Where to Beat the Winter Blahs in Oshawa

Winter got you down? Contributor Leigh Gibbens rounded up all the best cold weather busters in Oshawa:

 Beating the mid-winter blues

We’re almost at the end of January and I’ll admit it – I’ve got the mid-winter blues. No jetting off to sunny locations in store for this family, and the lack of snow means we haven’t been particularly interested in outdoor activities. “How about making frozen mudmen in the backyard?” was met with predictable scorn from my kids.

At this time of year I often suffer from an annoying combination of laziness and restlessness… I want to do a little bit of something, as long as it doesn’t require too much energy or effort.

So the kids and I sat down and came up with this list of indoor things to do around town – inexpensive or free activities that will get you out of the house, but in a relaxed and low-key way.

Go for a Swim

One of my kids’ favourite winter activities is going for a swim and luckily there are a lot of places around town to take them. If you’ve never been to the Durham YMCA, head downtown and take advantage of their “Try the Y” campaign which allows you to obtain a free two-week pass for you and your family.  You can also check out Kid Expert Lila’s interview with Dan from the Mary Street YMCA on What’s On Durham for more information about classes and programs!

You can also visit one of Oshawa’s four city-run indoor pools, all of which have public swim hours throughout the winter. If you’re really imaginative, maybe you could even close your eyes and convince yourself you’re floating in a pool in the Bahamas…


Embrace Your Inner Artist

If you’re feeling artsy The Living Room Community Art Studio offers a welcoming creative space where you can pop in and make art for free!  Jam-packed with every art and craft supply imaginable you can paint, sculpt, draw, collage, weave and knit to your heart’s content. The Living Room is open Wed through Saturday from 11am until 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Simply drop-in and start creating or sign up for one of their regular pay-what-you-can workshops. For more info and a calendar of upcoming workshops visit: http://livingroomcommunityartstudio.org.

Another creative option is the RMG (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), Durham’s largest art gallery. Open 7 days a week, the gallery is free to visit (though a $5 donation is welcomed) and offers both a permanent collection and regularly changing special exhibits so there’s always something new to gawk at. OPG Second Sundays offer free drop-in art activities on – you guessed it – the second Sunday of each month. And if you feel like heading out in the evenings, RMG Fridays offer live musical performances, interactive art experiences, short films, gallery viewing and socializing. RMG Fridays run from 7 pm to 10 pm on the first Friday of each month (next one is Feb 3) and all ages are welcome.   http://rmg.on.ca/

Explore the Library

If you haven’t visited a public library lately than I have to tell you – you’re really missing out. Aside from the outstanding fact that you can borrow as many books as you want at no cost, today’s libraries offer a multitude of things to do. Book clubs, movie screenings, meditation and exercise groups, craft workshops, story times, resume building – there are free programs for every age and interest.

There are four branches located around town, and if you have kids you should definitely visit the newly renovated Children’s Department at the McLaughlin Branch. In addition to a wide range of books, there are board games, puppets, computers and the highly appealing MakerSpace. MakerSpace has a variety of high and low tech activities including a buttonmaker, Lego, Green Screen, Smartboard projector and even a 3D printer! The OPL now has Virtual Reality headsets that anyone can try for free! Check out the website for details.

Visit http://www.oshawalibrary.on.ca/ for branch locations, hours and events.

Play some Board Games

If you’re a game enthusiast there are a few different spots you can visit to play board and card games with other like-minded folks. An outing last year to Worlds Collide for some comic books ended up with me, my mom and the kids playing a round of Ticket to Ride with a helpful and enthusiastic staff member – it was one of those fun and spontaneous moments we’ll remember for a long time.

Worlds Collide and Skyfox Games have game clubs happening almost every day of the week. Check out the calendars on their websites to see if there’s anything that captures your interest:   http://www.worldscollide.ca/   http://www.skyfoxgames.com/   Some of the clubs are more kid-friendly than others, so I’d recommend you give them a call to check things out before visiting.

Another fun option is Brew Wizards Board Game Cafe – particularly if you’d like to enjoy a coffee or craft beer while you play! For an incredibly reasonable fee of $3 per person, you get to “stay and play all day” in this relaxed and inviting space. With over 300 games, tasty food and drinks available, it’s a fabulous spot to unplug and unwind with friends or family. Not surprisingly, it’s a very popular evening hangout so if you want to ensure a table you can call ahead to make reservations – (905) 240-5504. www.facebook.com/brewwizardscafe/