Discovering the Great Outdoors
Great news: my family has been given a free stay in a cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN! Not so great news: I really have no idea what to do with the kids while we’re there, besides the obvious tourist stuff and that can get pricey quick. So, what do we do? It’s going to be the vacation we spend discovering the great outdoors again!
Maybe you’re just like me, trying to find places to go and adventures to have without breaking the bank. AND it needs to be outside, away from the TV and video games of course. Great…now what?
Well, why don’t you check out Discover The Forest. This is a wonderful (and free) resource to get ideas and information about what you can do in parks and forests near your area, whether you are at home or going someplace new! It’s really easy too! Here’s how you use it:
- Enter your zip code
- Select how many miles you are willing to travel
- Pick activities your family is interested in (hiking, boating, etc)
- Choose the type of site you’d like to visit (museum, national park, etc)
- Click “Get My Results”
And that’s it. You get a map view of parks/forests/outdoorsy areas with the activities you indicated you were interested in. From there, you can select each place to get more information, such as the address, website, and any special events they have coming up.
So here’s what it looked like for me, trying to find outdoor-type places to visit with the family while we’re on vacation.
I entered the zip code of where we’re headed and removed the activities the kids (meaning me) wouldn’t enjoy such as hunting or winter sports. Then the map popped up with a ton of places to choose from. Then I clicked on one towards the green area dominating the map and found the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! They have a wonderful selection of things for us to go do and see as a family, like check out their wildflowers, explore historic buildings and hike, plus fishing and great places to have a picnic. (I may or may not be more excited than the kids at this point.)
That’s definitely a great part of the Discover the Forest website, but there’s so much more to check out.
- They have a neat “Before You Go” section that covers topics like what to pack, how much activities cost, and how to respect the forest/nature as you have a good time.
- “What to Do” has a bunch of activities, even online games that deal with nature and the forest. It even has a place to learn how to use a compass and how to create leaf rubbings.
- The “More to Explore” section lists several national organizations and educational resources. This is great information to use in the classroom or at home.
I can’t tell you how excited I am that I found this website about getting back outdoors again. I’m guilty of it too, being tied to my computer or cell phone and missing the playtime and activities you can only experience outside like when I was a kid. In fact, I’ve already started making plans about checking out some of the local parks and nature areas near my house over the summer. Don’t wait, go discover what’s near you, whether you’re with your kids, your parents or just want to see the great outdoors on your own!
Find somewhere you want to go? Let me know in the comment section!
PS: The Ad Council has put out a few neat PSAs to go along with the Discover the Forest movement!