Culinary adventures, epic beach picnics, messy outdoor art ideas, and more!
We can hardly believe it either! It’s time for spring break again, and while we’re still not quite back in our usual modes of travel, it doesn’t mean it can’t be a week of good old family fun. After a year of changes and adjustments (not to mention Zoom school for most kids in the country), it’s time to get inventive with ideas to keep everyone entertained even if you’re not roaming too far from your home base. From backyard camping nights to culinary explorations, messy outdoor art days, beach picnics, or even an at-home movie marathon, we’re sharing plenty of fun ways to make this spring break one to cherish.
Head outside & reconnect with nature at its finest
Sometimes the most incredible landscapes and adventures can be found at the closest national or state park or preserve. Pack the kiddos and the car for a day trip of exploring the great outdoors; to keep the littles occupied for a car ride of an hour or more, craft a family scavenger hunt incorporating interesting sights you can spy from the road. Unsure of what may be open and available in your area? The U.S. National Parks Service has a great tool on its site, enabling you to seek out your state’s closest spots.
Let imaginations run wild with messy outdoor arts & crafts
Kids love getting messy, and so when we allow them to get as messy as possible—all while letting their imaginations run wild with creativity—it could end up being the best day ever! Head outside to your backyard (or local park or playground) and bring some stain-proof tarps or plastic sheets to lay down. Tape up long sheets of activity paper, circle bubble wrap around trees, lay down canvases, fill water balloons with paint, and bring out all the tools of the trade to get creative. There are plenty of ideas for individual art stations that you can riff on—or feel free to create your own magic without structure or rules.
Travel the world from home with new food adventures
While planning that overseas vacation may still be on hold, there’s no reason why you can’t create some culinary travel memories in your city or town. Research local restaurants that feature cuisine you may not have tried before and plan out a few meals or dining experiences that you can enjoy together. Add some food history to the mix with exciting facts about each dish’s origins for the older kids. And for the young ones, create a mini edible passport that they can stamp and then jot down notes, doodles, and sketches of their favorites.
Pack the sleeping bag & tent for a backyard camping trip
What sounds better than a night under the stars complete with a tent, fire pit, and S'mores? If you are lucky to have a little backyard, patio, or even rooftop space, make the most of it and set up a camping evening for you and the kids. Pack as you usually would with sleeping bags, thermos for hot cacao (or a hot toddy for the parents), and let the kids’ imaginations run wild in the great outdoors. If you have a fire pit or outdoor grill, there are plenty of campfire recipes to inspire the night’s dinner, and then afterward, you can switch to spooky stories and roasted marshmallows to keep everyone entertained. The best part about setting up mere yards from the house? When it’s time to use the restroom, the family can run inside instead of navigating the woods!
Have the kiddos help prep a picnic & enjoy a family beach day
Every year, when the weather starts to bring us those first few warm spring days, it’s like an energy boost for the entire family. If you’re lucky to have a beach or a body of water close to home, take advantage of the open space by planning a day of adventure with the kiddos. Start at home and have them work on a fun picnic lunch to pack and bring with you. A twist on pasta salad, fruit and cheese kabobs, and hummus and veggie wraps are great options to snack on (and they’ll keep well in a small cooler). Then pack up the car with your sun shades, blankets, and any beach toys that will keep them occupied on the sand or by the shore.
Take a virtual cooking class the whole family can get involved in
If your kiddos like to help you in the kitchen, planning a unique cooking or baking class with a professional chef or culinary student during their break is a great idea. This past year saw many local schools and businesses pivoting to online courses, and they make for a great hands-on activity that the whole family can reap the rewards of! Whether you want to focus on baking, learn some famous dishes from other countries like Jamaica, Japan, Thailand, and more, or even sign up for a virtual spring break cooking camp—there are plenty of opportunities for those who want to fine-tune their culinary skills!
Create a mini-science fair at home with interactive experiments
Some kids may want a pause from anything school-related, while others are still craving interactive learning—especially if it involves weird and wonderful science experiments that they can have fun exploring with you right alongside them. San Francisco’s Exploratorium has some excellent thought-starters that you can set up to keep them entertained and help create an understanding of some basic scientific concepts along the way. Plenty of science activities use mostly household or easily-available materials, so you’ll be creating your own at-home Science Fair before you know it.
Get the whole family involved with a DIY outdoor obstacle course
There’s nothing better than getting the kids outside to burn off some energy with games and activities (especially after all that online learning!) If the usual list of go-to games doesn’t sound appealing, creating their very own outdoor obstacle course will provide hours and hours of amusement. The bonus? You can 100% make use of things you already have in the house or garage (think hula hoops, pool noodles, or a spare tire or two). Depending on your children’s age, you can incorporate more challenging stops along the way or add interactive stations to encourage even more tactile play. If your crew is a little older, there are even more advanced Ninja Warrior style kits you can buy online a set up for some homegrown competition.
Set up the living room for the ultimate movie marathon
We all love an opportunity to watch a movie together as a family—so why not loosen usual bedtime rules and let the night become a sleepover-style movie marathon? Now that’s a special treat that the kids will be thrilled about! Make the space feel extra festive with lots of pillows, blankets, and even sleeping bags laid out on the floor. Twinkle lights can set the magic mood along with movie-style snacks and drinks to enjoy while you watch. If you want to make a night of it, you can pre-print your tickets, complete with coupons for the concession stand.
Rent an RV & hit the highway for an epic family road trip
While you may not be packing the suitcases and heading to the airport with the fam, destination trips don’t have to be entirely off-limits. One idea that’s gained more appreciation and a following from adventurous families in the past year is renting an RV to get out and see some more of our beautiful country. Whether you choose a smaller camper van or spring for the larger full-size RV (perfect for larger families), you’re sure to create the best memories as you make stops on the way to your destination. Kick up the nostalgia and bring a paper map that the kids can help guide out your route on, and don’t forget to pack the camera! Visit points of interest, national parks, or even roadside diners or restaurants before you settle into one of the many camping grounds or RV parks that provide a place to stop and safely spend the night.