10 Simple and Fun Family Outdoor Activities
Ever heard someone say, “Just rub some dirt on it”?
A recent study shows that dirt may be the new Prozac! While it may sound odd, this is not a joke. There is a strain of bacteria found in dirt that acts as an anti-depressant when inhaled.
Don’t believe me? Look it up.
While this discovery may be new from a scientific basis, outdoor enthusiasts have known for years getting out into nature is important for all of us.
We all know that being outside makes us feel better. Could a long walk in the woods or camping trip solve all of your troubles? No. But it sure would make for lasting family memories and help you build stronger bonds with your wife and kids.
With this idea in mind, here are 10 simple and fun family outdoor activities you might want to consider.
(Did I leave something out? Let me know your suggestions in the comment section down below.)
Kids love to ride bikes, jump rope or complete a homemade obstacle course. This last idea I got from a neighbor. As a family they spent a weekend coming up with creative ways to build an obstacle course in their backyard.
Have you ever seen the ninja challenge show on television? Well that’s what they were working to achieve. They were building a challenge course for elementary school age kids.
Another neighbor was looking for ways to get his son outside for some physical activity. They decided to build bike ramps for the kids to jump over… and yes, Dad got in on the action too! Remember, we are just kids in larger bodies. Don’t believe me? Just ask our wives. Am I right ladies?
Hiking mountains or a simply walk around the neighborhood can make a lasting impact on your health. Walking is outrageously simple, astonishingly powerful and scientifically proven to provide meaningful health benefits for your body and soul.
Study after study shows the health benefits of putting one foot in front of the other. Here are just a few of the potential benefits:
- Brain: 2 hours of walking a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 30%
- Mood: 30 minutes per day can reduce symptoms of depression by 36%
- Memory: 40 minutes three times per week protects the brain region associated with memory and planning.
- Weight: A daily one hour walk can cut your risk of obesity in half.
- Health: Clocking in 3,500 steps per day lowers your risk of diabetes by 29%
- Longevity: 75 minutes a week of brisk walking can add almost two years to your life.
- Bones: four hours a week can reduce the risk of hip fractures by up to 43%
- Heart: thirty to sixty minutes of daily walking drastically reduces your risk of heart disease.
I don’t know about you, but I am going to take a quick break from writing this article and go for a quick walk! Back in a second…
…Okay, much better. Now I can check that box off for today!
Let’s get back to the list of ideas…
Family Time Outside
Go toss a football or Frisbee with your kids. Or maybe get the family to play a game of badminton or volleyball. Think back to when you were a kid and the days of playing catch to break in a new baseball glove. You may even find your little one can put a sting in your palm when they give you their fastball pitch.
I don’t know about when you were a kid, but from time to time my Dad would always pull his hand out of his glove and say ouch while shaking his hand. Sure, I didn’t really hurt him as a young kid. He did it to encourage me when I threw a good pitch. It was just the motivation and excitement I needed as a kid to keep tossing the ball. Then one day, I could throw it so hard it really did hurt. It even left a bruise. That’s when Dad new it was time for someone else to play catch with me – lol.
Epic Neighborhood Slip n’ Slide
If you or your kids watch YouTube, then you have seen a video about an epic Slip n’ Slide. Get a few other Dad’s together a set up an epic neighborhood Slip n’ Slide.
For an added boost, give the kids your old GoPro to film as they slide down the side of the hill! Then you can post it for all of their friends and family to join in the fun. My mother has had double hip replacement surgery and often cannot join us on some of our adventures. It’s one of the reasons we document our family adventures and share it on YouTube and our blog. It’s a way to let them join in on our fun and hopefully to encourage others to get out and make lasting memories. Am I right?
Take a Kid Fishing
This one is near and dear to my heart. The biggest fish I ever caught during my childhood was a 2.5 pound carp on a cane pole. Dad and I were camping with our local Cub Scouts tribe and I was the only one to catch a fish.
As I said, it was the biggest fish I ever caught until I reached early adulthood and discovered inshore and offshore fishing. Then the sport of fishing changed for me in a meaningful way! But that’s a whole topic of its own.
Remember how I opened up this article talking about the health benefits of dirt?
What better way to get back in touch with nature than a family camping trip.
There is something magical about getting away from all of the day-to-day stresses of life and bonding over a campfire and sleeping surrounded by nature.
