What's your favorite affordable outdoor activity to do with your kids?

23  Answers

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By far hiking or snowshoeing! There is so much potential and variety, and usually for free! It doesn't take specialized gear, lift tickets, or even a ton of experience to get out for a successful walk in the woods.

My number #1 tip for hiking with kids? Make sure you are hiking somewhere! By that I mean have a destination, a water fall, lake, river, arch, summit. SOMETHING! Kids are goal oriented just like we are and walking just for walking doesn't appeal to their imaginations...or their adventurous side. :) On the flip side, don't push the "goal" to hard. Sometimes the best hikes are ones where a few stops to play in the river are in order.

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what is your favourite outdoor activity

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Hiking! My two year old and I go hiking at least once a week with our other friends and their kids. It’s such a great way to get the kids out in to nature! Navigating small river crossings, discovering caves, taking turns being the leader of the group are just a few of the innumerable ways to build kid’s self-esteem and get them connected with Mother Nature!

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We are a rock climbing family, so our favorite thing to do is head to the mountains and hike/climb/explore together!

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Our favorite activity is hiking with the kids. I love trail running, and my husband is an avid mountain biker, and we take the kids along with us on trail runs and bike rides, but our favorite is hiking, especially when we can take our time, discover secret hideaways, examine rocks and trees and animals, and just talk. Walking side by side is one of the best ways I know to really talk to one another, to connect in ways that you ordinarily might not.

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Hiking! Many hiking trails are free, while others have just a small parking fee. Dress for the weather, pack a picnic lunch, plenty of water, and lots of snacks, and head on out. To ensure a good time, follow the tips in this article, "Five Tips for Joyful Hiking with Little Kids"... http://anaturemom.com/2012/03/14/five-tips-for-joyful-hiking-with-little-kids/ .

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As the weather turns, we love to bike and hike as a family. While biking is certainly more expensive, it is such a valuable life-long skill that we hold it in high importance. However, hiking is so easy and can really be done everywhere. Kids love to adventure and explore and they don't need anything fancy to do so!

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We love getting out and exploring the local parks and even state parks in our area: Seattle, Washington. Hiking in particular has very little overhead costs!

Seattle Parks are free and provide us with so many amazing and unique landscapes to get into. Some of our favorites include: the Washington Park Arboretum, Discovery Park, and Seward Park.

We also take advantage of Washington's state park system whenever possible. With a $30 annual "Discover Pass" (as opposed to paying $10 per one time visit), it's a bargain, and a great way to learn about and experience new parts of our state, historical sites, and natural wonders.

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I love hiking or walking with my daughter on local trails or state parks. She enjoys the time exploring outside. Every summer, we try to head to Maine for some extra outdoor adventures. We love to walk along the beach, collect shells and rocks, and kayak to small islands nearby. Right now we are also very fortunate to live close to Washington, DC. There is so much to see on foot in the city, without any costs!

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For me, it always comes down to hiking. I'd say it's probably my all around favorite activity, and is perfectly suited to enjoying with your kids.

Here's my 3 main reasons why:

#1 IT'S CHEAP & EASY:
You don't really need any special gear, other than some sturdy shoes with tread. That makes it both affordable and easy to just quickly pack a backpack and go hit a trail. Hiking allows you to explore almost anywhere, any time of year – how exciting is that?! And kids can literally start hiking from infancy. We’ve seen babies be content for hours in a child carrier!

#2 GETS THE FAMILY UNPLUGGED:
Nature is so breathtaking, and has so much to offer children (and adults!) in the way of discovery and appreciation of animals and our gorgeous planet. Hiking in the outdoors gives you a calming big picture perspective - away from our hectic, fast-paced, non-stop engagement with screens lifestyle. I like to say it’s a little reality check, reminded us every now and then what’s really most important in life. We always come away from our hikes refreshed.

#3 RAISES KIDS TO BE ACTIVE & ADVENTUROUS:
Kids have so much boundless energy, and these days they are so sedentary in how they spend their time. Being in an enjoyable outdoor surrounding is a payback in itself, and is a “sneaky” way of getting exercise in for the whole family. It feeds so many of their senses, and as long as the conditions are reasonable and the hiking party is properly equipped (with water, snacks, and the correct temperature of clothing)… I’ve never seen a kid on the trails that didn’t absolutely love the experience. I like to think my kids will grow up as hiking being their normal way of life!

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My daughter is only a few weeks old, but I can still offer some perspective on this question.

