Adventures with kids

Adventures with kids: Free Or Cheap Things To Do With Kids in a Hike

Does your family hike regularly? Do you want to make some extra money or enjoy some adventures with kids? Here are some ways to have fun on a hike without spending much money!

Adventures with kids

Echo Canyon Trail.

You have to drive about 10 minutes from Disneyland, so it is a good location for a family hike. The paved path is great for running kids around if they want to run the whole way, but also great for strolling kids down if you are on a budget. If you do not want to drive and want to do something shorter, head over to Buena Vista Drive to hike the foothills of Disneyland. While not paved, the trail along the river is well-marked with several pleasant bridges. You can also bring your kayak to paddle in the river if you want to do a longer hike that way, or with your significant other or kids. As long as your kids are little enough to walk, it will be fun to explore the area and let them pick some flowers, and feed ducks.

Hike into Disneyland.

If you can get into Disneyland for free on Saturdays and Sundays, then you could hike through Sleeping Beauty Castle. You may even be able to get into the Main Street train depot, where the trains run hourly, but only for the occasional carriage ride, or on very slow schedules if you need a bathroom break. I know this is for Disneyland, but if you are more in the mood for Disneyland for a great hike, then it can also be a good place to try! This one works best if you are visiting with some family and want to spend most of your time in Disneyland instead of outside.

Disneyland Monorail.

If you’re looking for some different scenery, hop on the monorail and ride through the outskirts of the park. The monorail pulls out onto Harbor Boulevard, which is a long uphill trail. This is an easy way to do a little walking without venturing too far from your car.

Mission Bay Trail.

This is not a paved trail at all, so it is great for young kids, and they might like to use their feet instead of a stroller. Bring extra water, and this will be a long walk.  It is a quick drive away from Disneyland, but once you get to the end of the trail, there is a small parking lot with picnic tables, toilets, and water fountains, which is ideal. The trail is fairly short, but it is also very scenic. It could be a great hike if you are looking to have some fun and just some exercise.

Things to do with Kids in a Hike

Let’s discuss different things to do with your kids on a hike, with an emphasis on going inexpensively.

Have a snack.

If it is a hot day, it is usually best to keep a cooler full of snacks and drinks with your kids, rather than bringing them into a store for a snack. If you do bring them into the store, you could end up paying way too much for a little bag of chips. Bring them with you. You will get your money’s worth!

Have your kids set the pace.

This works great in our yard. If your kids are younger, or if it is not such a hot day, then you can just let them run around or run in circles around you. You could even get a walking stick or large pair of wading shoes for them so that they can move at their own pace and stay out of the way. If it is more of a scorcher, you could always strap them into a stroller, and let them play with some sidewalk chalk or jump on a trampoline, which can still be fun and active. If you have a hiking stroller with a little toddler seat, then you could take them on a hike while you get some exercise too. They can drive their little vehicles along the trail. Make sure to stop for bathroom breaks and snacks when they get hungry.

Play games.

You can play games such as “Ready or not, here I come”, or “Hide and go seek”, as long as there are enough clues to keep your kids on track. You can also have them put items into their imaginary bag (a hat, a backpack, or a backpack carrying a puppy). This will keep them engaged while they walk, and it will make you more of a scavenger hunt team instead of a hiking team.

Recite a list of things.

This can be a great time for memory games and discovery games. Just be sure to keep the trails wide enough that you can easily look back and see your kids. Find a well-marked trail and have your kids try to locate things along the way. Make sure that there are enough items in your bag to do all of the tasks, and don’t forget to have your children guess the answers for you as well. If your kids are old enough, you can help them spell the items on the list. There is nothing better than hearing your little child yelling “IT’S A SUB!” while they are chasing the colorful strip of tape along the trail.

Find your footprints.

If you know which trail your kid did the trail you will find their footprints along the trail. Take some time to collect some pretty photos of the footprints, and then later show your kids the photos. This could be a great way for them to learn the names of animals that live near the trail.

Bring some camping toys.

You can find kids’ camp toys at local camping stores or online. These might include little tents, huts, campfire stoves, camp beds, etc. Put them in a backpack, or your kids can sleep in tents or huts. You can also have them use a dandelion pinata. This is a great way for them to get creative, and have fun in the woods. For more details, click here.

Hike to the playground.

If your kids love playing on the playground, then bring them along! Or, get some backyard then try making a mini-hike to the playground. You could meet halfway with a backpack of food, water, and a thermos of coffee. When you reach the playground, let your kids get down to the ground and dig a little in the dirt, then tell them to go play.

Use the bathroom.

I know this seems like the least fun part of hiking, but if you know that you will be out and about for a while, then it is really necessary. Make sure you bring your toilet paper and soap. You could also make a trail of paper to tell your kids where to go for the bathroom.

Cut a trail.

If you have done any hiking before, then you probably have some favorite trails that you like to take, and your kids love them too. Make a game out of trying to find all of the favorite trails in the park.

Tie knots.

You don’t have to do any exploring. Just climb up a tree, and tie a knot with some thread, string, or yarn.

  1. Ask questions.

Ask your child to tell you about something that they saw along the trail, and if they ever feel like they are lost, just ask them if they can use their imagination. Their imagination can take them places that you wouldn’t even think to look for.

  1. Put your phone away.

You might want to let your kids have a smartphone for emergencies or even for fun, but I recommend turning your phone off before you go hiking. Your phone can be a great source of entertainment for your kids, but it can also be a danger if you aren’t paying attention. You want your kids to experience the world without distractions. Plus, your phone won’t help you to find your kid if you’re in a dangerous situation.

Give them tasks.

Let them have a list of tasks to complete during the hike. They can collect some more tree saplings, look for a particular color of mushroom, collect some forest leaves, etc.

Let them take a nap.

Do you love spending time outdoors with your kids? Do you hate having a little kid scream and cry all day in the woods? Relax! No need to take your kids on long hiking adventures! Your kids need downtime, too, and it could be a great opportunity for you to take a little nap yourself.

Camp in the backyard.

You don’t need to hike far away to find some fun in the backyard. You can make a campfire and tell your kids a bedtime story. You could also tie a string to a stick, and let your kids run all over the backyard.

Break a trail in the backyard.

Let your kids take turns running through the backyard. Give them a shovel, or a broom, and tell them to make a trail. You could also tie a rope to a tree or post, and let them swing on it for a bit.

Make a trail to your backyard.

Get out the finger paint, and have your kids draw a trail to your backyard. You could also use chalk or something else to make a trail.

Use zip ties to make a tunnel.

You can also have your kids look for a pop-top or other beverage box that they can use to create a tunnel.

Make a trail out of string and yarn.

Let your kids string up some yarn or string into a maze for them to play in. They could also hide their end of the yarn so that they can’t find their way out.

Let them create a fort.

If you don’t have any kids, then how about making one! Your kids could have a fort in the backyard, and explore it during the day.

Just by giving your kids some small (or big) tasks to do, they are engaged and you can get some great photos to remember the day. I hope these ideas inspire you to go on a hike with your family this summer. I have a love for the outdoors, but I am a city girl. When I am on vacation, I try to get out into the country. I love the look of the farms, the colors, and the architecture. There is something about the rural landscape that is inspiring to me.

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