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Adventure makes the world go round. The world is a paradise of exciting and unique experiences waiting for discovery. But how do you create an environment that lets your child thrive, experiment, and learn to love their local environment? Our family has committed to exploring our state and national parks and connecting with nature and each other in 2022. We plan camping trips, an action-packed summer camp, and quality exploration time in 2022. And we can’t wait to share all our adventures with you along the way. So if you want to inspire adventure in your children, read on for some tips and tangible tools to take into your everyday life to create an environment that breeds adventure and exploration.
The first step toward becoming an adventurer is learning to appreciate the small things in your life. There are natural treasures found everywhere around you, at every corner of the earth. Admittedly, some parts of the planet have more breathtaking views and exciting activities available than others, but this should not be what dictates where you go and what you do. It also doesn’t help that television has made us believe that true adventure lies somewhere else but where we live, instead of being richly available everywhere. Just because you can’t fly off to climb Everest or sea lions in the savannah doesn’t mean your life is void of adventure opportunities staring right at you. Some of the most adventurous places are closest to home—your city! Cincinnati is full of diverse landscapes and treasures to enjoy and connect with nature. Here’s a list of my favorite local adventure spots where we’re always bound to discover something that brings us a sense of wonder and awe. What may seem ordinary to you can be an opportunity to learn something new and unexpected if you know where to look.
Cincinnati Local Adventures (Not in Cincinnati? Skip ahead!)
Our local parks are indeed a treasure. While I often take them for granted, I am always blown away and reminded of the great job our Cincinnati Park’s Department does and the fantastic community programs, natural playscapes and landscapes, and preservation and conservation that go on at our Cincinnati Parks. French Park, Ault Park, Alms Park, Glenwood Gardens, and Sharon Woods are my top favorites (Disclaimer: this list has a solid Eastside Bias, and I’m not even sorry)
Okay. I might get in trouble with some members for yelling about this one. But almost everyone I know forgets CNC members also have access to Long Branch Farms in Goshen! CNC is one of our FAVORITE places to visit with our class and as a family. Not only do they have an extensive trail system with waterfalls, creeks, cliffs, and native plants, but the Naturescape is a fully fenced-in paradise for your nature lover. There are so many nooks and crannies of adventure. I love the nature scape because there are many places where kids can have a sense of independence and experience the risk of being “lost” without genuinely being at risk. As an anxious mom, it is lovely to let my son explore and gain the benefits of this type of risky play while remaining in my sightline the entire time. Overall, if we had to eliminate every membership from our budget BUT one, CNC would be the one we kept! If you haven’t been, put their Daffodil days on your Spring Bucket List!
This one is for my tree lovers. We love coming here in the spring and summer and walking around till we find a spot that seems nice and laying out a blanket for a snack, a book, and some yoga or nature journaling. It’s a local treasure. This spring, I intend to take several solo trips for mindfulness practices and study the phenology of some of my favorite trees! Read more about the Rowe Arboretum by reading this great article by Zach at Wander Cincinnati.
This one seems like a “ha! Got ya” one. But really, this one was the inspiration for this entire post. It's the most important one. Slow down and look around you before you set out looking for adventure on the other side of town. I learned this lesson the hard way. It took over a year of living in our home before discovering the trail system that begins 100 yards from our front porch. And another six months of hiking before I finally went far enough to come across THIS. This is in my backyard. The worst part? My phone died while taking this video so it's the only proof I had. We already have a long hike planned next weekend so I can show the family!!
What could be yours? Explore your environment. We don’t suggest you skip over the well-trod paths and busy tourist areas but explore the trails around your neighborhood. You never know what you might find in a busy city park or wooded trail. Find adventure in your community and start planning where to go next on your journey to become an adventurer.
Locating adventure in your backyard is a matter of perspective. If you don’t often explore your local area, you will likely overlook many great opportunities available to you, so make it a point to take advantage of every opportunity. For example, have you ever gone kayaking in a river near your home? What about hiking to the top of a local peak that overlooks your town? There is probably an adventure waiting for you close by, and the best part is that all the materials you need are already there, ready for you to use them. The only thing stopping you from exploring the unknown is yourself, so don’t let anything stop you from having an adventurous spirit!
If you need some retail therapy to get help get you excited and motivated, check out my Amazon list of books to inspire you and the gear we use on a weekly basis for our backyard adventures.