Monday, August 17, 2015

5 Things To Do When It Rains During Your Vacation

We took a week long "Up North" vacation to Traverse City, Michigan where our family both stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge water park resort for a couple of days and rented a beach front condo on Grand Traverse Bay for the remainder of our stay.  During most of our vacation we were blessed with sunny skies and eighty degree days, but we did have one mornings during our days at the beach that was a dreary, rainy, overcast day.  So what are some things you can do to keep amused and avoid rain ruining one of your vacation days?  Here are 5 suggestions of things to do when it rains on your vacation:

1.  Enjoy a Hobby

I enjoy collecting comic books and sharing that passion with my kids.  So we took some time to stop by Traverse City's local comic book shop "Top Comics" which you can spot along East Eighth Street by looking for the Hulk smashing out of the side of the building.  While many book stores have become big box retail chains, "comic book" retailers still tend to be small, independently owned store fronts where the staff are fans of the medium and love to chat.  You never know what unique comic book, collectible or toy you may stumble upon when visiting one of these stores especially ones that aren't in big cities that may be a little more off the beaten path.

We spent some time browsing through the week's new comic book releases that had just arrived that morning as well as browsing through the store's collection of second hand comics.  I bought the brand new issues of Star Wars, and my favorite comic book Invisible Republic.  The store had an impressive wall display as you walk in the front door displaying all of its newest issues and actually had each comic book wrapped in a complimentary protective plastic sleeve which was a nice touch that the comic book stores near our home don't do.  My kids dove into boxes filled with second hand comic books looking to find themselves a treasure with my daughter buying a handful of issues featuring Disney characters for twenty-five cents each and my son taking home with him a giant-sized edition of Marvel Tales celebrating the series 250th issue featuring Spider-Man teaming up with the Fantastic Four for a $1.  Plus we had a great conversation with the store owner on topics ranging from classic comic books, obscure superhero trivia, and his take on current and upcoming comic inspired movies.

Sure maybe comic books isn't your thing but think about your hobbies and interests than find out if there is an indoor option of something to do that ties into it.  Enjoy video games?  Look to see if you can find someplace that has some old school '80s arcade style video games you can challenge your kids to.  Enjoy art? See if there are any local galleries or exhibits to check out.  Maybe you could explore public places and businesses going on a scavenger hunt for examples of local artwork you could enjoy.  Maybe you could find an art class or workshop to participate in.  Be creative!  Check to see if there are local community centers, recreation departments, libraries, nature centers and colleges in the area that may be hosting an indoor activity that you would like to participate in.

2.  Visit a Museum or Historical Site

No matter where you go there will always be a local museum or historical site where the community is celebrating an aspect of its heritage.  We always try to make time on vacation to incorporate an educational element to our trip and find an interesting spot to visit with our kids.  A rain day provides some extra incentive to make a visit a location that has more of a focus on learning than leisure.  While we were waiting for the skies over Traverse City to clear up we visited the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College.

The facility features a standing exhibit on Inuit artwork.  Inuit are the culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.  We turned wandering through this gallery as an impromptu social studies lesson for our kids.

We had some fun at the building's Discovery Center that provides "hands on" interactive experiences relating to the arts and sciences that both children and adults can participate in and enjoy.  My son loved the Recollections exhibit that transforms your motions into colorful projections while my daughter really enjoyed the Sound Wall which allowed you to create your own musical scores by hitting various patterns of shapes placed on a wall before you.

The Dennos Museum Center also had an interesting temporary exhibit on display Sideways: Exploring Skateboard Art + Culture which our family really enjoyed.  You never know what great unexpected discovery you'll make when you visit local museums like this one during your travels.

3.  Go out to Eat Someplace Unique

Find a diner or restaurant that the "locals" frequent and enjoy a meal at a place that you might not otherwise have gone to.  Avoid the chains and touristy destinations and order something adventurous or out of the ordinary for a memorable dining experience.  We picked out the locally owned The Cottage for lunch which really was a warm, comfortable location to take a break to eat.