My website for outdoor parents has a unique focus and explores not just outdoor parenting but also the transition of outdoor adventurers to parenthood. I started The Adventures in Parenthood Project before I even became pregnant, which eventually happened in June 2012. From there I used the project to explore my own journey as an outdoors enthusiast – familiar with a life full of spontaneity and independence – to motherhood. I live in an outdoorsy community where many couples struggle with the decision to have a child for fear of the impact that will have on their lifestyle. On the website I have been writing about my own experience and have also included interviews with other adventurous parents to establish different perspectives.

As such, I don’t yet have a favourite affordable outdoor activity to do with my daughter. But I do have recommendations for outdoors activities you can pursue with your yet-to-be-born child. I tried to stay as active as I could through my pregnancy and enjoyed hiking in the summer and fall and cross-country skiing in winter. Both of these activities allowed me to stay strong and didn’t have too much impact on my pelvic floor, which couldn’t bear as much pressure as before. These activities were also much safer than my usual choices of mountaineering, traditional rock climbing and backcountry ski touring, which, if anything, I didn't have the energy for while I was pregnant. I found that the side-to-side motion of hiking or cross-country skiing rocked the baby to sleep and felt gentle on my body. It was very special to share my love for outdoor adventure with my daughter when she was in the womb, and hopefully that was the beginning of a lifelong relationship that she’ll have with the natural world.

Affordable outdoor activities I intend to pursue with my daughter are hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing. My husband and I are pretty stoked to carry her on the trails we love so much and expose her to the fresh air. Being so small, she may not know what’s going on all the time, but hopefully, even just on a visceral level, these outdoor experiences will stay with her.

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Considering my kids are at the very best, happiest and well behaved, when we are outside, we spend as much time out there as possible. We hike, swim, play in the sand, garden, make rock sculptures, fairy houses and forts.

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Our family loves to take "Adventure Walks". Sometimes these are just around our neighborhood looking for dinosaurs and sometimes they are at the local metro parks. We look at sticks, leaves, trees, flowers, we stop to watch worms cross the sidewalk. Basically we just explore our world. During the winter, we will go after dinner and take flashlights to see in the dark. Let's face it, anything is more fun with a flashlight! Our adventure walks are a free, easy way to get everyone outside, to get a little exercise and have some great family time.

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Camping! For the price of one night at a fancy hotel, you can spend a week in the woods with your kids and have a blast. Kids get immersed in nature, parents get a break from loads of laundry and piles of paper, and the whole family can bond over s'mores and campfires. It is the best. For more tips on camping with kids, check out my book, The Down & Dirty Guide to camping with Kids, which you can find at www.maddogmom.com

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Hike! Lace up their sneaks and get ready to soak in Ma Nature! Tromp, clomp and stromp around on the trails and get dirty. Poke at things along the way. Pick up things when you can. Savor both the tiny, ooo-ey, gooey snails making their slimy way across the path and the grandiose mountain vistas of the Big Sky.

Rummage through your cabinets for your snacks.

Toss their emptied school backpacks on their backs.

Find a trail deep in the wilderness or just down your suburban block. Along a river bike-path or on the side of a dusty old lane… The treasure hunt for Nature’s goodies start as you walk out your front door.

Affordable. Stimulating. Peaceful. True family bonding time.

Enjoy every moment!

Namaste & Three Cheers! -OM

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Hiking! My two year old and I go hiking at least once a week with our other friends and their kids. It’s such a great way to get the kids out in to nature! Navigating small river crossings, discovering caves, taking turns being the leader of the group are just a few of the innumerable ways to build kid’s self-esteem and get them connected with Mother Nature!

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Splash in mud puddles!

Seriously, we often have the most fun with the simplest activities, especially if we can get dirty. We dig in volcano hill (a dirt hill that we've used for Diet Soda-mentos explosions), sail sticks down creeks, use dandelions to "write," and play hide'n seek. All these outdoor activities make the kids more willing to go on bigger trips.

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We hike a lot! It costs very little to hit a nearby trail for fresh air and fun. Put on some comfortable shoes, grab a water bottle and hit the trail. Hiking doesn't have to be strenuous or for a long length of time.

