Restless natives? Ideas to keep the kids occupied over holiday vacation

Moncerrt Alonso, left, 9, of Bonita Springs, practices balancing a peacock feather on her hand under the supervision of Dean Kelley, right, a clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, during pre-show activities at Germain Arena.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo

Moncerrt Alonso, left, 9, of Bonita Springs, practices balancing a peacock feather on her hand under the supervision of Dean Kelley, right, a clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, during pre-show activities at Germain Arena.

Two whole weeks.

There’s a reason the Christmas carol “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” includes the line, “and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”

With kids out of school on a long holiday break, parents are tasked with finding something for the little angels to do all day, normally the responsibility of their schoolteachers. In many cases, parents need to arrange supervision for the children as they, the parents, still have to go to work.

Bay Buckley slips and falls hitting one of the lilly pads as he tried to cross at Sun-n-Fun Lagoon on June 9, 2009. The waterpark will be open over Collier County students' holiday break.

Photo by Greg Kahn

Bay Buckley slips and falls hitting one of the lilly pads as he tried to cross at Sun-n-Fun Lagoon on June 9, 2009. The waterpark will be open over Collier County students' holiday break.

Showcase to the rescue. Herewith, we present a variety of activities, performances, day care and learning experiences available over the holiday period. Armed with these ideas, kids will have fun — and might actually learn something — over the break, and mom and dad can hang onto the shreds of their sanity.

MAKE A SPLASH AT SUN-N-FUN LAGOON

Pick a warm day to take the kids to the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, Collier County’s only water park. Normally closed from October through Presidents Day week, the park, operated by Collier County’s Parks and Recreation Department, opens over the holidays from Saturday, Dec. 22 through Jan. 6. With a million gallons of water, five water slides, four pools and a lazy river for tubing, Sun-N-Fun is sure to make a splash with the younger generation.

Where:15000 Livingston Road, Naples

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22-Jan. 6, closed Christmas Day

Cost: Free, children 3 and younger; $5.50 visitors under 48 inches tall; $8 seniors; $12 visitors 48 inches and taller, $2 discount for Collier County ID

Information: 239-252-4021 or www.napleswaterpark.com

ZOO STORIES

To his surprise, Jackson Bowman, 6, center, gets an up close look at a female black bear at the Naples Zoo's Black Bear Hammock exhibit. A trip to the zoo can be a good way to keep kids entertained while they are home for the holidays.

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER

To his surprise, Jackson Bowman, 6, center, gets an up close look at a female black bear at the Naples Zoo's Black Bear Hammock exhibit. A trip to the zoo can be a good way to keep kids entertained while they are home for the holidays.

Pick your day, and the Naples Zoo can be even more economical for locals. As a thank you for taxpayer support, the zoo offers free admission all day long to Collier County residents on the first Saturday of every month. No coupon required — just proof of residency for adults, who must accompany visitors under age 16.

For a little education with your animals, take the kids to the Phil for a visit with Jungle Jack Hanna. “America’s favorite zookeeper,” host of “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” and director emeritus of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, Jungle Jack’s live show features many of his favorite animal friends, plus humorous stories and footage from his adventures around the world.

■ Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Where: 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closes 4 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s eves. Closed Christmas Day

Cost: Free, children 2 and younger; $12.95, children 3-12; $18.95, seniors 65 and older; $19.95, adults 13-64; there’s a discount with online purchase

Information: 239-262-5409 or www.napleszoo.com

■ Jack Hanna

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 28

Kids can learn about wildlife when Jack Hanna and some of his animal friends come to the Naples Philharmoic Center for the Arts

Photo by Rick A. Prebeg/ World Class Images

Kids can learn about wildlife when Jack Hanna and some of his animal friends come to the Naples Philharmoic Center for the Arts

Where: Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples

Cost: $25, students and $40, adults

Information/Tickets: 239-597-1900 or www.thephil.org

A CHOICE OF CHOCOLATES

Olde Naples Chocolate offers chocolate candymaking parties for kids (and separate ones for adults). It’s what they call “a fun day of chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates.” Participants learn how to make candy creation, win prizes for the scariest concoctions and take home their handiwork. The one day classes are on Saturday, Dec. 22 and Dec. 26-29, for youngsters 7 to 16.

For an even Ritz-ier chocolate experience, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples offers the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. The premier night on Dec. 26 offers a buffet dinner in the Tiburon Ballroom and a visit from Theo Dahl, son of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” author Roald Dahl. On Dec. 27 and 28, the factory recreates the Willy Wonka experience, with Oompa Loompas, hands-on candy creation, and, you have to guess, a “sugar high” that will have the kids bouncing off the walls until they crash and pass out.

