5 close by summer getaways every kid should experience

Summer vacation is quickly approaching. While I have the best intentions, I have yet to plan a family vacation or getaway this year. Blame my procrastination on being busy, overwhelmed or a variety of excuses, the extravagant vacation has not been planned.

But, why does a summer vacation have to be some over-indulgent, over-priced adventure.  There are many inexpensive, fun activities that are close to home. Since our family is close to a major metropolitan city (Chicago), I've though of 5 great summer getaways that are close to home, don't require a ton of planning, and won't break the bank.

Here are my five suggestions for summer getaways that every kid should experience.

1. Visit a museum: In the Chicago area, we are fortunate to have numerous, world-class museums. From the Art Institute to the Field Museum or the Adler Planetarium to the Shedd Aquarium, there are options for every kid's favorite genre. For the dinosaur lovers, the Field Museum's Sue is a definite must see. This summer the Field Museum has an exhibit on giant whales. The enormity of these creatures will make your jaw drop. Also, the Shedd Aquarium has an exhibit on jelly fish (Jellies). I could stare at the colors and simplicity of these creatures all day.

2. Visit a firehouse:  Do you remember as a child how in awe you were of firemen?  To my boys, firemen are the ultimate heroes. They save the day. In our area, many firehouses will give free tours to young children. Our preschool classes have taken tours of local firehouses. The kids got to see the fire truck, all the gear and experience a fire drill. It made my kids smile and it didn't cost a dime.

3. Take the kids to a sporting event:  I know what you are thinking, a sporting event do you know how much that costs?  While professional sporting events can be expensive (trust me, buying Chicago Cubs tickets for a 5 year old is a little much), look to see if there are minor league teams in your area. In the Chicago area, the Kane County Cougars is a perfect outing for families. For under $50 for a family of 4, you can get reserved seats to a professional baseball game. If you want to sit on the lawn, tickets are even less. Plus, the kids get to run the bases after the game. A little leaguer's dream to run around a real baseball diamond.

4. Visit a national park. Of course, when I say national park, many people's minds go to the Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. But there are many national parks close to home. For example, in Indiana, the Indiana dunes are a great day trip. The dunes are close to Lake Michigan. It's a fun way to explore nature and get outside as a family.

5. Spend a day volunteering at a charity. What better way to teach your children a valuable characteristic than to give their time to a worthy cause. While my kids know how to give toys and money to a charity, a day at a local food pantry, animal shelter or other charitable organization can bring the idea of charity home. Of course, any family should check with each organization to inquire about any age limitations.

These are just a few thoughts about some possible summer getaways for your family. Whether you planning to go far away or are staying close to home, summer is a time to spend some quality time together.

What are you plans for summer?  Let me know your thoughts and we can expand our list.

Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here. For my complete disclosure policy, please see www.more4momsbuck.com/disclosure.

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