Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Fun (for cheap!)

We're a one-income family and with four kids, we have to get creative when trying to find fun things to do. In the summer, or anytime really, heading to a state park is a wonderful (and frugal) activity for the whole family.

Lots of room in the Olympic size pool for my boys to play
Today we travelled less than an hour to Staunton River State Park. Completed in 1936, this state park was one of six that opened simultaneously in Virginia and thus launched the Virginia state park system. With the introduction of Staunton River, Douthat, Hungry Mother, Fairy Stone and Westmoreland State Parks, most Virginians were within an hours drive of nature and all that she had to offer. There are now 36 state parks in the Commonwealth and each offers something for everyone.

Fun times!
What keeps us coming back to Staunton River year after year is what my babies have affectionately nicknamed, "the frog pool." While the park offers an Olympic size pool, when we started going there, none of my kids were big enough, so we spent many lazy hours in the Pollywog Pond, a wading pool with toys and a slide geared towards the littlest guppies. My three oldest are now too big for the baby pool, (which is rather sad) but the baby is learning to get his feet wet on the same froggy slide they did.
My son took this, and you can juuuust see
 the Pollywog Pond in the background

If swimming really isn't your thing, most state parks offer hiking (some on paved trails which are handicap accessible), guided programs and lots of other stuff to do. There is usually a nominal parking fee ($3 is what we paid today), and if you're hiking or picnicking, that's all you pay. Swimming and some activities have other fees, but it's incredibly reasonable.

See you soon at a state park!
The next time your kids say they're bored, or you feel like the school year can't come soon enough, pack up the family, pack up a lunch and head to a state park near you. Make the most of these long lazy days and make some memories.

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