Summer is the best time to go on a few family trips. Vacations to new and exciting places are always fun, but sometimes you need just a simple day trip or an afternoon activity. Here are 10 simple ideas for summer field trips. No matter where you live, you should be able to go to all or most of these locations.
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1. Nature Center – We love our local nature center! Our favorite is a 20 minute drive away, but it’s still close enough for an afternoon trip. Have you checked out your local nature center? You may find hiking trails, classes, a visitor center, ponds, geocaching opportunities, and other activities. Most importantly, you’ll find examples of local plants and wildlife. Check out Tips for Observing Nature With Small Children and Hiking With Young Children to make the most of your nature center trip.
2. Pond, Stream, or Lake – These wet areas are always full of amazing wildlife, although, most often the wildlife is of the tiny variety. Take along magnifying glasses and see what you can find. If you want to explore the water, you can make underwater viewers like these from One Time Through. Spend the afternoon exploring all that you can.
3. Public Library – If you don’t already take advantage of your local library, you should. Go to story time or just pick a time and explore. We always have a giant pile of books we’ve lugged home from the library. Libraries aren’t just books, though. You can find music, special programs, local history, and more. Take advantage of all your local library has to offer. Here are our 10 Ways to Enjoy Your Public Library for more ideas.
4. Pick-Your-Own Farm – If you don’t have your own garden, you can visit a local pick-your-own for a lesson in gardening and food science. It’s always eye-opening to see that food doesn’t just come from a shelf in a grocery store. Check out pickyourown.org to find a nearby farm. (This site has listings in the US, Canada, some European countries, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.) I found you-pick strawberries, apples, grapes, and a farm specializing in Asian vegetables nearby. How much fun is that?
5. Nearest State Park – Do you have a state park nearby? State parks have a wealth of outdoor and historical information. You can find hiking trails, beaches, fishing docks, picnic spots, or canoe rentals. Some of our state parks will even loan out fishing gear or geocaching equipment. To find your nearest park, your state should have a website listing all the state parks. Take a peek and go visit. You won’t be disappointed.
6. Farmer’s Market – There are so many lessons to learn at the farmer’s market. Learn about the food that grows in your community, meet local farmers, count money, and then take your purchases home for a fun cooking lesson. Localharvest.org can help you find your closest farmer’s market.
7. Local Garden – Many cities, colleges, or museums have public gardens you can visit. We’ve got a nearby arboretum, a Japanese garden, and a small kitchen garden we can visit. Many of these even have free admission. Stroll around and take a peek at all the unusual plants. Bring along a few books and have story time in the garden. Just enjoy the time in the garden and have a delightful afternoon.
8. Local Museum – There are small and sometimes quirky museums in many communities. We’ve got a prairie life museum that even includes a small village in our town. Was there someone famous born nearby? I bet there’s a museum. Did a famous historical even happen nearby? I know there’s a museum. Do a little Googling and see what you can find nearby. Enjoy a little local history and learn some fun new things in the process.
9. Nearby Small Town – Take a day and go visit a nearby small town. Explore the shops and spend some time in the park. Check out the visitor’s center, if they have one. Have lunch in the local restaurant. Take your camera along to take some amazing pictures. And, if they have a museum… don’t miss it! You never know what interesting things you will discover. Check out The Flourishing Abode for inspiration. They’ve even got a fun 5 Places of Interest challenge and printable.
10. Antique Store – What? Take kids to an antique store? You must be kidding me?? Hear me out on this one. Not every antique store is appropriate for small children and this may not be the best idea for a toddler who grabs everything. But, most kids will do just fine. I’ve taken both of my girls (at the same time) to look through an antique store. It’s a fun place. Check out old furniture. Leaf through old postcards or browse through old books. Antique toys are always a hit. Explore a bit of history and see some of the things their grandparents or great-grandparents enjoyed. It’s a fun, and free, way to explore the history of every day people.
Are you planning any fun summer field trips?