The occurrence of several long weekends from May to September—combined with the chance of good weather—means opportunities abound to spend quality time with the family. The best part? Fun can be found without spending much money.
With three days off from work and school, it can be tough to carve out a compelling itinerary that will keep the little ones occupied. But it’s better to over-plan than be under-prepared. What you want to avoid is the dreaded cabin fever, or early onset boredom.
Make sure you take advantage of the warmer weather. Outdoor activities for children can include a trip to a park they might not have visited before, and swing sets, slides and ball fields are an obligatory rite of summer. A parent’s bag of tricks, meanwhile, can be stuffed with sidewalk chalk, outdoor games, balls of various sizes, homemade bubbles and even kites.
For an added dollop of fun, how about a “sticky note” scavenger hunt? It goes something like this: While the little ones are distracted with a game in the park, write a random letter on sticky note pages. Curl them up and stick them on various places on the playground equipment, such as under slides or swings. The whole game isn’t just to find the notes—the first person to gather enough letters to spell their name, wins!
Go for a mini-hike through national or local parklands. The younger ones can participate by suggesting areas on the map they would most like to visit, to “own” a part of the adventure. Every family member, big or small, can come together to make a homemade trail mix and pack their own baggies of snacks. To continue the journey, book a campsite ahead of time. Set up a tent at your campsite and then make s’mores and hot chocolate and sing campfire songs.
If there’s a consensus that everyone would enjoy putting their hands in soil, try gardening. It’s pretty straightforward to dig and plant, and the excitement for children can be that they choose their own vegetables to grow while learning about the various items they are planting.
If you’re willing to splurge a bit on cost, book a hotel room for the family for a night or two. This will give you unlimited access to the hotel pool and maybe even a sauna, and—if you’re lucky—hotel discounts for local attractions. Choose a hotel with a free buffet breakfast because that’s all part of the fun, too. Parents can benefit from the break by not having to cobble together the morning meal as the young ones enjoy serving themselves.
If you want to take things a step further, extend the trip by scheduling activities in the area near to the hotel. You can try fruit, berry or vegetable picking at local farms, or engaging the young ones in an educational pursuit, such as visiting a local museum or historic monument.
This is also the perfect time to take those long-awaited road trips. Maximize your time by leaving the evening before the long weekend begins. The best part is knowing that a getaway with children doesn’t have to be complicated—perhaps there’s a beach within driving distance where the family can perch for a while.
Enjoy a walking tour of a nearby city, particularly if there are pedestrian malls, tea shops and craft markets, to sample the local culture. And, given this is a long weekend, it’s entirely possible you’ll stumble upon an evening of fireworks. Gather the family on a hilltop or hotel balcony, corral some munchies and watch the show!
Summer long weekend ideas for the family don’t have to be expensive or time consuming: Simple can be fun, too.