Featured Activity: Explore a State Park Near You

Published on August 22, 2022 - Updated on August 23, 2022

Experience Nature at Any Comfort Level: Kid-Friendly Walking Paths, Hikes, Waterfront Relaxation or Roasting S’Mores

Natural Bridge State Park.jpeg

Summer is winding down and that means cooler temps and amazing hiking weather is on the horizon for much of the country. It's the perfect time of year to get outside!

Getting out to discover all that your area has to offer is easier than you may think. Day trips to nearby state parks are often overlooked but very rewarding adventures for people with every level of comfort in nature.

You can access beautiful, preserved land close to home in most areas. California ranks highest with a whopping 270 state parks, and even tiny Rhode Island boasts 15. When spending time with family in Pennsylvania, we uncovered what a hidden wonder state parks can be and made treasured memories!

Locating the state parks near your home secures valuable fresh-air fun. The state parks are designed with day-trippers in mind and all have something unique and special to offer, generally with ample space to wander.

Mix things up this fall and explore one you have yet to visit. We have many already reviewed on the Happyly app, or you can find a list of parks near you on stateparks.org. We haven’t been to all 10,000 yet but we assure you, they are on our to-do list!

For the Weekend Warriors


Did you know that there are 61 National Parks in 29 different states and 2 US Territories? While this is a life bucket list item for many people, after touring all your nearby state parks, the National Park adventure may not seem so far off. We often hear about Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Zion but there are so many available options driveable from anywhere in the country.

Visiting these preserved areas is a wonderful way to instill a sense of adoration for nature in your children while teaching them the importance of preservation. Even if you don’t have a National Park very close to home, you could always plan to drive the distance and make a weekend trip out of your visit!

My favorite style of travel is the Weekend Warrior way! To maximize my time, I usually pack the car on Thursday night and leave straight after work on Friday. There are many different lodging options depending on where you choose to go, from camping all the way up to full-service hotels. Check out our blog Camping, Glamping, or RV Travel: What Suits Your Family? so you know before you go.

Arriving Prepared is the Key to Outdoor Fun


Whichever type of excursion you plan, choose the activities to prioritize in advance - hiking, swimming, boating, picnicking, biking, birding, or another favorite pastime. The options are limitless. You may end up doing it all, or find yourselves kicking back lakeside.

That’s what makes outings in nature perfect for every family, you can experience them at your own pace. That said, it’s always more relaxing when you come prepared and can let the adventure be your guide.

Bring the essentials so you’re ready for anything. Pack a cooler with a picnic and plenty of water. It’s important to refuel and stay hydrated, and even if you plan on an easy, short walk you don’t want to head back when you’re having fun because you didn’t bring a snack.

Access to the necessities also helps keep morale high. We also suggest bringing a change of clothes and shoes in case you come across a swimming hole or sandy beach that your little ones can’t resist!

Of course, it’s always easy to stick with what we know, but you may be surprised how much you enjoy stepping out of your comfort zone. Get some practice locally, and perhaps you’ll find yourself inspired by this new type of adventure.

Always be sure to ask your children what their favorite part of the day was when you head home or ask them to point out what made this new park special. Over time, you will begin to see which pastimes in nature bring your family the most joy and you will likely become a weekend warrior before too long!

Have you and your family visited a state park near you? If you visit one, tag us in it on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!

Interested in other fun activities that will get your family outside? Check out some of our other Featured Activities: Visit a Winery or Vineyard, Find a StoryWalk, or Build a Bug Hotel!

For even more local activities and attractions at your fingertips, be sure to download the happyly app, the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.

Thoughtfully captured by:
Randi Banks
Randi (Betts) Banks grew up in New York and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She moved to Washington, D.C. more than thirteen years ago with her husband, Eaghmon, and they love to explore the area and seek out adventure, now with their two young children along for the ride. Growing up right near the beach, they are happiest when on or near the water, so exploring the rivers, lakes, and streams in the greater DC area is a favorite pastime for their family. In addition to serving as one of the Washington, DC area ambassadors, Randi is also the Editor in Chief and Co-founder of happyly.
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