Tallahassee Family Summer Fun: 32 Ideas for Local Summer Fun With Kids
We’ve updated this resource for Summer 2014, categorizing the activities listed, as well as adding new ideas. Please view the updated page HERE.
As the school year comes to a close, many parents begin wondering, or even panicking, about what their kids are going to do all summer long. During the school year kids are occupied with their classes and homework and afternoon activities. Then, all of a sudden, it’s time for summer break, and the novelty of a break soon turns to “Mmmmoooooommmm…..I’m B-O-R-E-D!!!”
Not to worry. Your friends @ Tally Connection have you covered this summer with lot’s a great ideas for local family fun for your kids to enjoy over the summer months. Check out our list here, and feel free to comment at the end of our post with ideas of your own to share with fellow moms and dads in Tallahassee. Happy Summer Tallahassee!
Summer Fun Ideas & Resources
Lots of planning has gone in to the summer reading programs for all ages being offered at our local library branches. Check out this post to learn more about all of them. Plus, weekly storytimes for various ages are offered at each branch almost daily.
Get your kids their own library cards for an added element of fun and sense of ownership and responsibility for their summer reading plans.
Visit Trousdell Aquatics Center’s activity pool with young ones for Tot Time on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. At the bottom of this post you can find more info about Trousdell Aquatics Center, good for all ages.
Tot Time can get crowded so plan accordingly. Also, kids cannot bring toys or floats in to the activity pool, and food is also not allowed. Looking for swim lessons for your kids? Check out this post. We’re using a Tal Swim School instructor this week and LOVING her!!!
Get your kids their Passport to Imagination at Michael’s every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with crafts designed to explore the 7 continents and their amazing landmarks and icons on a voyage around the globe.
Get there early during the 2 hour window for the best supplies and assistance. Also, be prepared to be a helping hand for your kids.
Kids Bowl two free games per day all summer long. Check out this post for the complete details and the link to register your child. Once registered your daily coupons will be emailed to you directly each week, so just save them and have them handy when you’re ready to bowl.
You do not need to print the coupons that are emailed to you. Just bring your phone and pull up the email while you’re there if you can. Also, be prepared to pay for shoe rental. The games are completely free, but you’ll be required to rent shoes for around $5 per child. Lastly, you’ll be offered a Family Package Deal when you register. It’s a good deal if your family is going to make regular use of it and bowl together, but if it’s mostly just mom taking the kids during the week for something fun to do, then just be aware you can easily skip this step and decline the family package offer.
Enjoy taking your kids to the movies without having to worry about lost dollars if they change their mind, don’t like the film or can’t sit through it. The Regal Summer Movie Express offers $1 movies all summer long at our local theater at Governor’s Square.
We all have different ideas on what we’re OK with our kids seeing, so beyond just checking out the rating, watch a trailer of the movie and be sure you’re happy to have your kids see the movie being shown. Also, some camps use this program for a field trip opportunity, therefore the theaters can sometimes be crowded and it’s recommended to go early, especially if you’re meeting a group there and would like to sit together.
Gather some friends and do a Tallahassee Playground Tour, visiting each of our town’s playgrounds one at a time. Pack a picnic and enjoy the surrounding areas after the kids play. Need to know where they are? Well, we’ve got a page for that – Playground Connection!
One of our family’s favorite playgrounds is the St. Marks Boundless Playground. Check out this video from our last visit, to see the playground and hear more about what it has to offer.
Check around for volunteer opportunities for your children to participate in this summer. Leon County Humane Society is looking for foster homes for animals, which could be a fun summer project for older kids. A FULL SUMMER is taking place this Saturday and you can still sign up to participate with your kids, which may help you learn of other options for the rest of the summer. There are often opportunities for volunteering at America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend. FindLearnGive.org is a great resource to find local non profits and be in contact with them about youth volunteer opportunities.
