When you're traveling with the kids, simply finding a playground or quiet park where the family can blow off steam can mean the difference between a happy vacation and the mad mom in a minivan syndrome.
Especially on road trips where you're stopping at random spots along the highway, kids need an hour to just run around and be kids.
But if you don't know where you'll be stopping, how do you know where to take the kids?
Here are four websites to bookmark for your trip.
1. Discover the Forest from the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. Plug in a zip code, and this site will give you directions to a spot within 15, 25, or 50 miles with a legend describing services from camping to fishing to biking and hiking.
Also available from the site is the Nature Find app so you can locate these services on your iPhone.
2. KaBOOM! Find a Playspace. Use your zip code to find a playspace and add your own favorites! The site even lets you upload pictures -- which other parents will find helpful when planning their trip.
3. National Park Service Find a Park. Not just limited to Yellowstone and the like, this site allows you to find any facility maintained by the NPS by location, topic, activity, and of course name. Who said they won't learn anything on this vacation?
4. LL Bean Park Search. You don't have to spend a dime at this outdoor gear retailer to take advantage of their park program, but it still gives you dozens of choices. Choose an area of the country and the type of facilities you need (including, but not limited to, children's activities), and it does it all for you.
Do you map out where the parks will be before you go on a trip?
Image via foundphotoslj/Flickr