Top Outdoor Spring Break Adventures that all Kids will love!

UnknownGuest Post by Ken Myers

Spring Break is a great time to take the kids and have an adventure. The trick is to find a vacation that everyone will like. I know because I have two children that are total opposites. Here are some suggestions for Spring Break adventures that will please everyone and create memories to last a lifetime.

images-1The Beach

When you have two, three, or more personalities in one family there is always something for each of them at the beach: building sand castles, beach combing for shells and driftwood, or reading a book while listening to the waves roll in for the laid back family members. And for those with a desire for high adventure there is surfing, body surfing, sailing, windsurfing for the older kids, snorkeling, and much more. My son loves to body surf, make sand castles, and find fiddler crabs. My daughter is more of the reader and beach comber. We are all happy when we are at the beach. Even just long walks down the beach can be great exercise. Be sure to put on lots of sunscreen and reapply frequently to avoid sunburn. It is easy for small children to get overheated and exhausted at the beach, so make sure you take lots of breaks. Most beach towns also have outdoor amusement parks for activities during the night. Boardwalks and gift shops are a fun way to get your kids out and about all week.

campingCamping

This is also a way to make multiple personalities happy. I know that some people do not like to rough it, but for those people there are recreational vehicles which you can rent. These vehicles have all the conveniences of home on wheels or pulled behind wheels. We like to camp near the lake which has boating, fishing, skiing, and swimming. You can also take nature walks and go hiking. There is so much fun to be had cooking and singing around the camp fire at night and it can be such a bonding experience for the whole family. There is usually so much wildlife to see when you are out in the woods as well. If your family does biking then many parks offer hike and bike trails that give a new adventurous spin on bikers familiar only with smooth city streets. Kids love skidding through the mud puddles and getting down and dirty with it.

waterparkWater Parks

There are great water parks in many cities or within driving distance from most cities around the country. Cold weather states have indoor parks. I have yet to meet a child that does not like to take a trip to the water park. From winding rivers, crashing waves, slides of all sizes, inner tubes, to kiddy pools there is something for everyone at a water park. Many of the parks let you bring in a picnic lunch while some require that you buy your food on the premises. They generally have grassy areas and lounge chairs for relaxing and picnic tables for eating. Lots of cold treats such as ice cream, ices, and cold drinks are offered all through the parks. The great thing about water parks is that they keep kids moving all day long. Swimming, climbing ladders and just playing around in the water burn off tons of energy while being exciting and fun. If a water park is too busy for your style then try tubing down a river. There are many areas that have smooth sailing for floaters and more active participants. Kids will love to paddle along the shallow water and see the sights of nature. They can make new friends and splash around. For more adventurous types you can also do water sports like white water rafting and canoeing or kayaking.

dudeDude Ranches

For the families that yearn for the old west experience there are many parts of the country that offer dude ranches as your destination. Riding horseback, learning to rope, and eating off the chuck wagon are treats for city folks. The rustic surroundings and the country life can be good for relaxing those strained city nerves. The sounds of coyotes, crickets, and owls serenading you to sleep at night can be just what the doctor ordered, along with the old cow poke strumming on his guitar and singing songs about the old west. Being able to see the stars in all their glory is a special treat as well for those of us who live in constant light pollution. Early to bed, early to rise and hard work all day might not sound like fun, but your kids will love it and learn a lot.

Ski-Tips-for-KidsSnow Skiing

Even if you are not a veteran skier there are the bunny slopes. For those that grow up in the snow this is a natural pastime but for those who live in places where they seldom see snow this could be the adventure of their lifetime. Snowboarding and sledding are some other activities that children and adults alike can enjoy. Spring break is the perfect time to visit before all the snow melts.

These are just a few of the many adventures you can take your kids on during their spring break. Take this opportunity to make memories together as a family that will last a life time. Remember that being active and involved can make even the most reluctant child enjoy their vacation. Have fun!

Author Bio:

Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

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Get Kids Outside: A fashion geek’s guide to enjoying winter

winterwear

Make cold weather play a family tradition by learning to dress for the weather. You’ll be warm and dry if you follow these tips.

The best way to get kids outside is to get out there with them.

So enough with the excuses.

Here are my time-tested tricks to not only surviving, but enjoying even the coldest of winter weather. Kids do not care how you look so neither should you.

1) Parka with a fur-lined hood: There is a difference between a parka and a coat. A parka is a coat, but a coat is not necessarily a parka.

