~:: by Debi Huang of Go Explore Nature ::~
I should preface my response by pointing out that we don’t believe nature and the great outdoors is something we have to travel to a national park to see (though we love to do so!). Even though we live in the very urban jungle of Los Angeles, we still find ways to get outside and into nature as a family right in our own neighborhood.
If you’d like to spend more time outside with your family, you don’t have to invest an entire weekend or tons of money. You don’t even have to be that adventurous! All you need is a bit of patience and a sense of wonder.
As proof, take a look-see at some of our favorite things to do outside as a family.
Neighborhood Nature Walks
Like most people, our weekdays are pretty busy. Sometimes the simplest way for us to get outside together is by taking a walk around the neighborhood.
Of course, we like to make our walks fun. Sometimes we’re out looking for nature “treasures;” other times we add a kid-friendly element such as a camera or flashlight. We’ve even given special names to certain parts of our neighborhood (like “stick alley” and “pine cone corner”) to help make our walks feel more like grand adventures.
Tide Pool Discoveries
We’re lucky enough to live less than 30 minutes away from the coast – and we take advantage of that fact all year long. But not for surfing or catching rays like many others might. We spend our time at the beach touring tide pools, searching for seashells and exploring sea caves.
Don’t live close to the beach? Explore a local lake, river, stream or pond instead. Any body of water offers a world of potential discoveries.
My husband and I share a passion for seeing animals in the wild. (We spent our honeymoon with polar bears along Hudson Bay if that’s any indication.) These days we share that passion with our kids.
Within driving distance of Los Angeles, we’ve gone whale watching (both aboard a boat and from shore), Monarch Butterfly watching and bird watching (wetlands, marshes and lakes are perfect spots for this).
Bike Rides to the Beach
We’ve found that our kids are much more motivated to ride when there’s a special destination in mind. So sometimes we’ll pack a picnic and ride to the beach. If you don’t have a beach nearby, head to a local park instead.
We spend a fair amount of time on local trails, but not necessarily with an end destination in mind. We look for trails with kid-friendly features like a waterfall, rock pile, forest or river. Sometimes we invite friends along. And sometimes we turn our walk into a high-tech treasure hunt by geocaching. Just don’t forget to bring along the snacks!
Your turn! What is your favorite way to get outside and into nature as a family?
ABOUT DEBI: Debi Huang is a Los Angeles-based wife, mom and adventure guide for two young boys. Her blog at Go Explore Nature is all about getting kids and families outdoors and connected to nature – whether in your own backyard or beyond.
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