Summertime … and the livin' is easy.

By now, your kids are probably out of school and headed off to day camp, sleep-away camp, making plans with friends or just hanging out at home. As nice as the first blush of summer is, eventually they'll get bored and/or you will begin to pull your hair out always having them underfoot. Before it comes down to that, put a few days aside throughout the month to check out some fun, local attractions. We've compiled a list of places that can usually be found in nearly every neighborhood or a day trip away.

Swing into a new 'hood
The local playground is a great place to hang out, but after awhile, everyone can use a change of scenery. Why not try another park a few towns away? Even if it's smaller or doesn't seem as exciting to you, kids always look at "new" things with fresh eyes and excitement. It also might be incentive for them to try something new: monkey bars, a slide, the tire swing, things they might otherwise not have been able to try at their local park suddenl can suddenly look inviting when you change the scenery.

How does your garden grow?
Choose a small plot of land in the backyard or even a few large pots and plant a vegetable garden! It's a little too late to start most seeds, but you can buy small plants (relatively inexpensively) from a nursery and get a jump start. Herbs like basil, mint, oregano, chives, rosemary, thyme, and parsley are easy to care for and you can use them to flavor your meals! Have the kids help you plant and water the garden. Then, when it's time to cook with your herbs, get them involved in the process. It's the perfect opportunity for them to see how our food makes its way from the land to the table!

Water, Water … not everywhere?
If you don't have access to a pool, ocean, lake or pond, but are dying to take the kids for a dip, check out your local hotel. Believe it or not, some local hotels with pools allow area residents to use their pools (for a nominal fee, usually around $5-$10). It's the perfect opportunity to go for a dip without having to pay the big fees that come with joining a local pool or private swim club. And, there's always a lifeguard on duty!

Teddy Bear's Picnic
Plan a picnic for your children and some of their friends. Have them send out an invite to one friend each inviting both them and their favorite teddy bear, stuffed animal or doll to join them! Make little tea sandwiches by cutting the crusts off of the bread, bring some lemonade and fresh cherries (the perfect summer combination!) and cut up some veggies. Pack it all in a basket or cooler with some towels or sheets to sit on and head out to your favorite picnic spot (ours was one behind the local library, allowing for both picnic fun and a post-lunch visit to the library). Better yet, throw some books into your basket and a boom box and spend the day lazing around. Make it even more fun by inviting some parents to join you!

Day Trippin'
Some of our most memorable childhood trips have been the simple day trips to the beach, nearby lake or into the city for a trip to the zoo, aquarium, or even up to the country to check out a farm or horseback ride!
Hint to parents: the aquarium is tops on our list since it's air-conditioned and mostly indoors. The perfect way to cool down on those extra-hot days!

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