Time to Enjoy the Summer
There are a few things you can usually count on every summer. It’s going to be hot, your utility bill is going to increase from running the air conditioning non-stop, and if you’ve got kids, you’ll usually get a complaint or two about how they don’t have anything to do.
No matter what their age your kids are probably going to utter the traditional children’s summer anthem, “I’m so bored.” Whether they’re in a summer program for part of the school break or you’re a stay-at-home or work-from-home parent, why not consider taking a little time to reconnect with your kids and possibly even your own inner child with these fun activities you can do together.
Just Like Riding a Bike
If you weren’t aware, the bike trails in and around Central Florida are fantastic. No matter what part of the area you live in, there’s likely a paved, bike trail near you. In Seminole County there is Little Econ Greenway and Seminole-Wekiva Trail. In Orange County there’s the West Orange Trail and Cady Way Trail. You’ll find parks to stop at to refresh yourself, bike air pump stations and even some horses along the way. Don’t have a bike or have kids too small to bike? Don’t worry. You can rent a bike (and helmet) or a toddler bike trailer so your little ones can still enjoy the ride.
Map Your Ride: TrailLink.com, or your county’s parks and recreation department.
Bike Rentals: WGWheelworks.com, OrlandoBikeRental.com
Take ‘em Out to a Ball Game
Several Major League Baseball teams do their spring training in sunny Florida, but did you know that many also get their rookies from the Florida Complex League (FCL)? This rookie-level circuit has operated in Florida since 1964. Previously known as the Gulf Coast League, most games are played throughout the summer at Major League Spring Training Complexes and are free to the public.
Opening day was June 6 and closing day will be August 23. Games are played at FCL fields all over Florida including Bradenton, Sarasota, Clearwater, Lakeland, and Fort Myers. Go out and enjoy America’s pastime. You might just see the next Derek Jeter or Willie Mays out there.
Games and Field Info: milb.com/florida-complex
Helping others is a great learning experience that can teach kids empathy, grow their communication skills, and better understand the diversity of their community. Hands on Orlando is a volunteer organization that helps families find volunteer opportunities across Central Florida. A great go-to volunteer organization in the area to consider giving your time to is Second Harvest Food Bank. They need volunteers to sort food every week. Kids as young as 10 years old can volunteer with an adult and teens 16 years old or older can volunteer without one. Spending time with your child giving to others will have a positive impact not just on your family, but the community too.
Find Where to Volunteer: VolunteerMatch.org
Local Volunteer Opportunities: FeedHopeNow.com (Second Harvest Food Bank), HandsOnOrlando.com
Camping and Glamping
Roughing it outdoors may be a lot of fun to some families while it might sound like torture to others. Pick your level of camping comfort and make memories with your kiddos. If you want flush toilets and electricity, look into renting a modern cabin in a state park (take note: reservations should be made a season in advance). You can ditch the creature’s comforts, sleep under the stars or set up a tent to get a little more primitive. A visit to Lake Kissimmee State Park’s Cow Camp is like taking a trip back in time.
For more civilized fun, check out Lake Louisa State Park’s cabin rentals. Cabins accommodate up to six people, have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen with appliances and a dining/living room.
Plan Your Visit/Make Reservations: FloridaStateParks.org
Dig Up Your Roots
The Roots and Branches Genealogy Group meets the last Tuesday of the month at Tavares Public Library. You and your older kids might enjoy finding out more about your ancestors. Get help with dating historical photographs, understanding turn-of-the-century customs, and uncovering your past. The Central Florida Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society usually meets monthly at the downtown branch of the Orange County Public Library the first Saturday of each month. However, the group does not meet in July or August.
If you can’t find a genealogy group to meet up with, just get on the internet. There are plenty of free sites you can use to access the national archives, census records, immigration records, and military service records. Don’t forget the journey you take together—physically or figuratively— is part of the fun.
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society: AAHGS.org
Central Florida Genealogical Society: CFGS.org
The National Archives: archives.gov/research/genealogy
Dollar for Dollar
While working might not sound like summer fun to you, your kids might find it entertaining and lucrative. Gen Z may not be ready for babysitting to earn money, but there’s still plenty of ways to make a buck. Think about something your child is good at and see if there’s a market for it. Selling handmade items such as slime, playdough, hair accessories, book markers, Christmas ornaments, key chains or fridge magnets could prove financially fruitful. Check out your local craft store for
ideas on things to make and sell. If service seems more up your child’s alley think dog walking, lawn mowing or plant watering. Of course, your child’s abilities and age should be considered before setting up shop. Supervise as needed but try to let your child be the boss.
Operation Recreation GeoTour (ORGT) brings the thrill of a scavenger hunt with the great outdoors by adding geocaching. ORGT has a special geocaching tour for kids that includes a special geocoin prize. From Pensacola to Key West, all 71 of Florida’s state parks and trails are in on the fun (don’t worry, you don’t have to visit all the parks to complete the geotour). You can get your Operation Recreation Kids GeoTour or the general ORGT tracking sheet online and start looking.
Florida Parks Geocaching Tour: Geocaching.com, FloridaStateParks.org