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By Kim Humphrey
Posted May 10, 2019
Posted May 10, 2019
Celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, Kids to Parks Day is a national day of play that encourages families to get outdoors together and explore America’s many local, state and national parks and public lands.
Launched in 2011, Kids to Parks Day is organized by the National Park Trust (NPT) and is designed to foster appreciation and enjoyment of our public lands and create the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental conservationists.
The NPT works with numerous partners across the country, including cities, towns, and park and public lands officials, to coordinate a wide variety of park activities on Kids to Parks Day every year. You can visit www.kidstoparks.org for a complete list of park events in your area, along with downloadable tips and activities guides to help you plan your family adventures. Register your pledge to participate in Kids to Parks Day, and then use #KidstoParks to tag photos of your outdoor adventures any day in the month of May (or email your photo to [email protected]) for your chance to win outdoor gear prize packs from partners like The North Face, National Geographic Kids, Parks Project, and more!
Bonus Tip: If you have a fourth grader in your family, the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park program provides FREE admission to hundreds of national parks, lands, and waters for fourth graders and their accompanying family and friends for an entire year. Visit the Every Kid in a Park program website to print your pass!
In addition to the over 1800 free events in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. listed on the Kids to Parks Day website, here are some other suggestions for family-friendly activities that will get your kids excited about spending time outdoors.
Go for a Hike (With Prizes!). If your kids are anything like mine, the mention of a family hike may not elicit cheers of excitement (more like screams of agony, am I right?!). Kids in Parks aims to make getting unplugged and outdoors fun with family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features activity-packed, self-guided brochures that turn your family’s hike into an exciting outdoors experience. Kids can even register their adventures on the Kids in Parks website to earn a series of prizes that come in the mail! Find a TRACK Trail adventure near you.
Become a Junior Ranger. Conducted in almost all national parks nationwide,the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program makes exploring the outdoors fun for kids by giving them the opportunity to become “Junior Rangers” by completing a series of activities during their park visit and sharing their answers with a park ranger. Upon completion, Junior Rangers earn an official patch and certificate and take an oath to continue to "Explore, Learn, and Protect" the parks.
Take to the Water . . . or the Trees. Exploring outdoors doesn’t have to mean on foot. Why not enjoy one of your nearby public waterways on Kids to Parks Day by renting a boat or stand up paddle board, going fishing, or even going on a family tubing or rafting adventure? And while hugging a tree may be the stereotypical environmentalist hippie thing to do; instead, how about appreciating the beauty of their canopy while climbing or flying through on a family zip lining or aerial forest adventure? If you’re local to the Washington, D.C. – Baltimore Metro Areas, check out these CertifiKID deals to save you up some $$:
- Up to 25% Off Whitewater Rafting, Zip Line Canopy Tours, and Aerial Adventure Ropes Course at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center
- 34% Off Pedal Boat, John Boat, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak and Canoe Rentals at Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax Station or Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton
Go on a Scavenger Hunt. Whether you design your own printable scavenger hunt or “I Spy” game, or go the high-tech route with a Geocaching adventure, giving kids things to hunt for can transform a ‘boring’ nature walk or trail hike into an exciting game that buys you more time on the trails. Pinterest is a great resource for finding free printable scavenger hunts for kids. You can download the official Geocaching app free and use it to find a geocache anytime, anywhere – no matter where your adventures take you, there’s usually one nearby. For even more fun, make and hide your own geocache!
Visit a Pick-Your-Own Farm. Taking your kids to pick their own fruits and vegetables is not only a fun family outdoor activity, it is also a great way to foster a deeper connection with nature, the land, and the cycle of the seasons, as well as an appreciation of where their food comes from. As an added bonus, many pick-your-own farms also have animals to interact with and offer fun kids' activities. If you live in the D.C. area, read about our top picks for kid-friendly pick-your-own farms in Washington, D.C. and check out these deals to save up to 50% off strawberry picking at Butler's Orchard (Germantown, MD) or Wegmeyer Farms (Loudoun County, VA).
Have a Picnic. The promise of food makes anything more palatable (literally!) for both kids AND grownups! Get the kids involved in designing and helping prepare a fun picnic lunch for the family – the more cute and creative finger foods, the better! The thought of getting to indulge in this special outdoor meal may just be the motivation you need to get them through that family hike with a little less whining. Check out this article from Mighty Moms for some clever picnic food ideas.
Go on a Family Camping Trip. What better way to enjoy all that the great outdoors have to offer than by going on a family camping trip? Camping offers the opportunity to play, cook, eat, and sleep immersed in nature. It's also a great way to disconnect from electronics and spend quality time together as a family. If sleeping in a tent is not your speed, many campgrounds also have cabins available for rent. Check out our Getaway Deals to save up to 50% off family camping, cabin, and tiny cabin getaways.
Read 5 Spring Volunteer Projects for Families for more ideas for connecting with and spending time outdoors with your kids.
CertifiKID was founded by a mom with a passion for helping parents provide the best experiences for their children on a budget. From outings to adventures, classes to camps, theater to sporting events, amusement parks to getaways, CertifiKID provides the best family-friendly experiences at unbeatable prices. Sign up for family-friendly deals in your area and start saving!