11 Easy Places to Go with kids
I love planning little adventures away from home during my summer days with the kids. I’m naturally a homebody, so staying home and finding things to do around the house isn’t a big deal for me. However, after so many days, I do notice cabin fever starting to set in. And the kids begin to show signs in their own ways as well.
Staying home means we’re saving money. It’s easy to send the budget out the door when you’re looking for things to keep you busy. But, going out requires some level of planning and prepping. I don’t know any kid that doesn’t leave the house and within 10-15 minutes of being gone they complain that they are hungry, or in need of something. So, while sometimes I dread the preparation and the management of 4 kids out on my own, the need for fresh air and a change of scenery is greater.
A COVID Proof Summer
As a mom, it is in our nature to worry. I picked up the worry gene from my mom, so my tendency to worry is a lot more present than I’d like it to be. Most of the time I can tuck it away and move past it. Now that this COVID thing has come along, it has exposed some pretty strong feelings of anxiety that I didn’t even know I had. COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, and I need to figure out how to feel comfortable with leaving the house on my own with kids.
I’ve had to overcome the challenges of getting out with kids since I became a mother. Having twins my first time around always had some kind of obstacle. Usually, a logistical one. With four kids in tow from the ages of 2 to 10, it can make any outing complicated. Everyone wants something different out of it. I keep telling myself that this isn’t any different than any of the other times that I’ve had to figure things out. The hard part is coming up with where to go that is open and where we can practice our new social norm of social distancing.
Summer Can Still Be Fun
Maybe you’re feeling the same way as me. Maybe you’re not as worried. Maybe you’ve got it down already. Wherever you are in this journey and there’s no doubt we are all in different places, I still thought I’d share what I’m going to do to shake the cabin fever to get us back out into the world to some extent. It’s time to make the most of our summer. In Southern California, finding some of the quieter outdoor spots can get to be a little tricky. If you need that extra nudge like me to get out of your house, or just in need of a few ideas, then read on!
Places to go
1. Nearby parks with trails, paths or open fields
We have a lot of parks in the area, but only a few of them have nice trails. While one is very popular the other is not. I’m not sure why, but whenever I go I usually see less than a handful of people scattered throughout. It is a county park, so you have to pay a fee. $3 is a price I can’t beat to lose the crowds. We can walk, play in the fields, picnic, or bring our bikes and scooters.
Open fields invite a lot of different kinds of play. The last time we went the girls cartwheeled and sang “Ring around the Rosy” with the little one, and had a few good races and a game of freeze tag. When my husband comes along he always brings along the rugby ball hoping he can get the girls to throw the ball around with him.
2. Find a Day Camping Site
While I’m not comfortable setting up camp for the night, finding a place where you can experience some of the camping amenities during the daytime could be just as fulfilling. Lots of trails, a nearby water feature, and picnic tables could make a nice day out.
While hiking could be what you’re aiming for, a toddler in tow can make it tough if you’re on your own. My little girl is at the point where sitting in a stroller is not her thing anymore. So much so that I don’t even keep one in the car all of the time. However, you can find a short walk or your own little place to hang out for the day. You can bring a picnic and enjoy the fresh air. There will be a lot to explore knowing that people go there to camp for several nights at a time. It’ll be enough to keep everyone active even if you’re not getting in the step count you had hoped for. Of course, if your kids are older, you can definitely get in some mileage.
3. Go to a Lake, Lagoon, or Wetland
In Southern California, the beach is the place to be in the summer. The crowds and parking are enough to keep me away. A lake is an alternative that many of us beachgoers often forget about. Skipping rocks, fishing, exploring, and getting a little walk in will give you ample outdoor fun. Another alternative to the beach is the nearby lagoons or wetlands. Lagoons can have some similar beach fun and wetlands often have a lot of wildlife to watch out for.
4. Zoo or Wildlife Preserve
We have a zoo nearby with thousands of acreage, so we plan to head out there soon. It recently reopened, so we’ll give it a few weeks before we go to let the crowds die down. If the zoo is a larger one there are often areas to discover that are less-visited or forgotten about. Head out to those areas to give yourself that extra cushion of space if you need it.
If you do a little searching you may find other wildlife centers in your area. They are often smaller and non-profit or rehabilitation facilities for animals. Because many of them are unknown to the general public they aren’t as crowded. There are at least 2 or 3 in my area that I’ve never heard of, but most definitely plan to visit.
5. Outdoor Gardens
When I first think of an outdoor garden it doesn’t seem like a very exciting place for kids. All I can think of are adults going around looking at foliage and calling them by their scientific names. I have a habit of killing just about all things I try to grow in dirt. Anyway, the gardens are a great place for a nice walk, discovering, listening, and watching. What a great place for a game of “I Spy” or a scavenger hunt. And let em’ run around a bit in a space that is not their home.
6. Ask a Friend
I’m always interested in what others are up to. Think about that active friend that is never home. What are they doing? Ask. Hop onto Facebook or Instagram and see what friends are posting about and ask about it in the comments.
7. Explore your neighborhood on foot or a bike
I have been on a lot of walks since the “shelter in place” started. It was the only way to feel like you were getting away from home. With things opening up you may want something a little more exciting, but maybe you’re like me trying to figure out where to go and how to manage the kiddos. On our several walks we have discovered all sorts of ins and outs of close by neighborhoods, streets we never knew were there, strange homes, creeks with ducks, and a donkey! We live in a pretty big suburb with some rural aspects, but we never knew we had a donkey living behind us. There he was with his owner riding him down one of the side roads close to home.
8. Visit a Horse Ranch
Even if you are not into riding horses or not interested in taking riding lessons, some ranches let you come visit the horses. One of my girls went to a horse camp at a ranch and took a few lessons. We hadn’t been back for lessons in a long time, but we would sometimes go for a walk around the ranch and visit with the horses. This particular ranch had a few other small 4 legged friends that you could go in and pet. It was like a mini petting zoo that didn’t cost a penny. If you do decide to check out a nearby ranch, I would be sure to call ahead and find out if they are open to the public.
9. Visit an Animal Shelter
It’s always fun to visit an animal shelter and see all of the different breeds of animals they have even if you don’t plan to adopt. I’m sure the animals appreciate seeing new faces to play or cuddle with. There are often so many that the staff is not able to give them the amount of attention they need. If your kids are old enough, the shelter may possibly allow them to help out around the shelter.
10. Hike at a nearby National Park, State Park, or Reserve
Now I know that I already mentioned hiking at a park, or going somewhere to day camp, but there are other places to go for hikes, walks, biking, and exploring. I never realized the amount of National Parks, State Parks, or Nature Reserves that were around in my immediate area. Search in your area and see what comes up. They all have a combination of outdoor activity fun to offer.
11. Strawberry Picking or Harvesting
I have always wanted to go to the strawberry fields to pick our own strawberries. I have a strawberry plant growing in my garden (I’m surprised it is still alive), but it doesn’t grow nearly enough strawberries to feed my little strawberry lovers. A pound of strawberries doesn’t even last a day in my house. It could be fun knowing they are helping to get what they love to eat. If you’re not a strawberry lover, find a local farm that is harvesting something you love to eat.
These are some ideas to help get you started. I know there are many more. If you have more ideas you’d like me to know about, share them below in the comments. We need all of the ideas we can get when we’re a little more limited on where we can go.
If you haven’t read my blog post about having a summer schedule with kids, go here. See how you can plan an outing into your summer days.