Several weeks in, and we are just getting settled into the long, second half of summer when the days get hot and our activities die down. With neighbors and friends scattering for their own summer plans, the kids might be left with long days at home and just mom to play with. What, then, do we do to keep things exciting? Brown Bag Adventures could be the perfect answer!
The idea came to me a few years ago when my kids were eight and five years old. We were getting bored, and I didn’t want to spend any money on expensive summer camps or vacations. On top of that, I grew weary of the daily argument after asking the kids, “What do you feel like doing today?” For as surely as my son wanted to do one thing, my daughter insisted on something entirely different, and neither of their choices sounded good to me at all. And so, we would eventually settle on an activity and begrudgingly set out to start the day. I had to think of something, anything to get us out of the house without argument or spending too much money. That is when the Brown Bag Adventures were born!
I write out all kinds of day trips and activities that we can afford on separate 3×5 note cards, and put them in a brown paper lunch bag that lives on the kitchen counter. Whenever we run into a slow day, the kids and I take turns drawing a card out of the bag, and whatever it says we do! The arguing completely disappears, and somehow the mystery of pulling a card out of the bag makes choosing a very ordinary activity really exciting for the kids. It has become such a hit, we now do it every summer!
Here’s how to do it
Fill your bag with enough adventure cards to get you through the summer, and set a routine schedule for the kids to look forward to. In our family, our Brown Bag Adventure day is every Wednesday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. That way we can make plans ahead of time to have family join us, or for the kids to invite friends to come along. It also gives my husband the ability to take a day off work and surprise the kids. Having a routine also gives the kids something to anticipate all week long.
Mix it up and have fun!
There are so many ways to have fun with this activity. You can keep the ideas low-budget and choose at-home activities, or you can throw in bigger trips to theme parks and city attractions to make a really big splash into summer. Either way, the fun of Brown Bag Adventures is not knowing for sure what activity you’ll do next!
Below is a list of Brown Bag Adventure ideas to get you inspired. You can customize your adventures to match anything that your family loves!
Affordable & At-Home Adventures
- Kids’ Choice Day
- Pajama Day and Breakfast for Dinner
- Cookie Baking Day and Kids’ Choice Dinner
- All-Day Video Game
- Play Date with a Friend
- Water Fight and Slip-n-Slide
- Blanket Fort and Back Yard Picnic
- Kids Choice Craft and Art Project
- Portland Jetboat Excursion
- Public Transportation Day (Max, OHSU Tram, Trolley), Bridge Walk and Food Carts (3-mile loop)
- Portland Walking Tours
- Dowtown Trolley Tour
- City View Lunch at Portland City Grill
- Make Your Own, Downtown Scavenger Hunt
- 4 T’s Hike (Train, Tram, Trail and Trolley through town, 4-mile loop)
- Play Day at the Library, Fountain, and Playground
- Ice Cream and Movie Theater Day
Parks & Attractions
- Oaks Park
- Masterpiece Art Studio (sketch, sculpt, paint, and more!)
- Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center
- John’s Incredible Pizza
- Oregon Zoo
- Children’s Museum
- Arcade Day at Ground Kontrol (for older kids) or Wunderland
- Enchanted Forest
- Cultural Pass Day and Picnic Lunch (check out passes from the public library)
- Portland Art Museum and Pioneer Courthouse Square Farmers Market (Mondays)
- Bob’s Red Mill Tour and Lunch (All organic food. Kids love the big cookies!)
Outdoor & Country Adventures
- Berry Picking and Breakfast Out Day
- Camping for a Day (bike, hike, swim, grill hot dogs & s’mores at a nearby campground)
- Tualatin River Canoeing Trip from Cook Park
- Playground and Biking Day at a favorite park
- Lake Oswego Hiking Trails
- Swimming Day
- Hagg Lake Day
- Mini Golf and Kids Choice Treat Day
- Multnomah Falls Day
Beach Day Adventures
- Seaside Beach Day
- Tillamook Cheese Factory and ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
- Newport Oregon Coast Aquarium
- Build sand sastles and roast s’mores on your favorite beach
- Tide Pools and Light House at Yaquina Head near Newport