Ahh, how delightful is spring — the long days of summer are almost here, and your tax refund has finally arrived. Here’s an idea for family fun this summer – take a bit of your refund and set it aside to pay for little trips with the kids.
A trip with your children doesn’t have to be costly, and it doesn’t have to take days. Matter of fact, there are dozens of free trips and exciting activities in your vicinity that you can do in less than a day. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate excursion, since children are fascinated by everything.
If the activities are free, why dedicate part of your refund to them? To pay for gas and refreshments, and also the little souvenirs that will help make the trip memorable. There may also be charges for admissions or supplementary rides that your children will want to take. Remember, this is their day, so opt for whatever will add to their enjoyment, within reason.
Begin by visiting your local chamber of commerce. There you will find brochures on a variety of attractions, maps of your area showing local points of interest, schedules of events this summer, and helpful staff and volunteers who can fill in details about what’s available. You can also visit a local hotel to see if their lobby stand of brochures offers additional ideas.
Here are some of 7 places to start:
Local Parks. Most neighborhoods have parks, and there is always something happening. Little kids are happy to play on the jungle gyms and swings with other children, while older kids can enjoy tossing a ball or Frisbee. Some parks have basketball and volleyball courts, and others offer water attractions such as fountains, sprinklers and water slides.
Farms and animal exhibits. Some local farms offer petting zoos, guided tours, pick your own berries, and fishing in streams. Zoos and animal exhibits give kids a chance to get close and personal with animals. It is helpful if they have a chance to read about the animals they will see in advance, so they can learn about the animals and pick the ones they really want to see.
Your public library. Libraries aren’t just for reading books. They offer a variety of activities for children, including story time, movies, puppet shows, and craft classes designed to keep children’s minds busy and entertained.
Museums. Most big cities are loaded with museums of many types, from art to history to science, as well as children’s museums geared toward experiential learning. If you don’t live in a big city, you’ll probably find museum-like exhibits at some of the attractions in your area. Local caves offer thrilling excursions for kids, and many children may enjoy a walking tour of your city, especially if they have read children’s histories of the area before they go.
Beaches and waterways. Lucky you if you live near a beach – sand and surf offer hours of pleasure for children with boogie boards and pails. But you don’t have to be on the coast to enjoy the sand and sun. Lakes and river banks often have space for children to enjoy waterside activities.
National parks and monuments. In the U.S., we are lucky to have a network of national parks and monuments all across the country. For a small admittance fee, you can take the children to explore the park, listen to ranger talks and see movies about the environment and nature. Special activities are scheduled for certain times throughout the summer, so be sure to check a calendar of events to see if something of special interest may be coming up.
Factory tours. If you live in an industrial area, there may be factory tours available for your children. Possibilities include an iron foundry, a musical instrument gallery, woodcrafts, bakeries, or even a chocolate or a candy factory – yumm!
Too busy to do it all? You can combine almost everything on this list in one excursion to your county fair this summer. Animals, exhibits, food, and rides – fairs have it all. The costs of a day at the fair can add up, so look for coupons in your newspaper and online before you go.