10 Unique Family Activities to Do With Your Kids

Tired of the same old routine? Spend quality time with your family while trying some fresh and fun activities.

Though it can be challenging to find time to regularly connect as a family in today's fast-paced world, it's so important. Studies reveal that family time can boost kids' self-esteem, enhance social development, and create strong relational bonds.

But while traditional ideas of family activities like game nights, backyard sports, or heading to see a new movie are always great options, sometimes you want a unique experience that will make unforgettable memories.

Here are 11 family activities to do with the kids that will create special memories.

01 of 10

Treasure Hunt With Geocaches

Child reading map
Image Source/Veer

Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunt that aims to find caches (or containers) filled with objects that other people have hidden. Check out the official geocaching website to find cache locations near you. Then use your smartphones (most have GPS tracking) to track the treasures, often stashed behind rocks, in the hollow of a tree, or under a bench.

The caches hold trinkets and logbooks for the finders to document when they made their discovery and where they're from. They should always be put back for the next family to find.

"It's an opportunity to go exploring wherever we are," says Jessie Madison, whose family enjoys geocaching when hiking or walking. For her 4-year-old son, "it gives the hike more purpose. It gives him something to focus on and be excited about."

"If you take a trinket from the cache, you have to add one in its place. It teaches kids about giving—not just receiving," she adds. You can even hide your own treasure in different locations for others to find.

02 of 10

Take Flight on a Hot-Air Balloon

family on a hot air balloon
Corbis Photography/ Veer

What could be more exhilarating than soaring through the sky with fields and forests beneath you and the wind carrying you through the atmosphere? Float on the breeze while taking the world in from a new viewpoint.

Hot-air balloon rides are available in most states, bringing together the beauty of nature and love of adventure while honoring the early days of flight technology. Bring along a topographical map of the area and a compass to better identify landmarks and regions below. You can even create an aerial scrapbook of your journey by taking photographs from mid-air.

This is an experience your family won't forget. You can find a hot air balloon flight in a city near you, and make sure to read up on safety and age requirements so that everyone has a wonderful time.

03 of 10

Set Sail With a Picnic

family picnic at the beach

Enjoy an excursion on the water followed by a picnic. Many recreational and outdoor stores rent kayaks or canoes by the hour or day. Your local park may also have paddle boats. Pack a lunch and set out on an adventure to a nearby island, beach, park, or along the banks of a nearby river. Make it a group outing by inviting other families and having paddle races on the water.

Barb Anderson and her husband regularly enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of Boston by canoeing with their 7- and 9-year-olds along the Charles River or to the nearby Harbor Islands, where they have a picnic lunch and spend the night at a campsite.

It's an opportunity to enjoy being together while leaving the baggage of daily life behind, Anderson says. "It's about having everything that you need and needing only what you have."

04 of 10

Go From Field to Fork

boy apple picking with his father
Helen Norman

Take the family to a pick-your-own farm that offers seasonal fruits such as pumpkins, apples, strawberries, and blueberries. Then challenge each other to plan a menu that incorporates your pickings as the essential ingredient. Look up new, fun recipes and see what you can create in the kitchen together as a family.

This is an excellent way to meet your local farmers and learn about which foods are in season. And depending on where you live in the country, you could end up with a bushel of apples or avocados—and everything in between!

05 of 10

Whip Up Homemade Ice Cream

Kids eating homemade ice cream
Rob Brinson

Watch as the liquid mixture transforms into solid ice cream before your eyes. All you need is to make your own ice cream is sugar, milk, vanilla, ice, salt, a quart-size food-storage bag, and a gallon-size plastic bag.

First, mix 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 cup of milk, and half a teaspoon of vanilla in a bowl. This will make about one scoop. Transfer the contents to the quart-size bag and seal. Then fill the gallon-size bag with two quarts of crushed ice and 6 tablespoons of rock salt (or coarse salt). The rock salt will help keep the ice from melting.

