Warm weather is great for parents. It gives us the opportunity to get the kiddos outside, burning off energy. Exhausted all of the playgrounds in your town? Why not branch out to national and state parks? Here are some examples of great family activities available at parks around the country.
Yellowstone is so huge it take days to explore the whole park. National Geographic recommends breaking it up into mammals (wolves and bison are common), waterfalls and thermal features. Kids (and adults) are blown away by Old Faithful. There’s even a junior ranger program for ages 5 – 12.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado has the highest dunes in North America – Star Dune is a whopping 750-foot high. Families are welcome to dig in the sand, build structures, climb it and slide down it. Spring is the best time to visit was the surface temperature reaches up to 140 degrees in the summer.
Another great place to play in the sand is Indiana Dunes State Park. It’s one of only 35 locations in the world where you can hear “singing sand,” a loud rumble made when wind blows across the dunes. Swimming, birding, fishing and hiking are a few of the other activities offered.
De Leon Springs is a Florida state park. The spring is said to have healing properties. It was once an old Florida roadside attraction (pre-Disney World) featuring a live water skiing elephant. Hiking, swimming, canoeing and peddle boating are just a few of the activities available. Kids love making their own breakfast in the restaurant. Each table has a built in griddle for DIY pancakes with an assortment of add ins (chocolate chips, blueberry, banana, etc.).
Slide Rock State Park is two hours south of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It features one of the best natural water slides in the country. The water will keep you cool – it stays around 60 degrees even on the hottest days of summer.
Entrance to post of these parks is minimal, usually around $10 per carload. Bring a cooler of snacks, plenty of water and sunscreen.
What national or state parks has your family visited?