#1.) Take advantage of your local National Parks and Monuments! The entrance fees are pretty low, and the facilities are always nice. We love the Junior Ranger Program, where the kids each get an age appropriate booklet to fill in the blanks, complete little games, and research facts throughout the park. When they've filled in the book they can turn it in at the ranger station and be sworn in as junior rangers, complete with badges! This is available at nearly all National Parks, and there's sure to be one near you!
Did you think all National Parks and Monuments were mountains and rivers? I'll bet you didn't know the Liberty Bell is in a National Park. It is! Lots of history is there just waiting to be discovered, on top of all the nature and beauty of the outdoors.
Things to know before you go:
- Packing a lunch is always a good idea. Not all parks have food services. Bringing your own water bottle is not a bad idea either.
- Dress appropriately, and if you don't know what to wear, call the ranger station. The park near us frequently has rattlesnakes, so long pants are a must on the hiking trails.
- There are entrance fees, usually per vehicle.
#2.) Many major museums are free, and can keep you busy all day. We have had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C., on our visits there. Any one of them would easily take an entire day to take in. Other free museums include:
- Getty Center -Los Angeles, California
- Walters Art Museum - Baltimore, Maryland
- National Museum of Mexican Art - Chicago, Illinois
- Alamo - San Antonio, Texas
- Frye Art Museum - Seattle, Washington
- Georgia Museum of Art - Athens, Georgia
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - Kansas City, Missouri
- Baltimore Museum of Art - Baltimore, Maryland
#3.) Get to know your public servants. No matter where you live, you are not too far for a trip to your state government. With a little planning you can often have your local senator give you a guided tour of your state capitol, and then sit in on a legislative session. Maybe you could couple this with the opportunity to champion your favorite cause? Our kids have had their picture taken with the governor while advocating a healthcare issue at our state capitol. I treasure the fact that they now know they can have a voice in their world.
If you are able to head to Washington, D.C., you may find that your state's Congressman would be interested in seeing you. Often with advance notice, they are even able to give you a personal tour, or at least one of their staff can. You will find that this view of the capitol will be much more fun than the large group tours (and free too, which the regular tours are not).
Wherever you go... even if it it just a scenic drive, you will see things along the way that will be an adventure if you're willing to take the time and explore as a family. Discovering the world together doesn't have to be pricey, and I'll venture to say that you will find the experience to actually be priceless.
Laura is redeemed by Jesus, a wife to Ben, and a mom to 4 miracles on Earth. Making her home on the high plains, far from the east coast bustle she grew up around, she loves worshiping, homeschooling, gardening, baking, chicken keeping, reading, and being a birth Doula. Laura writes about her adventures in country life on her blog www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com.