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20 fun things to do when stuck at a hotel

Post includes ways to do these things at home, too!

For months, I looked forward to a December trip to Dallas, Texas and the warm, sunny temperatures sure to greet me. As luck (bad luck is luck too) would have it, the Dallas area got walloped by a fierce ice storm that shut down the airport, the mall, restaurants and — well — the whole area!

Stuck at the hotel with all my plans canceled, I had two options: lounge around my room and watch soap operas OR explore and find fun things to do. I chose the latter!

If you find yourself stuck at a hotel, particularly with kids, maybe these 20 activities will help you pass the time AND have fun doing it!

Most of these are great for when you get stuck at home, too!

What to do when stuck at a hotel besides hang out in your room or the pool.
20 fun things to do when stuck at a hotel

1. Play with shaving cream. Stuck at home with kids and want to keep them clean? Make shaving cream sculptures. We used to let our toddlers play with shaving cream at their high chairs. It cleaned the trays, too.

2. Let the kids give you (and dad if he’s brave) a makeover. Or give the kids one! An added bonus, when the kids are doing your hair, you get a “sort of” massage out of the whole deal. I wash my makeup brushes before using on the kids — and before I come back to using for myself. Q-tips work, too)

20 Fun Things to do When Stuck at a Hotel 2P.S. She is NOT usually allowed to wear makeup! Special treat.

3. Count the stairs from the ground floor to the top floor… Yes, that means stair climbing. If you prefer, count the stairs going down. This works in hotels, but it also works at home.

If you don’t have stairs — or are staying at a motel — count how many steps it takes to get from point A to point B.

4. Draw pictures on the steam-covered bathroom mirror. Let the kids take a relaxing, steamy bath. When the mirror is all steamed up, draw funny pictures.

BONUS: If they are learning to spell, challenge them with some vocabulary words.

5. Write an old-fashioned letter to loved ones on hotel stationery. If you’re at home, have kids write grandparents letters the old fashioned way. Sure, FaceTime is great, but our older relatives still love snail mail. Don’t you?

6. Jump on the beds (maybe ask the neighbors below when is a good time). Come on, parents. When is the last time you jumped on the bed? It’s fun. Be a kid again!

7. Have a pillow fight. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned pillow fight to inspire hilarious laughter.

8. Order room service. 

If you’re not at a hotel, how about turning your home into an “at home B&B?” Read our post for great tips!

20 Fun Things to Do when Stuck at the Hotel 3

9. Write thank you notes for the hotel staff who are likely working double shifts and dealing with grumpy guests. Be the difference! 

If you’re stuck at home, who can you send an encouraging letter to? If you’re sick, write the doctor a thank you note. If there’s a weather emergency, how about a letter to your local police and fire departments.

Spread kindness… wherever you happen to be!

10. Open the curtains and have everyone draw a picture of what they see outside the window. Ask for paper from the hotel front desk if you need it.

If you’re at home, do this every day from a different window — how different is the view from one room or another?

11. Go on a scavenger hunt through the hotel. Ask the front desk if the hotel has one pre-made. If not, make one and see how long it takes the kids to find everything. Look for things like:

  • How many steps are there at the pool?
  • What color is the hotel logo?
  • How many lights are hanging in the lobby?

If you’re at home, make a scavenger hunt that’s fun for kids and helpful to you:

  • How many socks are under your bed? (if you find some, take them to the laundry)
  • Which garbage can is the most full? (If you find a full one, take the garbage out)

You can also just make it fun:

  • How many pictures are hanging on the wall of our family?
  • Which room has the most lights?
  • Who has the biggest bed?

12. Splurge on an in room movie. Watch it in pajamas all snuggled on one bed.

Though, if you’re reading this at home with a sick family member, don’t cuddle! Make a “nest” for the sick person and keep your distance to fight the spread of germs.

Read this post on fighting germs at home!

You can also subscribe to Amazon Prime to watch free movies and TV shows if you don’t want to pay the steep fee for a one time rental.

13. Build a blanket tent. At hotels, there are usually extra blankets in the closet. If not, ask the front desk for extra blankets to use in your room. Even if you just drape a blanket between the beds, it can be loads of fun. We use the towels from the pool to make a “clean floor space.”

At home, this is even easier. Make the tent big enough for snack time (under the kitchen table) or to add pillows and read books.

Both of the above services are free for the first thirty days at the time of this post. New accounts only. We cannot control Amazon terms of service.

14. Practice your ninja skills. The goal: To get to someplace at the far end of the hotel without anybody seeing you. Sneak through the halls, tiptoeing and hiding behind pillars. The quieter the better.

At home, maybe adapt this one and have kids try to get from one place to another without touching the floor. OOOHhhh!!! Challenge accepted!

15. Write a note to housekeeping thanking them for their hard work. Place it on the beds after you make them. Talk about a surprise for hotel staff!

At home, ask kids to make each other’s beds (if no one is sick). We learned years ago that our daughter loves helping other people do their chores and never complains. It somehow seems more like an act of service than a chore. May as well use that power for good, am I right?

16. Sit in the lobby and count shoes of passersby by color. What color is most popular?

At home, have kids organize the shoes by color and size. We all need clean shoe closets, right? (Just make sure they wash hands when done!)

17. Let the kids quiz you about what life was like when you were a kid. They don’t know life before the internet, drive through restaurants or self-pump gas stations. Hmmmmm….. New Jersey still doesn’t know what self-pump means. 😉

Even better, interview grandparents or other, older friends in your community to learn what childhood was like for them.

Here is a link to some questions to help you get started.

18. Make towel animals. They always bring smiles. Right?

19. Skip down the halls. Yes, parents too! And if you can take a walk outside, why not skip? It’s a great cardiovascular exercise. And… it’s fun!

20. Take a ride on the luggage cart. Is it a train? A princess carriage? A pirate ship? Watch out for other guests, the walls and be respectful of hotel policies.

Have you ever been stuck at a hotel? How did you entertain your kids? 

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