “Lazy River”. The interactive, colourful features in the “Splash Zone” strike a chord with the younger ones, while the “FlowRider” surf simulator is a perennial hit with young adults from home and abroad.