Staycations and Backyard Adventures in Cedar Rapids

Family life is all sorts of things.  Sometimes, it can be overwhelming and messy, dashed with chaos, and blended together for fun and fulfillment. 

Every day brings new adventure and uncertainty. Suddenly, summer vacation is almost over, so now what? Sure, big family vacations are great fun, but they can be costly and exhausting. How about planning more staycations and backyard adventures right here at home?

Time to Play

Games can be a good distraction from boredom. Scavenger hunts are a fun way to encourage kids to explore spaces and places they have never seen before. You can make it a learning adventure by using shapes, colors, and even quantities to help with counting.

I-spy can get them guessing everything that comes into sight.  But it works well on walks; look slowly for insects and critters.

Bingo can be a fun way to challenge those kids who can read.  Have fun with street names and license plates!  How many different counties or even states can you find? 

Everyone knows the old classic game of Slug Bug, but what about PT Punch or Squiggle?  The first two are self-explanatory, but maybe you want a hands-free, fun alternative.  You can pick the color you want to use; we like yellow.  Whenever you see a yellow vehicle, you say squiggle. Easy enough! When you park and exit the car, the game ends, and the count starts over the next time.

Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation

The PLAY! guide is great for youth sports, swim lessons, activity camps, educational events, and even open gyms. More information is posted on the City of Cedar Rapids webpage under Parks and Recreation, or you can download the booklet to your device here.

You can also check the YMCA locations in Downtown Cedar Rapids, Stoney Point, and Marion for family memberships and programs.

Picnic at the Playground

There are many easy lunch options: Lunchables complete with a juice box, PB&J with a fruit and veggie snack from the produce department, or even a quick lunch meat and cheese sandwich with granola bars. Another option is the Grab and Go lunches offered in the Cedar Rapids School District throughout the summer. The Nutrislice app used during the school year has the locations and menus. Pickup times are 10:30 to 12:30. There is no need to apply. Pick up at a location nearest you.

What’s in the Water?

Waterways can be both fun and educational. If you enjoy the beach, consider packing a net, bucket, fishing pole with tackle, a life jacket, and maybe your swimsuit.

Take a walk and see what you can find, from tadpoles to turtles, waterbugs, and more. Some locations to investigate are Robins Lake, Ellis Park, Palo, Hannen Lake  (Benton County), Morgan Creek, Indian Creek, and Bever Park.  Remember your water safety rules and have fun.

There are three beaches within a short drive. Lake MacBride, Palo, and Sugar Bottom.  All locations have signs posted to swim at your own risk, and no lifeguard is on duty. Be sure you pack your lunch, snack, and sunscreen since no concessions are available.

Maybe your family would do better on the water rather than in it. Paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks are available to rent at both Pinicon Ridge and Lake MacBride. Are you curious if one of these options is for you? Get out there and try before you buy!

Grab a pole, and let’s go fishing! Some fishing holes with easy access are Indian Creek, Robins Lake, Palo, Lake MacBride, Palisades, Prairie Creek Fishery, and Central City.  All the information, from licenses to rules, can be found on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website at https://www.iowadnr.gov. 

Let’s take a Hike

Some nature hikes will significantly impact your day, while casual walking trails offer ease when pushing a stroller or wagon.  No matter what you choose, the benefits of walking are plentiful.

For an updated list of Cedar Rapids/Linn County trails, visit https://www.linncounty.org/959/Parks-Trails-and-Other-Areas or https://linncountytrails.org. 

And on the Farm

Old MacDonald Farm

Walking through the Old MacDonald Farm at Bever Park throughout the summer is excellent.  They do not charge admissions but accept donations.  They are open to the public from 10:00-6:00 for the farm animals and duck pond.  A small butterfly garden and mural make an excellent picture stop during your adventure, and the storyboards tell a piece of history where the lion cages once stood.  

Prairie Patch Farm

Have you ever visited the Llamas? Prairie Patch Farms keeps a calendar of events on its website at https://www.prairiepatchfarm.com and on Facebook. It is located in Cedar Rapids, making it another local stop-off. In addition to a visit with the Llamas, Prairie Patch Farms offers yoga, picnics, and hikes. Check the calendar and reserve a date with the Llamas today.

Bloomsbury Farm

Family-owned Bloomsbury Farm in Benton County offers various opportunities throughout the year. Watch their calendar, from the spring babies to October’s pumpkin patch. More information can be found at https://www.bloomsburyfarm.com/ or by following them on Facebook.

Bass Farms LLC

Not just for fall! Bass Farms is open daily from 10:00 to 9:00. Check out https://www.Bassfarms.org for current events on the farm in Linn County and on Facebook.

At day’s end, when your backyard adventures are over, and it’s time to go, a warm shower and a bed, all your own are waiting for you.
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