They had one of the best bargains for a Kids Meal we've seen anywhere!  My daughter had chocolate chip pancakes and my son had a grilled cheese which for $4 came with a huge bowl of fruit and real chocolate milk.  I tried a sip of my daughter's chocolate milk and wow! that sure wasn't hershey syrup poured into white milk ... it was so good!

I enjoyed their meatloaf which The Cottage brags is based on a family recipe and it was very tasty.  It was also covered in mashed potatoes, gravy, and fried onions which I enjoyed every bite of.   The restaurant's specialty which we didn't try but you might want to catch if you happen to be in Traverse City is its All You Can Eat Freshwater Perch which they have been serving for twenty years.  The Cottage is located on Munson Ave a little bit west of the Traverse City State Park

4.  Bring Along Some Travel Games

Enjoy some quality family bonding time by bringing some games along to play on a rainy day.  While attending Blogger Bash 2015, I discovered R & R Games which has a variety of products that are travel friendly and easy to take along with you on vacation.  PANDA HEAD would be a great game to take along for a rain day. This is a card game where the winning Panda is the player who stays awake the longest by scoring the fewest points.  That's correct ... you want to get the fewest points!  The more points you have in your hand the drowsier your Panda gets and you don't want to end up with a Pooped Panda!  PANDA HEAD can be played with 2 to 5 players in 10 to 20 minute games and is recommended for ages 6+.

Another game for ages 6+, note my twins are 6 years old on these recommendations, is Cup-A-Cup which can be played by 3 to 8 players in games that last about 20 minutes.  Roll the dice and quickly identify the missing colored shape then try to be the first person to grab the matching cup off the table.  First to collect three cups WINS!!! Beware though there is a twist to the game that just when you believe you might win another player can swoop in and no cup is safe.  In addition to being a fun game for adults and kids to play together this game also help children with their analytical thinking, memory and reaction speed skills.

Of course I could also spend all day playing Euchre so make sure to bring a good deck of cards along with you as well on any family road trip so they are handy if you need to pass the time on a rained out day.  Euchre's a popular card game that most Michigander's learn to love while they are growing up which involves winning tricks based upon suits that are called trump for winning hands.  I learned to play Euchre as a kid playing cards with my relatives during rainy summer vacation days.  Is Euchre a popular game where you live at?

5. Go Bowling

People may not bowl as much as they used to but it once was one of the most popular sports in the United States and there are still alleys located all over the place.  To help draw in more people, many alleys now also include other features beyond bowling including video game arcades and laser tag.  Often times during the summer months you can also arrange for kids to play free.  So throw on some of those classy bowling shoes and have some fun hurling a ball at some pins.

Traverse City has Lucky Jack's which bills itself as Northern Michigan's Largest Indoor Family Fun Center.  It has 33 lanes of bowling, 8 billiard tables, a 12,000 square foot arcade, laser tag, indoor bumper cars and a laser maze where you have to get out of a room without breaking any of the laser beams.  Check out to see if there might be a bowling alley near where you are going to stay before you leave for your trip in case you are in need to get out of the rain.

While we had an entertaining morning exploring Traverse City my kids were still overjoyed when the sun came out later in the day and we were able to get back to enjoying ourselves at the beach.


  1. I love bowling. When I used to travel as a kid I'd always bring along some travel-sized games, too, like Connect Four.

  2. We were rained on for three days in a row once while up north, so we drove into town and went bowling. Games are also a must have.

    Love your photos!

  3. Travel sized games are always a great idea! Thanks for the suggestions :)

  4. The number 3 stuff you listed here is what I like the most. Great to explore and visit new places and surroundings.

  5. Fun suggestions :) I always try to carry some card games in my purse for waiting anywhere - they definitely got pulled out on a rainy weekend not long ago. We also ended up going to a local cinema to watch the Minions.