Family Activities: Cheap, Fast, Fun!
Having fun made easy
More fun than a theme park
Can't stand the roller coaster -- or even the carousel? Don't sweat it. Amusement parks' amusements are often lost on young kids. For tots who are usually strapped in a car seat behind you, with only a view of the back of your head, sitting next to you in any mode of transportation is their definition of an amusing and exciting ride.
Take a quick trip If your preschooler is constantly singing about the wheels on the bus -- but has never had the opportunity to ride one -- she'll find actually getting on and seeing the wipers go swish, swish, swish and hearing the horn go beep, beep, beep a real treat, even if you have no place to go and just ride round-trip. Ditto for trains and ferries.
Head to the mall...but not to shop If you get there as soon as it opens, before the crowds arrive, your kids can jump from one colored tile to another, slide and pretend to skate in their socks on slick floors, take a ride in a glass elevator, and sing in the echo of an underground parking garage. (This indoor outing is especially great for blustery or rainy days.)
Milk the park for everything it's got Look for poles to twirl around, logs to balance on, and hills to roll down. Even a simple park bench can be a spaceship, boat, or covered wagon -- and you'll likely have the perfect ending to any outing: a child who's ready for a nice, long nap.
Barbara Rowley is a mom of two and a contributing editor at Parenting.