It's another winter Monday and the schools are closed.

At a loss for what to do with the kids? Getting bored of the same old activities? Having a hard time finding something that's open on a federal holiday?

We have some off-the-beaten-path suggestions for you. At each, the kids can have fun and learn something too.

And best yet: Each venue is free.

Up to age 4

MacArthur Center

Address: 300 Monticello Ave.

What's there? An indoor play area next to the food court. Climb on a hot dog, walk through a spilled soda, slide down a slice of watermelon. The playground is a great place for kids this age to develop gross motor skills, follow the rules and learn how to play with others. And there's plenty of bench seating around the play area for parents to watch all the action.

Tip: Be sure the kids are wearing socks. They need to take off their shoes to play.

Directions from Interstate 64: Go through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and merge onto Interstate 264 west toward downtown Norfolk. Take exit 10 for City Hall Avenue and follow it to the mall.

Hours: The play area is available when the mall is open, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Phone: 627-6000

Age 5 to 10

First Landing State Park

Address: 2500 Shore Drive

What's there: The Chesapeake Bay Center highlights the Chesapeake Bay, and the First Landing History Museum portrays the first permanent English settlement. While it's small, there are a handful of hands-on exhibits for kids, including floor puzzles and sand and wave tables. If it's nice enough to go outside, you can take a walk on the beach or cross Shore Drive and take a hike on one of First Landing's walking trails (There is a parking fee of $4 on weekdays and $5 on weekends for this part of the park.).

Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes, just in case.

Directions from Interstate 64: Take exit 282. Follow U.S. Route 13 toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Take the exit for Shore Drive and U.S. 60 East toward the beaches. Turn right onto Shore Drive.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Phone: 412-2316

Age 10 plus

The Casemate Museum

Address: 20 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe

What's there: While most of the exhibits highlight Civil War history, there are also displays showing life in the 1800s and modern military history. See uniforms, artillery and models of the Monitor and the Merrimack. And the Casemate was a temporary home to two figures from the kids' schoolbooks: author Edgar Allen Poe and former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. And if it's nice enough to go outside you can follow the marked walking tour.

Tip: Bring your driver's license and registration. The museum is on Fort Monroe, and while the base is open to the public, you must show your license and registration to get a day pass.

Directions from Interstate 64: Take exit 268 for Mallory Street, Virginia Route 169 East toward Fort Monroe. Turn left on South Mallory Street. Turn right on Mellen Street east and follow to Fort Monroe. Once on the base, follow the signs to the Casemate.

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Phone: 788-3391

Inside: More indoor activity places in hampton and virginia beach, B2