When Quaker Oats asked me to share my tips for summer fun, I knew immediately that I would share with all of you, my ideas for short day trips because that is what I really love!
Day trips offer all families a chance to see and learn something new without breaking the bank. The thing is, sometimes we forget about how many awesome places surround us and that while a trip to the local nursery to browse plants may seem like an errand to us parents, if we package it correctly, it can be a family field trip for our kids.
I put my brainstorming cap on and came up with 15 awesome ideas for great (and mostly inexpensive) day trips to take with your kids before school starts. Before I run you through my ideas let me share my must-have packing list:
- Phone and charger for your car. I tend to forget this on short trips and end up regretting it as my phone dies before I can text my husband to say we are going to be late for dinner because the kids are having a blast at the pool.
- Extra clothes, yes even for the big kids.
- Easy-to-eat, on-the-go snacks like Quaker® Chewy® Girl Scouts® Granola Bars. Each bar has 8 grams of whole grains with real chocolate chips and a mint flavor or sweet coconut and caramel flavor, topped with chocolaty drizzle. It’s the Girl Scout Cookieâ„¢ flavors you love in a granola bar form! Don’t forget to pack some for you too!
- A refillable water bottle for each child and yourself.
- Sunscreen and hats.
- Basic first aid kit and bucket in case of car sickness.
- Tunes or audio book for the car. If you choose it before you go, there is less squabbling on the way.
- An extra bag. You can never have too many in your car.
This packing list will only help if you leave ready to go. Being fueled up for fun is important. Make sure your kids have snacks for the road and you won’t be fighting grumpy kids all day.
Now that you are all packed, you need to choose a destination. Here are my 15 must-do day trips to do before school starts:
1. The library. You won’t need sunscreen, BUT you will need that extra bag to tote home books. Visit a new branch in your library system to add a little novelty and check the events schedule because libraries have all sorts of fun activities for kids all summer long, and they are almost always free.
2. Farmer’s Market. There is so much to learn at a farmer’s market. Browse through the stalls, learn about local farms and what your area produces, and grab some fruit to go with the snack you packed from home!
3. Pool! Check out a pool in a neighboring town to turn this summer staple into an adventure!
4. Go for a hike. You don’t even have to go too far away or climb anywhere near the summit, just get off the sidewalk and into nature.
5. Ride the bus/train/ferry just for the ride. Whatever your local transit system looks like, take a step back and look at it through your kids’ eyes. Then hop on and go for a ride.
6. Play at a new playground. You might only be five miles down the road, but a new playground is rad no matter how far from home you are.
7. Hit the beach ( or river bank, or lakeside) and throw rocks in the water! I know this seems simplistic, but it’s meant to. Kids don’t need all flashing lights all the time, give them a chance to use their imaginations and to be encouraged to just be still. Some of the best conversations with my kids have been whilst throwing rocks into the ocean at the beach.
8. Explore your city or town like a tourist. Grab a map for your local tourist office ( yes that one all the tourists have) and explore the points of interest. I bet you anything you’ll learn something new!
9. The Movies. Skip your local theater and go into the city or out to the suburbs for a new perspective on this more average outing.
10. Aquarium or zoo. These venues can get pricey so check websites for deals before you go.
11. Rock climbing. With the popularity of rock climbing on the rise most metro areas have rock gyms. A quick online search will help you find one in your area. Your kids will sleep well after a day of climbing.
12. Art Gallery or Museum. Art galleries are usually free to explore but aren’t as kid-friendly as museums. Most museums have great discounted rates so check online for the details before you go.
13. Science Center. Many science centers include live shows or Imax movies in addition to great hands-on activities.
14. Paint your own pottery. Make something to remember how awesome this summer was.
15. Tour the fire station. Many fire stations are happy to give you a tour though it’s best to get a small group together and you must call ahead. It’s never been hard for me to find kids that want to go to the fire station to take a tour.
What is your favorite day trip?
As I stated above, this post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company. All opinions are my own.
A few things we’ve had great success with this summer:
*The skate park. He rides his BMX bike, she rides her scooter, and I sit in the shade with my book and the water bottles. (Only downside–picking up interesting new phrases from some of the older skaters.)
*Our library system has “culture passes” that allow 2-6 people to visit local museums and other attractions for free. This summer we’ve been to the Chinese Gardens, a historic mansion, a water park, and the Japanese Gardens. The gardens and the mansion were fun, but our kids’ attention span is such that I would have hated paying full price for such short visits. The water park is out of our price range. So those are four day trips we wouldn’t have had without the culture passes! Maybe your community has something similar.
*A “Roots” trip. If you live in the same state you grew up in, take your kids to see your old house, your old school, your old library, houses of any old friends the kids know or have heard stories about, etc. Then take them to the ice cream place your parents took you to!
*We hit a paved bike trail–him on roller blades, her on the scooter, me on foot. There happened to be a splash pad along the way, and we all got wet in our clothes because it was such a hot day!
Allison McDonald says
I love the culture pass idea and your “roots tour” – I’d have to drive my kids all around western Canada , maybe some day.
Alli @ Taking Care of Monkey Business says
Umm I had no idea they came out with girls scout cookie granola bars! YUM!! And I love the list you put together – what great ideas!