Make sure both bags are completely sealed. Place the quart-size bag inside the gallon-size bag. Shake for about 10 to 15 minutes, making sure the contents of the two bags do not mix. The bags will get very cold, so use gloves or a towel to hold them. This hands-on activity will show how matter changes from liquid to solid and, as the final, tasty product drips down your chin, back to liquid again.

If you're looking for kid-friendly ice cream recipes, we love this one from American's Test Kitchen for kids.

06 of 10

Paint Premade Pottery

painting pottery

Take the family to a do-it-yourself pottery-painting studio. Most studios offer premade pottery (such as plates, mugs, tiles, frames, bowls, or vases) in a variety of sizes that you can choose from, as well as pottery paints and brushes.

You start by picking the ceramic piece you'd like to decorate; then, choose colors and designs. You don't need to be Picasso—decorate freehand or use stencils, shapes, sponges, or even your handprint.

The studio will fire and glaze the pieces for you, and most are ready for pickup within a week. Many studios host many family events—from pottery parties to story-time painting. You can even make an adorable hand- or footprint of your infant.

Some places let children paint for free when accompanied by their parents or offer a discount for families that paint together on certain days. Making art encourages creativity and provides a memento of shared fun.

07 of 10

Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Family tourism
cultura Photography/Veer

It's easy to overlook the opportunities to explore right where you live. Sightseeing is often a must when you're traveling, but checking out the history of the place you live or grew up in can also be an educational and eye-opening experience.

Pretend you are a tourist arriving in your town for the first time, contact your local chamber of commerce or National Historical Society, and discover all your area offers. Tour the most historical buildings, discover if any battles were fought where you're standing, check out monuments and statues, or visit a cemetery to search for the oldest tombstones.

Every place has its own legends and history. Discovering what makes your town special can create a meaningful connection to the spot your family calls home.

08 of 10

Hike on a Full-Moon Night


Connect with your surroundings in a new way by taking a guided night hike. Contact your local Audubon Society or nature center about organized hikes (you won't need to pack or bring anything unless a guide or ranger tells you).

The same trail during the day becomes a completely different experience after the sun sets. Listen to the calls of nocturnal wildlife, sharpen and engage your senses, and identify constellations in the sky.

Bring along some wintergreen-flavored Life Savers, chew them with an open mouth, and watch as sugars and wintergreen oil combine to create light flashes! This sparkly phenomenon, known as triboluminescence, can only be seen in the dark.

09 of 10

Start a Yard Sale Hop Game


Spend the day checking out yard sales and determining how to get the most bang for your buck. Make a competition to see who can get the most, the strangest, or the largest and smallest items. This is a favorite pastime for the Pecoriello family of New York City.

"We've done it in Vermont, Maine, New Jersey, and Connecticut," says Abby Pecoriello, mother of two daughters and author of Crafty Mama: Makes 49 Fast, Fabulous, Foolproof (Baby & Toddler) Projects.

"We figure out a route using MapQuest or Google maps, and then we set out to find stuff. The girls get one to three dollars, depending on how many we go to, and see how far they can stretch the cash."

From 4-foot light-up gumball machines to 24-carat gold rings, the Pecoriellos never know what treasures they'll happen upon or who will win. You get to meet new people while teaching your kids the value of a dollar.

10 of 10

Spend Winter at an Indoor Water Park

Kid on a water slide
Image Source/Veer

You don't need to wait for summer weather to enjoy splashing in the waves. When the winter months descend on the woods in New Hampshire, Ken Mitchell and his family head to an indoor water park.

"There's something fun about looking out a large window when it's snowing, and it's 20 degrees while you're sliding down a waterslide in 75-degree bliss," says Mitchell.

Big kids can zoom through giant high-speed waterslides or play water sports, while smaller kids can wade in shallow pools made just for them. These parks are scattered throughout the northern region, bringing the tropics to a cold January day near you.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles