So summer’s almost here and you’re not sure exactly what to do with your children. Many parents simply throw their hands up at the thought of having to coordinate a summer full of care yet again.
To help you sift through some of the more creative (and often better) options, here are some ideas that are available in most cities:
- Summer School. Many schools offer a summer program that includes educational, fun-filled activities to keep students engaged, having fun, and academically-stimulated while you’re away earning the dough. Check with the communications office of your local school district to inquire about any programs in the district.
- Summer Day Camps/Recreational Programs. Summer day camps and recreational programs vary in the type, length, and frequency. Whether it’s a Cooking Camp, Nature Explorations Camp, or Mad Scientist Camp, kids usually experience hands-on fun and learning. And don’t forget your local YMCA or Community Center–they typically offer fun, affordable programs to keep your camper well-inspired. To find a listing of summer camps in your area, go to your favorite search engine and type in “summer camps” along with the name of your city/area.
- Local Stay-at-Home Mom. Is there someone you know and trust who’s a stay-at-home Mom who may be interested in earning extra money for the summer? Think about neighbors and friends who might enjoy an opportunity like this one and afford you the peace of mind of knowing your child is safe and happy.
- In Home Childcare (e.g., licensed in-home childcare). Many in-home childcare providers have numerous vacancies during the summer due to families taking children on vacation, school teacher Moms being home for the summer, etc.) Enrollment for these providers can typically drop more than half! Call your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any caregivers listed. Many churches may also be able to put you in contact with an in-home childcare provider.
- Hire a Summer Nanny. Caregivers are often looking for summer work while off from college, teachers off for the summer, or other seasonal reasons. Take advantage of the large pool of summer job seekers to help keep your kids active, engaged, and cared for. Find caregivers seeking summer work by running a search and setting your search criteria for those who have selected “Summer” availability.
Whatever option(s) you pursue, remember to lock in your plans EARLY. Everyone is feeling the same burn, so options can start to become unavailable super fast.
Nashville might be known as “Music City,” but there’s far more to this booming metropolitan area than country music record labels. With a strong culinary culture, several museums and historic landmarks and a plethora of kid-friendly attractions in the area, Nashville is a great choice for your next family vacation destination. Among the classic tourist stops like the Ryman Auditorium and the Opryland Hotel are these ten great attractions, which are sure to strike a pleasing note with every member of the family.
- Bells Bend Outdoor Center (Nashville, TN 37218) – Part of the Bells Bend Park complex, the Bells Bend Outdoor Center offers a variety of activities for families, children and adults. There are also plenty of resources available during times when no events are planned, including books, found items and nature-themed toys.
- Belle Meade Plantation (Nashville, TN 37205) – Situated on a thirty-acre historic site, the Belle Meade Plantation was originally built in 1853 and now serves as a museum. There’s a Plantation Station Toddlers program held on Wednesdays at ten and eleven o’clock in the morning, which includes arts and crafts activities and story time.
- Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary (Brentwood, TN 37027) – Just over the county line in Williamson County, Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary is a one-hundred and sixty-acre complex dedicated to species protection, research, conservation and education of the community. Seasonal activities take place throughout the year, so be sure to check out the event calendar in the weeks leading up to your visit.
- General Jackson (Nashville, TN 37214) – While the main cruises on the General Jackson leave at six-thirty and don’t return until after ten o’clock at night, there are afternoon offerings for the general public and specialty morning cruises for children on Saturdays from June through August. Meander down the Cumberland River while experiencing a little slice of the Music City, with live music and meal options available for all three tours.
- The Parthenon (Nashville, TN 37201) – Nestled in the center of the beautifully-landscaped Centennial Park is a bit of Grecian history, right in Nashville. A replica of the original temple to Athena in Athens, Greece, there’s also an art museum inside the Parthenon. There are a variety of seasonal events and activities taking place in the Parthenon and surrounding park throughout the year, so don’t forget to check out upcoming events before you plan your outing.
- Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village (Murfreesboro, TN 37130) – Recreating the living conditions in the century that stretched between 1830 and 1930, Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village features a school house, museum, Wedding Chapel, doctor’s office, grist mill and blacksmith shop. If you’re interested in regional oddities, the site is also home to the world’s largest cedar bucket. Exploring the village is free of charge, but a small fee is collected if you’d like to take a guided tour.
- Cheekwood Botanical Garden (Nashville, TN 37205) – Botanical gardens covering fifty-five acres with a thirty thousand square foot museum make up Cheekwood, a favorite destination for local families and tourists alike. Year-round activities for children are in place, including arts and crafts on Tuesdays and Saturdays and a Summer Art Camp for kids from ages two to twelve. If you’d prefer a guided tour, be sure to call at least two weeks in advance to make arrangements with Cheekwood staff.
- Adventure Science Center (Nashville, TN 37203) – While the Adventure Science Center’s primary goal is making science fun and exciting for kids, there’s also plenty to keep adults entertained and learning, as well. Health, physics, technology and environmental science are all subjects touched upon in the permanent exhibits, with a surprising number of seasonal and touring exhibits setting up shop within the museum throughout the year.
- Nashville Zoo at Grassmere (Nashville, TN 37211) – Nashville Zoo is situated on the Grassmere Historic Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. While there are a full complement of animals spread over the beautiful Zoo grounds, you definitely don’t want to miss an interpreter-guided tour of the historic home and grounds. Don’t miss the Wilderness Express Train, which takes riders through areas of the Zoo that you wouldn’t ordinarily be seen by visitors.
- Brentwood Children’s Library (Brentwood, TN 37027) – Chosen by Livability.com as one of the top ten children’s libraries in the country, the Brentwood Children’s Library truly is an enchanting spot for kids to relax with a good book or catch story time. There are several programs in place for kids of all ages, in a beautiful setting just outside the downtown sprawl of Nashville.
While you’ll naturally want to explore the stretch of Lower Broadway that plays host to such legendary hotspots as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and the Country Music Hall of Fame, it’s best to schedule that part of your visit for the early morning to late afternoon hours. When the sun goes down, the culture and atmosphere of Lower Broadway becomes decidedly more grown-up, with plenty of adult beverages flowing at the iconic honky-tonks that line both sides of the street for several blocks.