Keeping kids entertained is tricky. Kids can be amused by the smallest things, but they can also forget about their new favorite thing quickly. And if you’re like many parents today, you’re looking for fun activities that don’t involve sitting your kids in front of a screen.
One solution is to get your kids out of the house and take a family trip. Even if it’s just a short day trip, kids love trying new things and going to new places. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best places to take your kids for family fun and bonding.
1. Zoo or Aquarium
Taking a trip to the zoo or aquarium is a classic family-friendly activity. Kids love seeing all the fish and animals, and it can be tons of fun for adults, too. As an added bonus, kids are sure to learn something new. Many zoos and aquariums offer free educational programs or tours, as well as kid-friendly activities for all ages.
It’s easy to check online for a zoo or aquarium near you. Use the Association of Zoos and Aquariums website to search for your nearest zoo or aquarium. You may be surprised at just how many zoos and aquariums are in your area!
2. Children’s Museum
If you’re looking for a fun, hands-on museum experience that your kids will enjoy, search for a local children’s museum. Children’s museums are designed specifically for kids. Instead of focusing on ancient artifacts or old paintings, children’s museums are full of interactive exhibits that teach kids about the world around them.
Children’s museums are great for young children, because the kids can touch everything. These museums often feel more like a big play place than an actual museum. But rest assured, there’s plenty of learning going on in a children’s museum. Kids can learn about a wide variety of topics, depending on the museum.
The Association of Children’s Museums lists hundreds of children’s museums from all around the world. Check out their online search tool to find a children’s museum in your area.
3. Local Parks
Going to the park is an all-time favorite activity for many families. Nearly every community in the U.S. has a park somewhere. These local parks are an ideal way for kids to get in touch with nature and get some great physical activity in.
Look for parks around you that have activities or equipment designed specifically for children. Most parks have a playground area or other kid-friendly activities. Parks can even be a great place for your kid to make new friends as they play.
Even if parks in your neighborhood don’t have equipment for children, you can still have fun. Pack a picnic lunch or bring some outdoor toys for the kids to play with. The best part is, going to the park is completely free.
4. Water Park
Water parks are a fun attraction for the whole family. Wherever you live, there’s more than likely a water park just a short distance away. The water park makes a great day trip and doesn’t require much planning.
If you have older kids, they’re sure to love water parks with wave pools or tall, fast water slides. More and more water parks are including rides that you might expect to see at an amusement park.
However, there are still tons of fun activities for younger kids to participate in at the water park. Most water parks have a wading pool or a children’s area with kid-friendly attractions for the younger crowd. Be mindful of your kids’ swimming abilities. Kids who aren’t strong swimmers should be monitored closely at the water park.
5. Theme Park
Like water parks, theme parks make a great day trip for the family. Of course, going on a big family vacation to one of the most popular parks, like Disney World, can be a blast, but there are many smaller parks around the country.
Many theme parks offer activities or rides just for kids, such as smaller roller coasters, merry-go-rounds, etc. Older kids can enjoy some of the big rides, too, with kids as young as 9 or 10 able to ride roller coasters at most theme parks.
If your kids aren’t into rides, theme parks offer tons of other activities. Disney parks in particular are loved by parents for including lots of activities for small children, like meeting their favorite characters and dining in themed restaurants.
6. Toy Shopping
There’s nothing kids love more than shopping for new toys. Taking the kids to their favorite toy store is a fun experience, even if you don’t have a ton of money to spend. Kids will enjoy looking at all the new toys and playing with them.
Some toy stores, like the Lego Store, have displays that encourage hands-on shopping, allowing kids to play with toys before purchasing them. This can satisfy kids without the need to buy an expensive new toy.
Toy shopping can also teach kids valuable life skills. Have them save up their allowance to buy a toy they want and teach kids the value of saving money. Alternatively, you can set a budget for your toy shopping trip and help your child learn to stay within his/her budget.
Older kids might not be thrilled about the prospect of spending an afternoon at the library, but this is exactly the kind of activity that can instill a love of reading in young children. Just about every town has at least one public library. Take your kid to check out some new books, or find a cozy corner and spend some quality time reading together.
Many libraries also offer kids programs and activities. Most libraries have at least a weekly story time, where a librarian or volunteer worker reads to children. Some libraries even have additional educational experiences, almost all of which are free to participate in. Check your local library to see what kinds of activities you can bring your kid to.