Forget being a couch potato family. Turn off the tube—and try one (or two or 10) of these one-day adventures. Remember your camera!
High tail it to the closest zoo. So what if you can't afford a safari? Make like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" and check out lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! To find an animal sanctuary near you, click on the search button on the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's site.
Take 'em out to the ballgame. Look at the Major League Baseball team-by-team schedule. Or get great seats on the cheap at a Minor League Baseball game. With your kids' help, try to figure out who might get sent up to the "Bigs."
Visit an amusement park. Use the computer to help you find a nearby theme park. But before you hit the rides, bone up on history on the National Amusement Park Historical Association site. You can wow your fellow coaster riders when you spout out that the Ferris wheel debuted in 1893 at Chicago's Columbian Exposition—and weighed more than 4 million pounds.
Enroll in a class. Pick up a catalog at your local high school or park district. Or find out what your local community colleges are offering. If you're unsure what's nearby, check out the "finder" feature on the American Association of Community Colleges site.
Get wet. To find a nearby H2O heaven, use the site locator at waterparks.com. Or see if any nearby park districts boast water parks. A kid fave: riding inflatable tubes down "lazy rivers." If you don't want to hop in the car, set up the sprinklers in your front yard, put on your swimsuits—and run around the old-fashioned way.
Volunteer. Help out at a shelter for homeless animals. (For how-to info, check out the U.S. Humane Society site.) While you're at it, bring along bedding materials such as old blankets, sheets and newspapers. (Talk about a good way to recycle.) If you're allergic to animals or want another do-good option, see whether your local food bank could use some hands on deck. Use the Feeding America food bank locator.
Hop on your bikes. To find a path along former railroad tracks, check out the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's "find a trail" web feature.
Cultivate your garden. Without spending big bucks, you can find gorgeous annuals (which will just bloom for one season) and perennials (which will return every year). If local garden stores are too expensive, try the Home Depot. Consider visiting a botanic garden for inspiration. Search for nearby flower power on the American Public Gardens Association locator.
Take a hike. To find great parks within driving distance, use the search feature on the U.S. National Park Service site. Or get started more modestly on local terrain.
Sign up for an architectural tour. Even smaller cities often offer walking tours. Bigger ones, such as Chicago, let you see their famous big buildings by foot or by boat. A good place to start: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Directory. Just click on your state.
For more stories about family activities, read:
For more stories about travel, read: