2021 Winter Break Guide: 25 fun things to do with your kids in Northwest Arkansas

2021 Northwest Arkansas Winter Break Activity Guide: Fun things to do while school is closed

Need a little inspiration for fun winter break activities? Here’s a 2021 Winter in NWA Bucket List.

To keep everyone happy this winter, here are 25 cool ideas for things to do with kids of all ages in Northwest Arkansas for 2021 (including some special events that happen BEFORE Christmas day while the kids are out of school):

1. Skate the day away. Ice skate or swim at the Jones Center (indoors) in Springdale or ice skate at Lawrence Plaza in Bentonville (outside).

There are also some roller skating options, including Starlight Skatium in Fayetteville (they’ll have expanded hours over Winter Break) and Great Day Skate Place in Bentonville.

2. Play the day away. A great place for kids to play inside is Fast Lane Entertainment in Lowell. They have bowling, arcade games and and even a big play structure that even the littles can have fun climbing. There’s also the Amazeum Children’s Museum in Bentonville, which has fun interactive exhibits for all ages.

The Little Gym has a Winter Wonderland Camps Dec. 22-23 and 27-30.

STEAM Ahead, a kids activity center that combines education and play, has some mini camps happening this week and next.

3. Go bowling. Not only can you bowl, but you can also play laser tag and try virtual reality games at Fast Lane Entertainment in Lowell. You can also try to bowl a spare at Ozark Lanes in Fayetteville, Rogers Bowling Center or Springdale Bowling Center,

4. Jump your sillies out. Jump your sillies out at Altitude Trampoline Park in Fayetteville or Defy trampoline park in Rogers. Flip Side Ninja Park is a gym in Lowell that also offers special events.

5. Climb the walls (safely). Let the kids climb their cabin fever out at Lewis & Clark in Springdale, at the Ozark Climbing Gym in Springdale or Climb in Bentonville.

6. Enjoy Winter Break Wonders at Crystal Bridges. Special activities each afternoon at Crystal Bridges, including artmaking, creative play, paper icicles, winter wind chimes, movement activities, art carts, visits by nature experts and local artists, and more. Here’s a complete list of Crystal Bridges’ holiday events.

7. Play arcade games. If you like Pac-Man and Zelda, try Retrocade Arkadia in Fayetteville has all the vintage machines. Of course, Fast Lane Entertainment has lots of arcade games for big and little kids.

8. Visit a museum. Why not learn something new while hanging out at a great NWA museum on a cold winter’s day? We already mentioned Crystal Bridges which is perfect for a fun indoor activity that also enriches. There are permanent and traveling exhibits to check out in addition to classes, workshops, a big art room for play — plus lots of events. You can also enjoy the 50,000 square foot Amazeum Children’s Museum, which isn’t far from Crystal Bridges and offers “Priceless Nights” on Wednesday nights (donation only for admission). Crystal Bridges and the Amazeum both have food options, too.

If you want your kids to learn more about history, there’s the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville and Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. If you visit the Walmart Museum in Bentonville (which has some fun, old-fashioned candy available for purchase), be sure to stop by the Spark Cafe next door for ice cream. There’s also the Rogers Historical Museum, the Clinton House Museum in Fayetteville, the Lowell Historical Museum, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum and Headquarters House Museum.

9. Create something. You can make art together at Imagine Studios, Painting with a Twist and Community Creative Center. There’s also Art & Soul Studios in Rogers for an artistic outing.

10. School’s Out Day Camp (all day) at Rogers Activity Center. Send the kiddos to Rogers Activity Center School’s Out Camps for all-day care. They’ll go on field trips and have fun while school’s out.

11. Enjoy Winter Break at the Jones Center. The Jones Center will begin Skatemas Break on Dec. 27 with public skating sessions for just $3/person. Funday Sunday events return to the center on Jan. 9, where guests can swim in the heated pool for free (registration required).

12. Play laser tag, inside or out. Complete a super-cool mission at Modern Mission. They’ve got outdoor indoor laser tag or an indoor battlefield to tackle in Fayetteville.

13. Visit a bookstore. The Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville is so much fun to roam. You’ll definitely get lost in the stacks. There’s also the adorable Once Upon a Time Books in Tontitown and Bentonville. And Fayetteville has a new book shop near the Square: Pearl’s Books.

There’s also Barnes & Noble in Fayetteville and Rogers.

14. Visit your local library. Browse the books, play with puzzles, listen to a story time or attend an event at the big public libraries in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale (home of the “duck park”) or Fayetteville.

15. Get dramatic at the theatre. You can see some great holiday shows at Walton Arts Center or Theatre Squared.

16. Attend a New Year’s Eve event. There are two great family-friendly events happening in NWA, including Noon Year’s Eve at Crystal Bridges, on Friday, Dec. 31, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ring in the New Year (without staying up past bedtime) at this annual family celebration. There will be fun art projects, performances, a Coca-Cola toast at noon, and a family dance party. Free, no registration required.

Zing in the New Year at the Amazeum on Friday, Dec. 31. Experience New Year’s Eve Amazeum-style making party hats to take home, adding a wish for 2022 to our WishZing (and tossing a goodbye note to 2021 in the trash bin), and creating that one-of-a-kind social post to send to family and friends. Explore the Amazeum exhibits, including GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes before it leaves the museum in January.

17. Watch some planes! Thaden Field is a great spot for the kids to see planes flying to and fro. The 22,000 square foot Thaden Fieldhouse on the Northwest side of the airport houses an aviation exhibition center, a retail space, and a large balcony allowing visitors to watch as aircraft come and go from the nearby runways. And there’s a cool restaurant called Louise where you can see the planes, too. (The food is awesome!) Not to mention the games to play on the lawn (if it’s not too cold)!

18. Find out where bluebirds come from. They’re not creating new Bluebirds of Happiness at Terra Studios outside of Fayetteville, but you can still see them on display. If it’s not too cold, walk around and see all the quirky sculptures. There’s also a gallery featuring local art of all kinds.

19. Catch a movie. You should check out the reclining seats at the newly-renovated Fiesta Square and Razorback Malco theatres, both in Fayetteville. And have you visited Skylight Cinema in Benonville? You can eat dinner while you watch a movie there!

20. Watch real eagles! Hobbs State Park has offered eagle watch tours on Beaver Lake for many years. Every cruise is different. You never know what wildlife you will see. According to Chelsea Porter, park interpreter, “We have always been lucky seeing eagles on our tours; some mature, some immature, and we always see other beautiful wildlife as well. It could be migrating osprey, great blue herons, king fishers, deer, or red-tailed hawks. No one will ever be disappointed on our eagle tours.” Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information and to make reservations, call 479-789-5000.

21. Hop a train. The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad offers Holiday Express train rides right before Christmas.

22. Snow ski. Did you know you can take your family skiing at a small ski area that’s only four hours from Northwest Arkansas? It’s called the Snow Creek Ski Area in Weston, Missouri. It’s a fun, easy ski trip relatively close to home that won’t cost you a ton of time (and no plane tickets are necessary)! They offer lessons there, too. If you’re not a skier, they also have snow tubing at Snow Creek.

23. Go out to eat on the cheap. Pop over to our Kids Eat Free List to see where you can go during the week for free or inexpensive meals for the kids.

24. Go see the holiday lights before they’re gone! The Fayetteville Square lights will be up through New Year’s Day.

25. Join forces with your kids to help others. A local mom shared with us how she and her kids do the “giving back” calendar every year. CLICK HERE to see all the fun ideas she had for what to do this holiday season to make someone’s life brighter.