The Summer Fun List: Things to Do Just Beyond Your Own Backyard!

5 Ideas for Summer Fun
Image adapted via Great Family Road Trips

No matter what your game plan is for the summer–a week-long vacation with family or town camp for the kids or even a summer camp at home–there are going to be those days when the kids are bored, and the very idea of taking them to the playground down the street yet again makes you cranky. That's when you need a summer-fun list–a list of creative places to visit that are just beyond your own backyard, or maybe an hour or two in the car, but when once you arrive, a whole new adventure awaits.

Here are 5 ideas for your summer fun list …

Storm King Art Center
Image via Great Family Road Trips

Idea #1: Visit An Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Some families are cut out for visiting art museums. Unfortunately, ours is just not. I spend most of the time chasing my kids around, begging them to shush and pleading with them to not touch anything. So when I learned that there are fantastic outdoor sculpture gardens that I can visit with my kids, where they don't have to be quiet, and can run around and be kids, I was sold! And while they still aren't supposed to touch anything, I don't need to worry that someone is going to put fingerprints on a priceless piece of artwork (for goodness sake–the sculptures are outside in the elements!).

What's amazing is that these parks and gardens are everywhere–you just may never have heard of them! The International Directory of Sculpture Parks and Gardens provides a listing by state, along with links to each attraction. Some are free and may be housed on a corporate or a college campus, while others may charge for admission.

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One of our favorite sculpture gardens is Storm King Art Center, located about two hours north of NYC and is widely considered to be one of the world's leading sculpture parks; it's on over 500 acres! But what's so amazing is the gargantuan size of the pieces!

Mammoth Caves
Image via Great Family Road Trips

Idea #2: Take a Tour of a Cave!

Caves are fascinating to kids, which is why a cave visit should definitely be on your family's summer-fun list! I am not sure if it's the dark, the cool air, being underground, the wonder of how the cave was discovered, or what might have lived there. My kids love seeing the stalactites and stalagmites, especially in places where they have merged together into columns, but the best part of visiting a cave is when you are fortunate enough to get a great tour guide–one who makes the history and the facts of the cavern come alive for the listener.


Not far from where we live, my family has visited both Howe Caverns as well as the Lost River Cave, but the granddaddy of them all was when we visited Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.It was amazing! If you are interested in checking out some caves that are close to you, Wikipedia has a full list of caves by state.

Image via Momof6

Idea #3: Hike to a Waterfall!

Taking your family on a nice hike to visit a waterfall is a great thing to do! Waterfalls of almost any size are quite awe inspiring and not only for the kids! Last summer, we ventured a few hours north of our home to hike and swim at Minnewaska State Park and had this incredible waterfall all to ourselves. It was fun to imagine what the first explorers to this area felt when they stumbled upon Mother Nature's masterpiece. Of course, all of the paths weren't carved out for them as they were for us, but we could still pretend!

{ MORE: 4 Family Friendly Spring Activities You Haven't Tried Yet }

You can find a listing of waterfalls by state and height here!

Image via Momof6

Idea #4: Take the Kids to a Minor League Baseball Game

Our three older boys have all spent several springs playing little league baseball, and our entire family loves to get a pick-up game going in the front yard now and then, so venturing out to see professionals play is indeed an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon or evening in the summer with our kids. We just want the outing to be reasonably priced! Enter: the Minor League Baseball Game!

Played at a real ballpark, complete with real players, ballpark food, and entertainment, minor league tickets are inexpensive, fans are generally well-behaved, and you'll have a great seat because the parks are small in size. It is also hugely entertaining for the kids with mascots walking around, and the hilarious games and antics occurring on the field between innings. We love to go and cheer for our local team, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

{ MORE: 5 Tips for Camping with Your Baby }

You can find a listing of Minor League Baseball Teams by State here.


Image via Momof6

Idea #5: Take a Factory Tour!

My kids love to watch the show How It's Made on the Science Channel, so I knew they would enjoy a factory tour! You have to check carefully into the factory tours that you sign up for, because some of them are more show than tour! But last summer, we ventured over to the town of Corning, New York, and visited the Corning Museum of Glass to see how glass is made, and boy were we impressed! We loved checking out the glass-blowing demonstrations, as well as learning about all of the different ways glass is used in our everyday lives.

We have also visited a potato chip factory, a cheese factory, and an ice cream factory. Food tours are of course the most fun! You can find a listing of factory tours by state here.

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Got any ideas for fun trips just beyond your now backyard? Please leave a comment and share them with us!

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The Summer Fun List: Things to Do Just Beyond Your Own Backyard!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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