Whether you’re at a lake cabin or on an RV adventure, there’s bound to be a rainy day during your vacation. That doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop!
It’s an opportunity to slow down, get creative, and maybe even go singing in the rain! Here’s a list of fun ways to keep kids entertained until the sun comes back out and still make great vacation memories.
As long as it’s warm enough out and you have high-quality rain gear, why not enjoy some good ole’ fashioned puddle jumping and playing in the rain? As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” After all, you get just as wet when you go swimming and puddles can provide endless opportunities for exploration, imagination, and fun.
Children can learn a lot from playing in puddles. They like to jump in and over puddles and stomp in them, which helps develop their gross motor skills.
Children also love using puddles as a natural water table to conduct floating and sinking experiments. Let your kids collect natural items like leaves, sticks, rocks, and feathers and conduct experiments to see what will sink and what will float. This may lead to other fun experiments, like learning about ripples.
If you want to get extra adventurous, you can make paper sailboats and race them down little streams or float them across deeper puddles.
Very young children naturally have active imaginations and need very little help using their surroundings to play. A few small cups, spoons, or scoops become any number of tools in the hands of an imaginative child.
Perhaps they will make “puddle soup” and practice measuring, stirring, and serving their concoction. Or maybe they are a scientist mixing a secret potion. This type of play helps children develop their fine motor skills and nurtures an active imagination.
If it’s not raining too hard, consider going for a short hike to see what wildlife are out. The animals aren’t too bothered by a little rain, so you might be able to see even more wildlife than on a bright sunny day.
Explore the Visitor Centers and Clubhouse
Many state and national parks have visitor centers with activities and hands-on experiences for kids. Visitor centers often give you a chance to learn more about the history, ecosystems, wildlife, and other natural wonders at the park. Some parks even have multiple visitor centers with different themes and activities. Yellowstone National Park, for example, has eight centers to explore!
If you are staying in an RV park, look to see if there is a clubhouse or activity center. Many have a schedule of activities, especially during peak seasons.
Check out the Junior Ranger programs
Almost all national parks and many state parks have Junior Ranger programs with free activity books and things for kids to do to earn ranger badges. Many of the tasks can be completed indoors, making it an excellent rainy day activity.
There are many free Junior Ranger activity books and additional badges to earn! Many booklets are available online or at the park office. If you have internet access, check out the “webranger” programs you can complete from the comfort of your cabin or RV.
If the Junior Ranger program isn’t your thing, pick up a trivia book from the visitor center gift shop and learn some interesting information about the area.
The rain may have killed the s’ mores-making vibe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with all those marshmallows! Play tic-tac-toe with marshmallows and chocolate… winner takes all!
Marshmallows are sticky, which makes them ideal for building towers. Give everyone marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti or kebab sticks and see who can create the best, highest, or most elaborate tower. You can also do this with toothpicks and mini marshmallows.
Sometimes a little poker is in order. It’s more fun when everyone bets using marshmallows, candy, and other snack food items.
Spend some of the rainy day reviving the dying art of storytelling. Pop some popcorn and settle in to try one or two–or all of these creative storytelling ideas!
Pass The Story
This is a fun, interactive storytelling game. One person starts telling a story, then passes the ball (or whatever you decide to use) at a cliffhanger and the next person takes up telling the story. It can get very entertaining!
Another variation of “Pass The Story” is a mix of Pictionary and storytelling (we called it Picture Telephone growing up, but it goes by many names). Each person begins with a piece of paper and something to write and draw with.
Each person writes a sentence at the top of their paper to start their story. Then, everyone passes their paper to the person on their right (it doesn’t matter which way it goes as long as everyone gives in the same direction).
The second person draws an illustration of the sentence right underneath. Then everyone folds the top of the paper over so that only the picture is showing and passes the papers to the next person on the right. Now everyone can only see the picture and must write a sentence that they think the picture illustrates.
Then everyone folds the paper so that only the second sentence is visible. The game continues alternating sentences and picture until each paper is back to the person who wrote the first sentence. Unfold the paper and see the progression of the pictures and sentences!
Read an Adventure Book Aloud
When I was a child, my mom read to us every afternoon for at least an hour. We curled up with blankets and a snack and were swept away to lands far away and adventures beyond our wildest imaginations.
Often we drew pictures to illustrate the books that Mom read to us. Curl up and take turns reading an adventure book aloud while little listeners draw illustrations! Here is a list of 16 excellent books about outdoor adventures that will be perfect for reading aloud on a cabin or RV trip.
Make a Movie
It seems like everyone has a smartphone. Get together and write a story, assign roles, and take turns filming. It’s easy and fun for the whole family. It’s also a great way to tech the kids some fun and interesting skills.
The movie will probably not win any awards at the Sundance Film Festival, but you’ll make great memories and have a cheesy movie from your family vacation!
Baking cookies is always a tasty pass-time. Perhaps you’d like to kick it up a notch!
Have a pizza-making contest where each person (or team) chooses the toppings to put on their pizza, and everyone votes on the best combination.
This works best if you have a couple of RVs with ovens or have a couple of well-equipped cabins.
Cabin Top Chef
Set up your own version of Cabin/RV Top Chef. Give each contestant a few ingredients they must use to make a tasty morsel for the judges to assess.
If you don’t have access to an oven, get creative! See who can create the best new sandwich combo or the most exciting snack mix.
Games Never Go Out Of Style
Board games and card games never go out of style. Bring along Monopoly, Sorry, Clue, or other classic board games just in case there’s a rainy day.
A deck of cards is always a must! Download the instructions for some new card games before you leave home and spend the afternoon playing cards. My family played Canasta, Hearts, and Euchre for hours on our vacations.
Go For A Scenic Drive
Many hot camping and RV areas have scenic drives. Ask the visitor center for a map of the scenic highways or routes with overlooks.
This is especially a good choice in the fall or in the spring when nature is turning and the sights are the most beautiful.
Before you leave home, make a list of some fun indoor activities in the area you are visiting. Find nearby children’s museums, aquariums, planetariums, and museums that will make perfect rainy-day activities.
Download some instructions for new games to learn, origami to practice, or other fun things you can learn as a family.
Do you have some favorite ways to spend a rainy day in the cabin or RV? Share in the comments!