We all know how some road trips start with, “I don’t want to go there!” or “Do we have to?” and when they get older, “Can’t I just stay home?” I was that kid, my sister was that kid. We didn’t get it and we didn’t appreciate it. But, as an adult I’ve been prompted with questions in my life where I could converse with other people about some of the first airplanes ever built, because my dad took us to The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio when I was 19. With a background in random knowledge about whatever my parents were into, I have been able to talk to many different kinds of people in life and actually have some common ground.
What I have found that makes these outings more bearable is finding something that helps connect your child to that particular place – finding an ice cream shop to enjoy together or an old time candy shop to get some goodies. It sounds like a bribe but it’s not! It’s really about connecting with your kids while they are little. Someone with an ice cream cone might be more willing to a.) behave on the trip, and b.) listen about the new adventure. And, the earlier you start these traditions and road trips to new places the more willing they might be to go in the future.
My parent’s favorite place to visit when I was growing up was Nashville, Indiana. I can’t tell you how many times we went there as kids, but now when there is a free weekend, I totally take my kiddo there too!
The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to expand your child’s knowledge of the world, and we have so many opportunities right here in Indiana to take your children to learn something new. Indianapolis has many museums to visit such as the Indiana State Museum, IMAX, Conner Prairie, and caving. My personal pick is Marengo, but if you are feeling like a fun boat ride, I recommend, Bluespring Caverns. Indiana also has tons of free festivals! If you are festival enthusiasts like my parents were, I highly recommend heading up north for the weekend of Popcorn Fest in Valparaiso, Indiana, and while you are headed north on I65, stop at exit 220 to enjoy some fun on the farm at Fair Oaks Farm.
Some things that Bloomington has to offer is the Monroe County History Center, WonderLab, the 4th Street Fest, Pridefest, and Bloomington’s Street Fair. You can even make a tradition of going to the local farmer’s market every Saturday! One of our favorite things to do at the farmer’s market is listen to local music, and I let my daughter pick out some of her own veggies and fruits. By having her pick her own food it gives her the power to *hopefully* pick something new, and if it’s the early season and we get a plant she can learn a whole different set of skills as she helps it grow.
Expanding your child’s mind about the world around them is going to make them well-rounded adults with knowledge beyond their years. It may even help them get a job one day, and at the very least they may have met and connected with someone new.
Your kids don’t have to like everywhere you go, however I think there is something to learn at each place you encounter together. Even though my daughter is only three, I’m always asking her questions about things and trying to get her to make a deeper connection with the world around her.