Every summer, when the epic monsoon of rain finally clears here in the Pacific Northwest, we are all like a bunch of super pale vampires around here…we squint at the sun with prune faces in disbelief, we are questionably pale, we require sunglasses and long sleeve layers in our first exposure to it. But by late June, we’ve forgotten all about that and have joined the rest of the world in the glimmering sun. So needless to say, after we lather on that full coverage SPF 50 sunscreen, we’re pretty eager to get out in the sun and finally do something outside!
Let me tell you, if you haven’t heard this yet, the Pacific Northwest is actually very beautiful in the summer, we just painstakingly pay for it all other 10 months with the torrential rain. But back to you my friend. If you’re scouring Google for some fun toddler summer adventures and are still reading, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve also included links, whenever possible to help save you some time searching because being a parent, there’s never enough time in the day and I totally get that. So enjoy the list below and Happy Summer, to you and your Little’s!
Check out the American Hiking Society page to find a hike and to get some quick and easy info for your next adventure out on the trail! They offer a map search page for areas near you as well as hike reviews from others with rants and raves. The page also offers preparation tips and more. Play a game of I-spy as you hike on through and include animals too. Pack a lunch for a halfway point and if you are brave, stop and dip your toes in a stream. Talk with kids about outdoor survival skills and safety in the woods. If you aren’t too familiar, learn some tips together so the next time you go on a hike you can practice them. Here is a link to a page with Hiking Safety Tips and one more about hiking with children. Happy hiking!
Take a Train Ride
Whether you are a parent to a fanatical train loving toddler, or a personal lover of these classic beauties, taking a ride through the countryside is one incredible way to make some memories this summer with your toddlers in tow. Trains are a whoosh of adrenaline and interest for tiny first time travelers, and also allows for that beautiful concept of containment. Just think parents, your kids will have controlled access to a whole new world on board, learning as they go and you won’t have to chase them down! Check out this Country Livings article on Scenic Train Rides for Kids for some inspiration (the train pictures are pretty epic, even my 3 year old agrees), or start simple with Amtrak to get your bearings. They are currently offering up to 50% off children’s fairs at the time of this post.
Check out the Circus
You guys…The circus is still alive!! And those magnificent elephants are also still around! Mirror your inner childhood experience of the circus by showing your children the celebration of the greatest show on earth! Their eyes will widen towards the magic and wonder of this iconic American spectacle. This one is what I like to call “a memory maker.” Good news is, there are still many circuses running, so check out Ticket Master for local listings or utilize Google to find one near you.
Take a Family Ferry Ride
If you are lucky enough to live by a water source, taking a Ferry ride can be just as much an adventure as any destination! The Ferry offers a large upper contained passenger area free for children to explore (recommending supervised). They can take in the fresh outdoor views on the observational decks with the wind whipping around them as they smile at the vast surroundings and raw uniqueness of this adventure. While schedules can change seasonally, just Google search your local Department of Transportation website to find information on ride times etc. Consider planning to pack a lunch or stop for some classic seaside fish n’ chips or even an afternoon ice cream cone with your little ones. Followed by a short walk through the seaside town makes for some sweet summertime memories. Most Ferry schedules run frequently, but be sure to check ahead of time!
Tour a Chocolate Factory
These days, nearly any city has some sort of food factory busy producing something tasty on the daily like chocolate, Ice cream and cheese, just to name a few of them. Children are fascinated by the concept of this and many of these establishments are well aware of it- often making special tours available or hands on activities. Search your local area for one and get your name on the next tour, your children won’t forget it!
Visit the Pet Store
Few to no children would deny the opportunity to go pet some fuzzy lovey sweetie pie baby puppies and kittens. This one is a big win with most babies and toddlers, though be prepared for your kids coercing you into taking one or three home with you! The temptation will be there, but that isn’t always a bad thing! Having a pet teaches children responsibility, and this could be a great companion and opportunity for them over the long summer. I’m just saying… 🙂 You were already thinking it though!
Stop in at the Feed Store
Though not openly advertised, you can go to the feed store and hold some cute fuzzy chicks as well. Talk with your kids about the baby chicks and see if they can figure out what items they would need if they were going to raise them. They can even find their way around the store to point out the supplies. Talk with the helpful staff and learn something new about farm animals. If you are extra lucky, they may let you take a walk back to the horse stables to have a look-sie. Many feed stores board horses and passing through can be a rare yet special opportunity to see the horses too.
Go Berry Picking
Undeniably, one of the best parts of summer is all of the beautiful fresh fruit. Whether you are at the grocery store, a restaurant or on a walk passing by a fruit bush, its evidence is everywhere. PickYourOwn.org is a great resource to find a local farm to do this creative activity. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this activity as it yields a bounty of hard earned goods which is a great way to teach your kids about the labor of manual work and the results it can produce. There is something pretty special about the pride kids feel when they have worked hard to earn something, like this great outdoor idea. This is also a great opportunity to teach them about fruit and vegetable plant life cycles and how fruit is grown if you are familiar, and if you aren’t, learn together! Be sure to bring a an extra shirt to everyone to wear that can get stained up.
Stop in at a Nursery
Nursery’s are a particularly beautiful place to visit in the summer months. They have all sorts of plants in bloom and the fountains are going. It inspires even those with the most novice of gardening skills to pick up a plant to take home, especially kids. Let your little ones pick out a plant, show them the plant stick and explain the different types of environments different plants need (full sun, part sun etc). This is another great way to teach responsibility and ownership of a project. If you have older kids, starting from seeds can also be a fun challenge. Make it into a contest to see who can keep their plant alive the longest, you might be surprised to see who has the greenest thumb of all!
Visit the Local Farmers Market
Venture off to your local market with a few sturdy cloth bags in tow. Though generally a busy place to go, the hustle and bustle of the local market adds to the excitement of the adventure. Be sure to make a plan in case anyone gets separated in the crowd. If you are feeling generous, let your kids each have some pocket money to spend. Let them be in charge of paying, and accounting for what they spend. It will allow them to work on their social skills in communicating with others and some math as well- a win in the summertime away from school! Plus you get some helpers to carry those heavy bags of goodies back to the car when you are finished. Not a bad deal.
Well my friends, though I decided not to include the run of the mill suggestions you typically see over and over again for the beach, aquarium and the zoo, they are still great places to go. However, I just wanted to provide you with some ‘outside the box’ suggestions that can hopefully mix up your summer activities and get your kids exploring and thinking with some non screen time adventures ahead!
What adventures do you have planned this summer? Where is the one adventurous place you want to take them most and what will you teach them about it?
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