What to do during school holidays in Worcester County?
With temperatures likely to rise uncharacteristically and then drop again with rain, snow and wind, this February school holiday week looks set to be a changeable event.
Depending on the weather, it may be a good idea for school children to also have varied and unusual activities.
Why don’t we skate indoors? Or become an environmental engineer outside? Or participate in a treasure hunt, a sleigh ride, ski with Princess Elsa, learn to climb, hike, track animals in the snow, indulge in color, paint colors, go karting, watching fellow youth put on a show or take one last ice skate of the season?
Such activities could help make this week memorable. And even if you left it a little late for planning (some organized activities such as Old Sturbridge Village’s February 2022 adventures are sold out or fully booked), you can never say never have fun.
Here are a dozen fun, distinctive and different possibilities for the week. Some are free while others have variable fees. (Note: Some programs may be full after this story is written.)
PopUp Skate Plaza for skateboarders
The PopUp Skate Plaza from February 23-27 is intended to provide the Worcester skateboarding community with a free, dry alternative to parking lots and salty sidewalks when it’s needed most. The Worcester PopUp at JMAC, 20 Franklin St., Worcester, will be built into a mini skateboard plaza, with additional space for lounging, watching skate videos and making art. The event is presented in collaboration with Push Worcester. “It’s all going to be indoors,” said Hank von Hellion, chief executive of Worcester PopUp. Everything is also free. Open skateboarding sessions will be held from noon to 6 p.m. February 23-27. People should have their own skateboards and helmets. Two “Learn 2 Skate” clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on February 26 and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on February 27. Although open to all ages and abilities, the lessons are aimed primarily at young children, von Hellion says. Boards and helmets will be available. People can support Push Worcester, a community organization dedicated to promoting inclusive skateboarding, by donating money, skateboarding and art supplies. For more information, visit www.jmacworcester.org.
“Eco-engineers” at work at EcoTarium
The EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature, 222 Harrington Way, Worcester, is offering activities for ‘eco-engineers’ this week, as you can explore the surprising ways the natural world influences everyday objects and designs. You can design and build a wildlife bridge, see how birds build nests and then create your own bird architecture, join the EcoTarium zoo team to get a close look at one of its resident eco-engineered animals, and more. Activities included with admission. EcoTarium is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from February 21 to 25. February 22 is a free entry day, but the day may already be full, so check ahead. Admission for non-members is $19 adults; $14 children 2+ and students; $15 seniors; free, children under 2 years old; members are free. www.ecotarium.org.
Hit the slopes with Princess Elsa
Princess Elsa from the movie “Frozen” will be skiing from noon to 1 p.m. on February 22 at Wachusett Mountain, 499 Mountain Road, Princeton. Do some shopping with her and say “hi”. From 1 to 2 p.m. she will be in the main pavilion for photos and story time. Wachusett offers several learn-to-ski packages for kids, including Polar Kids ($102) which includes lessons and optional rental ($22). To visit https://www.wachusett.com/ for more information.
Be a Junior Farm Explorer
Kids can be a Junior Farm Explorer from 3-5pm February 21-24 at Chestnut Hill Farm, 5 Chestnut Hill Road, Southborough. Kids will experience what farming is like in winter – from breeding habitats for farm animals to growing food during the cold New England winter months. Get ready to discover, learn, hike, explore and enjoy the life of a farmer. Children must come dressed to spend two hours outside. Layered clothing and waterproof boots are strongly suggested. Every day will be different. This Trustees of Reservations event is designed for children in grades K-5. $36/day for trustees, $45/day for non-members. To visit https://thetrustees.org/program/february-school-vacation/
To take a walk!
To take a walk! That is, do the “Earth, Wind and Water Hike” from 10 a.m. to noon on February 26 at Wachusett Reservoir, Gate 39 North Dike (parking lot at the intersection of South Meadow Road and Route 110, Clinton) . Take in views of Wachusett Reservoir and hike along an earthen dam to the masonry dam of Wachusett Reservoir. About 3 km round trip. All ages are welcome on this family hike. Free. For more information or to check status, email Kathryn.Parent@mass.gov or call (774) 261-1809. Dogs are not permitted on Water Supply Protection Lands. Meanwhile, at the Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Road, Worcester, kids can also explore the outdoors on foot or even snowshoes if the weather permits. Experiment with snow, follow tracks and wildlife trails, and see where animals go in the winter. Sign up for one-day sessions or sign up for the whole week. Whole week: $350 non-members, $285 members. February 21 and 25, $80 non-members, $65 members (every day). February 22, 23 and 24 – full program. Add your name to the waiting list. www.massaudubon.org/program-catalog/results/broad-meadow-brook
Climb the walls – literally
Learn to climb at Central Rock Gym, 299 Barber Ave., Worcester. February holiday programs provide valuable extra-curricular experience for children – a great start for a new climber or a way to deepen knowledge and climbing experience for returning participants. Full day rate for members: $300/week; $250/week for all additional siblings who are also members. Half-day member rate: $200/week; $150/week for all additional siblings who are also members. Non-member full day rate: $375/week; $325/week for additional siblings. Non-member half-day rate: $250/week; $225/week for additional siblings. www.centralrockgym.com/worcester/kids/vacationprograms/
Go on a Shrewsbury scavenger hunt
If you’re in Shrewsbury, kids can head to the Shrewsbury Public Library, 609 Main Street, and try “Scavenger Hunt: Duck, Duck, Goose!” You will have to search the library from top to bottom to find everything on a list of clues. Scavenger hunt lists will be available at the circulation desk from 9 a.m. Feb. 21 to noon Feb. 26 (the library is closed on Presidents Day). The treasure hunt is ideal for children aged 5 and over and the first 100 will receive a small prize. Free. Sponsored by Friends of Shrewsbury Public Library. www.shrewsburyma.gov/344/Library
All aboard the sled or wagon
At Cornerstone Ranch, 39 Dowd’s Lane, Princeton, a 30-minute horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride followed by a campfire with hot chocolate and s’mores will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for up to six people only in your group. February 24-27. $150. Also try a one-hour ($45) or two-hour ($70) guided horseback ride. February 24-27. No experience is necessary and new riders are welcome. www.cornerstoneranch.org
Be an Apex Kid
Apex Kids at Apex Centre, 21 Apex Drive, Marlborough, is a kid-inspired play venue with jungle gyms and obstacle courses. $11 for one hour of play. For teens 16 and up (and adults), the Apex Center also has a multi-level indoor IC Credit Union Speedway track for go-kart racing. One race is $25, three races are $60. Prices may be different during the week of school holidays. 508-251-8666 https://www.apexentertainment.com/attraction/go-kart-racing/
Colorful fun in Tower Hill, WAM
“Color Crush” is the theme from February 21-27 at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston. A week of colorful activities to brighten up the February holidays includes craft workshops, family workshops and more. Included in admission, experiment with light and color, study orchids up close, try a craft and more at Tower Hill’s walk-in activity station. Programs include Winter Discoveries (ages 7-10), a day of exploring, investigating and creating in nature from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 21-25; $80 per child (non-member), $75 per child (member). Garden hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $16 adults; $11 seniors; youth (6-18) $6; children 5 and under, free; members, free. www.towerhillbg.org. Speaking of color, school may be closed, but art is still hot at the Worcester Art Museum. Holiday week workshops provide creative hands-on experience for ages 3-17. All workshops include a tour of the museum galleries and interaction with professional artists and educators. The aim of the program is to develop important skills that lead to increased creativity, helping students to create their own work of art. Programs and prices vary. www.worcesterart.org
JOMP 24 hours a day
Sometimes you just want to stay home and watch something great while on vacation. The Joy of Music will perform its 31st annual JOMPATHON virtually via Zoom this year from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on February 26. Over 200 students of all ages and skill levels will perform their favorite classical, jazz, folk and contemporary tunes in a day celebrating music and community. Students gather family and friends to sponsor their performances. JOMPATHON raises funds for Joy of Music student financial aid. Free to watch; donations appreciated. Register on https://www.jomp.org/
And in conclusion. . .
And now for the final skate? As the school holiday week draws to a close, Worcester Common Oval’s ice skating season ends on February 25. . On February 21, the Girl Scours of Central and Western Massachusetts take control of the Ring from 1 to 6 p.m. The Boy Scouts of America – Heart of New England Council take control of the Ring from 1-6 p.m. on February 24. Then February 25. it’s been so long to ice skate at the Oval for another season with the Worcester Railers skating from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, see the Worcester Common Ring Facebook page.