20 fun things to do in a hotel with kids

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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 some hotel fun things to do. I chose the latter!

Lots of families were stuck there, too. So, I brainstormed and came up with 20 fun things to do in a hotel with kids. If you find yourself stuck indoors, look no further! This list is sure to entertain the kids for hours.

Title collage "20 fun things to do when stuck at a hotel" with a hotel bed in one photo and an indoor pool in another.

Play with shaving cream

When you’re stumped for hotel fun with kids, shaving cream is an easy way to entertain them inexpensively. Put the kids in the tub in their swimsuits and let them play. Spray some shaving cream on the shower wall so they can draw in the foam. Make shaving cream sculptures.

For fun things to do in a hotel with kids, this is easy. The kids are contained and it costs next to nothing!

Stuck at home with kids? We used to let our toddlers play with shaving cream at their high chairs. It cleaned the trays, too.

Let the kids give you a makeover. Or give the kids one! 

Who doesn’t love a day at the salon? Well, when you’re stuck at the hotel with the kids, turn your room into a spa! Let the kids do your hair and makeup.

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 them for myself. Q-tips work, too.

Collage of hair and makeup  photos after a hotel fun in room makeover

P.S. She is NOT usually allowed to wear makeup! Special treat.

Draw on the bathroom mirror 

Let the kids take a relaxing, steamy bath. Then, let them draw on the mirror while it’s still steamed up. My kids loved doing this at home and would write each other notes to find after the next shower.

I’m not sure what makes drawing on a steam-covered mirror so satisfying, but it’s definitely something fun to do with kids in a hotel!

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

Have a pillow fight

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

Order room service

Ordering room service, especially if this isn’t one of the things you normally do in a hotel, is pretty exciting!

Kids eating chocolate cake at a table in a hotel room with baby sitting on the floor next to them and a crib in the background.

Make towel animals

I may be an adult, but when I go on a family cruise, I look forward to the daily towel animal on my bed.

They always bring smiles. Right?

See if you can make a few to keep you company at the hotel!

Watch a movie

Watch it in pajamas all snuggled on one bed. How often do we take the time to do this at home? Probably not enough!

When it comes to memorable hotel fun with the kids, this is sure to be a big hit.

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.

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.

Build a blanket tent

No matter where kids are, blanket tents are a hit! If you’re stuck in a hotel with the kids, this definitely qualifies for hotel fun.

Most hotel rooms have extra blankets in the closet. If not, ask the front desk for extra blankets or an extra set of sheets to use in your room.

Even if you just drape a blanket between the beds, kids will have fun playing inside their cave. 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.

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.

On my iced-in Texas trip, we didn’t leave the hotel for three days. Taking the stairs gave me some much needed exercise and helped me not go stir crazy! It’ll work for the kids, too.

Write thank you notes for the hotel staff

When I was stuck in Texas, so was the staff. There was a lot of ice!

On another trip, when the hotel flooded, washing out the driveway and many rental cars, during an insane rainstorm, the staff dealt with lots of angry hotel guests.

Be the difference! Write thank you notes or words of encouragement for hotel staff and then spread kindness. Even cute drawings will make a difference.

This might not “quite” qualify as hotel fun, but it sure is one of the nicest things to do in a hotel when you’re all stuck there!

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!

Draw a picture of what you see outside the window

Have everyone position themselves somewhere to see outside the window. It doesn’t have to be the same view. In fact, it’ll be more fun from different perspectives.

Have everyone draw what they see outside the window.

Grown ups, too!

Then share what you see. Kids will learn some valuable life lessons with this one, and you don’t have to preach!

If you’re at home, do this every day you’re stuck inside from a different window. How different is the view from one room or another?

Go on a scavenger hunt through the hotel

Ask the front desk if the hotel has a hotel scavenger hunt for kids. 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?

Practice your ninja skills

So, this one requires just a bit of silliness on all parts, even parents! But, it’s fun.

And, if you’re stuck at a hotel with kids, you can still make great memories!

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. You know, “the floor is lava….”

Write a letter to loved ones on hotel stationery

Some hotels still have stationery in the desk area, but if they don’t, you can ask for paper at the front desk.

Kids can write letters to grandparents, friends or even to themselves!

When I was a kid, we always sent ourselves a postcard from vacation.

They might need some suggestions to get started if they haven’t written letters before, but it sure can be fun!

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?

Jump on the beds

Maybe ask the neighbors below when might be a good time!

Come on, parents. When is the last time you jumped on the bed? It’s fun. When it comes to things to do in a hotel with kids, this might top the list of hotel fun!

(Please supervise! We don’t want kids bumping heads or falling off the beds!)

Make your beds!

This might sound silly, but it’s a great way to teach kids kindness without preaching it.

If you can’t leave and you’re looking for things to do in a hotel, no doubt the housekeeping team is also working extra hard.

So, when you leave the room to let them tidy it up, make the beds first. Write a thank you note for all 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?

Sit in the lobby and count shoes of passersby by color

Really, you can count anything. How many people are wearing sneakers? boots?

Assign each kid a color of shoe to count. Or count baseball caps, scarves, coat color. It really doesn’t matter what you count.

The goal is to get the kids out of the room for a bit and doing something to stave off the “I’m bored” complaints.

We use a similar tactic on family road trips, having each kid count a color of car or type (semi trucks, SUVs, sports cars) for several minutes. It buys us some quiet time, but they don’t know it!

At home, have kids organize the shoes by color and count how many pairs there are of each color. We all need clean shoe closets, right?

Endless Possibilities

Let the kids quiz you about what life was like when you were a kid

Kids today 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.

Since you’re stuck at the hotel together anyway, maybe they would like to know what you did on vacations when you were a kid.

If a funny story comes up, call family members who were there, put them on speakerphone and have them join the conversation.

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

Skip down the halls

Yes, parents too!

If you can take a walk, why not skip?

Have you ever seen someone skipping without smiling?

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.

Every time I see a kid riding on the luggage cart, it makes me smile. I don’t think there’s much more hotel fun than a ride on a luggage cart!

Teenagers riding on a luggage cart at a hotel

Have you ever been stuck indoors looking for things to do in a hotel? What did you come up with for more hotel fun?