Summer Planning: Places
Last week, I outlined how I was planning to make sure we maximized our summer fun. Over the past few years, I’ve liked to try and work in one outing a week. Of course, we go to the library and the playground and we meet up with Auntie Awesome to go to the lake for swimming, but I like to try and make sure I’m fitting in at least one “special” outing a week.
This doesn’t have to be expensive! I know that these little trips and admission fees can add up, but it doesn’t have to be pricey. Here’s some of our tried, tested and girlie approved summer outings that will make their way into our “places” summer fun jar.
1) Bowling. I cannot say enough about the Kids Bowl Free program. NO gimmicks. Your kids can bowl free. Two games. Every single weekday of the summer. Our local lanes allow free bowling from April 15 to September 3 AND you can buy a shoe rental card that, for a few dollars, will cover the cost of your child’s shoe rental for the entire season. Kiddos must be 15 and under, but it’s a lot of fun for the prices of shoes and a few snacks at the snack bar
2) The Zoo. We bought a family membership to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium last summer. We’ll be renewing this year. Thanks to free parking and a pretty strict souvenir policy and the ability to bring in our own drinks and snacks, trips to the zoo are a pretty affordable adventure for our family. Being zoo members also allows us to visit other zoos for reduced fees as well, so we’re not only limited to our home zoo. It’s a great way to save money on vacation fun, too. Use your membership! We got into the Milwaukee Zoo for free during a recent trip.
3) Chuck E. Cheese. Okay, Moms, don’t boo me out of the room. Hear me out. We usually visit a few times a summer. I’ve been there for weekend birthday parties too. It’s insane, right? But, on a Monday morning before lunch? Chuck E Cheese is a ghost town. We order snacks and drinks and the girls play for a couple hours. It’s a great place to find respite from the summer heat and I like to play the games, too.
4) Indoor playgrounds. We’re so lucky to have a great local one. And, I admit, indoor playground time is one of my favorites. At our local indoor playground, there’s a nice couch that faces the entire playground. I can settle in with an iced coffee and watch the girls play without worrying about where they’re wandering. To be honest, during some days and times things can get a bit crowded, but if you can tune out the little voices, this is a great activity. I’ll give an honorable mention to indoor inflatable businesses as well. We do have one locally to us, but I don’t like them as much as our local indoor playground. I like to be able to easily see the girls and the indoor playground fits the bill better. For a less expensive alternative (read; free!) head to your local mall. Most have small, indoor playsets with comfy seats and easy viewing so Mom and Dad can relax while the kiddos play.
5) Spray Parks. We have to drive into Pittsburgh to find our closest one, but for me it’s worth the drive. I get a little nervous trying to watch all three girls (no the Princess doesn’t need it, yes I still watch her like a hawk) at a pool. We have a great pool in our city park, but without Big Daddy I”m just not comfortable. Spray parks give the girls the ability to play in the water and I can worry a LOT less. We’ll combine ours with a trip to Trader Joe’s to make the drive more than worth while.
6) The Science Center and Children’s Museums. Again, we’re members which drives our cost per visit down. We’ve been members of the Carnegie Science Center (and I may re-up this year) and are currently members of Oh Wow! our local science center.
Got any great suggestions? We’re always open to something fun!