A U.K. television station recently surveyed 2,000 people and found people become less adventurous as they enter their 30s.
Less? Chris read this article and shared with me that he could not believe the findings. True we have become more adventurous in the past five years partly due to where we are in life. Our kids are older and able to participate more and when we were in the age range of 25-35 we did not have a lot of money and had two kiddos 14 months apart. I have become a lot more paranoid about weird things as a parent but I still like to see what is out there. The USA is full of beauty.
What adventures can you have with your kids? Chris and I thought about when we did not have much money, our kids were younger, and what we did with them. Over the past decade we have done a lot of mini-trips (too many to name here) that do not have to cost much.
Rafting – The rapids and drops are the thrill! Depending on your kids’ ages you can consider white water rafting or a slower rafting pace. Carter and Haley have not been old enough to white water raft so we have opted for the slower pace of Spring River. It is only a four hour drive to Hardy, Arkansas. We have left on a Friday after work, spent the night at Mammoth Spring Lodge for $130 (through Expedia), rented a raft the next day from Many Islands about $100, and headed back home once we were done. Yes, it’s a tiring (and somewhat smelly) drive after rafting in the hot sun all day but it saves you an extra night at the hotel. If you take snacks and a cooler you can do this on about $300. A word of caution: there is a lot of drunken parties at Spring River. We have NEVER had any problems. We rent our raft when Many Islands first opens and are in the front of most people on the river; therefore, miss the partying. We have been on a holiday weekend and rafted on Sunday instead of Saturday to avoid the party-goers. My children can all swim but the little one wears a life jacket. Carter started going when he was five and LOVED it. The water is so cold (58 degrees) that you will not be in it long. The river has a host of rope swings and side creeks for exploring. We like to go in July so the blast of cold water really cools you down after sitting in the hot sun.
Ryan has been white water rafting with us on the Ocoee River near Chattanooga. Our go-to place here is Outland Expeditions. Our “big kids” have been with us, too. Once we did the middle trip but the last time added on the Olympic run. The water is released from a dam and is quite cold. This type of rafting is more expensive and there is risk involved but an older child who swims well should be fine. The company really watched out for Ryan when he was on board to make sure he was safe.
The ‘big kids’ loved exploring the Blue Hole with its series of underwater tunnels and huge boulders. To go to the Blue Hole you must go when the water isn’t flowing at Ocoee. It is kind of hard to find and a little over an hour away from Chattanooga.
Caves – When my kids were little they loved caves. There is something about knowing there is a whole other world under the ground. Let’s face it, they are older now and they still love caves! We have been to the Lost Sea Adventure twice and Raccoon Mountain Caverns. Lost Sea has been our favorite. It’s cheesy but has a deep 4 acre lake with albino-looking blind fish that you get to check out by boarding a boat. Chris wants to do the Wild Cave Tour where you go off the beaten trail squeezing through tight spaces and possibly spending the night. I have seen The Descent and know how that would end.
Hiking – You never know what you will see and every experience is different. Just about anywhere near you, you can find a state park, national park, or preserve! You do not have to do a day long hike in the searing heat or cold to enjoy nature. A leisurely stroll through the woods is fascinating and enough adventure for kids. We love to traipse through the woods. Once when Chris had to work in Alabama for several weeks we found a gem hidden near Birmingham called Moss Rock Preserve. We spent a couple of hours in the sprinkling rain letting the kids climb on rocks and play in waterfalls. I took the kids to Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, AL while Chris was at work and we were staying with him at his hotel. They had a ball playing near the lakeshore while I enjoyed reading a few chapters in the sand. We have also driven a couple of hours to check out the trails at Tishomingo State Park coming home the same day. Taking a cooler of sandwiches, chips, and snacks can end up as a great family outing. We hiked 2,000 steps down into Cloudland Canyon near Rising Fawn, GA to see beautiful waterfalls then had to hike back up. That one was a trek but the gulch was a huge enticing play area. Normally you only have to pay a few bucks for several hours of fun.
Escape the Room – These things are fun! You are in a time crunch to solve a mystery and the closer you get to time being up the more your adrenaline rushes. We have done three. The best one I have been to was in Kentucky but I know you can find one near you. Escape rooms are popping up everywhere! My kids have loved the three we have participated in with the KY one being very elaborate and the ones closer to home being smaller but just as fun.
Zip Lines are adventurous because the thrill you get from making a leap and hoping the harness does not break. It makes you feel as though you are flying. Make sure you check out the height and size requirements. If you live near the mountains or hills you can more than likely find one. We have ridden one in Alabama at Red Mountain Park and Ryan has been to one in Memphis with friends called Go Ape.
Roller Coasters are for all adventure seekers. As I am boarding a coaster I feel like I am going to jump out of my skin, throw up, and scream all at the same time. I am prone to motion sickness but for some reason some coasters (the ones that do not spin) are perfect for me. I love the drops. Our favorite coasters can be found at Disney World, Universal Studios, Silver Dollar City, and even though I’ve never been, Chris says Six Flags.
Horseback riding can be quite an adrenaline rush especially if you did not grow up around horses. Chris and I have ridden horses (in KY, Pennsylvania, and through random people we know) and when they are ‘good’ horses (meaning they follow the leader) you can have a good experience. I am looking forward to not falling in the Grand Canyon in June.
Snorkeling is something Chris likes. He will spend hours with a Dollar Tree snorkel in the shallow waves on the coast. One day we hope to do some REAL snorkeling in pretty water. If your kid does not like the water you can find adventure jumping waves or finding pretty shells.
I do see the reasoning behind the article’s findings. Money or no money, kids (little or big), and sense of pending fragility can hamper our sense of adventure.
Get your adventure on at a place near (or far) you,
cb + jb