Wow, Pesach is here! The goal we have been working towards – or dreading – has finally arrived. Once the sedarim are behind us, we are on to the next part of the chag: Chol HaMoed.
It’s hard not to be affected by the numerous advertisements for concerts, special museum events, and festivals. How can you resist those once-in-a-lifetime experiences; after all, it’s Yom Tov, and the kids have to have a good time, right? It’s crucial for their chinuch to go someplace big and splashy on Chol HaMoed.
Actually…no. Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.
Side note: if circumstances demand that you work on Chol HaMoed, try your very best to either come home as early as possible so that you can spend some extra time with the family, or an even better option, take the kids to work with you and spend your quality time together at your desk.
Distant parks and playgrounds: We all have that one park we take the kids to and that’s fine for a regular Shabbos afternoon, but there is nothing more fun than going to a park on the other side of town, or even in another city. Kids will have a blast checking out the different playground equipment.
Library: Ditto for libraries. Every library has its own character, children’s section and interesting ambience. Taking your kids to an unfamiliar library is a great way for them to get interested in books and gives yourself a relaxing place to while away the afternoon.
Family biking: This is a great option for families that are more athletic. You can either borrow or rent bikes and ride along many of the wonderful paths in your city. For babies and younger children, you can get a bike seat. Check out boardwalks, park paths and promenades for scenic routes. Remember your helmets!
Bridges: Taking the family on a walk or bike ride over a bridge is an exciting way to see the city from a different vantage point. The kids can try to spot familiar landmarks and count cars. Oftentimes, there will be street performers offering free shows.
Private beaches: Until Memorial Day, private beaches are free and accessible to all. These are much cleaner and prettier than public beaches, and thanks to the cold weather we are having, it’s less likely to be inappropriate for male members of your family. You can bring some lounge chairs, a picnic lunch and a good book to enjoy while your kids play in the sand. I recommend bringing a change of clothing so everyone can change before going back home. Check the parking situation before you take your car. It might be more beneficial and economical to bike or take public transportation instead.
Hikes: There are so many great hikes areas just outside city limits, granting your family breathtaking views and invigorating exercise. Bring along a picnic for a mid-hike break, and we are talking paradise. Bonus – cell phone reception is often spotty, so there will be no distracting phone calls or texts.
Pet store: Explain to your kids that this is a small zoo. Let the kids know they can touch the animals, but none are coming home with you. Unless, of course, you can’t resist those puppy eyes from either your kids or the animals.