One of the biggest things I have learned being a mom is that you have to create adventures for you and your child, each and every day. It is important that we make learning fun and exciting. We are fortunate to be able to explore with our toddlers and teach them many of the adventures that the world has to offer.
But let’s be honest, sometimes we get in a rut or just need to get out of the house. And living where we do, in the Northwest, we have so many great places we can visit both indoors and outdoors within a very short drive. For those times where you are having an adventure mind block, here is a list of great places for toddlers to roam free (kinda) and explore.
In almost every community there are libraries. Libraries are great place for kids to develop a love and respect of books. In Vancouver, Washington, I was recently introduced to Vancouver Community Library. Oh my goodness, this place is amazing. My son loves the children’s floor. From story time for toddlers to the interactive learning area to the tween only lounge, this place has made me fall in love with the library again. The Vancouver Community Library has turned into one of my son’s favorite places to go and explore. What a great way to teach kids to love reading.
Now museums used to scare me growing up. They were an intimidating place. In the movies, they were filled with million dollar pieces of artwork and you had to be very quiet. They seemed like something that only rich people visited. Now as an adult, I found that not to be the case.
The Portland Art Museum consistently has exhibitions that are family friendly. Paul Allen recently presented a collection of his favorite pieces, and it was amazing to see the beautiful art one man calls his own. They even have Baby Morning, an art walk for babies under one with their moms. After one, as I have completely discovered, children are harder to catch. But don’t worry there are also family tours, where kids under 17 are free. This is a great time for the entire family to explore.
We also need to remember that there are other types of museums besides art. There are also science museums. We have an amazing science museum in the Portland area called OMSI. This is a wonderful place for toddlers, older kids and big kids (I put myself in the big kid category personally) to explore every aspect of science. They also have OMSI camps during the summer, to really build a love for science in your children. Besides OMSI, the Portland Children’s Museum allows children to have a hands on approach to art and science.
When time is an issue and fresh air is needed, a local park is the perfect answer for a restless child and mom. Now when my son sees his jogging stroller, he just glows. That means he is going on a walk, and maybe, if he’s lucky the park. The swings, slides, monkey bars, and all the new things that I don’t even know what they are called, the park is the place many toddlers make their own adventures. It is a great place for moms to meet and new friendships to develop, both for moms and kids.
All over the country, there are zoos which can help nurture the love of animals in your toddler. The Oregon Zoo is one of the greatest treasures of the Portland metropolitan area. The zoo has been going through many upgrades and one of my favorites is Elephant Land. Our family has a family pass which allows us to enjoy the zoo all year round, from Zoo Lights to the Zoo Concert series. By our second visit, we had basically paid for our annual pass. I love going to the zoo and just taking a picnic and spending the day with family and friends. The zoo is truly is an amazing adventure.
Where we live, we are blessed with many hiking trails in close proximity to our home. It is so great to get close to nature and see your toddler find his first wild flower or fallen tree. There are many places to find hiking trails in your area, but a great national resource is the American Hiking Society. Locally, a full list of hiking trails can be found at Washington Trail Association. Since I grew up in Oregon, hiking Multnomah Falls was one of my family’s favorite hikes, and it still holds a place in my heart. And if you’re not close to a hiking trail, take a hike through the city. There are amazing adventures to be found in the history of your very own city. Never stop exploring.
Living in the Northwest, warm sunny beaches are not a common sight. But what we lack in sun, we make up in hundreds of miles of beautiful sandy beaches, great during every season. There are just so many great beaches along Oregon and Washington. We love to go to Tillamook for the weekend or visit Long Beach for the day. And boy does my toddler love the sand and water. The look on his face is pure joy and freedom. It is priceless.
There are many places and things to do with toddlers, from mommy and me classes to a simple walk downtown hand in hand. Hopefully this is a great reminder to encourage your toddler to explore and create adventures together.
Where are some of your favorite toddler friendly adventures?