It’s March and that means spring break!

Health & Fitness column

I know it is hard to believe that it is that time of the year again; we are getting ready to turn our clocks ahead (next weekend) and spring break is just around the corner. That leaves us with the question: What to do for spring break that will not only keep the kids busy, but give them something fun and healthy to do?

Good question and I have a few ideas.

Some of these local ideas I am sure you have heard me say before, but they are worth repeating. Of course, living in Southwest Georgia provides us with the opportunity to be outside at the local parks and playgrounds all year round, but sometimes time is a constraint and we just don’t make it to these places.

Spring break provides us the opportunity to take the kids to a park or playground that you haven’t visited before and enjoy the spring weather and give the kids time to run, jump and play (all free of charge). I have previously provided you all a list of playgrounds and parks, but just to name a few — the park and playground at Chehaw, Turtle Park downtown and Tift Park are all great places for the kids to run around and get outside.

Now, what to do if the weather is not allowing outside play. There are plenty of activities right at your doorstep or at least a car ride away. Albany has some indoor options for the kids and most I have mentioned in previous columns — Wilder’s World Bounce House, The All American Fun Park, the RiverQuarium, the Clay Spot (paint your own pottery). All of these provide families with local options to get out of the house and be active for the day or a few hours.

However, if you are up for a little car ride, there are plenty of places within two hours that give you and the kids not only a fun and new activity, but the opportunity to spend time together and learn something new.

Macon, just about 90 miles north of Albany, has a great Children’s Museum (more for those younger kids, under 5 or 6 years of age). This museum has plenty of hands on activities to keep kids happy and occupied for a few hours. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays- Saturdays.

Another museum in Macon for those a bit older is the Museum of Arts and Sciences, which is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Warner Robins, right outside of Macon, has a Museum of Aviation, which is a U.S. Air Force Museum and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This museum is free of charge and provides plenty of activities and information for the entire family.

Columbus, another city about 90 miles from Albany, has two family-oriented museums that can provide the entire family with interesting educational information and a day walking around and exploring. The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays, and includes a planetarium, space science education center, and large telescopes. The Civil War Museum is another family museum in Columbus and is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Sundays-Mondays.

Of course, like I have stressed in previous columns, the key to a fun and healthy family activity is to do something that everyone will like, to do it together and to get some exercise or healthy eating involved. All of these options fit that criteria, but you will have to bring along a few healthy snacks or make a good decision if you eat out at a restaurant. Have a fun, safe, and healthy spring break.

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children.