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