This is a guest post by Nancy Parker
You love to take your kids to new places, but you really don’t have the money. Where can you take them that are fun for them and free for you? Well, here are five great ideas for fun day trips with your child. They’ll love the adventure and you’ll love the price.
I know what you’re thinking. Why Ikea as the number one place? It’s just fun! Not only do they have a play-land for kids (free babysitting!) but it’s just entertaining to go through the huge store with a little kid. They see things you’d have missed. The multi-colored kitchen utensils are a huge (and useful) hit, the countless and diverse stuffed animals, the solid wooden toys. The children’s rooms are a load of fun. It’s like going to a sleepover, but in five or six different houses. Your child will love crawling in the child-sized beds, playing with the miniature stoves, flicking on and off the child-safe lights (ladybugs and stars), hiding under the giant leaf canopy, and they even have a little tunnel and slide combo that both your child and her stuffed animal friends will enjoy. Plus, most of the toys and things they can actually pick up and beg you for are under ten dollars
2. Pet stores/aquarium stores
It’s the zoo. For free. And indoors! Little kids love animals. What better place to see them up close and personal, without wearing yourself out? In fact, sometimes a pet store is even better than the zoo. The small enclosures mean your child won’t have to hunt to see the animals, and the wide variety of pets (most of them small enough not to be scary) allow kids to enjoy themselves without getting overwhelmed. For older kids, try an exotic animal store. I have seen ones with lemurs, iguanas, sugar gliders, and hedgehogs. But watch out for the snakes. Some pet stores specialize in fish. Places like Aquarium World have a giant fish tank, similar to one you would pay to see in an aquarium, but for free. The goldfish ponds are enjoyable for kids, and some stores even let you feed them. The variety of brightly colored, fast moving faunae will astonish your children. I always loved the sea horses best- underwater horses! But my brother loved the baby sharks. Even the eels don’t look as scary under the sparkling blue water.
3. Jewelry stores
Something like Claire’s or any other low-end jewelry store are best. Girls love jewelry, and little girls love shiny things best. What better place to take your little princess? Claire’s has even little-kid-friendly jewelry: Dora the Explorer, Strawberry Shortcake, Hello Kitty. Tiny purses and tiaras, feathered boas and headbands, it’s a dress-up wonderland.
4. Sports stores/outdoors stores
Got a kid that loves sports? Some of the big chain stores have batting cages, mini-golf courses, even skiing! You can go take a look at all the different kind of balls, try on the roller skates, and drool over the mountain bikes. Outdoors stores can get really cool. Places like Bass Pro Shop, Outdoor World, REI, and Gander Mountain all have interesting displays. Have fun ‘camping’ indoors, check out the fishing rods, and climb a mountain. Some stores even have indoor lakes for little kids to fish in. The climbing walls and fake boulders are fun for energetic older kids. All the fun of a camping trip without the work.
5. Garden centers
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. But flowers can be cool. Especially in spring and summer, garden centers are bursting with beauty and color. Teach your kids where apples come from, show them a grape vine, and don’t forget to take a sniff. Little kids love smelly things! It’s also a great way to get your child to grow and eat their own vegetables. You’d be surprised what a picky eater will eat if they watered and took care of it for weeks.
There are many more places you can take your child, but these five ideas should get you on the right path. Remember that children are simple. They are entertained by almost anything if their parents make it exciting. Remember to have fun and stay relaxed and you’ll both have a blast.
About the Author
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like Health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her via email at nancy.parker015(at)gmail.com
More Ideas from Painter Mommy
I wanted to add a couple of my own suggestions in here as well. How about..
- The Local Library or Book Store – our library has a fun kiddie section with toys and games. And the kids love to pick out new books to read. Book stores also have a kid’s reading section where they can play and look for books, but the downside is that you may get stuck buying one, so the library is a much better option if you are on a budget.\
- The Mall – we have a fun mall in our local area that has an indoor park and the best thing is that it is FREE. If you have a little extra to spend you can even eat in the food court – kids love that.
- Parks / Nature Preserves – this is a favorite for me and my family. We try to do an outdoor adventure every weekend. We love to find new parks and places to go hiking. We pack some drinks and snacks and we are good to go. We look for animals, bugs, flowers, and anything else interesting.
- Playgrounds – What kid doesn’t like to go to a playground?
- Bike Path – We have a bike path that goes from town to town. It is miles and miles long. It is fun to either go for a walk or ride bikes on the path.