Children have a natural curiosity about the natural world, and most of us remember doing things like climbing trees and looking for bugs as children. Just as being outside invites kids to explore and discover nature, and even concrete jungles, like New York City, have places for kids to get outside and investigate. Studies have shown that being outside increases psychological well-being. Children who do not spend time in green spaces have a greater likelihood of developing emotional issues like anxiety and mood disorders. However, sometimes it can be a little difficult to think of fun things to do outside that will appeal to everyone. To help you get started, here are some fun family outdoor adventures that offer the opportunity to spend some quality time together as a family.
Most people have a natural fascination for wild animals, and once children are introduced to watching wildlife, a love of nature naturally evolves. From parks in big cities to hiking trails in more remote regions, numerous wildlife species can be found almost anywhere there are a few acres of trees. There are places all across the U.S. where you can get away for a few hours. Don’t forget the binoculars and bug spray.
- Local Parks
There are so many parks either in or just outside larger cities across the U.S. that offer places where you and the family can get away for a couple of hours. Examples include Central Park in New York City, Greenough Park just outside of Missoula, Montana, and San Diego’s Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center.
- Back Roads
Get online and locate some remote back roads and take a drive. Drive slow and make a game of it to see who can spot the most animals.
- State and National Parks and Forests
From Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana to wildlife management areas in Florida, the United States is ripe with state and national parks and forests where you can take your family to see a plethora of wildlife species. Just be aware that most of these areas do not engage in any insect control measure due to environmental concerns, so you will want to be sure to pack some environmentally friendly bug spray.
Fishing is a great way for the family to get outdoors, have some fun and maybe even catch dinner. From California to Vermont, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams team with a variety of fish species just waiting to be caught. While adults and older children will enjoy learning to fly fish, younger children will have an easier time with spinning tackle. Be sure to check local fishing regulations and pack some insect repellent lotion or spray.
Some people love it, and others hate just the idea of camping. However, with the right equipment, camping does not have to mean “roughing it”. You can go minimalist with a small tent or two, sleeping bags, and air mattresses, or you can supercharge your camping experience with a large wall tent with a wood stove and cots. Either way, the kids will love help setting up camp and cooking meals. Another option, for those who hate the idea of camping, is what has become known as “Glamping”. Glamping involves taking a wall tent and tricking it out with all the comforts of home, including full-size beds and kitchenettes. While it is a lot of work to set up a glamp on your own, businesses all across the U.S. rent these ready-to-use facilities for a nightly or weekly rate. Whether you are camping or glamping, bugs can ruin the fun fast, especially for those who aren’t crazy about the idea in the first place. Young children can be especially susceptible to bug bites, so be sure to pack the best insect repellent for children you can find.
Mountain biking is exploding in popularity all across the United States. As a result, municipalities from coast to coast have responded by building parks with miles of riding trails. Some of the best parks are found in the most unlikely places, such as Pine Hill Park in Rutland, Vermont that has over 30 miles of trails, with just part of those being an old stagecoach trail that goes all the way over the mountain to the town of Proctor. Another example is 669 acre Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida located just outside of Fort Lauderdale. Get online and find out if one of these gems is located in your own backyard. Alternatively, if you can’t find a park nearby, you can always take a ride along some back-country roads. Inexpensive bike racks that strap onto the back of a car or SUV can hold up to four bikes.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Gently paddling a canoe or kayak across a placid lake while looking for wildlife or fishing is a magical way for the family to spend time together. Rentals are available, or inexpensive secondhand boats can be found online.
There are plenty of things you can do in your own backyard or in a nearby park, such as cookouts, games, and movie night with an inexpensive projector and bed sheet. Here is a list of over 20 backyard games that are fun for the entire family:
- Archery Competition
- Bocce Ball
- Disc Golf
- Flag Football
- Lawn Bowling
- Lawn Darts
- Obstacle Course Race
- Potato Sack Racing
- Scavenger Hunt
- Tug of War
- Water Balloon Fight
- Wiffle Ball
Build a Fort or Tree House
If you are lucky enough to have a backyard, building a treehouse or fort is a great fun family project everyone can work on together. This type of project does not have to be expensive as there are plenty of free building plans available online, and you can probably find free scrap lumber if you ask around. Once finished, it will be a great place for the whole family to hang out on a rainy day and even for the kids to have a sleepover.
While this is far from an all-inclusive list, these are just some examples of fun family outdoor adventures the whole family can enjoy together. Many of these activities can be combined into one super fun family outdoor adventure. For example, take the mountain bikes along on a camping trip and take a ride through the woods to look for wildlife. With a little thought and creativity, you will be surprised how many activities can be done together. However, bear in mind there are tiny dangers lurking in the woods many people do not even consider.
Mosquitoes and ticks live in the forests across most of North America. Because many of these little critters carry diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme disease, be sure to protect yourself by wearing an effective bug spray. PROVEN makes a full line of insect repellents that include environmentally friendly bug spray, insect repellent lotion, and one of the best insect repellents for children on the market. The entire PROVEN line has low acute toxicity, so you can feel good about using it, and products can be purchased online or in stores.