As my daughter gets older, more opportunities for volunteering are opening up for her with local non profits, but for the past few years we had trouble finding places that would allow a young person to volunteer, even with me going with her. What we did instead, is simple stuff on our own that helps our community. Some of our favorites were (1) to take a garbage bag on a walk and clean up the neighborhood or visit a park to do a garbage hike, (2) to make pictures and cards for youth patients at our local hospitals and (3) to offer a variety of help to neighbors…dog walking, car washing, friendly visits to seniors…limitless opportunity to teach kids to give back when you start thinking about it.
Don’t forget that kids eat free in Tallahassee every day of the week and we’ve got your hook up to when & where right here – Kids Eat Free Connection.
Try to keep it local and scope out the healthiest options when you’re deciding on the day of the week you prefer to take advantage of these offers most often. For example, Earth Fare offers kids eat free on Thursday’s.
Get your kids on the zip course, built just for their size, at Tallahassee Museum. Your purchase of one tickets gets them three rounds of the course and it’s tons of fun! Plus, kids love enjoying the playground and hiking trails and animals at the museum. Pack a picnic to make it a day! Here’s an old post from when my daughter first went. The museum has a great summer camp program too.
Your kids must wear closed shoes to be allowed to use the zip course. If you have one child old enough to zip and one that’s not, don’t feel like you can’t manage on your own. You can easily stay down on the ground with your little one, while following your older one as they go through the course, in talking distance the entire time. Plus, there are guides there helping your child.
Need a quick go-to to help kids take a little afternoon or evening break? Stay tuned to our series, Storytime with TallyMom, where new videos are posted to our YouTube Channel weekly, of TallyMom reading great titles with her kids and to yours.
NEW! Now BIG kids can enjoy tuning in too, for special episodes just for them. TallyMom will read chapter books throughout the summer, a chapter at a time, starting with Esio Trot by Roald Dahl. First episode shared today on YouTube!
I’d love your feedback on titles your kids would enjoy hearing us read.
Visit the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea for a day of hands on fun and learning. You can touch and hold the marine life as you tour the facilities leisurely at your own pace. See some great pictures from our visit last year and learn more when you read this post.
Be prepared to get hot, sweaty and dirty. Note which tanks are marked for touching and which are not. Visit with a group and call ahead to schedule a guided tour – great for older kids. Bring a picnic and visit the playground and open field along the water, right next the the marine lab afterwards. There’s also a nice dock to walk and explore. If you visit before June 22nd, you’ll meet Allie, the rescued sea turtle. She’s just recently been cleared for her release back to the ocean blue which is scheduled for June 22nd and all are invited to attend and watch the miraculous event. Learn more about Allie on the marine lab’s Facebook page.
Get the kids a Nano at Lofty Pursuits to bring some ice cream delight to any hot summer afternoon. The Nano is the littlest scoop, perfect for a sweet treat, just the right size for the kids, and it’s only $1, with tons of cool flavors to choose from. Plus, really unique and cool toys surround you as you enjoy your treat and many of them are out and open for the kids to play with. If you’re there at the right time, you just may see an old fashioned candy making demonstration too.
Be prepared to indulge yourself too moms and dads. You won’t be able to resist. Maybe a brownie sundae for you while the kids enjoy their Nano….I’m sure they won’t mind watching you indulge in a slightly bigger way 🙂 Lofty does ice cream cakes now too, so keep that in mind for summer birthdays!
Take the kids blueberry picking. We enjoy visiting Green Meadows Farm and Blueberry Springs, where you can also enjoy some time at Wacissa Springs right next door after picking.
Bring plenty of water because it’s going to be HOT! Bring your sense of adventure and plan on the kids taste testing a bit, which usually isn’t minded too much within reason…how can they help it? For some extra fun, have kids decorate and personalize their own blueberry basket before going to enjoy filling themselves. Bring cash if you can. Delores at Green Meadows usually has other tasty bites for you to enjoy, like blueberry ice cream, and her tea is delicious! If you’re heading to Blueberry Springs, bring bathing suits too for water fun at Wacissa Springs after picking.
