Sand Crafts for Families

If your summer plans include a trip to the seaside, be sure to bring home a few buckets filled with sand. It makes an excellent addition to your arts and craft supply, and we’re pretty sure the beach can spare your haul! From easy memory jars to vibrant works of art, these awesome projects and keepsakes will last long after the tan lines fade and the school year begins. Scroll down to see our favorite ideas below.

photo: West Chester Public Library via Flickr

1. A Castle You Can Keep
Making sandcastles is a rite of passage for beachgoers of any age, so imagine the fun of making one that sticks around once you get home! has a great tutorial that is easy for little hands. Besides sand, you’ll need cardboard and corn starch. Find the whole tutorial by clicking here.

photo: Shannon Schmid via Everyday Best

2. Hand in the Sand
With a little prep, this handprint project is something you can do while at the beach. You’ll need a good patch of sand, a bunch of beach treasures, and the details from Everyday Best. Blogger Shannon Schmid provides great tips and a video tutorial.

photo: Angie Holden via The Country Chic Cottage

3. Marvelous Memory Jars
There are a lot of ways to remember your trip to the beach, but we especially like this easy memory jar idea from The Country Chic Cottage. If you’ve got mason jars and a snapshot of your favorite beach bum, you’re halfway there. Get the tutorial at The Country Chic Cottage.

photo: Deborah Alter-Rasche via Learn with Play at Home

4. Swim with the Fishes
Your little fishes can recreate a beach scene with a diorama like this one from Debs over at 
Learn with Play from Home. You can use all sorts of supplies, including rocks, cupcake liners, fake plants and more! Get the whole tutorial and more ideas over at Learn with Play at Home.

Meri Cherry - Sand Paintingphoto: Meri Cherry

5. Sand Paper Painting
Let your little impressionists express their artsy side with a colorful canvas craft like this one we found over at Meri Cherry. Made using paint and multiple hues of sand, you’ll want to display these summery works of art year round. Find all the materials you’ll need here.

photo: Pink Stripey Socks

6. Oceanside Ornaments
These fun sand sculptures won’t wash away with the tide. Made from a homemade sand dough and decorated with colorful beads and stamps, each shape can easily be transformed into ornaments to hang around the house. Visit Pink Stripey Socks for the three-ingredient recipe.

Crafts Unleashed - Consumer Crafts - Shadow Box Magnetsphoto: Consumer Crafts

7. Sea Scenes
Magnetized shadow boxes filled with photos and trinkets are an easy way to display your favorite vacation finds. They also make great fridge decor! Head over to Consumer Crafts to learn how to make a set of your own.

Diana Rambles - Sand Art Bottlesphoto: Diana Rambles

8. Coastal Colors
The kids over at Diana Rambles used food coloring to make their sand castles really pop. Then, to bring a little bit of the beach home, they filled decorative glass bottles in assorted shapes with layers of the vibrant sand. Learn to make these colorful keepsakes here.

Buggy and Buddy - Tide Pool Sand Artphoto: Buggy and Buddy

9. Tide Pool Pictures
This colorful tide pool from Buggy and Buddy is bustling with sea life. Encourage your little artist to draw her favorite sea creatures before encircling the tide pool with a little sand. A great art and sensory craft for all ages, find the list of materials and how-to here.

No Time for Flash Cards - Sand Artphoto: No Time for Flash Cards

10. Deserted Island Art
It’s easy to feel like you’re back in the tropics with this beach-themed art project. Even better, Allison of No Time for Flash Cards turns an easy craft into a fun sensory activity by using real sand and pom poms to create texture. Head over to the blog to find a list of supplies and instructions.

Something Turquoise - Ombre Sand Candlephoto: Something Turquoise 

11. Sandy Hues
Something Turquoise uses everyday sand to create these anything-but-ordinary ombre candle holders. They’re the perfect centerpiece for summer table decor and fun to make. Choose your favorite hue of food coloring and check out the step-by-step tutorial here. The kids can help pour in the colorful grains!

We Made That - Beach Shadow Boxphoto: We Made That

12. Sand Box
We love the clever way the mom over at We Made That used seashore treasures, and a little sand, to make this beachy shadow box extra special. Learn how to display your favorite vacation photo here.

How will you preserve your sandy memories? Share with us in a Comment below! 

— Gabby Cullen & Lauren Hill

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Everything You Need to Host a Drive-In Movie Night at Home

Up your game for your next family movie night and make it a drive-in. Your littles will love the view from the seat of their own tiny car (or tricycle or scooter) in your living room or back yard parking lot. Ready to ride? Scroll down to get everything you need to throw your own Drive-In Movie Night.

photo: Sweet Daisy Designs

Tickets, Please!
Don’t let your kids sneak into the theater without a ticket, so make one up or use this easy printable.  To make things even more authentic, be sure to punch their tickets with a hole-puncher before starting the movie.


photo: Holly Hopson

Got Wheels? 
You can’t have a drive-in movie without something to drive. So let your little cruisers bring their wheels inside. That’s right: Line up the big wheels, the trikes, and the push-cars in front of your movie screen and let your kids watch the movie while they scoot back and forth in their “seats.” (This idea is especially amazing for kids who aren’t normally allowed to bring their wheels indoors).


photo: Kara/ Simplistically Sassy

 Or, Make Some Wheels of Your Own
Want something even cooler (and more Pinterest-worthy)? Gather up some cardboard boxes and make mini cars for your little movie-watchers. Let your kids paint and decorate their cars themselves and you’ve got a full day’s worth of activities! Get the instructions from Kara at Simplistically Sassy.

photo: Jen C. Catch My Party

What, You Don’t Have a Projector? Actually, You Probably Do! 
Sure, you could just pull up a movie on your flat screen TV and call it a day. But if you want to really wow your kids, give them an even bigger screen by projecting the movie on your wall (or on a sheet tied up on the wall). Don’t have a projector on hand? Try this awesome way to turn your smartphone into a projector for under $1!. It’s true, you won’t get as good of a picture as you do on your plasma, but who cares? Your kids will be sufficiently amazed at your homemade movie magic.

photo: Moms & Munchkins

Food, Glorious Food! 
Movies are nothing without popcorn and other goodies. So don’t forget to stock the concession stand with all their favorite movie eats. Make this custom cardboard snack tray for your kids to hold their items (or just use plastic shower caddies from the Dollar Store!). To make sure they don’t go totally overboard and grab four pounds of peanut M&Ms, give them tickets or coins so they can only “buy” a certain number of items

Pssst: Forget microwave popcorn and check out these amazing flavored homemade popcorn recipes

Now Showing… 

It’s hard to pick a movie that will be on everyone’s must-watch list, but we think these family flicks are surefire wins:

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (ages 3+)

The Peanuts Movie (ages 5+)

Charlotte’s Web (ages 5+)

Finding Nemo (ages 5+)

Frozen (ages 5+)

– Toy Story (ages 5+)

Mary Poppins (ages 6+)

Moana (ages 6+)

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (ages 7+)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (ages 7+)

Akeelah and the Bee (ages 8+)

The Princess Bride (ages 8+)

The Goonies (ages 10+)

Hint: Not sure about whether your kid’s movie pick is appropriate for her age group? See Common Sense Media’s movie reviews for the scoop on the kid-friendliness of almost anything your little ones want to watch.

What’s your favorite family film? Tell us in the comments section below!

Melissa Heckscher

featured photo: annca via pixabay

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11 Easy Ways to Surprise Your Kids for Wacky Wednesday

When it comes to goofy, no one knows quite how to embarrass like a “cool” mom or dad. Garner some affectionate eye rolls and squeals of delight with these fun and silly actions perfect for when you just feel like doing something different. All of them can be done spontaneously and are all about family time. Scroll down to get inspired.

photo: Harsha K R via flickr 

1. Eat breakfast outside. We know you’ve done breakfast for dinner before, but what about doing a quick picnic breakfast on your front lawn or front stoop?

2. A quick playdate. If you’ve got school-aged kids (or kids in daycare) and the policy allows, surprise your kiddo by joining them for lunch. Not enough time to do a lunch break? See if you can meet up for the first ten minutes of recess.

photo: cegoh via pixabay

3. Plan a surprise trip. It doesn’t have to be a whole vacation, you could just pack a bag and head to the zoo for the day. Just don’t tell them where you’re going. Up the game by offering little clues. For example, if you’re heading to the zoo, hand them a small toy animal, put a stuffed animal in the car seat next to them, and feed them animal crackers.

