Summer is here, and many moms and dads are gearing up for vacations to have some fun and re-connect as a family. While it’s not easy to get around high airfares and gas prices, there are lots of fun and free things families can do on their next getaway. Here are ten of my favorite free activities to engage in when we take family vacations.
1. Explore Public Art Sculptures. If your kids are too young to enjoy art galleries and exhibitions, consider public art sculptures located in many cities across the country. Your kids will love The Traveling Man in Dallas and The Bean in Chicago.
2. Go on an Alphabet Photo Tour. Give each child a camera (a disposable camera will do), a smartphone or an iPod Touch to use on an Alphabet Photo Tour. Start with the letter A and have your children take pictures of what they see that start with that letter, like an antique store or an ambulance.
3. Go to a Free Summer Concert. Free outdoor concerts can be found in just about every city during the summer months, so look for free concerts in the park. These are a great way to introduce your children to various musical genres, as well as to new dances and cultures.
4. Volunteer While on Vacation. It’s easy to re-connect as a family when you take the time to help those in need while on vacation. If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean check into Together for Good, which lists schools and orphanages in need of basic supplies you can donate in-person.
5. Gaze Up at the Stars. Wherever you are, head to a quiet spot, lie on your backs and stare up at the constellations. Check out online kids game, Constellation Hunt, to identify what can be found in the night sky. Many science centers and national parks also offer evening sky watching programs.
6. Splash in a Waterfall. If your vacation plans will take you to a state or national park, scout out the waterfalls. A true reward after a family hike is to splash in a cold waterfall, so pick a park with a few different waterfalls and wear your swimsuit.
7. Try Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor game that revolves around hunting for real-world treasures. Look for hidden containers, called caches, using your smartphone. If you find a cache and take anything out, be sure to replace it with something of equal value, so have the kids pack trinkets for trading.
8. Take a Nap Together. After a busy fun-filled morning, take a break with a rejuvenating family nap. It’s a nice way to bond with your kids and a great way to recharge before a busy afternoon of summer vacation activities.
9. Go on a Picnic. Many parks have picnic tables and restrooms, so pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day in the park. Whether taking in a city park or a national park, go on a fun, exploratory hike with your kids on your way to the picnic area.
10. Plan a Day of Free Family Fun. Pick a day of your vacation and plan a “free day” in which you only do activities that are free, like playing in parks and going to outdoor concerts. A quick Google search for “free things to do” and the city you’re visiting will turn up a number of free events and attractions.
For more family activity suggestions, check out my free ebook, 100 Activities to Do as a Family This Summer. It’s packed with family-focused ideas, tips and advice to help ensure a fabulous summer.
Do you have any tips or advice for engaging in free activities while on vacation? Let us know in the comments section below.