8 Great Free Toddler Outings

Family Hiking
Photo by LuminousMom
I don't know about you, but if we spend too much time at home, my daughter and I both start to get cranky. Beyond our usual errands, I try to plan outings that keep our days interesting.

There's a good discussion started on this topic in the Toddler Moms forum, so I've taken some ideas from there, added a few of my own, and put together this list that will hopefully give you some inspiration as summer vacation approaches.

  1. A pet store. Even if you don't have a pet, it's fun to go and look at the animals. Just be warned that there's a danger you'll be convinced to bring one home.
  2. Lowe's and Home Depot. Kids love these stores -- the big wide aisles, looking at all the tools, seeing the riding lawn mowers. Some of the hardware stores even have classes for kids.
  3. Bookstores and libraries. Most libraries I've been to lately not only have great children's books to read, but also nice little play centers, areas to color, computer games, and other fun toddler activities. Most also have story hours and programs.
  4. Fire station. Call first, but a lot of fire stations are happy to give children tours and let them look at the trucks.
  5. Hiking. Even the tiniest toddlers can do a short hike. Pack a picnic, let them explore the rocks and trees, and enjoy nature together.
  6. A nursery or garden center. My kids love looking at all the plant varieties and flowers, and I usually let them get a small plant of their own so they can (try to) take care of it at home.
  7. Farmers' market. Get your shopping done and entertain the children at the same time. A lot of vendors give out samples of their wares, which is a great way to get your children to try new foods.
  8. The play center at your local mall. I often walk right past these holding my breath for fear of all the germs, but on a hot day, if you go during an off-time when it's not too crowded, it can be a fun little air-conditioned outing. Just bring hand sanitizer.

What kind of outings do you do with your toddler?

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