Adults and children alike can feel overwhelmed by the regular day-to-day; work, school, and running a household takes a lot out of everybody. Taking some time as a family to get away from it all and focusing on each other for a weekend can often boost everyone’s spirits and be a much needed recharge for the whole family. Whether or not the sun’s shining, taking a staycation is a great way to reconnect and relax, and this time we have some outdoor recommendations you can follow any time of year!
Go camping in your backyard
- Prep your backyard for fun! Treat this as if you were going to drive out to a far-off campsite and “pack” all the essentials. The whole family should pitch in just as they would at an actual campsite and construct the tent, prepare the cooking area, chop some kindling, and set up the camp decorations.
- Pre-plan your meals and store them in a cooler. Get the camping grill, fire pit, or bonfire ready and tables and chairs set up before you start “camping”. If you are stumped on food ideas, check out some creative campfire recipes - https://www.freshoffthegrid.com/52-camping-food-ideas/
- Figure out sleeping arrangements, whether that be in a tent or “cowboy-style” directly under the stars. If it’s cold out and you’re avid campers, break out the winter-weather sleeping bags, the camping trailer, or just call it a night and sleep in your “cabin beds” until morning.
- Plan activities or games that you would normally take out camping. Corn hole, ladder ball, card games, or even some coloring books can be enjoyable and relaxing when you’re outside.
- Set the ambiance with lighting. You can use string lights, tiki torches, or propane lanterns to create an inviting campsite.
Look for state parks within an hour drive
- Many state parks have nature centers that offer some great educational material about the local wildlife and ecology.. Depending on the popularity of a state park they may not have content specifically geared towards children, so a quick Google search before setting out is a wise decision.. State parks usually have trails marked safe for kids, and often a park ranger is on-site to answer any questions you may have. You can find state parks near you that you didn’t know existed here.
Plan a stargazing night
- Look for any upcoming meteor storms, celestial events, or just an especially clear night and set a date.
- Choose a location as far away from city lights as you can and wait until the sun has fully set to get the best look at the stars.
- Pack a blanket or lawn chairs and don’t forget the binoculars! Of course packing snacks is recommended - consider making star shaped cookies or rice crispy treats to take with you.
- Wear layered clothing. No one likes being cold, and your little ones will lose all interest quickly once they start shivering.
- Bring a map of the stars or use a star locator app. This is a great time to teach children about constellations and the meanings behind them.
Visit a local lake or river if weather permits
- Pack a picnic and plan to spend an afternoon at the local watering hole.
- Have your child pack a backpack with their favorite books, snacks, swimsuit, and games - https://kiddietotes.com/backpacks/
- Be sure to bring life jackets or arm floaties if you’re going to venture into the water.
- Consider bringing some goggles or a snorkel mask with you. Kids love to explore underwater, and can spend hours pretending to be a fish or turtle.
- Plan a scavenger hunt for items found at the location. Put together the hunt beforehand so you can give it to your kids once they need a break from being in the water.
- Pick some rocks to paint at a later time when weather dictates you stay inside (be sure to check if natural items are allowed to be removed). Once rocks are painted, it is a lot of fun to hide the rocks in your neighborhood or local park for others to find and enjoy.
- If it’s later in the year and the water has a thick layer of ice on it, that’s a great time for some milk jug curling! Fill up 8 milk jugs with water and add a few drops of food coloring to make 4 jugs of one color and 4 jugs of the other. Leave them out overnight to freeze and once you arrive at the river clear a patch of ice to form your lanes. Everybody has their own rules, but a good set to follow is making zones worth different points and trying to knock out your opponents jugs to boost your score.
Go to a sporting event
- Pro and amateur sporting events are a great way to kill a few hours. Pro games will require tickets for entry, but many recreational games are free to the public.
- Bring a cushion for bleachers, or pack lawn chairs if they are allowed at the venue.
- Pack your own snacks if the venue allows. This way you will keep costs down for your sporting day. Venues may have a bag policy, so check before you go.
- Seeking out different sports may help your child figure out what sports they might want to try. Getting kids interested in exercise early is a great way to keep them healthy the rest of their lives.
- Keep your expectations low. While many kids will love the thrill of the game, others will be bored to tears sitting still for several hours may be difficult for some kids, just as it is for adults. Make sure to get up from your seats and walk around at the end of every quarter or at halftime. And remember, they’ll probably mimic your excitement level, so get them in the spirit of the game!
Having fun as a family doesn’t require a flight, hotel, and itinerary;. there are so many ways to entertain your kids in your own city. A little planning and creativity can go a long way with ensuring you and your kids don’t feel that you missed out on a vacation.
Tags: camping, lake, river, vacation, staycation, stargazing, sporting event, local, state parks, family, home