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Taking the Kids: Where to go this summer

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Got the backpacks, snacks and reusable water bottles? Whatever you’ve got on tap for summer vacation, plan to spend plenty of time outdoors. With COVID-19 cases rising once again, it’s safer.

And it’s great for the kids — their mental as well as physical health, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. This at the time when everyone is concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of kids and teens.

When children spent time in natural settings, they had less anger and aggression, pediatricians say. Impulse control is also better. This might be especially important when normal routines change for children, as has been the case during the pandemic. Stress and depression are lower for people who spend time in nature.

And if you are concerned about their school performance, playing outside promotes curiosity, creativity and critical thinking, research shows.

June, by the way, is designated as National Camping Month.

“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, outdoor time and nature exploration are safe for most kids,” said pediatrician Dr. Danette Glassy, a spokesman for the Academy of Pediatrics. “And we know that the more time a child spends in nature, the more likely they are to grow up to be good stewards of our planet⁠ — an environmental win!”

 

Another good point about outdoors-oriented trips; It doesn’t cost anything or much to explore a state park, take a hike or go on a bike ride. That’s good news as high gas prices are threatening summer vacation plans, forcing many to consider shorter trips closer to home, AAA suggests.

With our partners at Family Travel Forum, we have just published 51 Great Ideas for your Best Family Summer Vacation, including many focused on outdoor fun and adventure.

No worries if you haven’t planned yet. There are still plenty of options for your gang that won’t bust the budget, nor do you have to leave your pooch behind.

Here are eight ideas — for now or later:

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