When your kids range in age it can be hard to find vacation activities that they’ll all enjoy, here’s my tips for a great vacation plus the best activities in the Lake Erie area!
I have several friends who have kids all right in a row with only a year or two between them. I often look at them and wonder how they do it. More than one in diapers at a time, two toddlers in the house… I know I would be overwhelmed.
But when I am planning a vacation I find myself wishing that my boys were closer in age. Why? Well because sometimes it’s hard to plan activities for an 8, 14 and 18 year old. I mean things that the 8 year old would enjoy the other two are a little old for, and more action packed activites that the teens would like the little man isn’t old enough for… it can sometimes be a challenge finding things that everyone can enjoy together.
One of our favorite vacation destinations is the Lake Erie Shores & Islands area. Over the years we’ve traveled to the lake and enjoyed all the area has to offer. We’ve found lots of activities in the area that appeal to all my kiddos. This year was no different!
But even going somewhere where we’re familiar with many of the attractions every time we go I start looking, planning, running ideas by the kids and the hubby to make sure that we’ve planned things that everyone will enjoy. It’s important to me that we can spend time together as a family. Vacation is a week that everyone gets to spend with Daddy, no work, no school, all together enjoying each others company.
So I’m sharing what I’ve learned over the years, what you can look for when planning your next favorite vacation, and what places you must check out if your vacation takes you to Ohio’s beautiful Lake Erie shores.
#1- Nature & Outdoor Activities– Let’s face it, so many vacation spots involve the beach! There is a reason why. The big kids can swim, boogie board, play volleyball, and the younger ones can build sand castles, look for shells… there’s something for everyone!(If you don’t own an waboba ball might I recommend picking one up for your pool or lake? Seriously my boys, husband and step dad had a blast with that little ball!)
But the outdoor activites don’t have to stop at the beach, check out local hiking trails, find a park or playground, everyone loves spending time outside!
#2- Movies & Concerts- Don’t worry I’m not going to recommend shelling out a gazillion dollars for concert tickets while you’re on vacation. But check out the local area, chamber of commerce page, or even Facebook! The town we stayed in has a great amphitheater where there are lots of family activities. We went to see a steel drum band, which was awesome, they also offered weekly movies and other fun activities. Check out what’s offered and enjoy the local entertainment. Heading to a local movie theater on a rainy day is also a great option!
#3- Tours. Museums & Monuments- Maybe it’s the homeschooler mom coming out but I love to sneak in a little education while on vacation! We visited Put In Bay, a cute little island town rich with history. The island offers a tour train that takes you around the island highlighting historical sites and places of interest.
Tours like that are great for all ages, the older kids who have studied historical events learn even more, and younger kids learn something new! Monuments and Museums (Like the striking Perry’s monument) are another way to see and feel history, art or science. If your kids have a particular interest finding something that they can do to learn even more is always a win!
#4- Family Fun Centers– Um… this is pretty self explanatory! Lot’s of vacation destinations have places with put-put, go karts… lots of fun family activities. When your kids vary in age they’re great places to visit because even though everyone can’t participate in everything it’s fun to watch your big brother drive a go-kart or little brother climb a rock wall.
We visited Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center. All three of the boys loved the cave tour, the younger ones thoroughly enjoyed the rock climbing wall, and of course my hubby and oldest checked out the antique car museum… see something for everyone! (and the cave is educational!! Homeschool win!!)
#5 – Animal Experiences- Want to see your 18 and 8 year old react almost the exact same way to something? Give them the chance to hold a butterfly….
These are from our visit to The Butterfly House at Perry’s Family Fun center. They have 50 different types of butterflies!
It was an amazing experience!
Animals are something universal, something that everyone enjoys. Zoos, drive through safaris, aviaries … anytime you can get up close and personal with animals, butterflies or birds you’re sure to have an amazing time!
#6- Amusement Parks- Roller coasters, merry go rounds, bumper cars, thrill rides… you can pretty much guarantee that your kids, no matter what their age will have a blast at an amusement park. On our visit to Cedar Point we took a “divide and conquer” approach.
The teenagers took off to ride the coasters, (after all Cedar Point is the roller coaster capital of the world!!) while Daniel got to have his parents to himself and try the tamer rides (after one roller coaster… he was brave but decided that wasn’t his thing!) If you’re visiting for the day consider taking a friend for your older child, or having one parent go with the bigger kid while the other takes the younger. Meet halfway through the day to eat and reconnect and visit the rides everyone loves all together.
#7- Remember to be Flexible– Now all that being said, one fact remains, you can’t please everyone all the time… one of those truths of parenting. However planning ahead helps to make sure most everyone is happy most of the time. If you can’t find something that everyone agrees on consider making compromises, let one child pick one day and another pick the next.
In our case Nathan was opposed to our island visit because he has a bit of a fear of the ferry ride there. Since there are two ferries that run to the island I looked into the one that was faster, and a more enclosed boat then a ferry, The Jet Express. Because the ride was quicker and he had the option of being inside a cabin he was a little calmer about the whole thing and everyone could enjoy the day. Sometimes you can just alter things a bit to make everyone comfortable!
One evening we had plans but everyone was hot and tired from our day at the beach, only one of the boys wanted to go out so we went with the majority!
Our vacation this year was a great success, everyone came home having had a great time! As my boys grow I know that we’ll have many more vacations and opportunities to try other family activities and awesome experiences!
What is your favorite thing to do as a family while on vacation?? What is your favorite destination?
I want to offer a huge thanks to the folks at Lake Erie Shores & Islands, Perry’s Family Fun Center, The Put in Bay Tour Train, Cedar Point & The Jet Express for complementary tickets and making our recent vacation the best ever! Make sure to check out all these amazing places if you are ever in the Lake Erie area!!