Time and time again I hear families complain about two things – how expensive it is to take their kids anywhere and how little time their kids spend outside. Outdoor adventures kill two birds with one stone. Instead of driving hours to pay a pricey theme park admission just to spend most of the day waiting in line and to overpay for junk food, why not consider an outdoor vacation? You don’t have to be a health nut or a treehugger to appreciate a nature-oriented vacation. Outdoor adventures can be tweaked to fit your own family’s unique wants and needs. For example, families with young children can spend a cozy night in a cabin on a lake, or families with older and more adventurous kids can hit a zipline course. There’s an outdoor adventure for every family and every budget. Here are just a few ideas your own family might enjoy.
Public parks are a great place to spend the day. Most parks containing at least a lake offer fishing and sometimes even canoe or paddle boat rentals. If you’re looking for some new scenery, then head to your nearest state park for a nature hike.
Camping is one of America’s great family traditions. Pitch a tent in a rustic campground at your nearest state park for some unadulterated family time, or rent a cabin at an outdoor resort; there are options to suit every family. Everyone likes a good old fashioned wiener and s’mores roast, but grilling steaks in your finished fire pit can also be something fun and different for young members of the fast food generation. Research your park choice in advance – while virtually all of them offer some form of hiking or fishing, some also offer activities like horseback riding, rafting, canoe tours and rappelling. Also, most resorts now offer pontoon and ski boat rentals. Zip line and high wire courses are also gaining in popularity at nature resorts around the country.
If you really want to immerse your family in everything that an outdoor adventure has to offer, then planning is the best way to ensure that your kids are truly entertained. Many outdoor adventures for the family are planned around one big attraction – like the Grand Canyon – or one major event, like white water rafting. Because such attractions regularly pull in thousands of families a year, you can rest assured that the area they’re in has grown and evolved to cater to the crowd.
Know what points of interest are high on your priority list and make reservations in advance. Also, know the weather before you plan your vacation and be sure to check for seasonal restrictions on events in some areas. Plan your agenda with the kids, and allow each of them to choose at least one aspect of your adventure, whether it’s an activity, a meal or even just the hiking trail you take. If you’re heading to a more primitive area, be sure that you have everything you’ll need for the duration of your vacation, since it may difficult or even impossible to get more supplies without a major detour from your adventure.