Try every flavor combination you can think of at Big Easy Snowballs. It’s certainly hot enough to indulge in these icy treats. Get yours stuffed to make it a meal 🙂 No worries – a walk around the beautiful Lake Ella right next door will help you work it off. Turtle watching, duck chasing, tree climbing…lots of fun for the kids at Lake Ella after their snowball.
Last time we were there I asked Owen what flavor he wanted and he said “blue”. I quickly spotted “blueberry” on the flavor list and went with that since it made me feel better to say a name of a fruit. The person helping me saw the little hands the treat was headed to and she made a suggestion for a different flavor of “blue” that would stain less. It was a great tip, so just remember that next time you’re there too. The staff can help your kids make less of a mess 🙂
Each summer we enjoy visiting Lake Hall at Maclay Gardens. The playground, the lake, the hiking trails, the picnic tables, the sandy beach like spot…all makes for a very nice day enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Tally. Here our post from last year’s visit with pictures and more park info included.
Pack like you’re spending a day at the beach and you should be all set. If you have older kids, ask about canoe rentals when you enter the park. Take note that there is a small fee to enter Maclay Gardens, of (I believe) $3 per car. This is our spot where we take the same picture each year – the kids kissing Daddy. We are keeping each year’s pictures side by side in a frame at home, watching the kids grow.
Walk the Talking Trees Trail at Bear Creek where your kids can enjoy being outdoors and listening to park rangers talk about how this beautiful area came to be and about the trees and plants that grow here. Check out our video about the Talking Trees Trail here to learn more and see what it’s like.
NEW! Read our new blog post, with lot’s of great pictures, about our day at the park here.
Let your kids pack some exploring gear such as binoculars and hiking sticks. Try this idea for homemade binoculars for craft time before you go. Bathrooms are easily accessible at the beginning of the trail. There are picnic tables as well. When we visited the classroom was not open, but it is during the week with more adventure to be had there. For older kids, pack some art supplies and let them draw the trees they see. Also, let older kids bring a notepad and pencil and take notes from the Talking Trees to write a story about their visit when they get home. Put the two together and you’ll have an illustrated book about Visiting Bear Creek.
Gather some friends and make it a beach day. We love visiting St. George, but stay closer and visit Carrabelle Beach or Shell Point Beach for a day at the beach, if you prefer.
If you go with a group try to car pool to save gas and the drive. Also, have each person bring just one beach toy and then share all when you get there so the kids get to enjoy new toys and you’ll have less work keeping track of just one toy. Watch out for the seagulls grabbing your lunch!
Take the kids rock climbing indoors, at Tallahassee Rock Gym.
This is new to Tally and it’s on our summer fun to-do list this year. We haven’t been yet, but I’m excited to share more when we go so stay tuned, or share what you know in the comment section below.
Decide on a family project for the home to complete little by little together over the summer. Maybe a fort in the backyard. Maybe paint an accent wall. Maybe start a recycling station. Possibilities are endless. Our friends at The Sharing Tree could be a good source of inspiration for you.
Our summer project is to build some sort of fort or tree house structure in our backyard, using recycled pallets. The idea was inspired by one of our readers when she commented to a post about recycling and repurposing. Thanks Deborah! Stay tuned!
Rent an instrument from a local music store for the summer and let your kids enjoy music on a new level. If they develop a passion then maybe some music lessons will be in order in the fall. A group of kids could even rent different instruments and make a band with regular summer concerts.
If you were as cool as I was in high school then you still have the French Horn you played in the band and you can bring it out for your kids to enjoy trying to play and listening to you try to play again 🙂 Good times, right Can?!
Visit the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge to enjoy climbing up to the top of the lighthouse, walking the trails and picnicking by the waterside on the benches around the area. Plus, spot the wildlife as you explore the area.
Well, last time we visited we saw an alligator a little too close to my parent’s little Chihuahuas. As you explore the wildlife, be cautious of the wildlife – they live there!
