Fresh air, beautiful scenery, and maybe even some wild animal sightings — the great outdoors offers the most exciting playground ever. Getting back to nature is rejuvenating for adults and a wonderful learning experience for kids that benefits their overall well-being.
Kids today may not get enough outside time as they should. A three-year study out of the UK showed that only 21% of children ages 8-12 were “connected to nature,” with girls more likely than boys to have outdoor experiences. A study from 2009 even suggested that spending time in nature makes people “more caring.”
Numerous groups including The Conservation Fund, Children & Nature Network, and the World Wildlife Fund actively encourage families to experience nature with their kids and enjoy what it has to offer. And it offers a lot of fun!
Check out these three unforgettable trips that will bring your family together and reconnect you with the world outside.
Hotel Belmar, adjacent to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica
Want to experience something you’ll never forget with your family? The eco-friendly Hotel Belmar in Costa Rica sits on nine acres, next to the nearly 26,000 acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Spend the day hiking the property, enjoying the spring water pond, waterfall, and private trails. Or take a tour of the nearby forest led by the hotel’s on-staff naturalist. Just in the area, your family can also visit the bat jungle, the butterfly garden, and local coffee and chocolate farms. The outdoor activities in this area are endless—zip lining, horseback riding, biking, and all sorts of guided tours (one at night).
Yellowstone National Park
One quintessential American family vacation is visiting Yellowstone National Park. Spread throughout three states, the park contains the largest collection of geysers, plus stunning views, wildlife, and sulfur pools. Bring your gear and camp, or stay at the one of the lodges in the park.
Out’n’About Treesort in Oregon
Sleep among the trees at Out’n’About Treesort in Oregon. Choose from more than a dozen tree-top cabins or closer-to-the-ground wooden structures. The Swiss Family Robinson Complex is the stuff of kid vacation dreams — two on-the-ground treehouses connect by a swinging bridge. You can rent this for $180 for up to four people. Activities at the tree house camp include zip lining in the treetops, horseback riding, river rafting, and arts and crafts.
If a vacation’s not possible right now, hold a family camping night in your own backyard! Sleep under the stars and institute a no-gadgets policy for one evening. Play games, tell stories, roast marshmallows, and enjoy the fresh air!
Even backyard camping can teach your kids about the great outdoors. Incorporate nature in a fun craft project, making things from leaves, sticks, pinecones, and other foliage you find outside (just make sure the plants aren’t poisonous if you have young children).
What is your favorite family vacation? Tell us how you enjoy the great outdoors.
Images via Hotel Belmar, Yellowstone, and Out’n’About Treesort.