If packing and passports isn’t your family’s thing, there are plenty of places within reach for making summer memories. Check out these ideas for day or weekend trips that don’t require hours in the car or on a plane:
If you’re on the coast or not too far from it, a day at the beach makes almost everyone happy. Depending on where you live in relation to the beach, this can be both a weekend trip or day trip.
Franki Bagdade of FAAB Consulting is a limited licensed social worker and mom of three whose family loves spending time at the beach.
“Sometimes my dopamine-seeking ADHDers will complain they are bored if the water temp isn’t perfect or the line at the water slide is too long,” says Bagdade. She expects this and packs accordingly, bringing things like sand toys, sand sifters, rock polishers (or dollar store scrub brushes), activity books and bubbles.
“If they still complain of boredom — OK, when they still complain of boredom — I remind them of what I packed, and our expectations,” she says. She uses this script: “We’re staying at the beach until noon. I’m sorry you’re bored and that can be annoying, but I suggest you try something in the beach bag, go swimming, or come up with your own idea.”
The beach is a great destination even if not everyone in your family is a swimmer. Whether it has a busy boardwalk, mini golf, a nature trail or some other featured activities nearby, there’s something for everyone. And being at the beach just feels like summer!
When your house starts to feel like a zoo, why not head out to the actual zoo? Many metropolitan areas have a zoo or aquarium, and these days, there’s often more to the zoo than just the animals. Some zoos now have a few rides and may even offer a few live shows as well. And walking around the zoo is a great way to burn off the energy that may have built up during the car ride there.
Another family outing Bagdade loves in the summer is something they call “mystery tour.”
“My husband picks out three or four stops in an area less than 45 minutes away,” she explains. “Then we give the kids clues as we drive to each spot. The clues include anything from a new donut spot, a pretty outdoor fountain for making a wish, or a new splash pad. I do my best to pick out one spot that will likely click with each of my kids.”
Amusement parks are typically a great match for active and adventurous kids with ADHD. Keep an eye out for coupons and deals to lower the cost of such a high-energy outing; with meals and souvenirs to consider, things can add up quickly. Consider packing your own snacks if possible (or head out to the car for a food break if you can’t bring outside food into the park) and set a budget ahead of time for souvenirs to avoid disappointment-driven meltdowns.
If you’re a family with kids who have ADHD (or even parents), museums are likely to be the least exciting option. However, there are many interactive museums with hands-on activities that will keep wandering minds engaged. And not all museums are full of only art or historic artifacts. With a little online research, you’ll find special LEGO-based exhibits, fashion-focused exhibits and more. Ask your kids about their interests and which museum they’d love to see. Then save that day trip for a rainy day when all-day swimming, hiking or other outdoor-based activity isn’t possible.
State parks, national parks and other privately-run campgrounds across the country are an affordable and adventure-friendly option for ADHD families. Most campgrounds also offer a daily schedule of family activities on site. So if sitting around the campfire isn’t everyone’s speed, your kids are likely to find something else they like.
Have a foodie in the family? Or just enjoy trying new foods as a family? Build a day trip or even a weekend getaway around a famous restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, or to “eat around the world” and try cuisines of different cultures.
From the mountains to the countryside, from the bustling big city to the charming small town, from the farm to the forest and carnivals or fairs in between, you’ll find there’s plenty to do without going too far. With a little planning and online research — and by checking your local newspaper, radio station, library or regional/local social media travel accounts — you’ll find that your next family adventure is out there.