Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy outdoor activities as a family. It’s fun to visit the local zoo or national park, go berry picking, and spend time at the pool. These activities are definitely fun, but where does a family go when they are looking for something off the beaten path? Here are some family outing ideas that you might not have considered that are not only fun, but also inexpensive (or even FREE).
The zoo is a wonderful place to see a variety of animals, but once you’ve been to your local zoo once or twice, you might get bored seeing the same animals. Or perhaps you’re concerned with the way these animals are being treated at many facilities or you struggle with the ethics of animals in captivity.
Consider instead a visit to a wildlife sanctuary where you can see animals living in a home where they are cared for and live as close to their natural habitat as possible. A wildlife sanctuary is a place where abused and abandoned captive animals are brought to live the rest of their lives with dignity. Visiting a place like this is contributing to the humane treatment and rescue of animals rather than using them for entertainment.
Most wildlife sanctuaries and reserves are free to the public though they may request donations to help offset the costs associated with running the park.
Do you think that learning about history on your next family vacation will bore your kids to tears? Think again! The history of our country involves such a wide range of themes that there is truly something to please everyone.
From the Gettysburg National Military Park to the Old West feel of Tombstone, Arizona, to a tour of the White House…if you think beyond museums, you can surely find a way to capture your family’s interest. You can visit St. Paul’s Chapel, Parish of Trinity Church in New York City, which was filled with debris but not destroyed on September 11, 2001 and became a central point for Ground Zero recovery efforts. Many of these historic sites are free too.
If the local pool is too crowded and you don’t want to shell out a heap of cash to visit a water park, you might prefer a natural swimming hole. These are more common than you may realize.
The Boiling River in Gardiner, Montana gives you a meeting of river and hot springs temperatures which combine perfectly. The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico stays at a comfortable 64 degrees year-round, allowing divers to enjoy it whenever they are in the area. Blanchard Springs Caverns in Fifty Six, Arkansas is a unique and amazing experience and known as living caves due to how the caverns transform over time.
You can find natural swimming holes in your area by visiting SwimmingHoles.info.
Nothing is as relaxing and bonding as spending time together as a family in nature. Depending where you live, this can be hard to come by. Next time you are looking for a place to visit, why not try a nature reserve?
Nature reserves are areas of land protected in order to preserve what may be endangered habitats and their flora and fauna. Study and research may happen here, as well as observation. Find out what preserves may be near your area at the Nature Conservancy site and be sure to spend at least a day in one of these beautiful areas.
Geocaching and Letterboxing
A few years ago I wrote about Urban Adventure Quest, an urban scavenger hunt. If you haven’t done one, I highly recommend it. However, if you don’t live near one of the cities where they are offered, you can capture some of the same excitement and adventure through geocaching and letterboxing.
For geocaching, you search for hidden boxes using GPS coordinates. For letterboxing, you solve clues. With either activity you end up exploring places you probably pass by often but don’t pay attention to so it’s a wonderful way to see your local area from a new perspective.
Hopefully you’ve found at least one new idea to try this summer. If you do try any of my suggestions, please come back and let me know what your family thought of the experience. Also, please share your own ideas in the comment section below.