Friends, it is time. Summer is almost over. Walmart is full of back to school supplies and bathing suits are on the clearance rack. If you had a PCS this summer, hopefully you are settling into your new place or if you did not move, you probably already did your Big Summer Vacation. But, these last few weeks still have a lot of potential so gather up the kids and let’s do some fun things around town.
I am a huge believer in taking your local duty station and finding things that you and your family can enjoy. The one thing I see when a friend hates where they are stationed is that they never do anything. Yes, going away on a vacation is fun but it is not always feasible so getting to know your town is so important. Here are four fun things for you and your family to check out before summer's official end.
Blue Star MuseumsIf you haven’t checked out the Blue Star Museum list yet, you need to. They have a comprehensive list of museums that are offering free admission to anyone with a valid military ID, from now through Labor Day. You can search by state and find some good ones to check out. I am super excited because the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame is on the list, located in Colorado Springs, and I have been dying to check it out. This is a program that occurs every summer so make a list of the museums that sound fun. If you cannot get to them this summer, you have a head start on your bucket list for next summer.
State and National ParksIf you live close to a National Park, military ID card holders always have free admission using the America the Beautiful pass. If none of the National Parks are something you want to visit, you should check out one of your State Parks. They also offer free days but it is done by state, so be sure to check their websites to see associated fees. National and State Parks are great because once you are in, you can do pretty much anything. Pack up a picnic and take your family on a walk around the park.
Go SwimmingUnless you live somewhere that is sunny all the time, the pools will be closing soon. I know, it is tragic, my kids are water babies and when the pool closes, it is always a bummer. We have a pool pass and so we want to squeeze out every drop of that pass. Labor Day is usually when the pools and water parks close so if you still have not made it out to the local water park, now is the time!
There are several major water parks around the country and if one is within driving distance to you, you should totally spend a day hanging out. Once the pools are closed, you will be stuck with just a sprinkler in the yard. There is nothing wrong with a sprinkler, but it is no water slide. See if the pool is having an end of summer party or lock-in for teens. Many pools on base will have these activities as a final send-off before closing the pool for the season and they are a great way to enjoy your pool one last time.
Local FestivalsPick up a local paper (or check out your local paper's Facebook page) and see what festivals or events are going on. Summertime is the time for Renaissance Festivals so see if there is one of those nearby. Walking around, eating a giant turkey leg while watching knights joust sounds like an amazing time. If there is no Renaissance Festival close to you, see if your town is doing an “end of summer” festival. Most towns or cities have these things going on so take a look around and see what is available. It could be as easy as the local farmer’s market. Most places shut down in late fall so this is your last chance to get some fresh, local produce.
The end of summer does not mean that you have to sit around listening to your kids repeat over and over, “I’m bored!” There are still plenty of ways to stay active and engaged. By checking out what your town has to offer, you will be able to explore your duty location and find out what non-military people do for fun. You may even find a new activity that continues into the fall and winter. Who knows? Your next family tradition may be waiting for you to find it!