Watch a Parade
What to do: Get out and watch a parade. This is a timeless American classic activity that kids enjoy and won't cost you a dime. Don't forget the lawn chairs, some water, and your camera.Where to go: You don't live in a town where there are parades you say? Well, find one nearby and head on over. Better yet, check out communities around you and find a compelling Saturday event in a nearby town and make it a short road trip. If you live in the city, why not head out to a small town to enjoy the day? My favorite types of parades are those in small communities at such events named for something associated with the town like "Dairy Days" or "Watermelon Days". You can be sure that while the parade is the big event, there will be lots of other activities for the family while you are there.
Why to do it: A parade fills a person with a certain sense of patriotism. There is something special about the police car and fire truck slowly rolling down main street and blowing their sirens that makes a person feel good. The applause for men and women in uniform as they carefully march with the U.S. flag is classic. Who doesn't like seeing the local high school band playing their fight song? What kid wouldn't want to sit on the curb and get chance after chance at free candy? This is all good stuff. To keep the kids happy, don't forget to bring all the stuff you need when bringing kids to a parade and it will be a great day.
Have a Picnic
What to do: Have a Picnic. Find a day that you actually don't have anything scheduled and plan on making the picnic happen. Fifty years ago it was a necessity for every family to have a big wicker picnic basket because it was so common to pack a lunch and head out to a park for the day. Why not make this Summer the Summer that you actually reinvent this tradition? You don't need to invest in a picnic basket, but feel free.
Where to go: My favorite spots would be to find a city or county park with some amenities for the whole family. Things like a unique playground and bathrooms would be good for starters. A walking or hiking trail in the park to burn off your lunch is even better.
Why to do it: It is a mini getaway. The important thing is that you are not eating in front of the T.V., in the car, or at a fast food restaurant. You are sitting together with your family enjoying just a little time together. You could prepare sandwiches from home for an easy service or bring something to grill on site. Watermelon and lemonade are strongly encouraged, but not required.
Go To The Fair
What to do: Get yourself out to the fair. The county fair is a family tradition that goes back for years, and they are still happening all over America. The admission is still within reason and, once you get in, there are many free things to do and see. If you are heading to the midway for the rides, however, you will need to bring some cash.Where to go: Many counties across the U.S. have a county fair every year during the summer. There are also state fairs that you can attend, but the experience is much different there and tends to feel less hometown than the typical county fair. Still, if that works for you, go for it. Check with your county and the ones nearby to find a date that works for you.
Why to do it: The fair is the place where you're allowed to eat mini donuts and fried cheese without guilt for one day only. You'll be walking around after all so let's call that exercise. Bring the kids through the animal barns and let them pet a pig or feel the wool of a sheep. Watch a demolition derby or relax and listen to the free entertainment typically provided in a small outdoor theatre. Stroll through the exhibit halls to see the work of the local artists. Walk the midway to play a few games and jump on a ride or two. Don't forget your camera. Fair pictures are lively and classic. One tip - if you are going to hit the rides, check out the special wristband days where you can ride all you want for one fee. It will save you money.
Go To The Farmer's Market
What to do: Get yourself some fresh produce at the local farmer's market. You will find the freshest of produce at a bargain price and have a fun shopping experience at the same time.
Where to go: Check with your local community or those nearby to see when the farmer's market is. Depending on the size of your town or city, your local market might be a few farmers parked on the town square or a huge market with a hundred vendors. If you don't have this option in your town, consider a road trip to the one next door just for fun some weekend. It will give you a destination for a little road trip.
Why to do it: Do it because it's fun and you're likely to find in season produce of quality that cannot be matched at your grocery store. In addition to that, you'll find it for less money. You can also typically try before you buy as many farmers will offer samples along the way. You might even find plants, crafts, honey, maple syrup, or other unexpected things while you're there. Finally, buying local means less transporting of food across the country. Instead of traveling 1000 miles in a truck, the produce was likely harvested yesterday.
What to do: Watch some fireworks. I don't care if it's the 4th of July or some other event in your community, but grab your lawn chairs or a blanket and get out there for a fireworks show. Even better, make an evening of it and have dinner within walking distance of your viewing spot or pack dinner to eat on site. Sparklers are optional.
Where to do it: The most obvious time is when the 4th of July fireworks show is on. Some shows are put on by a city while others are put on by a local organization. Check with your city to see when the show is and get there early to pick a nice spot. If your city is not an option, consider a quick trip to a nearby town for the show. You might also find a fireworks show at special events and carnivals, or even the county fair, so look around.
Why to do it: Fireworks are as American as apple pie and are a blast to watch. There's a unique feeling standing around with a crowd of people you may or may not know all staring in the sky for the next big boom and joining in on the oohs and aahs. A person can't help but think of Uncle Sam in his red, white, and blue costume while enjoying the show.
Hop To It
Well, there you go. What are you waiting for? Figure out what you want to do, when you want to do it, and get it on the calendar now. If you don't, the Summer will fly by before you know it.
Make this the summer you get out and do some classic fun things with your family.