Bowling family-fun at Sarasota Lanes on a rainy day in Sarasota County. Photo by Liz Sandburg
A very young boy and girl enjoying themselves at Bounce Down Under. Photo by Liz Sandburg
Air hockey fun at Evie's in Sarasota County. Photo by Liz Sandburg
Air hockey fun at Evie's in Sarasota County. Photo by Liz Sandburg

Boredom Turned Inside Out

If weather is hurting your planned Sarasota County vacation, escape the dangers of cabin fever with indoor family fun

"What else can we do besides the beach?"

Of course the main attraction here in Sarasota is the glorious beaches, and when they aren't an option, you may find yourself stuck indoors with rowdy, energy-filled youngsters. Maybe it's raining. Maybe you forgot to put on enough SPF yesterday. Or maybe it's just too hot to be outside. Don't panic. After the forts are made, crafts are drying, Lego masterpieces are erected, tea parties are concluded, and you're about to finally cave into the temptations of TV, throw the kids in the car to explore one of Sarasota's many indoor options and cure that stir-crazy sensation. You won't even miss the beach.

Be a Wallaby

Bounce Down Under, an Australian-themed indoor bounce house extravaganza, boasts numerous slides, obstacle courses, and games.  The big kids will love the basketball-court house, while the little ones can enjoy their own space where they can zoom down mini slides at their own pace. Jumpers must wear socks (socks? what are they?), so plan on bringing a pair or purchase them there.

Be a Pinball Wizard

Arcade games and air hockey can keep my kids happy for hours at Evie's, and when you throw in pizza and ice cream for those much needed breaks, there's no need to ever leave. Bonus: if you're there to escape the heat rather than the rain, you can have your car washed while shooting hoops or playing pool at this Bee Ridge one stop shop.

Be a Mallrat, Turtle, or Dolphin

If you're needing a break from entertaining little ones, or need to run a few errands at the same time, zip over to The Mall at University Town Center and enjoy the children's play area next to Dillard's on the ground level. Numerous sea animal structures beg to be climbed and explored, surrounded by seats for reading, nursing, or just relaxing.  Oh, and there are escalators. My kids love escalators!

Be a Bookworm

With nine locations throughout the county, there is surely a branch of the Sarasota Public Libraries within the distance you're willing to drive in a hot car with "bored" kids. The newly renovated Gulf Gate branch features touch-screen computer games while Selby downtown showcases a Mote Marine aquarium tank. And stairs. When my kiddos were younger, the stairs were a huge hit, as we don't have any at our home. Up and down. Over and over again. Hey, whatever floats their boats. Programs for young patrons (puppet shows, story times, etc.) and older ones (Lego club, chess) are posted on the online schedule.

Be the Ball

Do you 'play bowling' or 'go bowling'? I'm not sure, but whichever is correct, do it. In Sarasota, you have two choices - AMF and Sarasota Lanes. Ask for bumpers for less experienced bowlers, ramps for the even more inexperienced. Cosmic Bowling at Sarasota Lanes amps up the wow factor and AMF has an arcade to extend the fun a bit longer.

Be Schooled

Mote Aquarium
Mote Aquarium

Most of Mote Marine is indoors, the rest shaded, so it's a viable option when looking to escape the heat or a light rain. Surely it's impossible for a person to be bored when surrounded by schools of clownfish, sea cucumbers, cuttlefish, sharks, and turtles!

Be Your Idol

Imagine a room with trampoline floors and trampoline walls, where you can jump so high it feels like you're flying, then bounce off the walls like Spiderman. Welcome to Skyzone. A massive indoor trampoline haven, jumpers of all ages can bounce out any traces of boredom. Flip, run, or just jump. Join in on a game of dodge ball and do your best split jump to avoid getting out. Impersonate Michael Jordon and slam-dunk the ball. Here, the kids can literally bounce off the walls.