As I turn the calendar page to June, I get giddy. Summer break, I’m a teacher, is almost here and all I can think about is, “Finally! Play dates during the day are possible. I love having my friends to my house, but am just as happy to go to theirs, or even to the park, mall, or anywhere, really. It’s the thrill of being with friends that I enjoy the most.
Here are some of my favorite summertime play date ideas:
1) Play outside! We have a mini swing set in our backyard and a water table. That plus some chalk and our bubble machine usually keeps kids busy for at least an hour. (Add the bounce house and kiddie pool, and you have a whole day set).
2) Go to a park…preferably one with not too big equipment. I’ve found two or three perfect playgrounds within a 15 minutes drive. One even has a water pad, so on super hot days, we head there after nap time.
3) Join the local nature center. We did this winter for relatively low costv. It’s been great because their playground is awesome, and they usually have an event a month for a few dollars that provides hours of fun.
4) Beach!!!! As long as you can handle the sand (TIP: baby powder gets the sand off much more easily!)
5) Local aquariums, zoos, petting farms, and children museums….Here’s my big “steal deal”…find out if a friend is a member somewhere you aren’t. Switch those free passes and share the love! Also, some library have free (or discount) passes you can check out!!
6) Indoor play areas. For those days that it’s rainy or we need a break from the outdoors, we head to the mall. Our mall has a pretty good indoor play area, even though we can’t bring beverages/food in the area, it’s a nice place to meet up and let the kids run free.
7) Book stores and libraries. Usually there are free story times, toys to gently play with, and you CAN drink your necessary coffee while chatting with a mom about what latest developmental milestone your child has mastered. My favorite library is the Darien Library. Check out its kid programming!
8) Grocery store….as long as you aren’t REALLY shopping, trust me, it can be fun! Set a budget of $5-10 (or whatever you are comfortable with) and let the kid(s) pick something. Depending on how old s/he is, weave in some math!
9) Art places & music classes: sometimes they will either sell you a one day pass or let you try a free class….work it!
10) Inside water parks or theme parks in general. My personal rule of thumb is to not drive more hours than my son is old in one distance to get to these kind of playdates. I also try to find a Groupon/LivingSocial deal to cut entrance fees. I scored a Groupon last summer for Coco Keys Water Resort and it was so worth it!
What are your favorite play date places? Share the love and add to the list!