By Karen Hendricks
I feel summer slipping away… August always seems like a frenzied rush of activity–preparing for school days and yet desperately trying to savor a few more sweet summer days, and stashing a few more precious memories away for safe-keeping. It’s a balancing act for sure!
Deep breath… It may be August, but it’s early August, and there’s still time to enjoy a getaway (or two)!
One of my favorite getaways is also one of the easiest to plan: Taking a family hike in a state park or forest. Even if the trail is only a short distance from your home, being in the woods is an adventure that takes you worlds away. Our family has picked up a few tips through the years, but feel free to comment and leave your own tips as well!
- Pick a destination with appeal. Choose a mountaintop, a waterfall, vista or other similar feature as a goal to reach. It makes the trip worthwhile on many levels!
- Plan your route. Most parks have trail maps available on their websites, so you can “study” your route ahead of time, and tailor your total mileage to your family’s fitness or age-appropriate level. Or, seek the advice of a park ranger and ask for his/her recommendation for a trail your family can tackle.
- Just like the Boy Scouts, be prepared. Bring a backpack stashed with a small first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, and snacks such as granola bars and/or apples. Either include water bottles in the backpack for everyone (although this could be heavy to start!) or bring a second soft cooler-type bag for the water.
- Be observant. Encourage your children to keep their eyes open for natural wonders: types of trees, interesting spiders and other insects, animal tracks (or even animals!), flowers, etc. You literally never know what you’ll encounter around each curve in the trail.
- Be healthy. Exercising is a great side benefit for everyone, and the fact that you’re exercising together as a family is even better! Wear a pedometer or track your distance using an app on your phone, for your total mileage.
- Record a few memories. If you still have a hand free, bring a camera!
Most admission to state parks or recreation areas is free, so you’ll also be planning a daytrip that’s easy on the family budget… another worthwhile benefit.
Summer (Brain) Storms
Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about day trips, and how much our family enjoys heading to our nation’s capital for getaways. (Click here for Daytrip: Washington, D.C.) I opened the discussion up on Facebook and asked friends to share their favorite daytrip destinations. Wow, did they respond with some fabulous ideas! Check out the results of their brainstorming:
- Inner Harbor, Baltimore (Thanks, Julie!) and another friend suggested dinner at Baltimore’s City Cafe, followed by a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert (Thanks, Judy!)
- “Lititz, PA is fun, especially Wilbur Chocolate Factory” (Thanks, Wendy!)
- Strasburg Railroad, in Lancaster County (Thanks, Paulette!)
- “I personally always loved going to the Catoctin Zoo (Thurmont, MD). Even after my oldest outgrew it and my youngest is on his way, I still love going. It is a wonderful, tranquil park-like environment with hands-on feeding opportunities. The saddest day was when “Griz” the grizzly bear passed away. I felt like I lost a good friend that day. Highly recommend!” (Check out local zoos and wildlife refuges in your area–Thanks, Jen!)
- “For an indoor break when it’s rainy or just way too hot we go to the Summer Kids Free movies at the local theaters or use coupons for free bowling through KidsBowlFree.com.” (Thanks, Melaney!)
- “When it’s nice out we have been visiting different local parks and recreation areas using the “Roads To Freedom” program through the Adams County Library and the “Go Outdoors York” program through the York County Library. Their programs are like letterboxing where they give clues at a park to send you on a walk to find the pencil rubbing posts.” (Check your local libraries for similar summer programs and thanks to Melaney for this idea also!)
- Another friend suggested area parks, especially ones with lakes for swimming and/or boat rentals. (Thanks, Christina!)
- I will add one more… check out area sporting events. They will nurture your children’s love of the game, whether it’s baseball or soccer, or anything in between. Tickets to MLB games are often offered in family-friendly packages, or head to a minor league ballpark where tickets are even more affordable and include fun “extras” such as fireworks or t-shirts. Soccer games are also a lot of fun, whether at the MLS or USL level. Or take a drive to visit an NFL training camp. Or forget watching sports, and participate by enjoying a round of miniature golfing!
Take time to enjoy these fleeting summer days of August… and as always, feel free to share your ideas and thoughts. What are your traditions for these August days? Do you feel in a daze, wondering where summer went? Share your strategies for savoring every last drop of the summer, below. 🙂
For even more inspiration, check out some of our previous, related posts: