Even in the middle of another glorious New England summer, there are going to be days when rain and stormy weather make indoor play a must. If chants of “rain, rain, go away” don’t have much of an effect, dash through the raindrops and create your own break in the clouds at one of these weather-proof (and super fun) destinations for families.
Children’s Museum of NH 6 Washington St. Dover 742-2002 www.childrens-museum.org
For hours of creative and educational fun on one of those nothing-to-do, rainy summer days, the Children’s Museum of NH in Dover is hard to beat. To bring a little of the outdoors inside, check out the Cochecosystem exhibit and explore the plants, animals and constantly changing environment of the Cocheco River (visible right outside the exhibit’s floor-to-ceiling windows). A plus for budget-conscious families, many public libraries offer free or reduced rate museum admissions passes.
Hilltop Fun Center 145 Route 108 Somersworth 742-8068 www.hilltopfuncenter.com
You can enjoy this 12-acre can’t-miss family entertainment center on rainy and sunny days. On a rainy day, play games galore in the over-sized arcade or test your family's survival skills in the jungle-themed laser tag course. When the sun finally decides to shine again, come back for the outdoor go-karts, miniature golf, batting cages and driving range. Birthday parties and group rates available.
Rumble Tumble 95 Brewery Lane Portsmouth 427-5437 www.rumbletumblegym.com
Trampolines, tumble mats, ball court, bars and rings and multi-level climbing structure… For families on the Seacoast, Rumble Tumble is where to go to jump, roll and slide away the rainy day blahs. Geared toward children age 8 and younger (with accompanying adult), stop by for daily public play sessions or drop-in on a movement class. A Friday night “date night” option allows kids to enjoy a structured, supervised good time at Rumble Tumble while parents slip out for an evening alone in Portsmouth.
Seacoast Science Center (Located within Odiorne State Park) 570 Ocean Boulevard Rye 436-8043 www.seacoastsciencecenter.org
When a day of sun and fun at the beach doesn’t turn out quite as planned, the Seacoast Science Center provides shelter from stormy weather – and lots of excitement exploring live aquatic exhibits and hands on sea life learning activities. Climb aboard a dory, try your hand tracking ships with R.A.D.A.R. and take part in the Center’s scavenger hunt. Kids will love getting their hands wet in the touch tank, home to starfish, sea urchins and other safe-to-touch ocean creatures. The Rinks at Exeter 40 Industrial Drive Exeter 775-7423 www.therinksatexeter.com
Escape the muggy weather and really cool off with a spin around the ice at The Rinks at Exeter. All summer long, two arena-sized rinks offer daily public skating hours, figure skating and hockey camps, birthday party skating parties and learn-to-skate individual and group lessons (even for adults). Winter sports gear packed away until next December? Skate rentals for all sizes are available.
Free Family Film Festival Hooksett 8 100 Technology Drive Hooksett 626-7177
Fox Run Stadium 15 45 Gosling Road Newington 431-6116
Settle back and enjoy the show – for free! On select Tuesday and Wednesday mornings throughout the summer, Regal Cinemas in Hooksett and Newington show second-run G and family-friendly PG movies free of charge. First-come, first-serve seating is limited to theater capacity. Showtimes start at 10 a.m.
Kaleidoscope Museum 8 South Main St. Concord 229-4526 www.kaleidoscopechildrensmuseum.net
With its colorful array of creative hands on play exhibits (everything from a pretend pirate ship to an indoor tree house stocked with musical instruments), Kaleidoscope Museum makes for a cheery destination on an otherwise soggy day. Perfect for the six and younger crowd! The museum will be relocating to a larger location some time this summer, so call before you go.
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center 2 Institute Drive Concord 271-STAR (7827) www.starhop.com
It's been 400 years since Galileo first turned his telescope toward the heavens, and star gazers around the world are celebrating 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. Stop by the newly renovated McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center for daily planetarium shows and stay to explore the center's cutting-edge astronomy and space science exhibits. There's nothing like a voyage into deep space to make you forget the less than stellar weather outside.
Palace Theatre 80 Hanover St. Manchester 668-5588 www.palacetheatre.org
Escape into the imaginative world of classic children’s stories as the Palace Theatre once again offers families its very budget-friendly Palace Professional Theatre for Children Summer Series, held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout July and August. Planned performances for 2009 include “Charlotte's Web,” “Seussical,” and “Cinderella.”
SEE Science Center 200 Bedford St. Manchester 669-0400 www.see-sciencecenter.org
It’s two stories of hands on science fun! Feel the forces created by a gyroscope, look through a periscope and even take part in a moonwalk. Kids and adults of all ages can touch and try exhibits on light, electricity, forces, momentum and sound. And, of course, don’t leave SEE without seeing the LEGO Millyard Project, the largest permanent LEGO installation in the world (at minifigure scale). The project, made up of thousands and thousands of tiny LEGO bricks, represents Manchester's Amoskeag Millyard as it might have looked circa 1900.
Vertical Dreams Waumbec Mill Building 250 Commercial St. Manchester 625-6919 www.verticaldreams.com
Is your family climbing the walls at home? Then they're ready for Vertical Dreams, an climbing gym where kids and adults scale to heights of up to 70 adrenaline rushing feet. Located in Manchester's historic mill district, climbers of all ages and abilities are guided on the super-sized climbing space, learning such skills as bouldering, top roping and how to negotiate inverts and overhangs. Day passes, birthday party rentals, summer climbing camp and private and group lessons are all available.
Meredith Children’s Museum 28 Lang St. Meredith 279-6307 www.thezeeum.com
Lake Winnipesaukee trip a washout? Delve into the always sunny world of the imagination at the Meredith Children's Museum, a local play space popular with the toddler and preschooler set. The museum's creative play structures include a pretend fire truck, log cabin and ball shoot. Call in advance for seasonal hours and rates.
Pauline E. Glidden Toy Museum 49 Main St. Ashland 968-7289 www.oldashlandnh.org
Finally, a history museum kids can relate to! Ashland's Toy Museum is a restored 19th- century home stocked top to bottom with more than 2,000 antique and vintage toys from the collection of Pauline Glidden, a longtime town resident. OK, so the "no touch" rule still applies here, but seeing the tin and cast iron toys, old porcelain dolls, games, books and childhood trinkets of days gone by is a great way to spark kids' interest in learning about the past. Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the summer.
Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum 2936 White Mountain Highway North Conway 356-2992 www.mwvchildrensmuseum.org
The no-sunshine solution for a rainy day away in the White Mountains? A trip to the Mountain Washington Valley Children's Museum, a creative play and learning locale in the heart of North Conway. Geared for kids ages 8 and younger, families will have fun putting on a puppet show, building their own village and exploring an indoor version of the northern woods. Babies and young toddlers can explore at their own pace in a separate age-appropriate play area.
Papermill Theatre Route 112 (Main Street) Lincoln 745-6032 www.papermilltheatre.org
Foul weather will soon be forgotten as the curtain rises on the Papermill Theatre's summertime theatre series for children. Every Wednesday and Saturday from the end of June until mid-August, catch original musical adaptations of favorite fairy and folk tales. Shows generally last 40 minutes and are suitable for all ages. Scheduled performances for summer 2009 include “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Hansel and Gretel” and “Aladdin.”
Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer from Nashua.