My family is forever in search of new and exciting Chol HaMoed activities. When the budget is tight, or when the kids vary greatly in terms of ages and interests, it can be difficult to find a Chol HaMoed trip or activity that pleases everybody. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
There are always those that speak up against Chol HaMoed trips. While I don’t agree or disagree, I do think that there is an important factor; spending time together as a family is not something that everyone has time for during the year. Even during the summer, many people (myself and my husband included) work full time.
On Chol HaMoed, if you are off from work, and your children are off from school, you have a wonderful opportunity to spend time together and bond as a family. Whether you stay home and put together puzzles all day or go all out and visit an amusement park, you will be giving yourself and your children unforgettable moments to cherish and remember many years in the future.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you spend money on your Chol HaMoed activities or not- what matters is that everyone had fun, and everyone has a wonderful memory to look back on. Keep that in mind as you plan out your Chol HaMoed, whether it’s one day you plan, or all of the days. It’s not about what you’re doing or where you’re going, it’s about who you’re with.
Chol HaMoed Activities and Ideas
1. Visit family
A great way to spend your Chol HaMoed is spending time with family that you don’t get to see too often. Grandparents, cousins or those close friends that you consider family. Invite them to your place and serve a meal in the sukkah or go visit them. Everyone will enjoy the time spent together!
A nice idea to do when spending time with family is pulling out old picture albums and wedding videos and reminiscing. The little kids will love it and the big kids will have a ball making fun of the old hairstyles!
2. Craft day
All ages will be happy with this kind of day. If you have children of all different age groups, you can set up stations per age, or prepare different ideas that will occupy everyone. Don’t forget yourself- you can get in on the fun, too.
Most of my crafts come from Moms & Crafters. Menucha has some brilliant ideas on her site, for everyone from toddlers to adults, boys and girls. She also has a wealth of free printables that turn into beautiful projects. Print out a bunch of fun coloring pages for yourself and your children and spend some time coloring together. (Don’t forget this Sukkos coloring page!)
My plan for this year’s Chol HaMoed activities include making the kid and adult versions of the DIY mezuzahs from a few posts back on Beyond the Balagan.
I also came across this incredible color-in playhouse that my kids will go nuts over. This will totally keep them busy all day! I especially love crafts and activities that can be used for a purpose after the craft is finished.
I confess- I hate play-doh. I’m sure you can all relate. The mess just drives me up the wall. But I’ll be giving in this Chol HaMoed. Two hours of play-doh fun will hopefully be worth the mess. Anything that keeps my kids busy for two hours without me getting involved must be worth it, right? Right?
Don’t forget puzzles! The greatest thing about puzzles is the versatility. Literally all ages will enjoy them. Get a few easy ones for the little kids, harder puzzles for the older ones and challenge yourself (and your spouse!) to a difficult one! Put some music in the background and have fun! Glue them all after and hang them in the kitchen, playroom, family room- wherever. You will all enjoy looking at them and remembering the day they were all put together.
3. Local Free Activities
Check your local circulars and city websites for free activities in your area. This can include a free day at a museum, the zoo, a free instrumental concert, or a botanical gardens. Groupon is a very useful site to find great deals and coupons for fun and different stuff to do in your area.
While these places tend to be incredibly busy on a free day on Chol HaMoed, especially in the NY/NJ area, the trick is to arrive early. Plan well and get there before or at opening time, and avoid the crowds. Chances are that these places fill up between 12pm and 2pm, so if you arrive at 10, you will be ready to head home just as the place gets crowded and busy.
4. Kids in the kitchen
Whether you use this day for prepping for second days or not, you can have so much fun with your kids in the kitchen. Get them involved in baking and cooking. Let the kids come up with a menu for that night’s dinner, and let them cook it (with supervision)!
Of course, a lot will depend on your children’s ages. If they are too young to cook on their own (like my children), try relinquishing as much control as you can to them. Let them peel everything, let them mix whatever possible and use the time to teach them some valuable safety skills in the kitchen, like putting out a grease fire with baking soda. Let the kids experiment with as much as possible- there will be lots of laughter!
You can even pick just one thing to make, like ice cream! Making ice cream is such an enjoyable activity, and you have a sweet treat to enjoy when you’re done!
5. Check out a state park
You’ve visited the playground around the corner a million times by now, so why not try something new? Load up your car and go to a new place- a state park! State parks are large and the perfect place for the whole family to explore. Your state park may have bikes or canoes available for rent that can add so much fun to your day.
You can also go hiking in many state parks! I have some great memories of hiking on Bear Mountain in Upstate NY with my family when I was young.
The weather around Sukkos and Pesach is usually the perfect time of year (in many places) for flying a kite! It makes the perfect Chol HaMoed activity for all ages to have fun. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
6. Ferry rides
If you have a ferry near you, make a trip out of it! Most ferries are fairly cheap, if not free. Hop on with the kids and enjoy the ride! See what there is to do wherever you get off. Go window shopping (leave your wallet at home!), visit a new playground, have a picnic. It makes for a great change of pace.
7. Go fishing
Fishing is a great activity for the whole family! Even the little kids can join in with a youth fishing pole. If the place you choose to fish in does not have a policy to throw the fish back in, cook a fresh fish dinner with the family!
8. Visit an old age home
A great way to spend your time is giving to others. Prepare a little skit or choir with your children and visit an old age home to spread some cheer to people who may not have too many visitors.
9. Head to the airport
My husband and I love visiting the airport. We drive to the highest point in the multi-level parking garage and watch planes take off and land. It’s fun and thrilling for the kids, and almost never gets old. All it costs is an hourly parking fee.
What is your favorite way to spend Chol HaMoed? Do you have any other exciting Chol HaMoed activites to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!