Let’s Go Park Hopping!

A day out with the family doesn’t have to be an expensive affair.  Go Park Hopping to explore your community, get silly, and enjoy the day together spending your creativity, not your cash. 

Let's Go Park Hopping

As we penned this year’s Summer Fun poster at the end of May, everyone taking turns adding to the list, I wrote Park Hopping to a chorus of, “Huh?  What’s that, Mom?”  Last week they finally solved the mystery!

How to have an extraordinary Park Hopping Day.

Park Hopping is simply hopping around to different parks in your area and enjoying the activities each location offers.  Take as much or as little time at each park as you want.  Go armed with activities and assignments, or wing it.  Pack snacks or a picnic, or feed the famished troops when you get home.  The only right way is your way!  (You don’t even have to visit a park.  Empty school playgrounds have fun equipment.)  With a little creativity, the ordinary becomes extraordinary!

park hopping

Make a map of the parks you’ll visit.

Since we were visiting a fairly small, local(ish) town, we decided to wing it this time.  We drove until we saw a park.  We unloaded the vehicle to play.  We loaded back up after 15-20 minutes and drove to another park.  Wash. Rinse. Repeat.  If you’re in an unfamiliar town or want to be certain to visit specific locations, print out a map ahead of time and have the kids mark off each location as you get there.

Pack a picnic.

It could be a full meal deal, or just a few snacks.  Don’t forget the drinks!  Spread a picnic halfway through your park hopping route, or divvy a fun snack after each park playtime.  String cheese, fruit, a sandwich, and granola bars would all be handy eats for kids who don’t want to settle long enough for a full meal.

Learn a lesson.

The great outdoors is ripe with fun learning opportunities.   For the littles there are colors and numbers and counting.  Our big kids impressed me when their social studies teacher dad quizzed them on the states with a playground mural.  Take a break under a shade tree and read a book.  Pack some crayons and paper and go on a scavenger hunt.

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Ready, Set, Go!

So many parks, so little time.  Set a timer for your crew so you don’t spend all your energy at one location.  Maybe challenge the kids to do as many activities (swing, slide, monkey bars, tether ball) as they can in 15 minutes.  Keep hoppin’!

Skip the jungle gym.

Not all parks have playground equipment, and that’s okay!  One park in our area is set up for frisbee golf.  Another has a fantastic walking path.  Try some new activities and environments to mix it up a little. Bring the stroller or carrier for the tiny tots!

Up for a challenge.

My kids enjoy competition and stay better focused with a task.  For the ultra Type A planners (i.e. not my children’s mother) you could scout out locations ahead of time and create a scavenger hunt or “assignment” list specific to that location.  Or, make a Bingo Board for your park hopping day.  I’d stick with 16 or 25 squares for this one.  Hop on one foot, climb up the slide, do a cartwheel in the grass, write your name with sidewalk chalk, drink a juice box, race dad to the basketball courts, throw the football to mom, go down the slide with the baby.

Be all there.

Don’t forget to swing.  Swig some juice with those tiny little straws.  Hop on one foot to the car.  Never mind the sand in your shoes. Be in some pictures and let someone else take a few.  Our kiddos will remember Park Hopping as a fun day for the whole family.  Don’t sit this one out, Mom!

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What ideas can you add to the mix?  What would make for a fun park hopping day for your family?

 

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Comments

  1. It was always fun to take my littles to the park! We’re kind of outgrowing those days, although we still enjoy going and we enjoy walking/scootering at the park.

    And we have some really great parks!

    Park hopping is a fun idea.

  2. What a fun idea. I am filing this one away for when our baby (and hopefully other future children :) ) get old enough to do fun things like this.

  3. Absolutely LOVE this idea! We are going to try and make this happen in the fall when cousins are in town! Thanks for the great idea!!!

    We play hide and seek at our favorite park…which is more hysterical than an actual game b/c there aren’t a lot of places to hide. This also makes it more fun for the 3 1/2 year old to enjoy though, so really, its a win…we all leave with side aches because we laugh the whole time. Dad trying to hide behind a tree that isn’t wide enough and Mom crouched down behind a big rock or the water fountain are always crowd pleasers that the kids crack up at! So easy and so fun!

  4. Amy, I was inspired by your park hopping idea this last weekend. I had run across a map from a neighborhood not too far away on the internet and saw this convenient 2 1/2 mile trail with at least 5 playground lots along the way. I convinced my husband to go with me, the kids, and the dogs on what would be this fun Saturday adventure of park hopping. We arrived at the starting point and began to follow the paved trail that promised to be marked the whole way; it wasn’t. In less than a quarter of a mile the trail forked without a sign, so we guessed. Walked another 1/4 mile to find the trail we were on ended at a street and didn’t seem to pick up anywhere else. We walked in all directions and decided to turn around because we must have taken the wrong way. In the meantime one dog leash breaks, one dog wants to go in the direction we aren’t, and the kids are wondering where the playgrounds are. We hit the other trail, quickly found a playground, didn’t stay long because we were immediately attached by mosquitoes, continued on to find the trail end again at a street. Obviously you are supposed to live in this neighborhood in order to use (and figure out) the trails (there are signs posted that says so). The suggestion of laid out plans while going to an unknown place is a good idea as I returned home with grumpy kids and two dogs in trouble. Maybe next time:)

    • Oh, nooooooooooo! Good thing the girls are a little older. I don’t know if my little people would have dealt well with that situation. ha!

  5. Stephanie S says:

    I did something similar to this. We live in a medium sized town with lots of schools and parks. This spring I drove around and took pictures of all the different ones and put them in a photo book. At the start of summer each Friday is “Friday Field Trip” and each child got to look through the album and choose a park for that morning. Being in the middle of my 4th pregnancy I don’t think I could handle a full day of it but the kids loved being the one to choose where to go. Next summer we might have to try this idea to keep it fun and new.

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