>> May 22, 2014
Summer is almost upon us and even though we may be planning a couple week vacation of exciting activity for the family what do we do for the rest of the summer? For stay at home moms or dads looking for fun things to do with kids or just for the occasional jaunt on the weekends here are some ideas. Depending on where you live there are a lot of things to do and places to go for family fun without costing a lot of money.
Parks – There are parks practically everywhere all across the country. They vary from parks right in your neighborhood to city parks and state parks, most have playground equipment, jogging tracks, and picnic tables. Many include lakes for fishing or swimming and most of the bigger parks like the state parks have hiking trails to check out nature and local wildlife. The state parks do charge a small fee for entrance but it is minimal and charged per car no matter how many individuals you bring. When you take along a picnic lunch you can make a day of it or if you are at a state park bring along a tent and spend a night or two. Camping is really a great way to spend time with your family and enjoy each others company in a laid back environment.
Many state parks are located near beautiful sights and natural wonders. There are beautiful hills or mountains to climb and cooling waters from natural water falls or ice cold springs to cool your toes on a hot summer’s day. One of our family’s favorite activities is fishing and the state parks in our area are all surrounded by lakes and in some areas they are even next to the ocean. For families who find themselves on a tight budget these state parks are perfect and have so much to offer.
Festivals – In many parts of the country festivals are an annual event for one reason or another. Whether it is a local fruit or vegetable harvest or a holiday celebration or even a collection of artwork from local artists festivals can be a lot of fun. There you can walk through booth after booth to look at new and interesting things. There are usually all kinds of yummy treats and local specialties to snack on while you are walking around and tons of people to meet and greet.
Zoos – The zoo in our city has one free day a week for families. Most zoos offer more activities than just walking through and looking at the animals. They have exhibits that children and adults can actually interact with some of the animals. For instance most zoos now have petting zoos for the younger children with farm animals or some of the more domesticated wild animals. They also have experts who answer questions about the different animals and sometimes even let the children handle some of the more unique creatures. At our local zoo they have a water park and a lake with paddle boats which offers children and adults a place to cool off in the hot summer heat. They even have a small train that runs around the lake and zoo which the children really enjoy.
Museums – If you happen to live in or close to a large city you can make a day of visiting the museums. Most of the museums offer family days and are free one day a week or perhaps have a minimal entrance fee. The science museums offer many hands on or interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike. Many cities now have children’s museums which allow the kids to take part in all kinds of scenarios. Our local children’s museum has an exhibit that allows the children to see what it is like to be a weatherperson or broadcaster. It also has a pretend grocery store where the children can shop and check themselves out at cash registers. There are tons of things to do at children’s museums and because almost everything is interactive parents do not have to worry about the kids touching things. They also offer one day a week that is free to the public. Museums and planetariums are a great way to spend the day with the family and the bonus is that they are educational as well!
Outdoor Theaters and Concerts – This is an activity that also depends on where you live. Most of the large cities have these theaters but some small town do as well. This is a laid back way to spend an evening with your family. If you can not afford the seats you can bring along a blanket or two and a picnic dinner or even some lawn chairs. The concerts are beautiful and the kids can either sit and listen or play nearby. These theaters cater to families and offer good family entertainment. It is a wonderful way to spend a summer evening or afternoon.
Sporting Events – If you live in a small town no doubt there are still football, baseball, and basketball games you can attend at least on the high school level. If you live in a big city or close to one that has major league games many times they offer a free day for families or at least some really discounted seats. Even if you are not particularly a sports fan if you have never been to a big league game you will most likely enjoy the atmosphere and the immensity of the experience. The sights and sounds of the big league are unique and children and adults as well will be fascinated by the experience.
Amusement Parks –If you look online sometimes you can get discounts or package deals to some of the larger amusement parks. Amusement parks are a lot of fun for kids and usually have rides that range from the very young to adult in intensity. Very often they have indoor activities as well and water rides to keep everyone from overheating in the summers but do not forget your sun screen because you will be spending a lot of time outside.
Swimming Parks – Here is another place you will not want to forget the sunscreen! The water parks near us always have special offers either in the form of coupons or certain days where they discount. This is a great way to spend a summer’s day with the kids and some parks even let you bring in your own ice chests and food. Most do require you to rent their inner tubes but it really depends on the park. Check out the parks near you and see what their policies are and pick the one that best meets the needs of your family. We enjoy the park that lets us bring in our own food and beverages because that can get really pricey.
Historical Monuments or Battleships – Get on the internet and check out the local historical sights or some that may be within an hour or two of your home. The battleships are really fun for the kids to see; many times they offer tours of the ships as well. There are submarines as well sometimes that you can walk through. Our family did and we were overcome with the small spaces that our military live in on these submarines! There are all kinds of historical places of interest across the country including some old forts and early settlements that have the original schools and homes. They show us how the early American settlers lived and it can make a big impression on the children to see how hard it was before all of our modern technologies and innovations.
Arboretums, Nature Centers, Botanical Gardens –We live not too far away from an arboretum that was once privately owned but donated to the city. These gardens are expansive and beautiful and wonderful places to take a nature walk with the family. Now depending on where you live this can be really exciting for a child. If they have grown up in the city and have not seen many expansive gardens then it will be a big treat. Nature centers are another place that city children can see and sometimes interact with the local wildlife. Even if you live in the country there are larger wildlife ranches or parks where you can see even larger animals. Most of them require you to drive through.
Bird Sanctuaries – Wild bird sanctuaries are a great place to go to check out the birds in your area of the country. Most of these places have caretakers and experts that take you on tours. They even have classes for children such as interesting facts about owls and they let you experience an owl up close and personal. Many offer nature walks and point out the different species and allow you to take photos as well.
I hope there are some ideas here to help you plan your next family day out. So many times we go on our two or three week vacations and then we end up spending the rest of the summer around the house. There are ways to have fun that do not take a lot of money or a lot of travel time. Do a little checking and see what you can find nearby to do with your family.
Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in the Houston, Texas office of Morningside Nannies, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.