MasterCard recently launched a new campaign called “One More Day,” as in, what would you do with one more day of vacation? They found that 429 million vacation days went unused last year, so MasterCard is now urging Americans to take a pledge to take #OneMoreDay of vacation, going so far as to give away a trip for four valued at $25,000.
The #OneMoreDaySweeps contest rules are here, but note that to be eligible to enter, you need to be a MasterCard cardholder (as of 9/21/14). That’s a bummer for me as I do not have a MasterCard in my wallet, at least not yet. Maybe soon as I’m trying to better educate myself on travel points programs.
So, if you had one extra day of vacation, what would you do? If you’re looking for ideas, take a look at 20 helpful suggestions I put together to help you put your day as a family to good use.
1. Plan a Day Out with Groupon Vouchers. Hop on Groupon and search for discounts on local attractions and restaurants. There’s so much available on Groupon from bowling to waterparks to go karts that it shouldn’t take long to plan out a day on the daily deals website.
2. Take a Cooking Class. Cooking classes are offered across the country and even at certain hotels, giving children and families a fun way to learn about essential baking and cooking techniques. Everyone in the family may even come home with an apron and chef’s hat to encourage cooking at home as well.
3. Play a Round of Mini Golf. Everyone loves a good game of mini golf. Look for a course with fun themes, like Around the World Golf in Lake George, NY. Or, take a mini-tour of Philadelphia as you putt around the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall at the mini golf course at Franklin Square.
4. Go on a Sightseeing Tour. Explore a nearby town or a big city by way of a sightseeing tour. It’s a great way to learn about local history and landmarks. It’s easy to purchase discounted tickets through the Viator website, which features hand-picked tours and attractions in cities around the globe.
5. Visit a New Aquarium. Explore an aquarium that you’ve never visited. Before you go, hit the aquarium’s website to download activity guides and to investigate whether there are any children’s classes or daily programs of interest to your kids.
6. Complete a Service Project. Whether you want to have a family beach clean-up or write letters to soldiers overseas, take time to do a service project with your kids. This is a great way to give back as a family. The book, Doing Good Together, has lots of great ideas to help you get started.
7. Get a Hotel Room In-Town and Have a Staycation. Kids love to stay in hotels. They love to jump on the beds, swim in the hotel pool and make waffles in the hotel’s breakfast area. Get a hotel room close to home and check out local activities, as well as all that the hotel has to offer, including room service.
8. Visit a National Monument. There are more than 75 national monuments dotted all across the country, so why not plan an outing to visit one, like the Statue of Liberty in New York or Jewell Cave in South Dakota. Enjoy guided tours, walking trails and Junior Ranger programs at each one.
9. Paint a Wall Mural. Put on some old clothes with the kids and paint a mural on a wall in your home, maybe in the children’s play area. Or, purchase a big canvas at the craft store and work together to create a big painting to hang on a wall in your home.
10. Pitch a Tent (or Stay in a Cabin). Whether you choose to pitch a tent or stay in a cabin, like we did at two separate KOAs last summer, your kids will love the experience of camping. Hike around the campsite, roast marshmallows, get to know the other campers. Just relax and have fun in the outdoors.
11. Look for EarthCache Sites. Grab a GPS device, a park map and a compass, then look for EarthCache sites, which teach visitors about the geological significance of certain sites within the park. EarthCache sites also teach your kids important skills, like navigation and map reading.
12. Go on a Photography Walk. Some parks offer free walks to take photos of nature within the park. Or, just grab your camera or smartphone and start taking pictures of everything interesting that you and your kids see. Print them out or upload them to an online photo album to document your experiences.
13. Hop Aboard a Train. Ride on a train, whether an Amtrak train to ride a few hours to a new city, or on an old-time steam train, like those at Strasburg Railroad near Lancaster, PA. Look out the window, enjoy the scenery, take pictures.
14. Take a Factory Tour. Learn how things are made on a factory tour. Last summer, we went to the Turkey Hill Experience in Lancaster, PA. Not only did we get all the free ice cream samples we could eat, but interactive exhibits let the kids make their own ice cream flavors and packaging.
15. Go to a Science Center. You’ll find fabulous science centers in most major cities with loads of hands-on learning activities for families. Before you go, check out the 10 Best Science Centers for a look at the very best centers teaching kids about gravity, innovation, the human body and geology.
16. Try Out a Farm Stay. Taking your kids to stay overnight on a working farm is a fantastic way to teach children about how a farm operates on a day-to-day basis. Depending on the farm, kids will have the opportunity to milk cows, collect eggs and brush sheep on the farm stay.
17. Plan a Day of Free Family Fun. Plan a “free day” and only do activities that are free, like parks, outdoor concerts and riding bikes. Do a quick Google search for “free things to do” and the name of your city or the city you plan to visit. You’ll be surprised at how many fun free events and attractions are retrieved.
18. Go on a Scavenger Hunt. For a fun way to explore a new city with kids, try a scavenger hunt. Watson Adventures coordinates a variety of themed scavenger hunts in cities across the country, as does Urban Quest, which offers self-paced family scavenger hunts that end at a local restaurant.
19. Explore Fun Public Art Sculptures. If your kids aren’t up for art galleries and exhibitions, go check out the public art sculptures that can be found in many cities across the country. Your kids will love Big Blue Bear in Denver and Make Way for Ducklings in Boston’s Public Garden.
20. Go on a Duck Tour. Speaking of ducks, kids will love the land and sea duck tours available in most major cities across the country. The guides are entertaining and often allow children on-board to steer the boat during the part of the tour that goes from land to water. It’s definitely not your average tour of a city.
Photo Credits: Gail Frederick (go karts), Smart Destinations (trolley), Will Merydith (room service), Michael Kappel (KOA cabin), Randy Durrum (train), dolanh (sheep), Charles Hoffman (Make Way for Ducklings)