Try one or more of these fun things to do at the park with your family!
Our family LOVES to visit different parks – there are SO many ideas for outdoor activities & games to play at a park near you. Today, we’re partnering with the National Park Trust to celebrate Kids to Parks Day with some AWESOME ideas for things to do on your next park visit!
17 FUN Things to Do at the Park
The National Park Trust is celebrating Kids to Parks — it’s a day for kids (and adults!) to get out & enjoy a park near you!
There are many parks around the country who will participate by hosting special events and activities for families. And it’s so easy to find a park near you! Sometimes we just go for a short walk at our neighborhood park to visit the ducks or play at the playground. Other times, we’ll spend a day exploring trails or hiking at one of the state or national parks.
Fun Park Activities & Ideas
We’re celebrating this week by sharing some of our favorite things to do at the park! Whether it’s a city, county, state or national park, these EASY park activities ideas and affiliate links to a few of our favorite items will make your next park visit a memorable one!
1. Go Fly a Kite
Flying a kite is serious fun! Kids can explore the science of kite flying with speed, air, lift and drag as they get their kite in the air and try to keep it here (there’s a lot of hands-on science involved ;). Running through a large open area trying to launch your kite into the wind is something everyone should try at least once in their life. Check out some of these amazing kits for kids, teens and adults if you don’t have one yet!
2. Explore a New Playground
What’s more fun than finding a new playground??! Maybe having it all to yourself 😉
There’s a lot kids can learn on a playground — communication skills, balance, coordination, and even conquering a fear (you know, when you get to the top of that tall slide and don’t want to come down).
Have Mom or Dad join in with the play too — Don’t let kids have all the fun! Take along this FREE printable playground scavenger hunt to see what new equipment you can discover.
3. Have a Picnic
One of the most popular park activities that can be done with friends, family or your favorite canine. It doesn’t have to be fancy or a big deal either — Just grab a blanket (we love taking this foldable waterproof picnic blanket with us!) and take lunch to the park one afternoon. I promise, your kids will talk about it for weeks!
4. Hike a Trail
Get out and explore some unknown path or one of the marked trails – be adventurous!
Check your park’s trail map for the length of each trail and choose one that best fits your family. Here are some of our best Tips for Hiking with Kids along with a FREE printable Nature Scavenger Hunt you can take with you (inspiration to keep them walking & looking for the next item 😉
5. Play a Game
Another idea includes taking a Frisbee, football or kickball with you and get moving during your visit. Or try a new game like Slammo (a 2 on 2 outdoor game for older kids and adults) or the super fun Knock Off Frisbee toss game!
Or play a fun game of keep-away or tag as a family. You can find more park game ideas here: 30 Games to Play at the Park
6. Observe the Wildlife
On our walk through the park last week, we saw a coyote! Yep, right in the middle of suburbia. You can frequently see rabbits, birds of prey, deer, squirrels and other animals in the park and kids will enjoy watching their antics.
Take along this FREE printable Animal Observation Journal, a pencil/pen, grab a pair of Kids’ Binoculars so you can get an close-up look and record your wildlife sightings! Or take along this Outdoor Explorer Kit and let kids roam free for a while and soak up nature!
7. Find Something New
Be on the look-out for cool outdoor things! We came upon this ‘stick shelter’ on a recent visit to a county park — it was fun to tuck in and explore for a bit.
You might see an animal you’ve never spotted before or even a really neat structure. Many National Parks have historic homes or monuments — some even have lighthouses you can visit!
What to do at a Park Near Me
8. Be a Shutterbug
Grab a camera and see what inspires you! It’s always interesting to see what kids will decide to photograph. Take along this FREE printable Photo Scavenger Hunt to inspire kids to get started snapping a few pics!
9. Hunt for Bugs
One thing you can always count on finding at a park — bugs. 🙂
However in this case, that’s a good thing!
The National Park Trust & National Geographic sent us this beautiful book 1000 Facts about Insects (pictured above) — Grab a copy of the free printable Bug Scavenger Hunt and see what cool insects you can find on your visit.
10. Go on a Park Treasure Hunt
Have you ever tried geocaching?
It’s a great outdoor challenge to do together and a wonderful activity if you have reluctant tweens & teens who need some inspiration to get outdoors for a bit 😉
It’s a fun family activity that’s free to do. Just download an app for your phone or iPad (there are many free geocaching apps) or visit www.opencaching.com, type in your zip code and you can see which parks near you have hidden caches.
11. Take a Ride
If your park has paved trails, enjoy an afternoon bike ride together.
Or if there’s a pond or lake at the park, jump in a kayak or canoe for a boat ride — one of our favorite summer outings! Here are some great Tips for Kayaking with Kids to inspire you!
There are some great family volunteer opportunities in local, state and national parks. First, you can help keep the trails clean, take care of your local pond or assist during community event days.
In addition, you can also visit a park and participate in a Citizen Scientist program! These are super cool to do — just find one that interests you (maybe it’s bees or birds) and collect pictures & observations during your visit. Learn how to get involved –> 12 Amazing Citizen Scientist Projects for Kids
13. Read a Book about the Parks
A few of our favorite ‘park-related reads’ include:
The Junior Ranger Activity Book: Puzzles, Games, Facts, and Tons More Fun Inspired by the U.S. National Parks! is exactly as the title says — puzzles, games and SO many nature facts about parks from around the US!
Kids will use the National Geographic Kids Guide to the National Parks to get up close and personal with the wildlife and natural wonders they will see and experience on park visits. This is a great book if you’re trying to decide which parks are the best for your family.
We can’t forget creative fun — the National Parks Coloring Book published by Dover (the folks who do those awesome mini-sticker and detailed coloring books for kids!) It not only has detailed park illustrations to color but also some wonderful facts about each of the parks!
And no matter which park you visit, the Journey Around Our National Parks gives readers an A to Z look at all the parks, historic sites and national lands along with the diverse experiences that exisit throughout the park system. It’s a little nature, history & geography all wrapped in one book 😉
14. Bring along a Nature Journal
Whether it’s a sketch book for drawing or a homemade nature journal, a park visit is the perfect time to learn about nature! Choose from 70+ free printable nature activities & learn how to make your own DIY Nature Journal from a paper bag.
15. Become a Jr. Ranger
Most national parks and many state parks have Jr. Ranger programs! Your kids can download or pick up a booklet, complete some fun nature activities during your visit. Once complete, they can earn a badge or certificate.
We’ve done more than a dozen of these as our kids have grown. And each time we learn something totally new and different! Check with the park ranger or your park’s website to find out How to Become a Junior Ranger before you go.
16. Explore the Trees at a Park Near You
Parks are a great places to explore a variety of trees and learn a little science — try this Dendrochronology STEM activity (the study of tree rings). You can view different types of leaves, tree seeds and talk about the various ways trees are used by animals.
Another one of our favorite books to bring to the park or on a nature hike is Nature Anatomy (pictured above). You’ll be able to identify trees, insects, animals and more with this awesome handbook that’s perfect for kids & adults!
17. Just Play
When kids are presented with large open spaces, they will always find something fun to do. Cartwheels, races, spinning — just provide them some room and they will play.
Enjoy your next Park Adventure!
More Fun Things to do at a Park Near Me:
10 Fabulous Outdoor Science Tools for Kids
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