It's summer, the kids are itchin' to go outside and have some fun, you're all out of new video games to play and dvds to watch, your air conditioning unit is broken – it's time to take it outside, but what to do? Where to go? As much of a couch potato as I am, even I agree that we all need a little more vitamin D in our system so here are a few activities you can do outside, especially when you're on a budget.


Flickr, stevendepolo

Sit On The Porch And Watch Kids Play

Distance < 6 feet, depending on your porch/patio

One of my favorite all-time Summer activities is just sitting on our front step and watch the kids have fun. I know, it may not sound like fun to most, but my kids are entertained by the most nil things. Have you noticed that when your kids were babies they never carried about the $100 toy that you bought them, they only wanted to play in the box? That carried on through life. Don't pretend that you don't put the wrapping paper roll on your arm and pretend it's a cannon or use the toilet paper tube as a telescope. Zero cost to you, Zero distance, Zero gas miles, just have a seat and watch your kids play. Don't feel bad about joining in their fun, either. Kids love playing with adults on their level.


Flickr, adamagregory

Go On A Picnic

Distance < 10 miles

After watching an episode dedicated to going on a picnic on the Nick Jr. show The Upside Down show, my daughters have been fascinated and intrigued with having picnics. There really isn't much to it, pack some food at eat outside. You can opt for the grass and lay out a blanket or use an available picnic table that are abundant in our local parks. A favorite spot of our is Gilbert Park near Warehouse Theater for it's vast lawn. It won't have to cost you much, either. Bring some food that you have laying around your place, make a few quick sandwiches and hit up your local park, or even have a picnic in your front/back lawn if you have one. A great thing about going on a picnic is it gives you a reason to finish up some leftovers as well. When you're not at home and you don't have any other options left, you have to finish them up. Going on a picnic in Yakima is a Win/Win.

Flickr, aloshbennett

Play In The Water

Distance < 20 miles

In my opinion, it's one of the best things we can do during a hot day. Doesn't matter if it's jumping in a swimming pool, playing in a sprinkler throwing water balloons at each other, getting splashed with water is fun way to cool off and, depending on what you're doing, it's actually great exercise. Swimming is one of my favorite activities and if you don't have your own pool there are several places in Yakima to go swimming as linked in the link below. A good ol' water gun fight can always be a blast. What's great is water is relatively cheap and you can do this just about anywhere from your backyard to a local park. If you do have a water balloon fight just make sure you respect the local parks and clean up your broken balloons.

Flickr, Phil Hawksworth

Go Camping

Distance < 30 miles

One of the favorite outdoor activities in Yakima is to go camping. Camping is like a picnic only instead of packing a lunch, you pack everything and sleep somewhere else. You can use a camper or tent or maybe even sleep under the stars hoping it doesn't rain. There are no shortage of places available to go in the area. Some do require a fee so make sure you look in to that ahead of time. As always you can also pitch a tent in your own backyard to simulate the camping experience of sleeping outside while still being safe – this is great if you have small kids. You can't always make a fire in your backyard so you may need to simulate a fire to make the all important s'mores while backyard camping. When in doubt and if you just wanna get away from it all, try camping.

Flickr, amishsteve

Go On A Road Trip

Distance < ∞

As someone who loves to drive, I'm always down for a road trip if time allows. The only problem is it can be quite expensive, depending on where you go and why you're going there. It may also not be as enjoyable if you have small kids who may not share the same sentiment as you have in these road trips. Seattle is always a popular destination spot but there's also nothing wrong with heading to Tri-Cities for shopping and lounging around at the Columbia River. I personally love the Canyon Road leading to Ellensburg and will drive that whenever I have the extra 10 minutes. If you have the gas money, perhaps a few extra bucks for snacks, take a road trip and see the sights.