Whether you’re in charge of a group of children or you’re heading out with your own, you want to go places that entertain both you and the kids. Visiting an assortment of places with children isn’t just fun. It teaches them how to conduct themselves in different situations, helps them learn about their environment and, perhaps most importantly, creates enduring memories for them. And a bonus: There’s nothing like watching children have new experiences to help reawaken your own wonder about the world. The three rules to follow no matter where you go are to stay safe, to have fun, and to bring along games if you’re going to be in the car longer than 30 minutes.
Cultural Fun Places
Visit your local art museums, checking to see if any offer free admission 1 day per week. Look into local theater productions of family plays. During the winter holidays, check out productions of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” For a crew of sports fans, take kids along to college sports events or to check out a baseball, basketball or football game. If the kids are old enough, movies at the movie theater are a special treat in these days of video streaming, cable television and DVDs.
Natural Fun Places
Go beyond the neighborhood parks and make a day trip to a state park, the beach or other natural feature such as dunes, mountains or desert. If there’s an arboretum or horticultural center in your area, take along a field guide and camera. Bike. Bring a picnic. Play volleyball. Go sledding.
Amusement Fun Places
If you have a lot of energy to burn, take your kids on a roller coaster of a day. Seek out miniature golf courses, amusement parks, water parks or arcades. Generally, these are located outside or on the edge of city limits. Call ahead of time to make sure the kids are big enough and meet the age requirements for the particular park.
Educational Fun Places
Visit zoos, aquariums and even science centers. Tour history museums and historic sites. If you live in the city, then day trips to tour old Civil War sites, ghost towns, Native American mounds, historic houses and recreated villages, when combined with special local dining experiences, can be an educational treat. If you’re in a small town, head to the city for the big museums, going straight for the big hits: dinosaurs, animals and cool science exhibits.
Food Fun Places
Eat at food establishments that are kid-friendly. But don’t restrict yourself to the usual hamburgers, pizza or fried chicken places. Take the kids to sample foods that may be new to them. Try dim sum. Try an Indian buffet, Ethiopian food, Vietnamese soup or Brazilian steak. If the kids are already food aficionados who’ve sampled a wide variety, then change the venue. Cook together and take the picnic to a local park. Strike a balance between variety and favorites, taking requests sometimes, but other times teaching the kids to go on food adventures.