Adventures are for everyone.

Let’s clear the air before I begin: yes, we are a homeschool family. We decided to homeschool from the very beginning of our children’s education. While that’s the right thing for us, I will never claim that it is the best for everyone. Each family is wonderfully unique and each child’s needs are equally unique. That said, our choice to homeschool was the catalyst for what I call adventure day. But, I don’t believe that this tradition has to be exclusive to homeschool families. All are welcome here, no matter how you choose to educate your children. Now, onto the good stuff.

What is “adventure day?”

In a nutshell, adventure day is one day per week that I have time set aside to chase some shenanigans with my children. It’s not meant to be a field trip. It is not a day to play with friends, however, friends are always welcome to come along! It doesn’t have to be an entire day. This can be in the morning, or an afternoon, or even an intentional hour or two where our focus is on exploring or doing something together, instead of schoolwork or other things on our to do lists. This intentional time together doesn’t even have to happen on a weekday, weekends or evenings are okay too. Our special day is a specific weekday, and it’s worked that way for us for seven years now.

How do you define “adventure?”

I would say that adventure is a mindset. It’s changing how you think when you approach an activity. Adventure can happen right in your backyard as you look for worms after a good rain. Maybe it can be in your neighborhood when you walk each week and watch how the plants change with the seasons. Adventure can be biking the same trail in your city, over and over again. Or maybe it’s going on a big hike to a waterfall, or going camping, or going to a climbing gym. It can be big, or small, near or far. It’s choosing to view the world through a lens of wonder, wherever you choose to wander.

How did it start?

It started on it’s own when my daughter was only a few months old. The idea came from a deep desire of mine to get out of the house, and disrupt the grip of postpartum depression that pulled at me. Our first adventure day involved me successfully getting out of the house with both kids, with snacks and water and I didn’t forget the diaper bag. We may have only stayed at the park, which was five minutes away, for thirty minutes. But, it was a huge victory for me! I kept going, with little adventures around town as I strengthened my adventure muscles. When we decided to homeschool, I already had plenty of experience taking my kiddos on adventures by myself. So, it was a natural progression for me to schedule adventure into our homeschool week. It’s all part of a process I call being responsibly brave.

A great big list of ideas.

Here’s the list you’re looking for. It’s a big, but not exhaustive, list of ideas for you to get excited about adventure day. I hope that these help and encourage you. If you have questions, or perhaps even more ideas to add to the list, let me know! Alright, let’s go.

  • Outdoor Adventure – close to home.
    • Explore nature in your own backyard.
    • Plant a garden.
    • Go for nature walks in your neighborhood.
    • Visit a local nature trail or park.
    • Visit a garden center at different times of the year.
    • Visit a local farm or farmer.
    • Volunteer at a community garden.
    • Play at a skatepark.
    • Drive RC cars outside somewhere.
    • Go for a bike ride on a trail or around your neighborhood.
    • Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle board if that’s available.
    • Go on a mural scavenger hunt around your town or city.
    • Try geocaching
    • Play in a creek. Like this.

  • Indoor Adventure – close to home.
    • Go to a movie.
    • Visit a local museum.
    • Take a tour of any local historic sites or homes.
    • Visit the library.
    • Try a new restaurant, especially if it’s a type of food that correlates to something you’re studying!
    • Take “school” to a coffee shop.
    • Go to a play or musical.
    • Go see the symphony (many cities will have children’s theater days for shows and for the symphony).
    • Check out trampoline park.
    • Go go an indoor climbing gym.
    • Visit a bowling center and/or arcade (pro tip – let them use their own money at the arcade, and don’t forget about Kids Bowl Free programs in the summer).

A little bigger and a little farther.

When you’re ready to take on something more. Here are some ideas for adventure day that can happen in your city, as a day trip, or even as a multi day excursion. These adventures require a little more planning ahead, but they’re always worth it.

  • Outdoor adventure – bigger and farther.
    • Go camping at a campground or state park cabin or yurt.
    • Go on a bigger day hike to something neat like a waterfall.
    • Canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding.
    • Mountain biking on bigger trails or at a pump track.
    • Find a climbing club or group to go climbing outdoors with.
    • Try a via ferrata if there’s one nearby, if not, try an adventure obstacle course or zipline.
    • Visit a new to you state or national park.
    • Snorkeling – in a creek, a lake, or even the ocean.
    • Paddle camping – hauling everyhing you need to camp in your canoe or stand up paddle board. Like this or like this.
    • Explore something unique to your state: like crystal digging in Arkansas.
    • Visit a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. A tip: some zoos (like Caldwell Zoo) have homeschool days throughout the year.
    • Visit gardens and botanical centers.
    • Check the calendars for nearby state parks, national parks, historic sites, and cultural sites.

  • Indoor adventure – bigger and farther.
    • Find an art museum with art from an artist your studying. Find out why we love art museums so much here.
    • Look up ASTC member museums to see where you can visit with their passport program.
    • Visit an aquarium.
    • Stay overnight at NASA (Yes, it’s a thing, we’ve done it and it’s the best ever.)
    • Check other museums for “lock in” type events. The Wonders of Wildlife museum in Missouri also offers overnight programs. That museum also has a great monthly homeschool program.
    • Visit art museums with reciprocal memberships.
    • Spend a day in a bigger city, exploring what big city life is like.

More tips for finding ideas.

There are so many ways to find enriching adventure day experiences. I spend a lot of time doing internet searches, but there are many ways to find information. You can also spend time on tourism board websites for cities nearby or where you’d like to visit. Looking at geo tagged places or related hashtags on Instagram is also helpful. Checking community calendars is a great way to see what’s going on locally or even in other nearby cities. You just have to learn to think outside of the box a little bit, and you’ll see that there are so many amazing experiences available, often right where you live.

A note about cost.

Adventure day does not have to cost anything! You can cultivate incredible memories using free resources in your city and beyond. In Arkansas, we are very lucky that our state parks are free. There are many museums that offer memberships that also offer free or reduced admission at partner museums (ASTC passport program). Zoos and aquariums also have a similar membership program. There is also a similar organization for art museums and cultural centers called NARM. Did you know that each fourth grader in the US gets a national parks pass, for free?! It’s available for homeschool families too. Learn more here. There are so many ways to get creative and keep expenses down for adventure day, especially when it comes to holiday gifts. For even more ideas about experience based gifts, check out this blog post. Those are the gifts that keep on giving!

What’s your adventure day look like?

Are you ready to plan your own adventure day, afternoon, or even an adventure hour? I hope that this blog post helped inspire you to get creative about how you enrich your homeschool. Perhaps it can even help inspire some extra fun on the weekends or evenings with a traditional school schedule. However you school, and however you live, I’d like to invite you to see the wonder wherever you wander. Long live adventure day!

Nichole is a a homeschooling mother to two from southwest Arkansas. You never know where they’ll turn up because they’re road trip experts and adventure day knows no limits. She’s homeschooled her children from the beginning of their education. Her husband, Ryan, works in the paper industry. Nichole is a writer, content creator, and influencer. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Team for Run Wild My Child. She loves adventuring with her children, whether it’s hiking, paddling, camping, or enjoying a more urban experience with museums and great (gluten free) food. Nichole is a firm believer in supporting local and small business and she believes in community. Stay up to date with whatever shenanigans they’re chasing by following her on Instagram.