Stuck for ideas on what to do with the kids this summer and don’t want to spend a fortune? Rania Walker shares her top six summer activities for kids and families that won’t cost an arm and a leg and are sure to provide fun and memories to reflect back on for years to come!
Hold onto your sanity moms and dads, it’s that time again! School’s out and the kids are chock full of energy and delight in anticipation of all the adventures and outings that await them. And who can blame them? This is what they work so hard for throughout the year—especially in Canada where they spend half their lives indoors, just waiting for the warm summer months to escape the classroom and explore, play, swim, boat, bask in the sun and travel. Luckily we have some great friends with cottages (did I mention how great those friends are??) and we’re able to schedule in a few camps to add some excitement and memories to their summer holidays. But since most of us can’t spend the summer at the cottage or vacation for an entire 10 weeks, here’s a list of WEplusTHREE…or more’s Top Six Summer Activities for your Family:
- Transit Tour—While this may sound a bit out there, most of us living in suburbia or more rural settings rarely get the chance to tour the ‘city’ on foot or via public transit. My kids have always loved train rides and subway rides, so why not plan a day where you pack a picnic, plot out a trip to an urban park or lakeside parkette, and get there taking various forms of transit? We planned one such outing two years ago where we took the subway to a bus to a streetcar to a ferry crossing and then, when the day was done, we headed home via train. It wasn’t as taxing or tiring as you think and we didn’t have to worry about traffic. In between, we explored local shops, especially for special treats, and then had a picnic by the water. The kids still talk about this adventure and for the cost of parking and gas we made a memorable day they’ll never forget. Oh and the various pictures we took in transit (pun intended) were hilarious! Local transit is available in most regions across the country and you can plan out a trip with the kids on-line first, through various neighbourhoods rather than a park, making an expedition out of the day.
- Geo-caching—While not everyone understands what this is all about, one of my good friends assembled a bunch of moms, dads, and kids at her place with the requirement that we showed up with five to ten small items (from home or the dollar store) and some water bottles. She then took us Geo-caching through a ravine nearby. This glorified treasure hunt was great fun for all of us and was a chance to really have a large group of friends with kids be able to spend a few hours together where the kids were fairly contained (really, they were laser-like focused on the hunt), worked in a team environment, and got to know each other better. There are lots of ways to approach this, and a simple, pre-set treasure hunt may be all you’re interested in, but for a real experience in geo-caching, check out www.geocaching.com
- Conservation Trails—I know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but last weekend we were introduced to yet another magical trail/forest/conservation area by some good friends of ours. Right off a fairly busy street we entered a secluded, beautiful trail in Ancaster, Ont., managed by the Dundas Conservation Authority. Before we knew it we had spent an hour-and-a-half roaming through the trail. We found an “ancient” tree limb or vine that the kids could safely swing on. I could go on about how many beautiful and amazing things we saw and did, but that’s for you and your kids to discover. Plan a picnic or pick up some food along the way, and maybe bring some marshmallows with you—we’ve happened across a fire pit a few times now that others were also using to roast some hot dogs. Easy and fun. Just remember to bring your water and some bug spray (and if your kids are like mine, some band-aids for the inevitable scuffs and scrapes). While there are trail listings across the country, Hike Ontario is a good place to start. Did you know that Hamilton, Ontario is called The City of Waterfalls? One of our favorite waterfalls is there—can you guess which one? Hint: it’s actually the same height as Niagara Falls.
- Museums & Galleries—Every day can’t be a sunny day so why not plan for the odd day at the museum? Every city, town and village has a local museum, heritage or discover centre. Why not take the time to learn a little more about your local history or the people who impacted your region? Even better, why not pick a place within an hour’s drive (or train ride—see Tip #1) and check it out? By far the best listing of museums and galleries I’ve found is actually on Wikipedia. There is also the Virtual Museum which can be a great starting point for your next outing, rain or shine!
- Open Air Markets and Arts Spaces—I love Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Being from the Greater Toronto Area, there are lots of other lesser known areas that showcase different artists and creative sites, like The Distillery Historic District, but Harbourfront really is a great place for kids that you can explore for little to no cost at all. Throughout the country there are places like this that explode with activities, exhibits and shows for the summer months. You can’t really go wrong planning a day in one of these areas, even if it’s just to get an ice cream—remember the adventure is sometimes in the journey, not just the destination.
- Family Camp—Have you considered family camp instead of the traditional sightseeing vacation? In some cases, family camp may be more affordable than a vacation to another country or a fancy resort. You and your brood can spend quality time together soaking in the rare moments, away from smartphones, TV and the Internet, amid camp’s breathtaking outdoor setting.
These are our top six ideas for summer activities, what are yours? We’d love to add your favs to the list, so please share your best ideas with us!
For more Tips and Ideas from WEplusTHREE…or more, go to Our Blog at www.rwspeakboutique.com.
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Do you have some other ideas for activities to do with the kids this summer? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.