By: Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
You kicked off this summer with beaming optimism. (LOOK! You’re positively glowing…even though you haven’t even gotten that elbow-length tan line yet!)
You see, this year, you’re keeping the kids home — running Camp Mommy and saving BUCKETLOADS of money in the process.
But it’s already week #3, and your kids have made enough homemade popsicle stick crafts to furnish a fleet of Good Humour trucks, and they’re getting mighty antsy. C’mon Mommy let’s do something FUN for a change.
Thankfully, something FUN can also mean something FRUGAL (and don’t worry kids, we’re not talking the public library here.)
Here are 10 FUN + FREE outdoor activities that, come September, will have your kids writing the most enthusiastic “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essays.
Score one for Camp Mommy.
1. Break new (play)ground
The old maxim is true: the grass is always greener in someone else’s playground.
When your kids grow tired of the same old playpark near your home, it’s time to change turfs. Within a short drive, you’re bound to find a playground you’ve never been to before.
With different slides, seesaws, swings, and spring riders, the act of discovering a new playground — and all its exciting equipment — will feel as riveting to your kids as a real vacation.
2. Freebie admission day
Scout out the websites of your local zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, or sculpture garden. Some spots offer free admission on specific days, or after certain hours in the day.
This free activity will take advance planning, but it’ll guarantee you a jam-packed day of value and fun.
3. Ride it out
Gather up the family and go for a ride! A bike ride, that is.
Visit a nature trail in a wooded area for a day-long diversion. And don’t limit yourself to bicycles — scooters, skateboards, hoverboards, unicycles, anything and everything goes!
After all that exertion, you’re going to need some refueling. Check out Malka Kopolovich’s How to Set Up the Perfect Picnic and make it a day everyone will remember!
4. Be a city slicker
If you don’t live in an urban area, your kids will be awestruck by the hustle-and-bustle experience of a real city.
A train, bus, or car ride into your nearest city center is guaranteed to have your kids occupied. For many kids, the view of those majestic skyscrapers alone is enough reason to make the trip!
Plus, many cities have free summer activities, like fireworks shows, farmers markets, or cultural events — so be sure to plan your day to take advantage of everything the city has to offer.
5. Make a splash
What could be more fun for kids than a water wonderland?
Whether you have little or big kids (or both!) splash pads, spray grounds, and water playgrounds are the ultimate summer activity.
With sprinklers, fountains, and wading pools, water playgrounds can be just as enjoyable as water parks — minus the exorbitant entry fees. While some splash pads do charge admission, many of them are completely free.
6. Hooray for lemonade
Is there anything more classically summer than a lemonade stand?
Depending on their ages, your children may be able to build, design, decorate, and run a lemonade stand with minimal help from you.
If they manage to turn a profit, you can use the money to fund an outing of their choice, like a trip to the pizza shop or the mall.
7. Duck duck goose
Spend the afternoon at a nearby pond feeding ducks and geese. Children feel proud when they can take care of animals, and who doesn’t love watching those adorable ducks boldly waddle up to you to get some grub?
Wildlife organizations warn that bread is not the healthiest option for waterfowl. Instead, the Mother Nature Network recommends feeding ducks these more nutritionally-dense staples:
- Corn (canned, defrosted frozen, or fresh)
- Peas (defrosted frozen)
- Oats (rolled or instant)
- Lettuce or greens (torn into small pieces)
8. Take a hike (+ a hunt!)
A nature hike coupled with a scavenger hunt is an exercise for both the mind and body!
Print out a nature scavenger hunt list (this one from My Open Country has printable scavenger hunt lists that vary by the age of the child), and nurture your kids’ love for nature!
Oh — and don’t forget to pack some healthy hiking snacks like Rorie’s trail mix or Faigy Grossman’s Irresistible Energy Bars.
9. Yard sale
Make money AND get rid of your household junk? Sounds too good to be true.
All you need is a table, some homemade signs, and kids who are willing to part with their old playthings. Get ready to say sayonara to all those dusty old toys — and hello to a less cluttered home!
This plan packs more punch if you plan a multi-family yard sale. (Just make it absolutely clear to your tykes that under no circumstances will they come home toting your neighbor’s collection of old stuffed animals!)
10. The (LITERAL) dog days of summer
Ever heard of a dog park?
It’s a large fenced-in space in which owners let their dogs off-leash to romp, roll, chase balls, and drool all over each other. Basically, it’s a canine playground.
But feel free to think of it as a free zoo. Kids, especially the animal lovers, will have a blast watching the pups play with each other.
Stay safe, though, and don’t let your children inside the gated area. Some dogs can be unpredictable around little ones, so let your kids enjoy the dog park from outside the fence.
And if you don’t know where to find a dog park, a Google search will do the trick. Chances are, your nearest pooch park is closer than you think.