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6 Epic Summer Adventures That Are (Almost) Free

Go on a scavenger hunt, take a ride on public transportation, go geocaching and more

Published on: July 18, 2019

kids on bus

Summertime can quickly turn into survival mode when you’re trying to keep kids from getting bored or grumpy during those long days without school. With a little planning, a few simple summer adventures can kickstart your kids’ creativity and engage their interests. 

These easy (and cheap) ideas will keep everyone busy and have your kids raving about their summer adventures when they're back in school.

Ride public transportation.

If you have any form of public transportation in your area, use it to your advantage. Whether it’s a bus, train or tram, kids love to ride along. We often plan adventures with our smaller children that are based primarily on the mode of transportation to and from the event or activity. Choose a destination on the train or bus line and have your children practice buying tickets or handing over money for added educational benefits that are just plain fun for them.

In Seattle, we've got plenty of train adventures to choose from — you can ride the monorail, take a streetcar, hop the light rail to SeaTac or take a longer journey to Kent on the Sounder train.

Set up a city scavenger hunt.

The best birthday party I ever attended involved a city-wide scavenger hunt with two teams of friends and the help of some parents. We scurried around town, hunting for the locations set out by the birthday girl’s parents. It was a stellar idea for a middle-school adventure and the only cost was money for the gas.

You could easily turn a scavenger hunt into an epic learning adventure about your town. Get some ideas from this scavenger hunt that explores the hidden corners of Seattle and focuses on all the great art around the city. 

Go geocaching.

For kids who love treasure hunting, geocaching is equally thrilling. You simply use a GPS-enabled device to find specific coordinates and then look for a hidden box with the “treasure.” The treasure is usually a trinket or perhaps just a list of people who have found the cache before you, but it’s the search that’s really the fun and rewarding part.

You’ll find geocaching opportunities in even the most remote places (the small town where I grew up even has an abundance!), and the Geocaching app will alert you to the difficulty in finding the cache, the terrain to get to it, and even gets you involved in bigger puzzles to solve in order to figure out its location.

Create a miniature golf course.

I love activities that allow children to build and create, and making a mini golf course is one such idea. For the next week or two, stockpile all of the packaging materials that come through your door. On mini golf day, supply your children and a gaggle of their friends with all of those materials, plus lots of tape and scissors. Let them go to town creating their own mini golf obstacles, and then let them try the course. They’ll want to make it tough enough to stump their friends, but not too tricky that they can’t get through it themselves. Sticks and balls can be bought for this purpose, or you create your own club and ball with repurposed household items. 


Host "Master Chef Junior."

For a rainy Seattle summer day, try hosting your own family "Master Chef Junior." Creating a little friendly competition is a great way to get kids involved in cooking or to introduce your whole family to new ingredients. Assign different courses to your kids, and give them a handful of ingredients to use that can inspire their creativity. You could even make the grocery trip an epic adventure, giving a strict timeline for picking out ingredients and meeting at the checkout or risk getting docked points. 

Set up your own Olympics.

If your childhood summer memories include Kick the Can and Capture the Flag, you’ll probably want to share those games (and memories) with your kids. You can turn it into an adventure by setting up an old-school summer Olympics in your back yard or local park.

This list from Mashable provides a ton of options (with varying difficulty levels) to choose from, and you can put together the right mix based on your kids’ ages and your stock of supplies. Hopscotch, musical chairs, double Dutch jump rope — they’re all throwbacks to when we were kids that can be combined into an Olympics-style event. 

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