One of my fondest and fairly recent camping memories with one of my daughters is when a bunch of Dads and Daughters camped on Shackleford Banks with the wild horses. You can only get to the island by boat and we stayed for two nights. It left a lasting memory for everyone on the trip. The first night we watched storms roll past us. It was probably many miles away, but it was beautiful to watch.
The other memory we will never forget is the visit from the fattest raccoons we have ever seen! I wish I had a photo to show you. You would not believe it unless you saw them.
They came looking for food in the middle of the night. Shawn, one of the dads, put most of the lose food in his tent. Around 2am Avery and I woke up to this thumping sound. She was a little worried and I just thought is was Kevin in the tent next to us getting up to go pee. Too much info?
Well, it turns out that the noise was Shawn. He was beating away raccoons from his tent because they were trying to open the zipper and get into his tent to get the food. We had no idea until the morning.
Thankfully they gave up easily and went on to find another group of campers further down the beach. We didn’t know what was going on until the Shawn told us about it over breakfast. We all had a good laugh and decided to hang our food from a tree the second night.
So maybe you are not so adventurous, or maybe your wife would freak out if raccoons visited your tent in the middle of the night. I know mine would!
If this is the case, just pitch a tent in the back yard. Who cares if you can still see the city lights? It’s a change of pace that will get your kids excited about spending time with you.
Throw A Block Party
How well do you know your neighbors? My sister and brother-in-law host a “pizza on the porch” party multiple times throughout the summer in their neighborhood and for friends. It is a cheap and easy way to socialize with friends and neighbors. It’s also a great way for your kids to meet other kids and build new relationships. It’s also a lot of fun for the adults.
Not to mention, building a strong relationship with your neighbors is really comforting when you find someone you can count on in a crunch.
A few years ago, one of our neighbors needed help in the middle of the night. Their car had been stolen a few weeks prior and the police called in the middle of the night to come ID the vehicle they had found. Her husband was traveling for work and she did not want to go alone at 2 AM in the morning. I don’t blame her. We have all been good friends for years so she called our house and I went with her.
It was a good thing too. She was several months pregnant at the time and her car was a total wreck. The guy had gasoline in the back seat and it had soaked everything. There is no way she should be in that vehicle pregnant. As a result, she drove my car home and I took hers with all the windows down and I had to practically ride with my head out of the window.
It was so bad the leather in the back seat had melted and looked like kids slime. It was awful!
So the moral of the story… make good friends with your neighbors!
Go Watch Planes Land
This may not work in all areas, but where we are, our airport has a cool observation deck setup and it has good kid activities. My kids have kind of outgrown some of the games and activities, but every now and then we will go watch the planes land.
If there is a place to get ice cream after dinner one night and go watch the planes land around dusk, that could be a cool activity. Even better would be if you had a Jeep or truck. Then you could toss a bunch of blankets in the back and cuddle up as a family while watching the planes land.
Sure, the weather has to be right for that kind of thing… but it’s just a thought.
Do a Project in the Yard
Do you ever stare out from the window and your house and see ways you could make your backyard look a lot better? Maybe you want to plant some new bushes, build a firepit or simply pull a few unsightly weeds. Whatever it is, make it a family activity.
I have to tell you, this one is on the top of my mind right now. The landscaping looks pretty good, but the white painted fence is looking really sad. I power washed it two years ago, and now it is finally due for a proper paint job.
So what does any good father do in this situation?
That’s right! I’m going to put my kids to work.
Sure, the first thing I did was get a quote from a professional to power-wash and paint the fence, but that quote came back over $1,200! YIKES.
There is no way I was going to pay that amount. Especially when I could turn the painting into a family project.
My plan is to bleach and power-wash the fence on Friday afternoon. I close my office at 2 pm on Fridays so I should have plenty of time to go by the dollar store, buy five containers of bleach and get to work.
By mid-morning on Saturday, everything should be dry, the morning dampness should be gone and then the whole family can work together to get the fence painted.
Pre-kids, Ashley and I would swing by the hardware store after dinner, buy a gallon or two of paint and paint a room in the house. Not that the kids are older, they can get involved with our projects too.
So what fun family outdoor activities have you tried?
Do you have something planned this weekend?
If not, give one of these a try. They are simple and fun for the whole family.
When you get done, come back and leave me a comment down below and let me know what you did and how it turned out. Tell me if it was a total failure too!