7 Things to Do Between Christmas and New Year's Day

Going stir crazy after the holidays? The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is notoriously hard to plan for so we came up with some ideas to keep everyone busy!

Going stir crazy after the holidays? The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is notoriously hard to plan for. We came up with some ideas to keep everyone busy!

How to Keep Everyone Happy

You’re off and so are the kids. Family and friends are visiting and need things to do. It’s usually cold, dark, and, worst of all, boring.

Many businesses are closed until New Year’s Day or have shortened hours. So what can you do if you’re getting cabin fever and just need a day away from home or your hotel room? Below are 7 things to get you out and about between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

#1 Go Skating!

There are several facilities in the Southwestern Illinois area that offer ice skating and roller blading. Indoor ice rinks are often open year-round but others, such as the Grafton Loading Dock Ice Rink, are seasonal and partially outdoors. Both the Granite City Ice Rink and East Alton Ice Arena offer public ice skating on large indoor rinks and have skate rentals at reasonable prices.

Not feeling the cold? Skateway in Pontoon Beach and Tri-Township Park District in Troy have indoor roller-blading. Tri-Township is open by appointment and has open-skate- call ahead of time to reserve skating for up to 10 guests or check the open-skate schedule. Bring your own or rent a pair of blades and zoom around the roller rink instead of your living room for the thousandth time this month!

#2 Bald Eagle Days

Starting Dec. 27 and running until March 3, Bald Eagle Days kicks off the American eagle-watching season at the Pere Marquette State Park Visitor Center. Take a morning drive down the Great River Road through Grafton and park in the Visitor Center’s lot next to the Marquette Lodge. Tours start bright and early at 8 a.m. and go until 3-3:30 p.m. so dress warmly, make sure your gas tank is full, and bring binoculars, snacks, and coffee. Waterproof boots are also highly recommended.

The tour begins with an hour-long presentation about bald eagles at the visitor center. Next, hop in your car and follow the tour guide down the road to an active eagle nest. Guides will make several stops riverside to provide access to eagle viewing. Cross on the Brussels Ferry and visit the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Office. Finally, the tour takes a lunch break in Hardin before going back to the Pere Marquette Park Visitor Center. Bald Eagle Days is free but reservations are required for attendance- they can be made any time by calling the Pere Marquette Visitor Center at (618) 786-3323. Tour dates vary.

#3 Take the 2021 Jingle Hike Challenge

The annual Jingle Hike Challenge is back! Explore 12 Southwestern Illinois locations on this winter scavenger hunt. Hidden on the trails and in the parks are 12 trees with red-ribbon jingle bells waiting to be found- find them all, take a photo with the bells as proof, and tag the Heartlands Conservancy Facebook page for a chance to win a prize! Bring the whole family, pack a trail lunch, and enjoy the outdoors while playing I Spy for the bells! Register here.

#4 Go Bowling!

There’s a certain nostalgia in hearing a bowling ball roll down the alley and knock down pins- and what better activity to do when it’s cold outside than toss a few balls down the lane?

A beloved American pastime, bowling provides hours of entertainment on a modest budget and is fun for adults and kids alike and many of the alleys have alternative entertainment like arcades and offer food and drinks. There are five bowling alleys in Southwestern Illinois- an afternoon out of the house just might strike all the right boxes for you!

Here are some suggestions: Tri-County Bowl- Jerseyville, Bowl Haven Lanes- Alton, Airport Plaza Bowl- Bethalto, SIUE Cougar Lanes- Edwardsville, Edison’s Entertainment Complex- Edwardsville, Camelot Bowl- Collinsville,

#5 Try an Escape Room

Mixing the vibe of a board game with the brain-power of detective-work, escape rooms are a unique activity the whole family can participate in. Try one of the region’s multiple escape rooms and solve timed mysteries using clues.

Escape a Wild West Prison, the Captain’s Quarters of a pirate ship, a failing dam control room, or save the president in one of many themed puzzles. Escape rooms are indoors, fast-paced, and kid-friendly- a perfect thing to do on a boring winter’s day!

Local Escape Rooms: Alton Room Escape; Bailout Escape Rooms

#6 Get Physical

Know what warms you up fast? Getting that heart pumping and those muscles moving! Play outdoor laser tag in Brighton at Mission Ready or indoor at Edison’s Entertainment Complex in Edwardsville. Test your aim at Riverbend Axe Throwing in East Alton or bring the whole family to Altitude Trampoline Park in Glen Carbon for rock climbing, trampoline action, and tumbling! You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you’re getting a workout- and that’s really the perfect type of exercise isn’t it?

#7 Learn to Make Something

Always wanted to know how to make soap? What about paint or create pottery? It’s never too late to learn something new! Whether it be a practical skill or an aesthetic one, we all benefit with more makers in the world!

On Dec. 28, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. join Maker's Meet at Post Commons in Alton for a book-binding art night. Make your own sketch book or journal and decorate it. Tickets are $25 and include book-making materials, tools and your choice of drink from Post Commons. Purchase tickets directly from Post Commons or online here.

Learn the art of making soap at The Macoupin Art Collective in Staunton at a scheduled class or walk in to take an oil painting class Dec. 30 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Paint your own ceramics at Pottery Hollow in Glen Carbon, learn stained-glass making at the Alton Stained Glass Works, or have a wheel-throwing class date night at Jacoby Arts Center in Alton.

Reservations, times, age requirements, and class sizes vary by business. Make sure to check out businesses online for class calendars, supply checklists, and information!

About the Author

Kayla Howland

Kayla Howland is a local writer and artist who lives in Alton, IL with her Cairn Terrier, Ripley. She enjoys fiction and non-fiction writing, graphic design, painting, drawing and photography. Kayla is a graduate of Southwestern High School and Lewis & Clark Community College. She has worked doing freelance graphic design, photography and commissioned paintings since 2012.