The kids have been on summer break for about 2 weeks, and I’m guessing most parents have already heard those dreaded 2 words, “I’m bored.”
Don’t fret. Boredom is actually quite good for kids and may, according to parent experts, be the best way to inspire creativity and promote self-reliance.
But with the unstructured weeks ahead, it’s important to find the right balance of free time and planned activities.
To help you, I’ve crowdsourced some fun, free and low-cost things to do with your kids from Akron Children’s employees.
Medical assistant at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Green
HER PICK: Beech Creek Gardens in Alliance
“They have a wonderful butterfly sanctuary. Prices are low – only $3 or a donation. We go every year and love to explore and see new things. They have picnic areas, trails and plants you can purchase.”
“Hershberger’s Farm has a free petting zoo with the largest horse in Holmes County. They have fresh baked goods and produce, low-cost Amish buggy rides and delicious homemade ice cream.”
Another favorite destination for the Niedermeyer family is Tuscora Park in downtown New Philadelphia.
Like stepping back in time, the park has a playground, pool, pond, sports fields, amphitheater, concession stand and 8 vintage amusement rides, including a carousel, Ferris wheel, and train. And best of all – everything is free or low cost and appeals to all ages.
Government Relations Director
HIS PICKS: Anywhere he can fish and and be outdoors with his children
Charlie is a fishing enthusiast who likes to explore the Cuyahoga River with his daughters – Madeline, 6, Leanna, 4, and Caroline, 19 months.
“The shallow water at Brust Park in Munroe Falls is perfect for wading around in an old pair of shoes. Bring an old bucket to collect crayfish, minnows, fish, tadpoles, frogs and aquatic insects. This is a fun way to beat the heat and also teach your kids about their environment, environmental stewardship and the life cycle.”
Another option: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Youth Fishing Ponds at Portage Lakes is open every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
“The staff is present to assist kids and provide fishing rods and bait,” said Charlie, “and it’s all for the low, low cost of FREE!”
Charlie’s other ideas for affordable summer fun include riding bikes on Summit County’s vast network of trails, kids’ movie nights at Canal Park, Rubber Ducks games, and Community Day at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (Aug. 16) when admission is free and there are lots of kids’ activities.
Reach Out and Read Coordinator
HER PICK: The public library
“We absolutely love to go to the library, especially in the summer. Not only do we enjoy books, but the summer reading programs are fantastic. We have enjoyed the Bubble Lady, Outback Ray, and Be a Jedi for a Day. We made our own tie-dye T-shirts and so much more. The children’s librarians are incredibly helpful with suggestions for new books and series. My kids complete their reading logs each week and get cool prizes.”
Director of Akron Children’s Advanced Practice Center and a nurse practitioner at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Brecksville
HER PICK: Cleveland MetroParks
“I love to spend as much time as possible with my children hiking and swimming. They even do some cliff and waterfall jumping.
“In the summer and well into the fall, we especially love exploring the Brecksville Reservation. We really enjoy the community fun with little ones splashing around and the braver kids who jump from the rocks into the water. It’s proven to be safe and fun summer after summer. It’s free and we enjoy time with the family technology-free and unplugged, and everyone can participate, which isn’t an easy task to find with a large family.”
After their outdoor adventures, the Tsirambidis family usually heads to the Honey Hut to cool off with ice cream.
Registered nurse in ER at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus
HER PICKS: Parks, library and farms
“I love taking my 17-month-old son, Elliott, on wagon rides and nature walks at our local hike-bike trail. I love watching him explore and point out new words he learns as his language is developing. Some of our other favorite activities are swimming, visiting our local library and Barnes & Noble for story time, and visiting the fruit farm in our area.”
Supervisor at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Hudson
HER PICK: Church fair
“Our church, Momentum Christian Church in Twinsburg, will be doing another Back-to-School Fair on Aug. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everything is free – food, games, blow-up slides, and music. Last year, Slider from the Indians was there, along with Mario and a few Disney princesses. This year will be the same and we are giving away school supplies to the children.”