BIG COUNTRY, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – While gas prices are on the rise and Spring Break approaches, vacation plans may be limited.

If you are in need of a break, or worried about how to entertain your children- here are 10 family friendly, but not kid-exclusive, things to do without breaking the bank.

ACTIVITIES & CRAFTS

Try out some science experiments

Right off the bat, you don’t need to look any further for stimulating ideas than Big Country Homepage.

Kayleigh’s Weather Workshop is loaded with fun, family-friendly activities wherein the kids are sure to learn a lesson.

My favorite experiment she’s done so far, Rain in a Jar. All it takes is a few ingredients, which most people have at home.

Build a fort

One of my favorite memories growing up, was building a fort in the living room with my brother and watching a movie, complete with copious amounts of popcorn and candy.

All you need is:

  • Sofa
  • A few chairs
  • Sheets & blankets
  • Pillows & stuffed animals
  • String lights (optional)
  • Your favorite snacks
  • Imagination
NEW AMSTERDAM — “Croaklahoma” Episode 115 — Pictured: (l-r) LaRae Muscat as Sameera, Tyler Labine as Dr. Iggy Frome — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Most of the fun is in actually building the fort, and once it’s built you can watch a movie, play board or card games, read stories- anything you can think of.

Most importantly, it’ll create a core memory for your child to look back on when they’re adults, writing about stay-cation ideas. Or, make it a core memory in your adult life! Grab some friends, build a charcuterie board, and go to town.

Outdoor tricks and experiments

Out in the wild backyard, here are some fun tricks to try:

  • Make a hotdog cooker with just a chip can, skewer, sharp object, straight edge and, of course, a hotdog.
  • Make paint with nature. You can muddle some berries and finger paint away, Picasso!
  • Start a fire with a magnifying glass. I really thought this was just something that happened in cartoons, but this article from Go Science Kids looks promising!
  • Make shadow puppets out of construction paper and sticks.
  • Make a competition; who can build their s’mores tower highest before it falls over?
  • Make a scavenger hunt and have the kids find everything for a small prize.

This was a fun activity my mom did for us when money was tight, and my siblings and I never even knew! Bonus points if you make it into a treasure hunt with clues and riddles.

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

Sleep under the stars

Camping is always a favorite for kids and adults. You don’t need a fancy tent or camper, either.

  • If you have a trampoline, throw some curtains or sheets over the top of the enclosure and you have a massive tent. Add some lights or glow sticks, pillows and blankets, a Bluetooth speaker- there’s your party. Don’t forget the snacks!
  • If you have the gear, but not the gas- your backyard (or a friend’s) is the next best thing.
  • If you do already have all that camping gear and don’t mind the drive out, Abilene State Park has plenty of camping space available, starting at $12 per night.

Abilene State Park is located at 150 Park Rd 32, technically in Tuscola.

Burn off energy at the park

You can never go wrong tiring out the kids with a daytrip to the park. Pack a picnic, and don’t forget water and sunscreen!

Here are a few great playgrounds to choose from:

Redbud Park is a favorite for parents, because it has everything- walking paths, prairie dogs, workout equipment, jungle gyms for toddlers as well as bigger kids, and a splashpad nearby. Unfortunately, though, Abilene’s Parks & Recreation says splashpads won’t open until mid April.

Take a trip to the zoo

Something to definitely look forward to, the Abilene Zoo will be open and all the animals are waiting for you!

“We had a super fun Saturday at the Abilene Zoo!” Cody Miller (@CodyMillerBMX) and son, Colt, take in the Camp Malagasy exhibit at the Abilene Zoo, Jul. 2021

The zoo is putting on something it calls Wild Days. All throughout the week of Spring Break, March 12 through 20, the Abilene Zoo is going to put on interactive shows where you may meet and chat with animals and their caretakers. This program is included in daily admission.

Located at 2070 Zoo Lane, tickets to the Abilene Zoo start at $7.00 for kids, and children two years and younger get in free.

Have a lake day

There’s nothing like a day at the lake. Loud music, salty chips, cold water, funny floaties. It’s a favorite for all.

Here are our Abilene-area lakes:

lake2_1560362103057.JPG

A drive to Possum Kingdom, at 100+ miles from Abilene, may be a little far if you’re on a gas budget. Luckily, Lake Fort Phantom is going to have everything you need- even a jungle gym for the kids.

Fun fact: According to the City of Abilene, the water flowing through our faucets everyday comes from Lake Fort Phantom, Hubbard Creek and O. H. Ivie Reservoir.

Take the Instagram tour

In the spirit of saving gas, while still getting out and about, and posting a great picture for the ‘gram; visit Abilene’s most Instagram-able spots.

KTAB/KRBC graphic: Jama S. (@JamaSchlauch ) with her students at Front Porch Coffee Co. & Bakery, Sept. 2021

It’s hot out, let’s get out while staying in

There is still plenty to do for a few bucks around town if the weather is too hot or too wet- it is Spring, after all.

Here are a few family-friendly ideas for staying in while being out:

The Grace Museum
102 Cypress Street
In addition to the beautiful installations on The Grace’s ground floor, the museum offers a wonderful children’s section, called Spark– located on the second floor.

Marisa Daniel (@MarisaDaniel13): “We had so much fun at the Grace Museum this morning! The new children’s addition, Spark, has so many things to do for kids of all ages.” Marisa’s daughter, Kelsye poses at the Grace Museum, Jul. 2021

The Grace is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Adult admission: $6
Children admission: $3
Children younger than three years old get in free
Free admission Thursday nights from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Click here for more information.

The Skatin’ Place
1930 South Clack Street
Abilene’s roller rink is a lot of fun and good exercise for the whole family! If you’re not a strong skater, not to worry- Skate Mates are available upon request.
The Skatin’ Place is open Friday and Saturday, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Click here for more information.

The Abilene Public Library
202 Cedar Street
Between March 13 and 19, the Abilene Public Library is marking the break with tons of STEAM activities and challenges. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Art and Math. The activities challenge the participants, and it’s a free program.
The library is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Click here for more information.

PrimeTime Family Entertainment Center
4541 Loop 322
From go-carting to bowling and lots of arcade games, PrimeTime has the most to do all in one spot.
Primetime is open Sunday through Thursday, 3:00 to 9:00 p.m., until 11:00 p.m. Friday, and 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday.
Click here for more information.

 National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (the NCCIL)
102 Cedar Street
The NCCIL is a museum dedicated to illustrations in children’s literature.
Now through May 21, the NCCIL has an incredible exhibit called Work and Whimsy, from artist, R. Gregory Christie.
The NCCIL is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Along with its regular operating hours, the NCCIL offers free family art activities every Saturday, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Click here for more information.

Maxx Air Trampoline Park
949 South Judge Ely Boulevard
Maxx Air is going to be the best way to wear out the kids.
The trampoline park opens at 11:00 a.m. most days, and pricing starts out at $9.
Click here for more information.

If none of that is appealing, how about a movie?

Century 12 Abilene, 3818 John Knox Drive

Premier Cinemas, Mall of Abilene, 4310 Buffalo Gap Road

Cinemark Abilene and XD, 672 East Overland Trail

Indoor activities

It can still be fun staying inside:

  • Have a movie-thon in your fort!
    It takes about 11 hours to watch all of the Twilight movies, 17 hours for Lord of the Rings, almost 20 hours for Harry Potter and 50 hours for all of the Avengers movies.
  • Make DIY stained glass
  • Have a puppet show
  • Let your little ones put on a magic show, a fashion show, have a dance battle- the list goes on!

Staying home doesn’t have to be boring, you can stay in Abilene, save some gas money and have a blast.

As a bonus, check out the events going on around town during Spring Break.