Can we take a potty break?

Car Travel with Young Kids

To survive any long car ride, parents need more than little toys, books, DVDs and games to entertain the kids. You need to find good places along the way to take a break so the kids can have fun and expend some energy.  

1. Local libraries - Making a local library one of your travel stops makes you more than book smart. Kids can take a break by reading a few books, coloring, working on puzzles and just generally decompressing after the long drive (and maybe one too many electronic devices). Bonuses may include getting to play with other kids, hearing local accents, joining in a storytime and picnicking on the library lawn. 

Have a wacky weekend!

2. Home improvement stores

Yes, you probably could use some batteries but stopping at a Lowe’s or Home Depot has other handy benefits as well. There are no tempting rows of toy aisles but, with careful supervision, kids seem to love these kinds of stores.

From sitting on lawn mowers and smelling different flowers in the garden center to perusing the wide aisles of drawer pulls and checking out how all the appliances work. There is a lot to fascinate young kids ready for a break from riding in the backseat.

Ikea is another great option because they have a kids’ section where young ones will enjoy trying out the toys. They also have a supervised play area if parents need a break and a restaurant.

Banish Boring Vacations!

3. Dog parks and people parks

Do you travel with a four-legged friend? Dogs need a fun break too! But even if you just have two-legged passengers, dog parks can be an entertaining stop for kids.  Besides getting to stretch, kids also get a chance to watch a variety of dogs stretch and run around.

Imagine how fun this is for kids after they've been cooped up in the car for a couple of hours. Regular people parks are always great stops because you can have a picnic and then explore the playground or take a short hike. Fresh air and room to roam are necessities when traveling with young kids.

Should kids wear sunscreen everyday?

4. College campuses

The beautiful green spaces on some college campuses can provide similar benefits to stopping at a park. You will generally find lots of space to throw down a picnic blanket and toss a Frisbee around.

Chances are you’ll see college kids doing this anyway. Bonuses of stopping at a college campus include exploring the school bookstore and taking silly pictures with school statues. Many times you can find a good, cheap restaurant nearby as well. Don’t be afraid to ask the Frisbee-throwing college kids for recommendations.

Check out these picnic spots in the Hudson Valley

5) Mall play areas

If the weather is cold or rainy — or it’s dark when you want to stop, indoor play areas are a good option. Mall play areas run the gamut from simple climbing structures to elaborately-themed fun zones. Your kids will surely appreciate seeing other kids and burning off some energy.

Bonuses to this kind of stop include a variety of food options in the food court of the mall which may be a step up from typical fast food. Also, a little window shopping to stretch the legs never hurt anyone.

Mandy Fields Yokim is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, PA.