■ Chocolate class

Where: Olde Naples Chocolate, 945 Fifth Ave. N., Naples

When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 3 p.m. Dec. 26, 1 p.m. Dec. 27, 3 p.m. Dec. 28 and 11 a.m. Dec. 29

Cost: $40

Information/Registration: 239-262-3975 or www.oldenapleschocolate.com

■ Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory

When: Premiere night 5:30 p.m. Dec. 26, and factory 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28

Where: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, 2600 Tiburon Dr., Naples

Cost: $60 factory and $119 premiere night

Information/Reservations: 239-598-6644

CULTURE CLUB

For experiences lower in calories and higher in culture, try “The Elves and the Shoemaker” at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. The kid-friendly show has added performances after the original schedule sold out, said director of marketing Melissa Vogt.

Kids can create their own pop art during Family Activity Day on Dec. 22 and 29, 2012 and Jan. 5, 2013 at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs.

Photo by Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs

Kids can create their own pop art during Family Activity Day on Dec. 22 and 29, 2012 and Jan. 5, 2013 at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs.

“It gets kids into the holiday spirit, with a message about helping others, and they’re actually encouraged to make noise and whoop it up during the show,” she said. Shows are today, Sunday and Dec. 26 and 27.

If your kids would rather act themselves than watch someone else do it, the Florida Rep in Fort Myers is hosting two three-day Holiday Break Camp sessions to engage children 5 to 17 in an in-depth art camp. A student art show and a performance at the end of each session will be for family and friends. Sessions run from Dec. 26 to 28, and Jan. 2 to 4.

In Naples, the Patty and Jay Baker Museum of Art at the Phil presents “Five, Six, Seven, Eight: Dance Art,” a children’s Make and Take art workshop. Children can craft wire sculptures on Jan. 2 from 2 to 4 p.m., free with museum admission.

Each Saturday through Jan. 5, the Art Center of Bonita Springs offers Family Activity Days from 1 to 3 p.m., taking advantage of the current Andy Warhol exhibit. Staff offers a brief lecture on Warhol’s pioneering techniques, and after viewing some examples of his work, the families have the chance to create pieces in the spirit of Warhol. With a look at the exhibit and artwork of their own for the kids to take home, Family Activity Days are free.

■ ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’

Kids can enjoy dinner and show over their holiday break when Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre presents “The Elves and the Shoemaker.”  Shows are on Dec. 21, 23, 26 and 27.

Photo by Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

Kids can enjoy dinner and show over their holiday break when Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre presents “The Elves and the Shoemaker.” Shows are on Dec. 21, 23, 26 and 27.

When: Noon lunch and 1 p.m. show today, Dec. 21, Sunday, Dec. 23 and Dec. 27 and 5:30 p.m. dinner and 6:30 p.m. show Dec. 26

Where: Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers

Cost: $10 and $16

Information/Tickets: 239-278-4422 or www.broadwaypalm.com

■ Patty and Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art

Where: 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Art After Hours, 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 26 and Make and Take workshop, 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 2

Cost: Free, children 17 and younger; $5, students with ID; $10, adults. Art After Hours free for all.

Information: 239-597-1900 or www.thephil.org

■ Family Activity Days

Where: Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, 26100 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec.22, Dec. 29 and Jan. 5

Cost: Free

Information: 239-495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org.

■ Winter Break Camp

When: Dec. 26-28 or Jan. 2-4

Cost: $110, with aftercare available for $5 per day

Where: Lee County Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers

Information/Registration: 239-332-4665 ext. 36 or www.floridarepeducation.org

UNDER THE BIG TOP

These days, many children, and some of their elders, have never seen a circus, which once upon a time was the only game in town for glitzy, thrilling entertainment. On Jan. 3 through 6, Germain Arena hosts the granddaddy of them all, the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Under an even bigger top — the night sky — Naples Botanical Garden brings back its popular “Night Lights in the Garden,” today through Sunday and Dec. 26-30. “It’s a wholesome family outing, very peaceful and elegant,” said Kara Laufer, director of business development at the Gardens. “Kids can leave messages on the wish tree, and carve into the autograph tree leaves,” plus music, refreshments, and more.

■ Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Fully Charged Gold Edition

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 3-5; 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Jan. 5 and 1 and 5 p.m. Jan. 6

Where: Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero

Cost: $22.90-$57.90, including fees

Tickets/Information: www.germainarena.com

■ Night Lights in the Garden

When: 6 to 8 p.m. today-Sunday and Dec. 26-30

Where: Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples

Cost: $3, member children; $5, children; $7, member adults; $15, adults

Information: 239-643 7275 or www.naplesgarden.org

ALL DAY LONG

The YMCA of the Palms offers Winter Break Fun Days Camp, if you need your offspring occupied all day, providing what it calls an “exciting, safe community for young people.”

Of course, parents might want to check with their children in the quest to help keep them occupied. Many of their teachers assigned them homework packets or reading over the holidays, so they can begin the new year with a head start on learning.

Where: Greater Naples YMCA, 5450 YMCA Road, Naples

When: Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 24, drop-off is as early as 7:30 a.m., with pickup by 6 p.m.

Cost: $25 per day for members and $35 per day nonmembers ages 5-13

Information: 239-597-3148 or www.ymcapalms.org

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