What says summer fun more than a lemonade stand? Let the kids take charge…making signs, shopping for ingredients, preparing the lemonade, getting customers and organizing their income. Here’s our post with cute pictures, from last year’s stand.
For older kids you can turn it in to a lesson on business planning by helping them with marketing and finances and all other aspects of a business plan. Encourage your kids to choose a charity to donate the money they raise to.
Exercise together with your kids. With all of the beautiful hiking and running trails in our town, it’s easy to enjoy exercising and exploring together at the same time. Teach healthy habits by making sure to incorporate exercise in to your summer days.
Since kids are so in to technology these days, one fun idea I’ve come up with that my daughter thinks is “so cool” is to use the C25K app. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it stands for Couch to 5K and the app gives you a week by week, day by day break down of an exercise plan and talks you through your daily workouts…”begin walking”, “begin running”. Yeah – I’m such a cool mom….I even let her hold the phone!
Visit the Splash Pad, a water feature for little ones to enjoy splashing around, in Southwood at the Town Center. There’s a nice green space for running around as well. Plus, a few benches around and bathrooms are accessible. Subway, The Wharf (with snow cones) and Grazies are the lunch options unless you just pack a picnic.
Go on a Thursday when kids eat free all day with the purchase of an adult meal at The Wharf right next door. Bring some toys for splashing around with like cups and buckets.
For the younger ones, sign up for Mornings with Mommy every other week on Tuesday or Wednesday for a fun playgroup with music, toys, games, crafts and more. Jill, the organizer, is wonderful and puts a lot of thought in to preparing everything using a theme for the day, such as Under the Sea. Check out the most recent post we shared, with pictures and video included, here.
Pre-registration is required for these classes and there is a small fee of $5 when you attend. The children’s ages are usually 3 and under.
This place has the IMAX Theatre and the Digital Dome Theatre and Planetarium, plus lots of fun programs for kids of all ages to enjoy, and their Camp Challenger, mentioned in our annual Tallahassee Summer Camps post. There is a new 3D movie coming to the IMAX Theatre on Friday, June 21st, called Great White Shark. Read our post all about it here, including the official press release and movie trailer!
Pack a picnic when you go. The grassy area on Kleman Plaza is great for running around and having a picnic lunch after you’re done exploring the Challenger Learning Center. When it comes to the IMAX show, take note on whether or not it’s 3D if your children are sometimes bothered by having to wear the glasses like mine are. Parking in the Kleman Plaza parking lot is easiest, but you’ll need some cash to get out.
Head to Market Square to paint your own pottery and enjoy other creative arts and crafts at Firefly Pottery Studio. This is also a great place for birthday parties and their summer camp program is featured in our Tallahassee Summer Camps annual post here. Check out their calendar for special sessions and sales offered monthly, such as National Flip Flop Day with 20% off on Friday, June 21st, and stay connected on Facebook.
Kind of obvious tip here, but consider your kids’ clothing before you head to Firefly Pottery to have fun with paint! Also, note that you’ll have to leave your finished piece for firing in the kiln and then return again on a different day to pick up. Celebrate picking up the masterpieces with a Nano at Lofty Pursuits, mentioned in another idea above.
Grab some of these nifty homemade popsicle things, complete with a straw for sucking up the juicy drippings, and make your own popsicles together. We got these in Orlando at Disney World, but I am guessing they are available for purchase locally. Anyone know where? As for making the sweet and refreshing treats…just about anything works. Grab whatever fruits you have on hand and blend them together with some yogurt, some bananas, some ice and a tad bit of sugar and voila, you have popsicle mix. Pour the mixture into the popsicle containers and let freeze for a day. You can also substitute the containers for items you probably already have on hand, such as a small Dixie cup and some popsicle sticks or any kind of small cup and a spoon. Just freeze them together and the kids will love the homemade desserts. I wonder if I could mix in a vegetable without my kids noticing? The mixture is also great for a smoothie on a hot summer morning for breakfast.
