Take a walk on the wild side -- on a hiking trail! It's the perfect activity for weekend warriors, and you and your family will have so much fresh-air fun that you'll forget it's also good exercise. Plus, even the littlest outdoorsmen can enjoy the view by riding high in a baby sling or backpack and taking in the sights with their very own homemade pretend binoculars.
What you'll need:
- 2 empty toilet paper rolls
- Hiking boots or sturdy cross-training shoes
- Walking stick
- Toddler backpack
- Plenty of bottled water
- Picnic lunch (think easy-to-tote, energizing foods such as turkey or peanut butter sandwiches, baby carrots, apples and bananas)
- Baseball caps
- Child sunglasses
- High-SPF sunscreen
- Bug repellent
- Mini first-aid kit: Band-Aids, alcohol pads and antibiotic ointment
What you'll do:
Get your little ones geared up for the outing by presenting them with their toy binoculars. These are easily assembled by stapling two empty toilet paper containers together, punching two holes on either side and attaching a short piece of yarn to use as the strap.
While many parks and nature reserves provide marked trails, consider taking a guided tour, if available. The leader will be able to point out different animals, trees and plants along the way -- especially the ones to beware of, such as poison ivy. If your children are going to walk instead of riding along in a backpack, don't expect to hike for miles. Remember to go at their shorter-legged pace. Stop along the way to drink water and to point out a bird, a tree trunk or a funny-looking rock. Demonstrate how the kids can view a tree up above through their special binoculars. After your active day, you and your children will no doubt be ready to hit the hay early. Just be sure to check yourself and your family for ticks before you do.