Summer… extra sunshine, maybe some leisure time? Need a few ideas to explore somewhere new? Or maybe these lists can serve as a quick reminder of those places you haven’t visited recently. Check out these places, near and far, to visit by yourself or with loved ones this summer.
Kayt’s List for Keeping it Local!
- 1. Your local zoo or aquarium – you don’t have to take kids with you to enjoy viewing animals at a zoo or aquarium – if you live close enough, you could even consider getting a membership and taking regular short trips instead of having to feel like you have to get your money’s worth in one day.
- 2. Your local botanical gardens – a wonderful place to experience the vibrancy of life year round, since many of these places have both indoor and outdoor portions – if you’re especially fortunate, you may have a butterfly house version near you.
- 3. Your local farmer’s market – explore your local farmers and produce, and if you live in a small town (or even a major metro area), consider visiting a town nearby, to experience a different take on the market.
- 4. A local park or nature trail repeatedly through the year – keep a nature journal (or maybe just pictures on your phone with a tag?) of the things you see throughout the year, and get excited to welcome them back next year, and the year after that.
- 5. Your closest tourist destination (landmark, museum, state park or national park, etc.) – most people rarely (if ever) go to the local tourist destinations, so take advantage of where you live and go at off-peak times.
Ruth’s Tips for Summer Trips
As of writing this, my kids are ages 10, 9, and 6. My husband and I love to plan a weeklong or more summer vacation. We are planners, and I like to glean ideas (online), and pick and choose what fits our family needs. A couple years ago, I listened to a podcast conversation that discussed how family trips can tell powerful narratives. And, I like to think that we plan more intentionally as we adventure together as a result of this and other helpful tips and advice for traveling.
- 1. Explore Nature – Sunday afternoons have been great for outdoor adventures for our family. We drive to a county or state park, take a hike, and enjoy what the area has to offer. In summer months, we do this on a grander scale – finding nature that vastly differs from our region. The Black Hills of SD, Yellowstone National Park (maybe not this year?), Everglades, FL have all provided unique flora and fauna for our family! What an incredible, creative God we get to celebrate as we explore!
- 2. Junior Ranger Program – If you have preschool and school-age children, enough said! I’ve loved the resources they offer for national landmarks and national parks (Very worth the small price for buying the books or printing them in advance, but it greatly enhances our children’s learning about the places we visit). If you have a 4th grader, print the free national park pass for your family1!
- 3. Visit people along the way – Long road trips are fun, but we have found joy in driving a route that includes a brief visit (meal or overnight stay) with friends or relatives. Kids enjoy meeting other friends, and adults enjoy a leisure meal conversation. Plus, it’s so fun to see other people’s local environments that they call home!
- 4. Engaging stories from past and present: Stop at the places where important events happened. When we were in Minneapolis, we took an hour to visit the memorial for George Floyd and talk about abuse of power. When we visited Memphis, we walked to the park where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last speech and we drove past the Lorraine Motel and discussed the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Dr. MLK. When we travel to Boston this summer, we will walk the Freedom Trail and talk about the ideals of American democracy, as well as the shortcomings. We often choose places based on engaging stories that need to be told and may be unfamiliar to us, sometimes happening upon these stories based on “the locals” recommendations.
- 5. Celebrate your Current Season: What do you enjoy? If you have children, what do they love? It’s so fun to celebrate the stage/season of our kids – Galaxy’s Edge and Andy’s World (from Toy Story) at Hollywood Studios (Disney World) became the Christmas gift this year as we enjoyed imagination and creativity through rides and adventures. Great children’s museums, parks, and zoos have also been helpful for making decisions on activities.
Bonus tip: Embrace whimsy! We’ve seen the “World’s Largest Popcorn Ball” three times, because it’s there … and it’s a pit stop distance from our home! Travels rarely go as planned.
- 1. A local fishing/swimming hole—my kids sometimes get tired of swimming at the local pool and thankfully we have quite a few fun “watering holes” nearby that we can visit when that happens. We usually grab fishing poles, sand toys, snacks, and some friends. The change of scenery and the natural setting is often just what we need.
- 2. A local u-pick fruit orchard—every year growing up we would visit a local strawberry patch where we could pick baskets of homegrown berries for eating, baking, and freezing. I’ve carried on this tradition with my kids and our local patch has added a few more amenities since my childhood, so we can get ice cream or strawberry flavored donuts and can also visit their petting zoo while we’re there.
- 3. A new walking/biking path—If you get tired of the paths you bike or walk most often, take a day and travel to a different local town to journey down their bike paths. Pack a picnic lunch to eat along the way or take a long your books to read during rest breaks.
- 4. The library—As a kid, this was always my favorite place to visit during the summer. The library often has a summer reading program chock full of activities for kids and even adults. Participate in a reading challenge or join a book club!
- 5. A bookstore—Find a local independent bookstore and wander the aisles. You’ll probably meet other readers and can also peruse the shelves to find a new author or genre.
- 1. A neighbor – Summer is a great time to build community ties. Have neighbors over for a bonfire or connect with them over a meal.
- 2. An unexplored space – Most of us drive by some park, restaurant, or other spot that piques our interest in some way, but never enough or at the right time to get us to stop. Take the summer as an encouragement to check one of these out.
- 3. A historical site – There are so many great resources out there today for connecting with the past, but almost nothing connects us with the people of the past like seeing where they spent their time.
- 4. The night sky – if you can get to an open space with minimal light pollution, summer is usually a nice, temperate time to do so. One of my favorite summer activities is walking through our local prairie, where millions of fireflies do their best to imitate the sparkling vastness of the sky above.
- 5. A bucket list item – We’re headed to Hawaii again this summer for my parents’ 40th Anniversary. Big vacations certainly don’t have to be an every year thing, but they can absolutely define a childhood and provide a sweet memory that far outstrips their monetary cost.
This summer In All Things is light-heartedly including recommendations, tips, and joys that we would love to share with you, readers, in the format of Top Five Fridays, switching up our themes each week. Share a comment if there is a “Top 5” topic you’d like us to explore.