Columbus Day Family Fun Ideas

Columbus Day is not a holiday that needs to languish in obscurity. You can celebrate this historic event with your family. After all, don’t we all love an excuse for a party? Here are some ideas for celebrating the traditional “discovery” of America in 1492.

Eat Italian and Spanish Foods

Columbus was a native of Genoa, Italy; his famous voyage was funded by Queen Isabella of Spain. Some of the most wonderful cuisine in the world originates from this part of the world. And much of it is enjoyed by children and adults alike. Try Spanish rice and chicken, or a traditional paella dish. Lasagna, spaghetti, and other pasta dishes are versatile and widely enjoyed.


Why not make miniature versions of Columbus’s ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria? You don’t have to build a delicate ship model with all kinds of intricate parts (but of course, you can if you like!); depending on the age ranges in your family, you can make simple ship models from paper cups, egg carton segments, or the smooth tops of egg cartons. If you use the foam ones, your boats will be waterproof.

Paper, cloth, craft foam, or thin cardboard can be used to make simple sails for the ships, held up by toothpicks. Fill a bowl with water and float your ships; or set down a mirror, blue or clear plate, or blue paper and use your creations on the table as a centerpiece.

If you make waterproof ships using craft foam or foam egg cartons, you can “launch” them across a child’s pool. You could even race them! If your kids like science, you can talk about and demonstrate how wind moves the ships by pushing against the sails. Use a compass, and discuss how Columbus had to navigate his ships using the stars, sun, moon, and wind direction.

Community Events

See if there are any community events taking place in your area. Parades are traditional Columbus Day celebrations; see if your family can attend one, or watch one on TV. There might be a play or re-enactment being put on, too, perhaps presented at your local theater or as an outdoor drama.

Explore and Discover

Since it’s celebrated on the second Monday in October, the weather is often beautiful on Columbus Day. Depending on what part of the country you live in, there may be spectacular fall colors in your area. Or you can take a fall foliage trip with the family. You could take a special hike to look for new and interesting natural formations, locations, or views.

Visit somewhere you’ve never been. Just make sure you have the spirit of exploration and discovery, and your Columbus Day celebration will be right on target!

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