Friday, April 19, 2013

Seven Ways to Enjoy a Park

By Lesli Peterson 

Lesli is co-founder and editor at Expedition Mom, a North American family-travel website specializing in experiential “KNOW before you go” Adventure Guides and City Itineraries, with a Southern twist. 

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April 20 – 28 is National Park Week in which visitors can gain entrance to our National Parks for free. Whether you are visiting one of Georgia’s 11 National Parks, 63 State Parks or the thousands of local parks around the state, there are an unlimited number of ways for your family to enjoy themselves. Below are seven of my favorites:

1. Enjoy a picnic – Picnics don’t have to be extravagant to be fun. Keep an old quilt in the trunk for an impromptu spread. Lay it out for a packed basket or fast food from a drive through. Even a simple apple tastes better on a blanket in the shade.

2. Play in a stream – Take off your shoes and dip your toes in the water. Kids will love sitting on the bank, collecting smooth stones. If your clothes get a little wet, the sunshine is nature’s best solution.

3. Fly a kite – Many of Georgia’s parks have expansive areas that are perfect for teaching kids how to handle a kite. Springtime in the south offers the best chance for perfect wind.

4. Nature Scavenger Hunt – Find a pinecone, an ant bed, or a butterfly. Kids of all ages can enjoy scavenger hunts. Pinterest depicts a surplus of printables for this kind of fun, including pictorial-based hunts for non-readers.

5. Sidewalk Chalk – Let kids enjoy writing their name on the sidewalks or adding smiley faces to large boulders as you hike. Chalk is non-toxic and washes away in the rain. Give them an opportunity to use Mother Nature as their canvas.

6. Magnifying Glass – Keep an inexpensive magnifying glass in the glove compartment for examining the world-in-miniature. Follow a beetle along his path, or explore a blade of grass up close.

7. Paper Boats – Use biodegradable paper with non-toxic ink to create several boats (this is a fun project all by itself.) Then take those boats to the park and watch them float down stream.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy Georgia’s parks? 

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