Whether you are in the middle of a relocation or staying put for most of your summer, chances are, if you are a parent, you are already scheming how to keep your kids entertained this summer. Now that life’s rhythms are returning to a sense of normalcy from the past few years of pandemic living, you and your kids might be antsy to get out and get busy enjoying the warmer months of the year without the demands of school.
Before delving into how to find the best activities for your kids in the area, it is a good idea to decide for yourself what kind of summer you hope to have. Are you looking to pack in a lot of travel, some local tourist things, visits to or from friends and family, or simply relax and see how the days shake out?
Instead of panicking at the thoughts of your kids watching hours of YouTube videos or constant sibling bickering, plan ahead to ensure your summer is full of fun and adventure! There are a variety of ways to spend the summer. Below are ten ideas to help you plan your summer.
Visit a Museum
Blue Star Families is a wonderful resource for finding free admission for military families to a variety of museums and historical venues around the nation. Typically around 2,000 museums, nature centers, zoos, and children’s museums participate in this program annually.
Take a Hike
The National Park Service database is a great place to look to see if you can find a new-to-you park to visit for hiking and other fun. You can search by state to plan your next outing, whether it’s exploring a new park nearby or en route on your summer travels.
It might take a few creative Google searches but don’t sleep on the absolute wealth of knowledge the local moms in your area have in their curated online lists of local activities. Simply search the name of the city or area you’re hoping to connect to, with keywords like “mom blog,” or “parenting blog.” Not only do these bloggers find the most fun activities, they also frequently find the best deals on tickets, what days to visit, and even places where kids eat free!
Facebook “Events Near Me”
If you are a Facebook user, you can also check under the “Events” tab to curate your own feed to showcase local activities and events that are advertised there. Be sure you have set your location accurately so you can browse tabs like, “Local,” “This Week,” “Classes,” and “Friends.”
If you are looking for an air-conditioned reprieve from all of the outdoor splash pads, play dates, and playgrounds, look no further than your public library. Most libraries take great pains to plan and execute a robust educational program for kids during the summer. Participate in summer reading programs, storytime, or even some educational classes (most of which are usually free of charge). And if you haven’t done so, get your kids their own library cards. Having access to books at home will be a nice alternative when the weather or everyone’s moods are craving some quiet time indoors.
Churches or Religious Groups
Other local places to look for no-cost activities are local churches, parishes, or religious groups. Many churches offer summer Mother’s Day Out programs, as well as hosting scouting groups and week-long camps or Vacation Bible School events. Frequently these programs are geared toward outreach to the community and do not require personal affiliation with the church in order to participate.
American Camp Association
Speaking of camps, the American Camp Association (ACA) has a searchable database of nearly 4,000 camps and 13,000 programs. Whether you are looking for kid camps, family camps, day camps, overnight camps, or even camps for your older teenagers to work at during the summer, ACA is a trusted resource for putting you in touch with the camp that’s right for you. You can sort and refine your search by location, cost, accessibility for special needs children, specialized activities, and dates.
Local Government Website or Social Media Pages
Another great place to look for local activities for your kids and family happens to be your local government website or social media pages. Many of these .gov websites will have community tabs labeled, “Live,” “Work,” and “Play.” Under the “Play” tab, there are often sub-links to parks and recreation activities, dog parks, facility and equipment rentals, as well as walking trails.
Nearby Military Installations
If you are affiliated with the military, your local installation is an excellent place to get a pulse on local activities. Whether it’s the annual 4th of July Freedom Celebration, outdoor concerts, or movies on the lawn, most bases provide a great lineup of summer events. Additionally, the local Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) office can put you in touch with tickets to sporting events like the local minor league baseball team as well as help you get set up for programs like Waves of Honor and Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Program.
Word of Mouth
Another overlooked way to find great activities for kids is to simply ask around within your community. From neighbors, other parents, sports coaches, to even your child’s school, just ask! Often it’s the people you know best that end up having the inside scoop on community fun and opportunities. Are there sports clinics, summer child care, or academic enrichment camps put on through your school?
Hang Around the House
Finally, don’t forget that the goal of summer is not to simply go as hard as possible with planned and scheduled activities. Both kids and parents greatly benefit from significant downtime. It’s okay for kids to be bored here and there; it generates ingenuity and creativity in its own way. Theater camp, wandering a museum, catching bugs at the neighborhood park, and joining the neighborhood swim team are all great ways to spend a summer; but so is just hanging around, being together, and doing nothing!