The option of a full-blown vacation is out of the question this year, but you can still achieve many of the same benefits by taking a staycation or playcation around the area, or a mini-vacation at home to take time to recharge your batteries. The key point is to stop the constant flow of normal, every day activities and escape the mundaneness of daily life.
In this hurry-up way of life, many families are looking for ways to slow down and spend some quality time together—just having fun. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and you don’t have to go very far to have a great time.
Here is Black Hills Parent’s top ten list of ways to bring on some serious fun this summer and make the most of family time:
10 Become Daytrippers
When you feel like getting out of town for a while, but don’t want to go far, try a quick trip around the area.
• Go to your favorite lake and slide your toes in the sand on the beach.
• Lace up your hiking boots or load up the bikes and hit one of the many family friendly trails in the surrounding area.
• Pack up the car and head to the Southern Hills to explore all the small towns have to offer. Then go North the next time.
9 It’s All Fun and Games
Few things can excite kids like time at their favorite park or playground, a parade, or bowling for a few hours.
• Visit a playground your family has never been to before or bring the dog for a walk along the trail that runs through town.
• Watch a parade during the day and the fireworks at night to celebrate Independence Day this year.
• Head to your local lanes to bowl for free courtesy of the Kids Bowl Free program. Kids get two free frames every day of the summer at participating lanes.
8 Hometown Amusement
You don’t have to go to a big amusement park in another state to have a great time.
• Go ziplining, climb the aerial rope course and ride the alpine slide in Keystone.
• Head out to Boondocks on Hwy 385 to ride the Scrambler, Octopus, Tilt-a-Whirl and a Ferris Wheel. For the younger kids they have a roller coaster and a merry-go-round.
• Embrace the farmer inside you with a trip to Old MacDonald’s Petting Farm to view animals like horses, goats, and sheep.
• Celebrate Native American culture including history, food, arts, music, and dancing at Crazy Horse Memorial.
7 Go No Further Than Your Own Backyard
Gather up a few items and step outside your door with these ideas to make memories:
• Pitch a tent and sleep out under the stars during the Great American Campout on June 23. Learn five constellations and then identify them in the night sky.
• Pot plants—choose a flower, herb, and a veggie and plant them in a container or your backyard and watch them grow all summer long.
• Bury a bit of the past with a family time capsule. With geocaching technology, you’ll always know exactly where to find it in the future.
6 Rainy Day Pick Ups
Even with all of the amazing weather we have during the summer, there’s always a rainy day that needs to be filled with fun.
• Drag out your favorite board games and sit down for family game day.
• Go puddle jumping and make mud pies.
• Call up a gal pal who has kids that you haven’t seen in a while and set a play date for an afternoon at a local museum.
5 Out With the Unused, and In With the “New”
Too many toys and not enough play time with them? Use these ideas to lighten the toy box and renew the interest.
• De-clutter—each family member packs up five unused clothing items or toys to donate them to a local charity.
• Gather up your rarely used toys and host a toy swap. Invite friends and neighbors and swap your gently used toys—everyone will go home with something “new.”
• Hunt for bargains and funky finds at neighborhood garage sales.
4 Kitchen Fun
Let the kids plan menus, shop for groceries and cook the meals as a way to encourage them to discover new tastes and foods.
• Select fresh vegetables at a nearby farmer’s market to create a delicious family dinner.
• Make personal pizzas. Prepare your own homemade dough (or buy a box mix) and add toppings to your heart’s delight.
• Add fresh fruit to their favorite juice flavor and freeze to make homemade popsicles.
3 Learn Something New
Why not try to learn a new skill with your children this summer? You don’t have to be naturally artistic or crafty to lead kids in these activities; there are so many resources available. All you really need is desire.
• Master a new skill and try your hand at magic tricks, juggling, or telling a joke.
• Check out language acquisition materials at the library and learn a language, even if it’s just a few words like greetings, numbers, and every-day objects.
• Save a life—learn first aid and CPR. Check with the local Red Cross for certification classes.
2 Get Creative
Preserve the memory of the summer by taking pictures, saving mementos, and creating a summer scrapbook as it happens.
• Paint your driveway with homemade sidewalk paint: Mix 1 part water with 1 part cornstarch and add food coloring. (Note: some food coloring may stain clothing or driveway; always test a small patch first.)
• Re-purpose old crayons into new shapes by baking pieces in a muffin tin or oven-safe silicone mold at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or until they’ve melted). Remember to remove paper from crayons before melting.
• Mix up some kid-friendly finger paint with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup corn starch (or flour), and 2 cups of water. Heat in a saucepan until smooth. Add food coloring (or Kool-Aid) for different colors.
1 Most Importantly
Many parents are humbled and continually surprised to find that their kids don’t actually care what the family is doing, as long you’re all together. So smile and have some serious family fun—kids grow up way too fast.
Photos by Legacy Photo and Design