10 Ways for Kids to Play in America's National Parks

Thursday, September 15, 2011National Park Foundation

Washington, D.C. – With 395 parks across the country consisting of over 84 million acres, there are endless adventures custom-made for kids of all ages in America’s national parks.  In honor of National Public Lands Day on September 24, when national parks across the country will waive their entrance fees, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have unveiled ten great ways for kids to get out and play in America’s national parks.  

Kicking things off this Saturday, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will welcome Nickelodeon and their 8th annual Worldwide Day of Play to Washington, D.C.’s President’s Park.  Located next to the White House, President’s Park will be home to the largest Worldwide Day of Play to date, with an entire day of activities and games – encouraging kids to get up, get out and get to a national park!   In that spirit, Nickelodeon's television networks and websites will go off-air and offline from 12 pm to 3 pm (all times ET) as a signal to kids and families nationwide to get active.

Whether it is this weekend or any weekend, America’s national parks offer endless activities the whole family can enjoy.  This National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation invite everyone to go out and play.  Here are ten fun-packed national park adventures for kids and families:

Acadia National Park
Sea-life bingo keeps youngsters excited tallying green sea urchins, orange sea stars, and other curious marine creatures that reside in tide pools that surface at low tide. Watch for harbor seals farther out in the water.

Biscayne National Park
Families visiting Biscayne between December and April can sign up to attend “Family Fun Fest” – a daylong program held on the second Sunday of those months and focused on activities tied to the park’s diverse resources.

Cape Cod National Seashore
Cycling is one of the best ways to get around the Cape thanks to its paved rail trail, which leads through the woods, pass kettle ponds created by retreating glaciers, and to spurs leading to Coast Guard, Marconi and Le Count Hollow beaches.

Grand Teton National Park
Teens looking for a challenge can measure themselves against the Tetons, thanks to climbing schools where world-class guides will teach them the basics and lead them to the summit of 13,770-foot Grand Teton.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Kids love to get sandy on the tallest sand dunes in North America. Rising to about 650 feet, these dunes in the heart of the park are perfect for skiing, sand-boarding, or just plain old rolling down.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Budding geologists will be fascinated with Lassen Volcanic, as it can count all four major types of volcanoes -- shield, plug, cinder cone, and composite. There’s even a Volcano Club kids can join to learn more about this volcanic landscape.

Mammoth Cave National Park
A Mammoth Cave trip is built around a cave tour with the family, or three! Take the Violet City Lantern Tour to experience the passageways by flickering lamp light as many of its first visitors did, view the incredible flowstones on the Frozen Niagara Tour, or visit the Snowball Room with its ancient autographs inscribed with soot.

Olympic National Park
Kids can start the day with a snowball fight (on Hurricane Ridge) and end it soaking in warm springs (like those at Sol Duc Hot Springs).

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Winter isn’t the off-season here, as there are trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And if there’s enough snow, kids and adults can even sled down the 100+ ft. Dune Climb.

To learn more about these and other great national park adventures for kids and families, check out the National Park Foundation’s special guide, “Parks for Play: 35 National Park Adventures for Kids of All Ages.”  

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.  Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks.  We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.  Join us at www.nationalparks.org.