4. Nest. Build a fort in the living room and bring your tablet or laptop inside to watch a movie.

photo: Pexels via pixabay

5. Did somebody say ice cream? Eat dessert first.

6. No work day. If you can swing it, take the day off work (this is perfect for summertime) and spend an unplanned day with the kids.

photo: Viktor Karppinen via flickr

7. You can dance if you want to! Drop everything and start a freeze-dance party. Play music and then stop it at random intervals so everyone can“freeze” in place.

8. Regift at home. Have each person choose an item from their room to give to another member of the family. Spend time wrapping them and do a family-wide gift exchange.

photo: Camilla Nilsson via flickr 

9. Wear something backwards or upside down. (Come on, your preschooler does it all the time!) You can also have the kids pick out your outfit for the day. Or just wear PJs all day long (slippers, too!)

10. Have a talent show. Let each member of the family choose what they want to showcase for the “audience.”

photo: Brian Dewey via flickr

11. Get outfitted. Fill a box with hats, scarves, capes, silly wigs, old jewelry, neckties, sunglasses, etc. and play dress up. Stage a funny family photo shoot and a parade.

12. Make a wish. Make a book of wishes and let everyone write down their top three. Revisit the list in a month and see if any of the wishes have come true.

Beanstalk NE Fremont is celebrating its fourth birthday and we’re celebrating in style. Bring the whole family for kid-friendly fun including: • Face painting (10 am-4pm) • Raffle prizes from Beanstalk and neighboring businesses • Sidewalk sale on Saturday and in-store special discounts taking place all weekend up to 50% off Our Montavilla location will be hosting a store wide sale all weekend (up to 50% off) with raffle give-a-ways on Saturday as well. A portion of the proceeds from our sidewalk sale will support the fundraising efforts of local area schools. For more information, please visit We hope to see you there!photo: Beanstalk 

13. Get a facial! Do some face painting in the middle of the day. Let the kids paint your face too. 

14. Take a glow bath. Want to wash that face paint off now? Take a (non-toxic) glow-in-the-dark bath. See the tutorial here. Or if you’re in the mood for a shower, take one with your raincoat on. Hot out? Try washing your hair with a hose on the lawn.

photo: Melanie Holtsman via flickr

15. Sleep in. Have a camp out in your living room: the whole family sleeps in sleeping bags and you can roast marshmallows on the kitchen stove. Co-sleep like you mean it. 

What are your wacky or fun ideas for surprising the kids? Share your ideas in the comments below! 

—Amber Guetebier with Sandy Pelto, Henrik Pelto, Steve Pelto & Ken Pelto

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Recycling Projects for Kids

Instead of tossing out the can or bottle, bypass the bin and opt for creative upcyling with your little tree hugger instead. From a DIY water wall made with plastic bottles to K-cup planters, we’ve found unbelievable projects that give your recyclables a second wind. Flip through to find your favorite way to reuse, reuse and have fun!

Play with Plastic

Turn empty water bottles into a dynamic water wall just in time for summer. Your little engineer can get hands-on, helping to mount the bottles at just the right angles to create splishy drops and splashy turns for maximum water flow. Get the know-it-all deets from Rachelle at Tinkerlab.

photo: Tinkerlab

Do you have a favorite upcycle project for household items? Tell us about it in a Comment. 

—Allison Sutcliffe

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Inside the New Forbidden Forest at The Making of Harry Potter

If your family is Harry Potter-obsessed, there’s a new destination to check out: the Forbidden Forest, a permanent expansion to The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio London. The cool new expansion just opened its doors to aspiring wizards this spring. Here’s why you should plan your vacation around this magical experience.


• Enter the Forbidden Forest and follow in the footsteps of your favorite characters: Harry, Ron and Hermione. Gaze up at the 19 trees each measuring over 12 feet in diameter. The Forest is full of stunning craftsmanship all Harry Potter fans will appreciate.

• Cinema; Watch how it all started!

• Ride a broomstick through the streets of London and all the way to Hogwarts! You’ll get to experience green screen technology just like a real actor

• Watch the creatures of the Forbidden Forest come to life with animatronics. Good to know: this may be scary for small children but staff do provide a shortcut around it.

