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As summer begins to wind down and before school starts up and the sun begins to set earlier, make sure you use this last month to get outside with your kids, breathe in the fresh air, run around until it gets dark, or spend a lazy evening on your porch. Here are some of our favorite outdoor activities:

Hiking/Trail walking – Whether you plan a day trip to a specific trail or a long walk along a local stream, hiking gets the entire family outside and active. In advance of the trip, take a trip to the library to check out a book on plant and animal life or search some nature websites online to study up. Then, turn it into a game and see how many trees, flowers, animals, or plant life you and your kids can identify while on your walk. Just be sure to check everyone for ticks after.

Roadside Picnic – Part of the fun of this activity is the sense of adventure and the excitement of the unknown. Take the kids to the grocery store to pick out some snacks for a picnic. Then, pack a lunch and drinks and some activities (Frisbee, jump rope, books) and get everyone in the car. Start driving until you come across the perfect picnic spot and pull over. Or, let the music dictate where you stop, “After ten songs, we’re going to pullover wherever the music takes us.”

Baseball/Kickball/Tennis – All fun activities you can usually find at the local playground of community field/courts. One weekend, make a plan with to play a game. Split teams into parents against kids or boys against girls. Partnering this idea with a post-game picnic or cook out makes for a fun afternoon.

Best Park Quest – Everyone knows their local park. BUT, do you know the BEST park in your area? Do some research online or talk to other parents/caretakers and find out what parks they like (keep it within a 30-minute drive). Then, make up a chart with the kids and pick a new park to explore every weekend. Use the chart to track your favorites. Categories include: Best Swings, Longest Slide, hardest/easiest monkey bars, coolest climbing structure, etc.

Go-carting – While it can get a bit pricey for larger families, go-carting is a fun, special activity to try at least once over the summer – and what kid doesn’t want to try driving before they are legally allowed? ☺

Farmer’s Market – Most communities have at least one local Farmer’s Market or a farmstand during the week/weekend. Make it a culinary adventure: don’t make a list. Rather, pick a vendor and buy whatever ingredient they have in abundance, then ask the stand owner what their favorite way to prepare the vegetable/fruit/ingredient is and make it. Or, buy a bunch of items that might work well together and work with your kids to come up with a new recipe creation all your own! Write down the ingredients and name it after your family or kids!

Story Time Under the Stars – After bath time, when the kids are freshly cleaned and in pajamas, sit out on the porch with some light blankets, flashlights, and candles (keep any open flames far enough away so as not to cause a fire hazard) for a bedtime story under the stars.

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