Hooray! You’re finally out of the baby phase. Now you have a toddler with a longer wake window, and a lot of energy to expend. If you’re running out of ideas of things to do with your little ones, here’s my comprehensive list of fun places to take toddlers.
This list is coming from experience with my kids – a two-year-old and a four-year-old. My two girls often request to “go somewhere”, so I am always trying to figure out new things to do.
Having a variety of places to explore can make the monotonous days of being a SAHM more exciting!
It’s important to have indoor activity ideas as well, so it’s not so weather dependent.
Whether you live in a big city or the suburbs, I hope this list gives you some new ideas to try with your toddler!
Advantages of Getting Out of the House
There are quite a few advantages of getting both you and your toddlers out of the house, especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom. These are just a few.
1) First of all, it helps break up the day. I often say being a stay-at-home mom feels like Groundhog’s Day – where it just feels like you’re doing the same things everyday, on repeat. Activities out of the house at least a couple times a week can help get you out of this cycle.
2) Secondly, there’s less mess to clean up if you’re not at home the whole day!
3) It can be such a joy watching your toddlers experience and learn new things.
4) Interacting with other children at parks or playgrounds can help develop a toddler’s social skills.
5) Wears them out for nap time or quiet time if you venture out in the mornings.
6) Can help a mom’s mental health and sanity. Doing fun things with your toddler can be just as beneficial to you as it is for them.
Staying at home all day, everyday, can take a toll on the SAHM. It may help prevent burnout, feeling isolated or loneliness. This is especially true if you have a stay-at-home mom friend who will join you.
15 Fun Places to Take Toddlers
1. Local Park or Playground
Yes, this is an obvious one. Look up local parks and playgrounds in your area – and don’t be afraid to try them all! You might be surprised how many there are.
Parenting Science states that outdoor play can reduce a child’s stress levels and concentration, as well as improve their mood. There’s also research that shows that exploring nature can reduce stress and mental health outcomes in young children.
2. The Mall
The mall can be a lot of fun for toddlers. Usually, there are indoor play areas to explore. Then, there’s the vast number of different stores. Every time you go, you might discover something new to explore.
Our local mall has a pet store, a candy store, a toy store, Build-A-Bear, and a food court – just to name a few. When they get hungry, we can easily pop in to the food court and have our lunch there and be home by nap time.
You don’t have to spend any money, either – unless your toddlers convince you to! Sometimes just walking around the mall is distracting enough.
3. Local Libraries
If you’re looking for something to do, that’s free, and perfect for a rainy or snowy day – check out your local libraries. I can’t stress this one enough.
Libraries have a lot to offer- most of them have toddler or youth programs you can attend, as well as play areas for kids. There are story time sessions, which promote a love for reading at a young age.
You’ll likely see a lot of other stay-at-home moms and their children there, too. For variety, try out different libraries in your area!
4. A Pet Store
My kids love to go and just look around at different pet stores. It usually doesn’t last very long, so it’s perfect on a day where you want to get out of the house but don’t have as much time. Or you need to tack on something else to do while you’re out and about.
5. McDonald’s Play Place
Here you have 1) a new and exciting jungle gym of fun for your toddlers and 2) access to lunch or dinner. You can kill two birds with one stone, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Sure, you might not want your kids eating at McDonald’s all the time – but it’s a fun and convenient choice every now and then.
Also, if you have a lot of McDonald’s in your area – each one is likely a different experience! You can rotate them to keep things fresh and exciting.
6. The Beach or Local Splash Pad
When the weather is warm and beautiful, you can’t go wrong with a local beach or splash pad. Bring some sand toys and let them enjoy a nice day by the water. Just be prepared – it might not be so relaxing trying to keep a watchful eye on them the whole time.
7. Bring Them Shopping With You (Target/Dollar Store Are Hits!)
I have found that bringing my toddlers to a store can actually be very enjoyable. We’ve even started grocery shopping together and they get to sit in a “special cart”.
The Dollar Store is a new one we have tried recently that has really become a big hit. I usually let them pick out one item, which ends up being very affordable!
8. Zoos and Aquariums
Introduce your kids to exotic animals with a trip to the zoo or local aquarium. This can also be a fantastic educational experience for children, although sometimes stressful on the parents.
9. Bowling Alley
Another option, as many bowling alleys have arcades or kids’ areas. There is one near us that has bounce houses as well.
Your toddler might even enjoy bowling, with a bowling assist ramp.
10. Indoor Play Centers: Trampoline Parks or Indoor Playgrounds
Check your area for indoor playgrounds or trampoline parks. I have found that going to trampoline parks early in the morning are less busy, with other younger children often attending at that time as well.
We also have an indoor playground in our area that my toddlers love to play at, especially in the winter months. These are great rainy day and winter-friendly ideas.
11. Apple Orchards/Cider Mills
Apple orchards or cider mills are ideal during the fall months, where the weather is chillier but not quite cold yet. If you live in an area with a variety of orchards, this will give you a lot to explore! Sit outside and enjoy donuts and cider, and explore any other activities they have to do there.
12. Local Pool
There might be a local pool in your area with open swim times, or think about signing them up for swimming classes.
13. Art Studios
You might not think about checking out local art studios – but they often have classes available for toddlers during the day. It allows your kids to be messy, get creative and use their imagination.
14. Museums or Botanical Gardens
A children’s museum is perfect for toddlers due to the hands-on exhibits and interactive learning. They are typically designed with safety in mind, so parents don’t have to worry about potential hazards. Let’s be real here- with toddlers, the risk is always there.
A botanical garden is a more unique recommendation. There are often interactive gardens for children, and seasonal events for toddlers.
15. Farm Visits
Suitable for babies and toddlers of all ages! Hopefully you have a petting zoo or farm in your area, because this one is always a hit. We bought a cheap annual pass to a farm close by, and my toddlers always have the best time.
Fun Places to Take Toddlers
Whether you want to spend 30-minutes or 4 hours outside the house, this list provides a diverse range of fun places to take toddlers.
If you’re a relatively new mom, it might seem daunting taking your child new places – but the more often they’re exposed, the easier it will get.
So here’s to creating new experiences and memories with your children, encouraging creativity, stimulating their senses, reducing the screen time, improving sleep, and having more fun throughout your day.
What are your favorite toddler-friendly destinations?