This time of year can be wonderful, with its lovely weather and family vacations, but what if your family wants to stay close to home this year? How will you give them a summer to remember? There are still lots of great ways to entertain your family even if you never leave town, and many of these outings will not even require you to leave your neighborhood.
Take advantage of being outside this summer with these inexpensive and family-friendly activities that put an emphasis on nature and local history. There is no need to break the bank to show your family a good time when everything you need can be found right outside your door.
It's only a few times a year that perfect weather and vacation schedules combine and we head to the beach for a long day of relaxing and playing in the sun. You probably most often visit the beach you know well...the one near you, the same one everyone else goes to. Why not spend an afternoon touring other beaches in your area? (Lake beaches count too!) Don't bother lugging all the food and gear--just grab the family and go. Maybe you'll find a hidden gem this summer. Then, the next time you go to the trouble of packing half your house to spend a day at the beach, let it be the beach you discovered as family. You might even get to have it to yourselves.
Better gardeners than I spend hours, weeks and months tending to public gardens. These gardens are gorgeous displays of nature's beauty and they are sitting right in the middle of your town. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic while you take in the sights and scents of the stunning garden. Grab your camera and take some shots while you're there. You might even take something frame-worthy on your visit.
Okay, this may take a little more time and energy but it still won't cost you a cent. Create a map and some clever clues about things only found in nature. Prepare the kids to go on a neighborhood tour. In teams, including a responsible adult of course, unleash your family. The first team to return with all the items listed can have ice cream for supper, or choose the movie for movie night, or stay up late. Or why not all three?
Tour Your City
Have you ever considered hopping on a tour bus and getting an education about your own city? Tourists do this all the time because the tours are both entertaining and informative. You'll enjoy learning about the place you live and you'll likely be surprised at how much you didn't know. We are quick to dig in to the places we visit but we tend to skip the local tourism scene. At the very least you'll be able to impress your friends with your local knowledge at the next get-together.
Camp in Your Own Backyard
Best laid plans, right? We always talk about this but when it comes right down to it, setting up the tent and lugging everything into the backyard seems like a lot of work. The kids will get cranky and ask for their technology and we'll give in and end up back inside the house with a mess to clean up, right? Instead of going all out, just take out the necessities for the evening. Set up the tent and remember that all the comforts of home are just steps away, so don't panic if you forget your bug spray or an extra blanket. Explain to the kids what you expect of them before you venture out and let them surprise you with their maturity. Leave the back door open and cuddle in for the night. Your kids are going to love this one. You might even get a kick out of it, too.
You see, you haven't spent a cent except for some gas money and a bus ticket or two and you've taught your family how to enjoy and appreciate the town where you live.