A parka usually has a hood, large pockets and ample length to cover your backside. If you sit down, you should be able to sit on your coat. Parkas also zip up high on the neck to keep out the wind.  I like this coat from Lands End because the hood has a faux fur-lined trim. The hood adds warmth and the fur shields the face from wind and blowing snow. At under $100, I would buy this parka again. The other coat shown is my “camping coat.” It’s a 30-year-old coat by Wilderness Experience that has stood the test of time. It’s a warm and washable coat that is fun to get smoky. Always keep a mud coat handy for these kinds of outings.

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A triple threat: Balaclava, headband and blaze orange Stormy Kromer. It’s important to keep you face, head and ears covered on cold days. Sunglasses protect your eyes and sunscreen will moisturize and protect your skin

2) Balaclava
In extreme conditions, I wear a balaclava, a gladiator inspired piece of clothing that keeps your face and neck warm.

My balaclava is light weight and made of silk, which works best for me. I don’t like something bulky on my head. They range in price from $12-$30 and come in many colors, fabrics and weights. Pick the one you like. Neck warmers and scarves also work just fine as face protectors.

3) Wind proof pants with Base Layer
Warm and dry legs are critical to outdoor comfort. I just upgraded my legwear to a pair of REI WinterFlyte pants for men. At just $40 you can’t beat the price. Why men’s?  Three reasons: 1) They were on sale, 2) they have pockets, and 3) they fit. REI does make them in women’s sizes, but they don’t have pockets. Go figure. Before the upgrade, I wore nylon wind pants over a pair of synthetic long johns or running tights. This worked for me for years.  Flannel lined pants also work well and are very cozy to wear.

Underneath the WinterFlyte’s, I wear a pair of polyester and lycra blend long underwear. Polyester keeps you dry and wicks away sweat while the lycra stretches for comfort. Starting at about $25 a pair, they are an inexpensive must-have item. I got mine at REI, but you get them anywhere. Retailers brand their version of polyester into fancy names like Capilene (Patagonia), Climatesmart (Cuddleduds) and Hyactive (NorthFace). Go with what you can afford and what feels nice. Oh, and you’ll need a base layer on top too.

If you’re going sledding, you will need something to keep your butt dry. I wear a pair of rain paints over the above mentioned pants and long johns. The rain pants don’t breathe, but they’re fine for one hour of sledding, which is about how long it takes before someone gets hurt and you have to come in anyway.

4) Gloves vs Mittens

If my fingers get cold, I am miserable, so keeping my hands warm is a top priority. In the photo on the right, I am wearing an inexpensive insulated glove I picked up at Dick’s Sporting Goods for about $30. However, they did not keep my hands warm enough so I quickly replaced them with a pair of large men’s Burton Profile mittens at Dick’s for $39. In this case, I chose men’s because it was the only pair of mittens in the store and I needed them for a trip the next day. They have proven to be quite warm and I’d buy them again. Women, don’t be afraid to shop in the men’s department. The same is true for men. You may find the right fit in a different department.

5)  Boots
For my money, nothing beats the classic Caribou boot by Sorel. I have tried many boots and these are by far the warmest boots I have ever owned. I can wear thick wool socks in these boots and my feet have plenty of room to breathe and move. The liner is replaceable which means that I will get sick of these boots before they wear out. The only draw back is that they are clunky and therefore are not the best choice for snowshoeing and walking longer distances. If I decide to get into snowshoeing, I’ll wear a different boot.

4406) Socks

Smartwool, or one of the many knockoffs, are the only socks to buy. Smartwool is a wool and lycra blend that keeps your feet warm and washes well without losing its shape. I own the REI version of Smartwool and like them a lot. I’ve been told, however, that once you buy the Smartwool brand you will never go back. They come in great colors and they last longer, so they’re worth the extra cost…or so I’m told. You can pick up socks for about $15 a pair.

7) Sun and Skin protection 

The sun is still out in the winter so protect your eyes with sunglasses and your skin with sun screen. In extreme cold and winter, I put vasoline on my cheeks and lips just prior to heading out. This really helps the skin retain moisture on cold days.

toe-warmers8) Hand and Toe Warmers 
I used to think it was cheating to use air-activated hand and toe warmers, but not anymore. I use them for skating and for outdoor activities where I’ll be standing around. I’ve always had cold hands and feet, so it makes sense to have a few of these on hand, just in case. Pop a few packs in the car too. I bought mine at Farm and Fleet for 79 cents each and I have no regrets.

Let me know how you stay warm in winter. Share you favorite gear and tips.

You can find Diane leading cross-country ski outings at Blackhawk Ski Club with kids or skating at Tenny Park with friends. She’s getting ready for a trip to the Porcupine Mountains where she plans on skiing her heart out.