Are you starting to scramble to think of ways to keep your kids entertained during the long summer days outside the classroom? Summer camp and afternoons by the pool are always popular options, but parents should also consider parks a great resource for kid-friendly summer fun.
With 18 parks plus the 2nd Street Market, Five Rivers MetroParks offers families with children of all ages ample opportunity to explore the outdoors – and admission to each MetroPark location is free year-round! Clean, safe greenspaces provide the perfect venue for kids to be active and enjoy spending time out of the classroom while still keeping their minds engaged.
Public parks are important community spaces for everyone, including those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford access to outdoor entertainment venues and summer programs, such as day camp. Did you know that Five Rivers MetroParks offers a scholarship program for people of all ages that helps alleviate the cost associated with fee-based MetroParks programs? The Access to Nature Scholarship, funded by the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation, is a partial scholarship that allows qualified families to use funds towards MetroParks programs in which they would like to participate. Funds are available year-round; those interested in applying can visit metroparks.org/scholarship to learn more.
Parents can take heart knowing there is an entire summer of fun waiting for their kids in the great outdoors. Plan to partake in the following kid-friendly adventures!
The MetroParks Mega Challenge
Make it goal to visit all 18 MetroParks located throughout Montgomery County! Each MetroPark offers something unique, and there’s always something new to discover at each location. You can enjoy 160 miles of managed trails, eight outdoor recreation features, educational features and much more.
Did you know that a fundamental mission of the MetroParks is conservation? MetroParks protects more than 16,000 acres of land, including 11 conservation areas. Three of these conservation areas are accessible to the public, so be sure to visit the following areas once you have checked every MetroPark off your list: Dull Woods, Medlar Conservation Area and Woodman Fen.
Stop the Summer Slide
If you’re looking for low cost ways to provide your kids with educational summer experiences that get them outdoors, consider MetroParks’ Conservation Kids programming. For children ages 3-13, Conservation Kids features guided hands-on activities that promote conservation practices and educate children on the importance of local habitats, wildlife and more.
Sensory Play Day
Early learners will especially love using their senses to explore Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. Dig in the sand, play music and experience the sights and smells of the sensory garden. Hike the trails and take a stroll through the beautiful gardens, and then head just down the road to Island MetroPark for an afternoon cool-off in the water play area.
Fun on the Farms
Carriage Hill and Possum Creek MetroPark provide hands-on, educational experiences for children and adults of all ages. Take a step back in history and discover what life would have been like on a farm in the 1880s. Heritage breed animals, period demonstrations and the historical farm make Carriage Hill MetroPark the perfect destination for curious kiddos.
Whereas Carriage Hill MetroPark provides a glimpse into the past, Possum Creek MetroPark engages visitors with current sustainable farming practices that highlight the importance of the farm-to-table movement. Check out chickens, sheep, goats and rabbits, and then stroll through the demonstration garden to see what’s growing. Possum Creek MetroPark also provides ample opportunity to hike beautiful trails and explore the prairie.
For some delicious farm-to-table fun stop by the 2nd Street Market and find fresh produce, flowers and more from local growers. Many Market vendors also accept EBT/SNAP tokens and participate in Produce Perks, an incentive program that offers a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $10) on produce purchases.
For more information about Five Rivers MetroParks visit www.metroparks.org.