Summer Guide: Rainy Day Activities in the Upper Valley

By Kelly Burch

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-29-2018 9:55 AM

Last summer I planned to take my then-3-year-old camping for the first time. We would be easing into it, participating in a guided hiking weekend for preschoolers put on by the Appalachian Mountain Club. At night we were staying in the AMC’s Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria, N.H., secure with a roof over our heads, but during the day we would be hiking outside with 10 other preschoolers and their parents, rain or shine.

When I first saw storm clouds on my weather app, I decided to ignore them. As our weekend away approached, the chances of precipitation rose, until I caved and stopped on our way to the lodge to buy both of us rain coats that were appropriate for camping.

Despite the deluge (which of course came down hardest at the point we were farthest out in the woods), we had a great time on the hike. If the day is warm, I find the weather can generally be worked around. However, after a rainy kayaking trip down the Connecticut River with my mother-in-law protesting, I’ve realized not everyone is game for getting wet for the sake of adventure.

Summer favorites like camping, baseball games and cookouts generally rely on blue skies. It’s no wonder that as summer weekends approach, everyone has their eye on the forecast. Although many Upper Valley residents love enjoying the outdoors during the summer, our region has plenty of indoor fun to offer on those days when the weather is less than ideal. Here are some ideas for keeping busy this summer, no matter what the weather.

Get Outside, Anyway

If the temperature is warm and the rain isn’t a deluge, overcast or drizzly days can be perfect for exploring outdoor attractions with less of a crowd. Plus, you don’t have to be as committed as kayaking in the rain. There are plenty of options that allow you to spend some time outdoors, without getting soaked.

One place to go is Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock. There you can visit animals in the barns and learn about Vermont’s agricultural history. This summer the farm is also hosting a summer film series on select evenings.

Lauren Whittlesey, of Lebanon, likes to bring her two daughters, ages 2 and 5, to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee on days that are damp.

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“They have some indoor exhibits and they do the bird shows indoors if the weather is bad,” she says. “Plus then you can stop for cheese samples and the toy museum at the Cabot shop in Quechee afterwards.”

Get Creative

A rainy day can also be a great time to get in touch with your artistic side. Start by visiting galleries to get your inspiration flowing. Gallery at the VAULT in Springfield, Vt., AVA Gallery in Lebanon, the Library Arts Center Gallery and Studio in Newport, and ArtisTree in South Pomfret are great places to start.

After you’ve soaked in the inspiration, take your own turn at making art. Tip Top Pottery in White River Junction and The Ceramic Corner in Claremont both let budding artists of all ages paint ceramics. You can choose from intricate figurines or more functional pieces like plates or mugs.

Get Active Indoors

If you still want to burn energy without getting all wet, there are plenty of places in the Upper Valley where you can get moving, with a roof over your head. If you want to reach new heights head to The Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center in Quechee, an indoor rock climbing gym that can accommodate climbers of all abilities.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, Great View Skating in Enfield is open to roller skaters Friday night through Sunday afternoon, with lights and music that will take you back to the disco era. Maple Lanes Bowling Alley in Claremont provides a similar vibe during glow-bowling on weekend evenings. During the day you can choose from 10-pin or candlepin lanes for this classic rainy day activity.

Finally, if you want to get wet — just not from the rain — head to the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction. In addition to plenty of lanes for swimming laps, the aquatic center has a lazy river, two waterslides and a small water playground perfect for kids who have been housebound too long.

Get Cooking

Baking a sweet treat or whipping up an elaborate meal has long been a favorite rainy day tradition. If you want to get out of your own kitchen, try taking a cooking class. King Arthur Flour in Norwich offers cooking classes most days during the summer. With classes ranging from “Crafting Croissants” to “An Appetite for Appetizers,” there is a topic for every taste. There are even Friday night family-friendly classes.

Coop Food Stores in Lebanon also offers cooking classes that cover craft and technique. To improve your food-prep game take “Knife Skills 101,” or teach yourself to cook a dish from a foreign cuisine during the “Summer Night in Bangkok” or “Mexican Street Food” classes.