I always have a vision of how amazing summer break is going to be: me and the kids sleeping in, spending lazy days relaxing at the pool, everyone getting along and the laundry magically doing itself. And it usually is that great–for the first week or two. After that, I remember that when you have little kids the pool isn’t actually that relaxing, and we’re going to need to figure out some alternate destinations to keep boredom (and bickering) at bay. Here are 10 of our favorite places to go when we need to get out of the house during the summer (or frankly, any other time of year).
1. The library. Ok, the library might not seem like the most exciting place, but most public libraries actually offer a host of activities, classes, reading programs, etc., that are a great way to keep kids busy over the summer.
2. Museums. A museum visit with the whole family can be pricey, but many museums have free or reduced priced days that let you take advantage of all they have to offer without selling an limb to afford it. Just remember those days will likely be crowded, so consider planning your visit in the late afternoon/dinnertime, when many families will have already headed home.
3. City festivals. Just about every weekend throughout the summer one of the cities within an hour from our home is having a festival day. Swiss Days, Fiesta Days, Rodeo Days, you name it. There’s usually lots going on to make a visit worthwhile: performances, rides, demonstrations, etc. Oh, and the food 🙂
4. Farmer’s markets. My kids love the farmer’s market! Even if you don’t plan to load up on fresh produce (and why wouldn’t you?) a walk through the farmer’s market will usually offer lots of see, many different homemade foods to try, and sometimes even musical performances.
5. The park. Summer is a great time to explore different parks in your area. It’s amazing how different toys can make the same old park visit a lot more fun. Some cities even have “Explorer Parks” or “Adventure Parks” that look like castles or pirate ships.
6. U-pick farms. If you’ve never taken your kids to a U-pick farm, it’s time to google the closest one in your area, because this just may be the cheapest fun your kids will ever have. My kids ask all year long when we can go back to the raspberry farm!
7. Public transportation. Ok, I know public transportation is usually more of a nightmare than a fun outing, but when you’re four years old, riding a bus is pretty darn awesome. If your area has a light rail train you can take for a ride, even better. We once took a day trip in Seattle and my kids’ favorite part was (no joke) the ferry ride from one place to another.
8. A campfire. Camping is great, but it takes a lot of equipment and a lot of planning. When our kids were all little, we’d skip the actual camping and just spend an evening outside with a campfire instead. All the fun of s’mores and family time without any of the work (or bad sleep) of actual camping.
9. A splash pad. Splash pads are perfect for younger kids. They love running through the sprinklers, everyone gets to play in the water, and I didn’t have to worry about keeping multiple little ones from going under. Win win.
10. Chuck E. Cheese’s. When my oldest three were young, Chuck E. Cheese’s was one of our favorite places to go when we wanted to spend a few hours having fun without spending too much money. I took my youngest there last week and I was impressed with how long she had fun without going through that many tokens.
Chuck E. Cheese’s now has a lunch buffet option offered M-F from 11 am to 3 pm. It’s $5.99 for adults, $3.99 for kids 3 and over, and free for the littlest ones in your group. The buffet we ate at included fresh salad, 4-5 varieties of pizza, and a cinnamon dessert pizza. It was a great option because the kids could play for a while, eat a few slices of pizza, play some more, and then eat some more, all without arguing over which kind of pizza to order. They loved the Spaghetti & Meatballs Pizza, while I really liked the new Thin & Crispy pizzas. The pizzas are made fresh (never frozen) and are cooked to order for the buffet. You can find the nearest Chuck E. Cheese’s by using the store locator found here.
My daughter had a blast at Chuck E. Cheese’s. The games are perfect for her age (she had fun with the mini air hockey table) and there’s even a jungle-gym area kids can play on without using tokens. The hit of the day was, of course, when Chuck E. Cheese himself came out to say hi and throw extra tickets.
My favorite part about visiting Chuck E. Cheese’s is the kid check system. When you enter, an employee stamps your hand and your kids’ hands with a matching number, and everyone is checked before leaving to make sure the kids are going out with the same adults they came in with. That means I can sit and chat with mom friends while the kids play without being worried the kids will wander outside without me.
One lucky reader gets to win $100 to Chuck E. Cheese’s! To enter, visit Chuck. E. Cheese’s on Facebook, then leave me a comment telling me why you’d like to win. Contest will end May 23rd 2016 at midnight. Winner must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. Once contest is closed, winner will be contacted and will have 24 hours to respond in order to claim your prize. Good luck!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chuck E. Cheese’s. The opinions and text are all mine.