By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

When people think of summer, they often think of summer vacations — leaving home and traveling somewhere new. But unlike most people, many military families do not live in their hometown, so a summer vacation can mean staying put and exploring their new location. Even if you have lived in the same place for a long time, there are lots of fun things you can do without leaving the comfort of home.

Summer is here. It is time for new adventures, but that doesn’t always mean you have to leave where you are living. Enjoy where you are and see what it has to offer. Following are several ideas to have a fun summer staycation.

Every town has its history. While East Coast sites can date back to before the Revolutionary War, other cities or towns have a much shorter history. But no matter where you are, there is history to discover. To find out where to go, just Google “historic sites in [your community]” and then go on a fun adventure to check out these historic landmarks.

Another great way to see new locations is through Geocaching. It’s a free app that points you to treasures in your location. Just head to the Geocaching website and you will see how many geocaches there are. You will have to download the app to find the sites. It will require an adventurous spirit and creativity, but you will see new things all around you. Plus, you can create your own geocaches for other people to find. 

Even the smallest of towns has  at least one museum you can explore to learn about the history of your location. Don’t forget to check out Blue Star Museums through Blue Star Families. Each summer, museums partner with Blue Star Museums and offer military families free entry into their museums. 

A summer activity that can both entertain and inspire your kids is a visit to the local library. Many libraries offer summer programs that encourage kids to read. And if you’re lucky, your local library may even have special events that your kids can participate in throughout the summer.

You may be lucky enough to be at a duty location that has a pool you can use throughout the summer. Even if your location doesn’t have its own pool, you can still have a pool day. Inflatable pools are great for little kids and there are great options for older kids to add in a Slip N Slide or other fun inflatables. No matter how old you are, is there really anything more fun than running through sprinklers on hot days? Make your pool day even more fun with fun summer snacks. You can get creative and offer Pinterest-inspired treats or just provide lemonade or popsicles on your fun, summer pool day. 

When I lived in a small town in New Mexico, we often were in search of things to do. We did not have many options, but we could look forward to the annual summer concert series. Everyone brought their dinner, either a cookout or something to go, and we would sit under the stars, listen to music, and connect with friends. It was a great experience and quite unexpected for the sleepy little town we were in. So, search your local community and see what events you can find. Although it may seem like there is nothing going on, you will be surprised by what you can find. 

What is better than reconnecting with friends? When my kids were little, school schedules had little impact on meetups, but as my kids have gotten older it is harder to get together with friends. Summer can be crazy with camps, summer travel, and other adventures, but it is a great time to slow down and catch up with friends you haven’t had time to see over the busy school year. 

What other ideas do you have to keep kids busy in the summer without traveling?

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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