Set up a scavenger hunt
Whether you make a specific list of things found in nature for everyone to bring back or just ask that each member of the family find one item to represent each letter of the alphabet, a scavenger hunt can be hours of good fun. A challenge for one and all, either as individuals or divide everyone up into teams, if you have younger children, and make sure there’s a super prize at the end of it! (Hint: the dollar store is a GREAT place to find the prize!)
Picnic at the park
Nothing says lazy days of summer like lounging on the grass, soaking up a little sun in a park with a cooler of goodies, some Frisbees, soccer balls, blankets and pillows. So why not continue the tradition in fall? Even better if the park has a splash pad or some other way to cool off that’s still open after Labor Day, but even if it doesn’t, a fun game of paddle ball can work up an appetite for sandwiches and fruit salad like nothing else. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Meet the neighbors and start a game night
Are there other families in your neighborhood? If you don’t know them already, now is a great time to deliver invitations for a family game night. Perhaps a neighborhood water balloon fight? Or maybe an epic round of charades or capture the flag? It can become a regular thing for everyone to look forward to, putting down tablets and turning off the television for an evening of laughter and good times while there’s still evening light! Even if you don’t have other families who can join in, a family game night is one of those traditions that everyone begins to look forward to and can be carried throughout the school year.
Family outdoor movie night
Going to the movies with several adults and kids can be a little hard on the wallet, with the parking, tickets, and snacks. Improvise your movie night! Many theaters have family movie days, where the films are low cost or even free. And look for local outdoor movie nights, where you can bring blankets and snacks and enjoy a flick in the great outdoors. If these don’t grab your fancy, just set yourself up at home with a big bowl of popcorn and treats, pillows and blankets, and a rental that everyone can enjoy. Take turns picking out what you will be watching so that everyone gets a chance!
Go on a nature walk
Support your local parks and trails and head out on bike or on foot with the family. Look for plants, flowers, trees and animals that are indigenous to where you live. If you’re more adventurous, add in rock climbing, zip lining or canoeing.
Get into the yoga habit
Check out your local yoga studio for an introductory (often free or low charge) lesson for families. You can learn some basic poses and practice the art of relaxation as a family. Who knows? You might enjoy it so much that it becomes a part of your weekly routine throughout the school year too! Downward dog anyone?
Make a fairy garden
It is said that fairies that visit a garden bring good luck to the family who welcomes them! But to get them to come, you must build them a home! Build them a tiny house (popsicle sticks are perfect for this) decorated with flowers, paint and stickers, all in wild colors. That is all you need to entice fairies to your garden. Dig a path, line it with stones, put in a bush or a ‘tree’ and don’t forget a tiny welcome mat. If you really want to wow your kids, leave a treasure in the house and when your kids are safe in bed, switch it for a fairy sized thank you note. The looks of surprise and joy on their faces will be worth the late night garden run!
Go camping at home
Going camping in the backyard (or a friend’s backyard) is a great way to enjoy the spirit of a camping expedition without losing the convenience of things like running water and toilets! Not all kids are comfortable sleeping outdoors at first, so a trip to the yard with tent and sleeping bags is a great introduction to a camping adventure, right at home. Don’t forget the flashlights, s’mores and the ghost stories!
Catch a sunrise
Take an early morning hike to see the sun rise. Pack a breakfast picnic and enjoy the brilliant colors that spread across the sky at dawn before it gets too chilly.
Become the local tourist
Get to know your own city or town and pretend you’re a visitor. Put together a series of themed tours and you might be surprised at what you learn. Ideas include: an architectural tour, historical tour, museum tour, restaurant tour, shopping tour, parks and lakes tour.
Whatever you do with your family this summer, remember that like the season, childhood doesn’t last forever: so take the time to play. You won’t regret it.
Grainne Kelly is a Family Travel & Entertainment Expert, and a former travel agent who revolutionized the child travel industry by inventing BubbleBum (http://