Need some summer boredom busters? Look no further!
Go on a park-palooza. I have a friend who spends an entire day traveling from park to park with her two children. She and her kids choose a variety of area parks in advance, map them out, and pack a lunch. They then spend 20-30 minutes at each park, going to several in one day. Think of it as a day-long road trip, not to mention a good way to try out some new area parks with your kids! — Kristin Demery
Down by the riverside. One of my fondest memories from when I was growing up are of the times when we were on vacation. My parents (probably just my mom if I were to be honest here) would go to the store and buy bread, sandwich meat, fruit, and chips and then we’d find a spot along the river to take a break for our picnic lunch. I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches but my favorite part of the picnic came AFTER we ate. It was then that we got to climb around on the rocks in and around the river. Sure we fell in occasionally — sometimes on purpose. So, here’s the deal, you don’t have to be on vacation to enjoy this. Just pack up a picnic and head to your closest river or creek. If you hate packing picnics, stop at a local fast food spot. The real fun is in the river anyway. — Nancy Holte
Treasure hunting a la geocaching. Regardless of where you live, If you have a smartphone and a free geocaching app, you very likely have dozens, perhaps hundreds of “caches” located within 50 miles of your house. My family started on the geocaching adventure last summer with our then five and three year old. Although my kids were too little to find the caches on their own, they LOVED trading tiny bits of treasure (think random little items such as marbles, washers, and stickers) collected from your junk drawer at home and signing the tiny log books. And honestly, my husband and I returned to our childhood as we hunted high and low for cleverly concealed caches based upon clues once our smartphone put us within 20 feet of the prize. Who didn’t dream of being a pirate with a hidden treasure at some point during their youth? — Julie Fisk
Kids bowl free. http://www.kidsbowlfree.com Who doesn’t have memories of sliding down the lanes, hearing the ten pound ball hit the floor and knock over a pin here and there? Kids Bowl Free is a program to help keep kids safe and entertained this summer. With hundreds of centers across the United States and Canada, you are sure to find a site near you. The program is simple enough to sign up for, and will include up to two free games daily (or on program days) all summer long! For parents who don’t want to miss out, you can add parents on for as little as $25 too. Shoe rental rates will still apply, but be sure to keep your eyes open at garage sales and thrift stores to build your own collection of bowling shoes. By the end of the summer your whole family could be ready to go pro! — Esther Aspling
City splash pads. http://www.familyfuntwincities.com/cool-off-at-twin-cities-area-splash-pads Summertime adventures spent with my children have always been a highlight for me. My adult children tell me it was for them, too. We have several favorites, but when thinking of FREE activities, we have enjoyed the city water pads. They are colorful water toys and sprinklers in city parks that are totally free! Here is a link to area water pads. — Kathy Banta
To infinity and beyond. This beloved activity has been one that has been passed down in my family. I have fond memories of doing this with my dad and have continued the tradition with my own children. On a clear night, grab a blanket, your kiddos, perhaps some bug spray, and go. In our family, jammies only add to the adventure. We load everyone up in the van and head out to an area park that is far from city streetlights. Then we simply lie on the blanket and watch the stars. Sometimes we have been lucky enough to catch a falling star or even been treated to fireflies in our midst. As our children grow older, we have even prepared by grabbing a constellation book or storybook from the library, but in all honesty, the stories we make up marveling at God’s creation have always been more entertaining. Although not free, our kids love going to the drive-thru for ice cream on the way home. The giggles shared (because they are in jammies) only make the night more memorable. — Kandy Noles Stevens