Treat Spring Fever with These Fun Outings


Have you found that you and your family are feeling restless lately? Well, spring is nearly here, and it’s time to get off the couch and get outside. If playing Wii golf doesn’t cut it, then get the family together and start planning to get them back out in the world. Everywhere across the country the season is bringing change and growth–here are a few ways to enjoy it. spring-hike

Take a Winding Walk

No matter where you live in the United States, you’re likely within a few hours of a historically or culturally important site. Find a trail: the Pacific Crest stretches along the entire West Coast, the Appalachian runs from Georgia to Maine, and there is any number of other great walks in between. Our nation was built on people pulling up stakes and heading somewhere else, for better or worse. You can tailor your trip to fit your family, from a gentle two-mile loop to a week-long trek in the backcountry. It’s a time to review history, exercise in the fresh air, and most of, all it’s time to be out together with no electronic distractions or hectic schedules. Pack your shoes, some healthy snacks, and a good map; and get ready to have a great time.

Make Some Waves

Whether your closest shoreline is an idyllic stretch of beach, a jumble of rocks, or even a small, lazy river, grab your kids and spend the day splashing around. If you’ve never kayaked, now’s a great time to rent some gear and see what all the fuss is about. Bring the bikes and find a new scenic route. You can even stop to try bouldering—that’s what kids these days call climbing on rocks. Are you looking for something a little more relaxing? Visit a wildlife sanctuary. Depending on where you go, you can watch magnificent shorebirds, seals and sea lions, alligators and snakes, butterflies, or otters and beavers play in their natural environment. Learn about habitats and the importance of protection. It may inspire you to find ways to help preserve these precious spaces and their animal residents.

Play in the Sand

Maybe you’re nearer to a desert than a beach, in which case you have an excellent opportunity to learn about geology and local flora. Desert hiking and camping can open up a whole new world, especially in early spring during the very short blooming season. See who can take the best photos of desert flowers or find the most interesting rock. If you’ve got caves within driving distance, try going underground. Learn the difference between a syncline and an anticline, and then try to find one. Keep in mind that the desert gets very cold at night this time of year, so if you’re camping, come prepared with warm sleeping bags and blankets.

Get Lost

Take some time to put away your GPS. Get involved with an orienteering group and learn to find your way around with a map, a compass, and your own observational skills. This is an excellent confidence builder for middle school aged kids and early teens. If you can’t find a group, make your own with a few other families.

Urban Adventure

Sure, all these ideas sound great; but what if you live in the city and you don’t have time for a long nature outing? No problem! Map out a hike from one public place to another with as many interesting stops as you can fit in along the way. Again, find a historically significant site (or three), learn about it, and then go there to check it out. Take a break for some Frisbee in the park. If your local park has fitness stations (obstacle courses, inclines for sit-ups, and so on) hit them all and see who is in the best shape. If it’s been a long time—or even a lifetime—since you’ve played tennis or basketball, find a court and play! Teach the kids, or let them teach you something new.

Whatever you do, make sure there’s something in it for every family member (even parents). Exercise and togetherness are the goals, but don’t wear yourselves out, or the return trip will be rough. Come back tired but still wanting more. It’s always good to have a plan, but be flexible and open to whatever nature brings. When you go back to the grind of work and school, you’ll have a new appreciation for springtime and some great ideas for weekend adventures that will hold you over until summer vacation.

photo courtesy of retired60