Family activities in the middle of winter to cure cabin fever | Culture

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  • The RMSC’s “Expedition Dinosaur” exhibit appeals to dinosaur enthusiasts of all ages with life-size animatronic creatures and interactive games.

February vacation is over, and there’s a seemingly endless winter stretch ahead of us that could unfold like this: work and school, homework, chores, sleep, rehearsal. Pandemic restrictions are slowly lifting, but as people try to get back to normal life, children might be feeling more than usual levels of cabin fever. Which, as you know, creates a chaotic household.

The antidote is available in the form of family recreational activities offered by area institutions and parks. Here and there, spending a few hours outside in the fresh air or visiting a museum exhibit can make all the difference.
We’ve included a mix of outdoor activities and indoor educational options to exercise the body and mind.

Hang out with the lizard kings

Dinosaurs followed the path of the, well, dinosaur long before our ancestors stood tall. But our fascination with ancient reptiles lives on. Yet it can be difficult to understand the reality of the beasts. So it’s always fun to seize the opportunities when the dinos jump from the pages of the manual and come to life.
If your kids are too young to watch the thrilling “Jurassic Park” movies, head to the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s “Expedition Dinosaur” exhibit, now on the third floor of the museum through May 1. animated animatronic versions of multiple species, plus interactive puzzles, challenges, and paleontological activities. Visitors can learn what and how the dinosaurs ate, where and how they lived, and – just like in “Jurassic Park” – contemplate elements of the dinosaurs living in modern birds.

Admission to RMSC (657 East Ave., is $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and students, $18 for ages 3-18, and free for children under 3 years and members of the museum.

Snowy hikes in the pines

Located in Naples, the RMSC’s Cummings Nature Center offers year-round recreation for families, including use of 12 miles of ski trails and a three-mile snowshoe loop, with the option of renting snowshoes. necessary equipment. Both activities offer the chance to get the blood moving without too much daredevil and at a pace slow enough for kids to spot winter wildlife along the trails. Cumming also offers accessibility-focused adaptive skiing sessions that offer one-on-one instruction and specialized equipment ($20 per class, $60 for a full session).

Wild themed winter walks are planned every weekend in March. Learn to identify animal tracks on March 5 and 6. The March 12-13 session focuses on identifying the first signs of spring. The last two weekends focus on the history and science of maple syrup production. Programs take place at 10:30 a.m. on weekends, special rates apply and registration is required.

The Cumming Nature Center is located at 6472 Gulick Road. Winter admission is $5 per person and free for RMSC members. Ski and snowshoe rentals are $5 to $15. Call ahead at (585) 374-6160 to ensure trails are open.

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March is maple sugaring season, and Genesee Country Village & Museum celebrates with demonstrations, storytelling and pancake breakfasts.  - PHOTO COURTESY GENESEE COUNTRY VILLAGE & MUSEUM

  • March is maple sugaring season, and Genesee Country Village & Museum celebrates with demonstrations, storytelling and pancake breakfasts.

Candy that grows on trees

Speaking of maple sugar, this long-standing regional art is the focus of one of the most popular annual events at the Genesee Country Village & Museum. The Maple Sugar Festival and Pancake Breakfast weekends are held March 19-20 and March 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s easy to take the basic simple syrup for breakfast for granted and forget about everything that goes into making it. Visitors of all ages can witness first-hand the technology involved in the museum’s sugar shack, where its evaporator turns watery sap into a thick sugary substance that we pour onto our pancakes and waffles (or directly onto fresh snow !).

The museum puts a historical spin on its educational efforts, so there are lessons in the techniques and tools that settlers in the area used to collect sap and turn it into maple sugar. This includes talks led by Haudenosaunee storytellers Perry Ground, Tonia Loran-Galban and Veronica Reitter, hands-on tree-tapping activities, and maple-flavored treats at the Depot Restaurant. There are spicy maple wings, a maple Monte Cristo, a maple walnut blondie sundae and, for adults, a maple craft beer.

Pancake Breakfast seating is at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and noon. The meal includes plain or cinnamon pancakes and New York maple syrup, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs and a hot drink, with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

ASL interpretation will be available for select programs on Saturday March 19 and Sunday March 27. Visitors should dress warmly as most events take place outdoors. Maple Sugar Festival and Pancake Breakfast tickets are sold separately and range from $10-$13 each, or can be purchased in combination for $16-$22 (midday seats only). GCVM is located at 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford. More information is available at

Cultivate a young nature lover

Letchworth State Park’s children’s winter programs provide the benefits of spending time in the fresh air while fostering the next generation of environmentally conscious citizens.

Take, for example, the adorably named “Knee-high Naturalist” lineup. Aimed at children ages 3 to 6 (accompanied by an adult), it takes place every other Monday until March 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the park’s Humphrey Nature Center. Each event is themed and can include storybook reading, crafts or a short nature walk. The next meeting will be on March 7. Register by calling (585) 493-3682.

Then there’s Project Feederwatch for all ages, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s a great family activity that helps train young citizen scientists and future naturalists. Participants gather at the Humphrey Nature Center for Bird Count Days every Saturday and Sunday through April 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You’ll learn about the lives and habits of birds that stay in winter and learn ways to practice citizen science at home.

Letchworth, which is located in Castile, also offers weekly themed walks and other activities. For a complete list, visit

Rebecca Rafferty is the editor of CITY. She can be reached at [email protected]

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