Sometimes, a day trip is just the thing you and your family need, whether it’s during a stay-cation or when the kids are lazing around the house all summer with “nothing to do” (or so they claim).
Day trips are almost always less expensive than overnight ones, and you don’t even have to worry about packing a bunch of stuff. They can also be great additions to your kids’ education. No matter the ages or number of your children, there’s bound to be a day trip that works for your family. Here are some ideas, both educational and adventuresome.
While some of these are a little pricey, if you’re doing them as a stay-cation they become much more affordable, because you’re not paying for lodging and restaurants.
Going to the zoo is often an unforgettable experience for children. They get to see animals in “real life” that they may have only seen in pictures or on TV. Some children have a particular animal they really like, and they’ll often be fascinated to see it in real life; plus, a zoo trip can make biology lessons come alive.
Other possible destinations with an animal theme are wildlife refuges and petting zoos. Or you can drive into the country or to state or national parks to search for wildlife on your own. Some wildlife refuges have picnic tables and other accommodations, and you can see the animals that inhabit your local area. Petting zoos are a fun way for kids to touch and interact with animals.
Whether it’s from a bridge, a crane, or another approved site, bungee jumping is an unforgettable adventure for older children and adults. Make sure that the place you choose is a reputable, legitimate, legal operation, with trained instructors and a good safety record. It’s a good idea to book your jump in advance. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100.
Once your kids learn to swim, a water park is a grand idea. If you have younger children who aren’t yet able to swim, look for a water park that has a playground, wading pool, or similar alternatives. From water slides to wave pools, a water park is a fun outing for both children and adults.
Here’s a day trip idea that should appeal to the adventurous adrenaline junkies out there! Sky diving involves lessons on the ground first, but usually you can schedule the lesson and the actual dive on the same day. Make sure the school you choose is reputable and certified by the USPA (United States Parachute Association). Jumping in tandem with your instructor is important for safety.
A day at the aquarium is fun for everyone. Kids can see ocean life from all over the world in one place. They can go nose-to-nose with sharks, pet stingrays, and learn about all sorts of fish. Another great thing about aquariums is that all ages can enjoy them – even toddlers and babies love the beautiful, unusual sights, colors, and sounds.
White Water Rafting
Suit up and enjoy a fun day on the rapids. This is a day trip the whole family can enjoy. A trained guide is essential for everyone’s enjoyment and safety. Choose a trip that fits your level of experience and the ages of your kids – most companies offer “classes” of rafting rides, from beginning to advanced.
When you think of museums, do you conjure up images of a stuffy collection of untouchable displays? Think again – museums today are often kid-friendly, with interactive exhibits and other fun features. Some even have programs and activities designed specifically for children.
For first-timers, an indoor rock climbing facility may be the best place to start. If your family is experienced, then go for it – plan an outdoor rock climbing trip! Either way, it’s important to have a good instructor and to make sure you have the proper technique and gear. For newcomers to the sport, consider spending your day trip taking a beginning rock climbing class.
While you can make this an overnight excursion, you don’t have to spend the night in a tent for it to qualify as camping. You can camp for a day with the kids, and they’ll probably love it. Bring food and equipment to the nearest campsite and set up camp. You can even pitch a tent if you like. Build a fire and cook your food over it, and let the kids run around in the woods, go for a hike, or enjoy an on-site playground. If there’s a river or lake, the kids will enjoy wading and swimming in it.
While you have to live in certain parts of the country for this to be practical, whale watching can be just the thing for an exciting adventure on the water. On this kind of trip, you’ll venture out on the ocean in a kayak or boat, looking for whales as they come to the surface. A good guide is essential.
This is a fun outing for kids. A professional stable will be able to accommodate most ages and levels of experience. Very young kids can enjoy a slow walk with an adult leading the horse, and older kids might like a trail ride.
Many companies offer free or very inexpensive tours of their manufacturing plants. And children are often quite fascinated with how things are made. In our area, you can go to a plant and see cars being made. We’ve gone on the Kellogg’s and Jelly Belly tours too. I remember touring Hershey’s as a child and loving it.
One small caveat: These tours are promotional in nature, especially the free ones. So you can expect your children to become “loyal” to that brand. If you’re into home-cooked natural foods, it may be unsettling to have your children now clamoring for Kellogg’s processed cereal instead of your homemade granola. Forewarned is forearmed.
Nevertheless, these tours can be informative, and if you’re prepared to answer the questions about why you don’t buy those products, you can educate them in personal health, finance, and business, all at once.
Also note that some companies place age and size restrictions on visitors. And most have limited hours. Call ahead, so you know before you go.
We’d love to hear about your favorite ideas.
Enjoy… and make lots of memories this summer.