It’s amazing how just adding water to an activity pegs out the needle on the family fun dial. Water is refreshing, it’s in motion and often times it’s the major scenic event. Aquatic environments usually attract tons of wildlife. A great comfort to birdwatchers, photographers and nature lovers.
I realize that, for many, the beach serves as that main escape to liquid heaven. Who doesn’t enjoy the ocean? But I want to share with you some other outdoor excursions perhaps you haven’t considered. Granted, you may not be anywhere near my neck of the woods, but chances are you can easily find similar venues for family adventures close to home.
- Whitewater Rafting. Here in the Southeast, I’ve been down the Ocoee River, the French Broad River and the Nantahala. All are great for families, with the Nantahala being the calmest. Yes, a few risks exist, but with a good guide and the proper equipment, rafting is very safe. Not only is it fun, but the experience teaches teamwork and technique. I highly recommend the Nantahala Outdoor Center for trip coordination and guides.
- Tubing down the Hooch. Every July, my family and I travel up to Helen, Georgia where we rent a tube from the Cool River Tubing Company. Only $5/person, they shuttle you upriver, and you can do a 1 hour trip or 2 hour trip. This is so relaxing and the cold, clear water a delight. After your trip, visit a Helen fudge shop or dine in one of their nice restaurants.
- Canoeing. Looking for something less intense than whitewater rafting? There are many rivers and lakes to choose from in the Southeast. I’ve personally canoed the Chattahoochee River, the Flint River and several Georgia state park lakes. Most state parks provide canoe rentals for a very reasonable fee. I also recommend a couple of outfitters you might want to check out: Flint River Outdoor Center and Georgia Trail Outfitters.
- Visiting waterfalls. The South holds its share of great waterfall destinations, especially in and around the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re a photographer, there is a bonanza of scenes waiting to make their way into your camera’s viewfinder. I learned early on that hiking with younger kids proved to be a challenge. Little ones don’t always appreciate nature’s surroundings like you do–they just want to have fun. If their hike involves playing in a waterfall, you can imagine their spirits will stay high. Want to learn about some southeast waterfalls? Check out this book by Mark Morrison–Waterfall Walks and Drives.
- Fishing. Most kids I know love to fish. The good news: there’s an abundance of fishing places, it’s relatively inexpensive, and you can fish pretty much year round. No need for fancy techniques, a hook and bobber will do the job. Just a reminder–exercise patience. You may have to spend extra time baiting hooks and untangling line, but that’s just part of it.
Yes, there are plenty of other outdoor adventures which involve water, but these are the five I’m most familiar with, six if you count the ocean. Now is the time to start planning a trip.
What about you? Where do you and your family like to spend their time outdoors and on the water?
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