Scrolling through social media, it’s easy to get that travel itch. It seems that at any given time, someone is vacationing or exploring a new destination, but when you have children (and even when you don’t), traveling somewhere new isn’t always possible for a number of reasons. It's easy to find yourself feeling “stuck” doing the same things with your children again and again and again.
Being a stay-at-home mom, I am always looking for new and exciting everyday adventures with my kids, not only for them to experience and enjoy new things, but also for my own sanity. Finding new adventures or activities in your hometown isn’t always easy, but if you start looking, I promise you will begin to look at your own city in a whole new way.
I'm sharing my tips on how how to find new and hidden adventures with your kids without ever leaving town:
Ask friends and family for recommendations. This seems obvious, but it’s also something that people rarely actually do. Reach out to some friends or close family that live in your area and find out their favorite thing to do. Ask them what they would suggest for a tourist coming to town for the first time and then ask what they would recommend a tourist coming to town for the third time (to really get them thinking). Chances are they might suggest something that you hadn’t ever thought of.
Find a Moms Group On Meetup. Not only did I meet some amazing women through several meetup groups (as well as some friends for my kids as well), but I also discovered new areas to explore in my city through the scheduled play date locations. If you’re somewhat hesitant or nervous to branch out to new situations, join a few groups and check out their meeting locations - chances are you might find a new playground or park in your area that is super kid-friendly. And perhaps, you’ll find the courage to eventually join in on occasion. I joined a San Diego Mom’s Group as well as a Montessori Preschool Group when my boy’s were younger and met some great people, joined in on some awesome activities, and learned about some new (and super kid-friendly) playgrounds, parks, and beaches.
Join your local Mom’s Facebook Group and ask for recommendations. It seems like almost every area these days has it’s own Facebook group for mothers. You don’t have to interact or participate in the actual group (unless you want to), but this is a great way to find out more about kid-friendly events, adventures, locations in your area.
Join a Homeschool Group on Yahoo or Facebook. Homeschoolers are a great resource for local activities and adventures in your hometown because they are often very involved in the community and are quite knowledgeable when it comes to your city's kid-friendly places. Most city’s have a Yahoo (or Facebook) group that you can join as a homeschooler. You often have to request to be added in order to join. We have been members of both Yahoo and Facebook homeschool groups from the time my boys were very young (and not of schooling age) and I always found out about amazing events, activities, and even field trips in my area that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. My favorite experience to date was the opportunity to participate in a field trip at the San Diego Natural History Museum that was very hands on with my under 1 and 4 year old.
Use Drift. Drift is an app that aims to help get people lost in their own neighborhoods. As you find hidden or unnoticed things, you will be asked to document them with the camera, creating a photographic record of you walk. Drift also keeps track of where and when you took the photos and makes your documentation optionally available for others to view through the Drift website. This is a fun way to turn your routine walk around the neighborhood into a new adventure with your kids.
Find a local nature group. Similar to the Meetup, Yahoo, and Facebook groups that I mentioned above, a local nature group is another great way to find new places to explore in your area. Our nature group introduced us to some of the most amazing places to explore that I had never known existed beforehand and since they were all parents with children, they were all incredibly kid-friendly adventure spots. A few of those places became our absolute favorite places to spend an afternoon.
Look for a brand new playground. Chances are that you haven’t visited every single playground in your city, so google playgrounds or parks in your area and head to one that you’ve never experienced for an afternoon of fun. Even if it’s just a small neighborhood one, if it has swings and a slide, the kids will be happy. Chances are you might even find a new trail or restaurant nearby that ends up being a new favorite place.
Check out a new library or library story time in your area. I love exploring new libraries because they are a great way to spend an afternoon and almost all libraries are kid-centric. We are lucky that our city has some amazing kid areas inside the libraries, in addition to great story times, music classes, and other activities. We have driven 30 minutes in almost every direction to check out the libraries in our area and have found some new playgrounds and parks next to the libraries where we end up spending almost our entire day.
Be a tourist in your own city. Do something really “touristy” that you might normally do. Look on Groupon and other coupon sites in your area for discounted tickets
Head to the nearest body of water. So you might not live by the ocean or a lake and perhaps the closest thing to a body of water resembles a teeny tiny creek...guess what, the kids won’t care, I promise! Simply collecting rocks, stones, pebbles, (really anything on the ground) and having a throwing contest to see who can make the biggest splash is an adventure in itself. Or bring some string and then find a stick you can use as a rod and go “fishing.”
