There’s definitely something different about summer sightseeing with kids. It’s like the sun and the heat sap all of their energy within minutes. They get more tired, more hungry and more irritable than they do during the more mild months. With this in mind, here are eight tips to help you navigate summer sightseeing with kids.
1. Bring a sweater. It may be hot outside, but it’s usually very cold in museums, galleries and indoor attractions. We were at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta on Saturday and the whale exhibit was freezing. Seriously, so cold. It’s not fun when you’re too cold, so bring sweaters for everyone.
2. Cap your time at 90 minutes. Don’t spend more than 90 minutes at any one attraction. By that point, I think you’ll find that your kids are pretty much done. My four-year-old actually resorts to “Mommy, how much more time are we going to be here?” every few minutes. Ugh…
3. Think ahead to lunchtime. I like to go to museums in the morning, so by the time we finish exploring, we’re ready to re-fuel with lunch. This generally helps to minimize complaints, but then when it’s 90 degrees outside, you may still hear more grousing than you’d like.
4. Bring snacks and a reusable water bottle. In the summer, my kids’ energy gets depleted so quickly. It’s like the walk in the heat from the parking lot to the museum saps all of their energy, so soon after you arrive at any attraction, take a quick break for a granola bar and a few sips of water.
5. Plan for downtime. After sightseeing, then lunch, it’s time for some downtime. My kids definitely get more tired after exploring during the summer, so we like to build in time for naps or even just splashing in the pool when we stay at hotels when we travel.
6. Map out your day. Get a good feel for how far each museum or attraction is from where you are staying. Know how much time you’ll be spending in the car, since getting into and out of the car on hot days is tiring, as is just driving here and there, even with the air conditioning on max.
7. Be realistic and flexible. During the summer my kids are less tolerant about going to attractions that I want to visit no matter how I sell them. I wanted to go to the Atlanta History Center on Saturday, but my kids weren’t going for it, so we went to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History instead.
8. Stay outside-aware. What I mean by “outside-aware” is that you should know whether an attraction is entirely indoors or whether there are must-see outdoor components. Back to the Atlanta History Center, the attraction has lovely paths and outdoor gardens. It would be fantastic in the spring, but my kids would have melted if we tried to go on Saturday.
What tips do you have for sightseeing with kids during the summer? Let me know in the comments section.