Let the kids pick the fruit they want included so they’ll be sure to enjoy it and they can name their popsicles after themselves, Owen’s Tropical Delights, for example. Instead of a lemonade stand, listed above, the kids could have a popsicle stand. The kids could also make quick special deliveries to neighbors and friends they may see outside in the evenings. This is a great way to use all those blueberries you pick over the summer too, listed in another idea above. Plus, did you see the link for the Green Meadows Farm blueberry ice cream recipe?
Have a crafty kid on your hands? Don’t miss the Passport to Imagination program at Michael’s listed above, and then let your little artist browse the wide selection of arts and crafts supplies at The Sharing Tree. This place is great for the kids to come and feel all grown up. Almost all items available for sale at The Sharing Tree are $1 or $2, most are even less, and the selection is so vast, a kid can let their imagination run wild and collect all kinds of little treasures to use to create and craft at home. From a never ending wall of buttons to yards and yards of ribbon and so much more, any child excited about imagining, creating and inventing, will love spending some time, and a bit of their allowance, getting inspiration at The Sharing Tree.
Visit from 9am to 1pm on July 20th for Part II of the largest sidewalk sale you’ve ever seen. Learn more at the Facebook Event Page. There will even be “free” baskets. The Sharing Tree accepts donations and their purpose is to show that reuse can be easy and fun. When you visit, make it a lesson by teaching about the art of reuse and repurpose, and have your kids look around for items they are no longer using to be donated. Learn more about The Sharing Tree here so you can teach your kids. Do check the Facebook page for the weekly schedule of open hours before you plan to go.
Every Saturday at Lake Ella from 11am to 2pm, local food trucks, shops and bands gather to offer up their goods. Enjoy this beautiful outdoor space and all the fun on a few of your summer Saturdays. Visit their Facebook page weekly to get the line-up of participating vendors and bands to look for when you go.
Pack some outdoor toys to play with in the grassy area by the gazebo at Lake Ella…frisbees, footballs, hula hoops. Help teach your kids the importance of exercise to stay healthy, by enjoying a walk or run together around the lake before you indulge in some of the yummy food truck offers. Grab a snowball to cool off, from Big Easy Snowballs, listed above.
Do you know how many museums we have in Tallahassee? We do, and you can learn where they are, how to contact them and why to visit them when you visit our Museum Connection. How about bringing the kids on a tour of local museums, one by one, throughout the summer, having them collect notes and take pictures as they visit each museum, then go home and write up their very own book about each museum?
Get online before visiting each museum and give your kids a little preview of what the museum is all about and what they have to offer before visiting. When they know what to expect they can already start forming their ideas of what will be their favorite area to explore and what they want to be sure to learn about while they’re there.
What kids wouldn’t enjoy an afternoon of playing video games and bouncing at Fun Station Jr. or mini golf, batting cages, bumper boats and laser tag at Fun Station? There are weekly deals available at Fun Station which you can take advantage of when you check out their Facebook page.
I have heard from a few of my friends that Fun Station Jr. is currently not what it once was, with some repairs needed on the jumpers and games. I haven’t been recently myself, but because of this, I might suggest asking if you can look around and make sure the kids are in for lots of fun before you pay to get them in. If it doesn’t work out to run and play there, then Winthrop Park and Playground is not too far away and Maclay Gardens and Lake Hall are right next door. As for the original Fun Station, if you have one younger child and one older child like I do, it might work nice to head to Tot Time at Trousdell, listed above, around the corner from Fun Station for the little one, and then dry off and drive on over to Fun Station for your big kid to have fun there. Two summer fun ideas in one day…outside play and inside play…little kid fun and big kid fun…balance 🙂
That’s all for now, but even as I have my finger on the “publish” button, I am thinking of a few more ideas, so more will be added throughout the summer. Plus, as always, we welcome you to share too. Know of a great place or have an idea for summer fun? Please comment below to share!