Look up new hikes in your area. I believe that almost any hike can be a kid-friendly hike because when you have little ones in tow, you often aren't truly "hiking". It's more of a meandering while stopping every other foot or so to inspect something on the ground. Often, I don’t make it more than twenty feet down the trail when I’m exploring on my own with three under the age of 5, because they love to stop and explore every single inch of the trail, but those twenty feet are definitely an adventure.
Check out map my run! This is a good way to find new walking/biking/scootering/hiking trails to take your little ones on.
Go to new farmers market or fruit stand. This is a fun adventure to learn about locally grown foods in your area and local artisans. In our search, we were able to find a local fruit stand that was situated on a farm that encouraged my boys to run around, dig in the dirt, and check out the vegetables currently growing. We could spend an entire afternoon there after shopping for our fresh produce.
Take a picnic to a new park. My boys love eating outside and taking a picnic to just about anywhere is an adventure to them. I often pack crayons, pencils, watercolors and notebooks and let them draw or paint something they see.
Search for open spaces in your area. Go to Google Maps and look for open spaces in your area. Chances are you’ll find some big green spots that you haven’t yet visited.
Find new cycling trails. Even when my oldest was 3, he loved riding his push bike everywhere whether it was on sidewalks or across dirt. We love looking up different mountain biking trails and taking his push bike there for some off-roading adventures.
Use social media. Use location search or a hashtag to bring up your city and start seeing what others are doing and where they are going in your area.
Go to a familiar place but do something different. Maybe you have a favorite playground that you frequent with the kids, but you’re itching for something new. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing something different in your favorite spot - maybe this time you fly a kite or bring goals and a ball to play soccer.
Look for free concerts and festivals. There are often a wide variety of kid-friendly activities in every community, so look for upcoming concerts or festivals that your little ones might be interested in attending. In Southern California, Red Tricycle was a favorite resource of mine for local, kid-friendly events currently on in our area.
Take public transportation somewhere. Doing something out of the ordinary can be an adventure for kids and for us that was taking public transportation instead of driving in our car. I took my boys on the trolley to the library one day and we also took the train to the beach. These trips were memorable experiences that my boys continue to talk about to this day.
Go geocaching. There is nothing as exciting to little ones as a real, live treasure hunt and geocaching is about as close as you’re going to get to the real thing.
Urban foraging. This might sound a little out there, but chances are, your city has an online resource for urban foraging. We found one that had a map of all of the edible plants growing in our city that were free for picking! We chose one fruit tree and made an afternoon adventure to find it and bring home our very own wild fruit.
Find a list of museums in your area and visit one. When I found a list of museums in our city, I was surprised to find that there were a number of small ones that I had never even heard of. We visited any and all that seemed at all interesting, even the ones not specifically geared towards children. I found the really small ones to be a great place for my preschooler to ask questions and learn new things.
Look to local school field trips for ideas. The field trips that schools take their students on might spark an idea or two about adventures you can enjoy with your own children. Have you ever stopped by the local fire station? Or your local police station? Behind-the-scenes at your local grocery store? You can also try googling “field trip” and “your city” and you will get a list of kid-friendly places that you might not have thought of venturing to.
Try U-Pick Fruit and Vegetable Picking. We love doing this as a family and have been able to pick pomegranates, blueberries, strawberries, and apples. Look around your area to see what U-Pick Fruit and Vegetable options are available.
Take a tour. You will be surprised at what you can find when you start exploring what tours are available in your area. Depending on ages and interests, we were able to find a bakery tour, a chocolate shop tour, and a behind the scenes tour at a guitar factory!
Try new food. Try out a new kid-friendly restaurant. We found this great asian-fusion restaurant that played Japanese animated movies and gave the kids a Japanese sparkling juice that required you to drop a marble into it in order to release the carbonation. It was something fun and different.
Enroll in a new class. Look for kid classes in your area and take a trial class in something that interests your little one.
Look for Day Trips. Have you ever considered traveling just for the day? Depending on how your little ones handle road trips, look for activities, events, or places to explore within a two hour radius of your home. Pack up the car the night before and wake up in the morning and just go. I made little trips like this often and it was the perfect way to take a trip without truly traveling.
What are your favorite ways to find new adventures and break up the monotony of everyday activities and outings in your hometown?