When the snow melts and the flowers start blooming, you want to be outside! Parks are a great place to go to get away from screens and into the sun on a summer day. Whether it is your neighborhood park, a dog park, or a nearby national park, parks are for games, exploration, and adventure. Here are five activities for a perfect summer day at the park.
Food is critical when you and the family are running around having fun. Coming together for a picnic is a way to connect and spend time with each other. If you are able, preparing the food altogether beforehand and on location can also be a bonding experience. Remember, the food has to travel and keep for a little while, so make things that fit the bill. Sandwiches are a classic picnic food. Tupperware with cooling cucumber and apple slices make for easy-to-transport sides. Carrot sticks with dip and the fun “Ants on a Log” with celery, peanut butter, and raisins are also good additions to a picnic spread. Add a large thermos of lemonade to your cooler or picnic canvas tote, and your prep is complete. Take a picnic blanket or even an extra bedsheet to mark your spot, and enjoy the feast!
This is a must-do activity at a park. We can’t fly kites very often because of the space required, so adding this to your perfect summer day will ensure fun memories and lots of entertainment. If you aren’t very familiar with kite flying, make sure you have two people—one to hold the string and run and the other to throw the kite into the air. If you are really coordinated, you can attempt both jobs on your own. The idea is for one person to toss the kite into a breeze while the other person runs to create a wind of movement. These actions in coordination allow the kite to catch a draft and move up into the sky beyond the trees and houses, which naturally block the wind. Then your kite can dance and play in the clouds for as long as you want.
If you are at a national park, this should be an obvious thing to do. The trails are there to be hiked, the attractions are there to be marveled at, and the natural beauty should be appreciated. However, exploration is not limited to parks with large acreage. Even smaller parks have much more than initially meets the eye. As you look around, see if you can name the different tree species. If you don’t know much about trees, see if you can correctly describe their characteristics and pinpoint the differences between them in their bark, leaves, and growth structure. While you are inspecting, look out for different animals. Sometimes you get to see something big in a national park, like a deer or a bobcat, but consider focusing your attention on the smaller animals. Try to identify the different birds flying around. Make a game of imitating the bird songs you hear. Another smaller animal type that always shows up is insects. The world has millions of these guys, and they can be fun to observe. See if you can draw what you see. Then you’ll have a physical reminder of your perfect summer day.
Parks are made for fun! Games are a fundamental part of having a fantastic time outside. If you forgot to bring something to play with, go with playground classics like tag or hide and go seek. If there is a play structure, play the ground is lava where the tagger is the lava monster, and the runners can’t touch the “lava.” If you have the presence of mind before you run out the door, grab a frisbee or a ball. Throwing a frisbee or playing disc golf are delightful pastimes. Depending on your ball, you can play catch, soccer, keep-away, or kickball. If you have a dog, all the better!
If you have a lot of time before or during your park adventure, consider creating an obstacle course. Sometimes these require physical components, but not always. Use sticks or leaves to mark the different challenges. Time each other and see who can get through the fastest. Another fun game is a scavenger hunt. Though this can require some prep, it’s a delight for all ages. With all of these ideas, you’ll have enough entertainment for a week of park days!
Since you are outside in a wide-open area, take advantage of it! When was the last time you rode a bike? Remember the wind in your hair and the thrill of gliding past houses and racing cars to the end of the block? Throw on a pair of athletic shorts and pull your bike out of storage! Riding bikes is a great summer activity you definitely need to complete your perfect summer day at the park.