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Fun things to do with your kids on chilly winter days

The Upstate is a treasure trove of parks, natural beauty, trails and more. But let’s face it: February isn’t usually the best time for outdoor fun. If your family has come down with a very contagious case of cabin fever, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery — a climate-controlled escape.

Casey Amarnek knows that need all too well. She is the mom of a 4½-year-old son and she is also president of the Spartanburg MOMS Club. The group has about 70 active members who can choose from a full slate of events. It’s how Amarnek plans much of her schedule.

“To get out of the house, a lot of our activities are MOMS Club activities,” she said.

Amarnek said those events include playing at indoor centers like Pump It Up or PlayNation (now Play USA) or just going to the mall. Indoor crafts and outings to locations such as Hearts of Clay are options some members choose for hands-on fun.

“We schedule a lot of activities in members’ homes,” she said. “We are starting interest groups.”

In-home play dates might have a focus on music, for example, or they might include coffee for the moms.

But no matter what the activity, Amarnek said the time with other parents and children is about more than just getting out of the house.

“It’s been great for us to get to know people and build relationships for my son and myself,” she said.

Amarnek said moms, especially those who are new to the area, should reach out to others even if it’s a little outside their comfort zone.

“Give it a try,” she said. “You need to see familiar faces and then you become more comfortable talking to people. I would never want a mom to feel isolated or alone. Don’t let something hold you back from what you can experience.”

For more information about Spartanburg MOMS Club, visit

More than books

Your local library offers events that are age-appropriate, free and great for children and their parents. Amanda Newman, coordinator of development for Spartanburg County Public Libraries, said events are offered for all ages.

“We have story times all the time,” Newman said. “They include a lot of music and movement. In our story times, not only do we read to the children, but we have music and then interactive play time. It’s a good opportunity for moms to network as well. They have time to interact and socialize.”

As the mother a toddler, Newman knows exactly how important those events can be.

“It’s a good opportunity to get out of the house and it’s free,” she said.

For Spartanburg County Libraries, visit For Greenville County Libraries, visit

Tell me a story

It may require a little more than a last-minute decision, but indoor fun is definitely on the schedule at the South Carolina Children’s Theatre. In addition to main stage shows at the Peace Center and the organization’s annual character breakfast planned for March 12, SCCT has Wee Play Theatre and Tell Me a Story Programs at its headquarters location.

SCCT’s marketing director Michelle Ward said programs for preschoolers are very popular and they are great for children and their parents.

“We have extended our Wee Play Theatre production, “Go to Bed, Little Raccoon!” through March,” she said. “This is a great way to participate and introduce your little one to a live theater experience.”

For schedules and tickets, visit

But wait, there’s more!

Here are a few more of our indoor favorites:

■ Gravitopia in Greenville offers KidJump for ages 6 and younger 9 – 10 a.m. weekdays. Family night is 6 – 9 p.m. Mondays. For details, including costs and waivers, visit

■ The Children’s Museum of the Upstate offers a wide variety of programs for preschool ages. Tuesdays – Saturdays look for Story Time and More programs with a different theme each week. Random Acts of Science are offered Wednesdays – Saturdays. For programming focused on the museum’s traveling exhibit – currently, Trivial Pursuit: A 50 State Adventure, Fantastic Fridays, held at 10 a.m. Fridays, include lessons that change weekly. For a complete schedule of events, costs and operating hours, visit

■ Pump It Up, located in Spartanburg and Greenville, has hours during the school day that are devoted entirely to preschoolers. Owner Andrea Hill said the cost is $6.25 each for as long as parents and kids want to stay. Note that after school (hours vary by location) and on school holidays, play is open to older children. A 10-visit pass, good for one year, is available for $42.50. For hours and details, visit or

■ Monkey Joe’s offers open play and a discounted price of $3.50 each for ages 4 and younger on Toddler Thursdays. For details and hours, visit

■ Play USA, formerly PlayNation, offers open play with play sets, a play house, rock walls, slides and more. For details and hours, visit

■ Gymboree Play and Music sessions are offered for infants and older. Class offerings include art, music, play-based activities and even school skills for preschoolers. For class details, visit

■ Kindermusik at Piano Central Studios offers Musical Valentine Play Dates Feb. 8 – 13. The cost is $5 each. For scheduling information and reservations, call 864-232-5010 or visit