9 Evening Activities Let the kids stay up a little later than usual for one of these fun summer activities. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
Break out the board games to take advantage of the late summer nights.
Your kids’ bedtime might be your favorite time of night on a lot of days. You finally get a chance to relax and unwind and step away from the chaos of the day. But sometimes it’s fun to stay up a little later than usual, let the kids feel a bit more grown up and take some extra special time to bond as a family. Summer is the perfect time to do it, and we've got some ideas to get you started.
Go stargazing: Pick up an astronomy book and go lie in your yard and try to find as many constellations as you can. If you can’t see much from your home, take a short drive to a darker area for a better view—and don’t forget to bring a blanket to lie on. August brings the Perseid Meteor Shower, so you’re almost guaranteed to see a shooting star if you stare up at the sky long enough.
Build a campfire. Whether you head to the beach, a local campground or to a fire pit in your yard, having a family campfire will bring out the kid in everyone. Don’t forget the s’mores. And if you think your kids can handle it, test out a scary story or two.
Go on a night hike. If there are trails that stay open near you, pack up the flashlights and go for a short hike. Just remember to go on a well-marked trail, stay together and know your route well. If you’re in the desert, by the beach or will be walking in any other open-sky area, try walking by the moonlight—once your eyes adjust, you should be just fine without any other light.
Have a movie marathon. Pick a theme, let everyone in the family pick a movie, make some popcorn and enjoy. You can go for classics, comedies, movies about animals—whatever suits your fancy.
Make dessert. If the house has cooled down from the long summer day, or if it’s raining out, it's a perfect time to bake some cookies. You can even decorate them if you’d like. If it's still hot out, grab some toppings and make ice cream sundaes—or nonfat frozen yogurt sundaes if you're trying to be good.
Go swimming. If you have a pool or access to a lake, take a nighttime dip. Just be sure it’s bright enough out there to keep a close eye on the kids.
Watch for nighttime animals. All sorts of creatures come out at night. Head to a woody area nearby to watch for the local animal nightlife and see what you can spot. You can even grab a book before you head out to see what you should be looking for.
Bring out the Games. Get some good old family competition going by playing your favorite board games. Just make sure everyone can be involved and everyone will have fun. Consider getting into teams or playing a bunch of different games in one night.
Have a flashlight scavenger hunt. This is for the seriously creative moms and dads out there. Prepare clues leading your kids to different locations around the house, and have some sort of prize at the end—a special treat or activity. Then turn out all the lights, and let your kids find everything by flashlight.