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With a family of six we've learned that "affordable" activities are synonymous with the outdoors. All it really takes is opening the door and stepping out for an adventure. I think collectively we enjoy geocaching the best. We made an initial investment of $100 on a GPS unit and have been enjoying it for years since. Geocaching is just a glorified hike. You get all the benefits of exercise and fresh air but you’re searching for something at the same time, which forces you to slow down and really take in everything around you.
Basically you load the locations of caches onto your GPS, using geocaching.com. There’s an endless amount of caches hidden around the world so you’ll never run out. And then you go out in search of these caches using your GPS as the treasure map.
One of my favorite things about geocaching is seeing my family work together as a team to try and find a cache. We’ve found one inside a cave hidden under some rocks and another hanging from a tree in the middle of an island that we paddled out to. Each cache usually has a little surprise inside, a little toy and a log for you to sign. It could be the junkiest thing inside, like an old matchbox car, but my kids react as if it's gold coins every time.
I think geocaching teaches them to give too. Before we leave home we have the kids find little toys that they wouldn’t mind giving away. After we find a cache they put these toys inside the ammo box or whatever it is for others to find later. Their eyes light up and I can tell they are excited to leave something for the next passerby.
Overall it's a lovely way to spend a day together and make memories while enjoying the great outdoors at the same time.

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My favourite outdoor activity I love to get involved in with my kids is a Beach or campsite Scavenger Hunt. It's totally free and can help very young children develop their understanding of the world around them.

Scavenger hunts are ideally suited to children under 9 years old, but if it’s made slightly more competitive and challenging then older children can be persuaded to take part too. It’s also an ideal activity to help break the ice for groups of children who have come together at a campsite. You can adapt the items below to include whatever’s available in the local area, so it doesn’t have to happen at the beach. The best bit is these hunts are free, get everyone active, out into the fresh air and learning about their surroundings.

First give each scavenger a beach bucket or similar and ask them to collect:

Some flat pebbles for skimming (or skipping). Later show them how to skim;
A flint and/or chalk stone and tell them how they can be used;
Animal tracks in the sand. Ask what animal made them and make a copy on paper;
Different types of seaweed;
Different shells;
A feather;
A small piece of drift wood;
Some pirate treasure (discreetly drop small change for them to find, which they can use later to buy a treat);
Something plastic or man-made. Tell them why it’s rubbish, doesn’t belong on the beach and bin it together;
Something that has travelled a long way to be found on the beach. Explore where it might have come from.
The same game can be adapted slightly to become a treasure hunt in the campsite or wherever you’re staying. The older children can be put in charge of hiding different things nearby, while the younger ones look for them. If you use small change the children can pretend to be pirates finding lost treasure, then spend it later on a treat.

Another couple of great activities, which are also free, are target practice and drawing in the sand or on stones with chalk.

It’s amazing how much fun you can have with a few empty tins or plastic cups lined up and small stones to knock them down. If you’re feeling like a challenge you can even make a bow and arrow to knock them down instead. Keeping score makes the game even more competitive and fun for everyone… including the adults.

Also, if you are at the beach try drawing pictures in the sand with some driftwood. If you are in the city draw pictures on the pavements or walls with chalk (making sure you have permission from the owners of course).

Drawing anything on such a large-scale inspires great creativity and is a fantastic thing for others to see at the end of the day as they walk by.

Then the rain or waves wash the art away as if it was never there, giving you a blank canvas for the next time you visit.

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We love hiking as a family. Other than gas, we don't have to spend a lot on this activity and we can get affordable clothing second hand. It's also something I can do with my son during the week when my husband is working. It doesn't have to be a big adventure. There are great trails right in my city that are close to home.

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Hands down, our favorite activity as a family is hiking. And not the kind of hiking I used to do where I would try to bag as many peaks as possible. With kiddos who are 7 and 9, I'm trying to nurture a love of the outdoors and that means learning to not focus on the summit but on the journey and letting them explore on their terms. Climbing the umpteenth boulder along the trail. Taking a side trip to throw rocks in the river.

I used to think I had so much to teach my kids about the outdoors but they are the ones who have taught me how to truly appreciate it in a pure and simple way.

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My girls and I love to keep nature journals. We go for walks at parks & around the neighborhood - or we just sit in the backyard - and we record what we see, hear, feel, smell, etc. Nature journaling outside allows kids to become more observant of, and reflective about, the world around them - skills that will serve them well their entire lives! Plus, it exposes them to creative & technical writing, layout & presentation of ideas, self confidence & self expression, focus & meditation, and more! Nature journaling is super affordable - all you need is a blank book, or some blank paper bound togehter, and pens, pencils, crayons (you choose). Any outside location (or window seat) will do for this outdoor activity!

http://www.anaturalnester.blogspot.com/2013/03/spring-break-day-1-nature-journaling.html

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