• Take a seat on the Hogwarts express and feel like you really are on your way to Hogwarts.

Insider Tip: Free children’s Activity Passports can be collected from the lobby. Try to find all the stamping posts around the tour for extra fun throughout the day.

photo: Mark Drew

Photos because of course, you’ll want lots of photos!
There are many great photo spots throughout the tour, from the Great Hall to the Ron’s flying car and Hagrid’ motorbike.

You can even get to try out your own magical power calling “UP!” to get your broom to fly into your hand!

You can also get a picture of you running through the wall to get to platform 93/4 of Kings Cross station with you luggage trolly right next to the Hogwarts Express.

  • There is free wifi throughout the tour.
  • Near the whomping willow you will find a seat where Dobby may have a sweet surprise for you.
  • Become a giant with the magic of forced perspective sitting at Hagrid’s table!

photo: markusunger via flickr

In the lobby you’ll be able to find:

  • A free cloakroom for all your coats and bags to pick up at the end of your day.
  • An ATM which offers free of charge cash withdrawals.
  • Digital guides with 9 Languages from £4.95 / $6 to enhance your experience.
  • Starbucks coffee for some refreshments.
  • Gift shop for all your wizarding needs.
  • Toilets

Food and drink:

  • Starbuck coffee
  • Studio café
  • The Backlot where you can try the wizarding worlds famous Butterbeer! It’s a non-alcoholic beverage reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.
  • You can bring your own food and sit in the outdoor picnic area or the Backlot area.

Baby facilities: Baby changing facilities are available in each toilet block. In addition, a private area for parents to feed complete with nursing chair and changing tables are located next to Backlot Cafe. Hot water for heating up bottles can be provided within the Studio Cafe or Backlot Cafe.

Transportation: Plenty of free parking with disabled parking available. £2.50/$3 return shuttle bus from Watford Junction train station leaving every 20 minutes.

Cost: £39 / $48 for adults 15+; £31 / $38 for kids 4-15; £0 / $0 kids four and under

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Studio Tour Drive
WD25 7LR
United Kingdom

What’s your favorite Harry Potter book? Will you visit the new Forbidden Forest? Leave us a comment below! 

— Mark Drew

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The Top New Kids Movies to Watch This Summer

Summer vacay will be here before you know it, and you’ll soon be tasked with filling those three amazing months with fun. Start by heading to the theater to check out the newest kid flicks debuting in 2017. Common Sense Media put together a comprehensive guide of the top movies to watch this summer along with their signature reviews that’ll help you discern whether the movie is appropriate for your family. Flip through the gallery for their picks.

Debuting in May

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
Target age:
 Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the follow-up to Marvel’s hit sci-fi adventure about a team of outlaws who band together to battle space bad guys. The whole gang returns, including pilot Star-Lord (a.k.a. Peter Quill) (Chris Pratt), aliens Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista), and talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Even talking tree Groot (Vin Diesel) is back, although now he’s a baby. The first movie had some salty language, action violence, and a few sexual references, so expect the same in the sequel. But unless the formula has changed a lot, this action-packed superhero movie will likely be fine for older tweens and teens.

For the full list of all summer releases hop on over to Common Sense Media. Trust us—you’ll want to bookmark their summer movie guide. 


Common Sense Media is a leading independent nonprofit organization offering the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for everything kids want to watch, play, read, and learn. The ratings, reviews, and information are unbiased and provided for free to help families and educators make great media and technology choices.

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6 Art Supplies You Can Totally Make at Home

The next time you pull out the bin of art supplies only to discover none of the lids made it back onto the markers, don’t panic. You can create simple art supplies with next-to-nothing. From fingerpaints to homemade chalk, scroll down for our six supplies that are just as fun to make as they are to use.

photo: christomopher via flickr

1. Edible Finger Paint

A non-toxic finger paint you can make at home? This easy-peasy art supply can create hours of entertainment for mere pennies. Plus, even babies can do it because of the “edible” quality (we say edible in the “don’t panic if it goes in their mouth” sense). Did we mention it has a yummy scent? Click here to learn more.

photo: Amber Guetebier

2. Homemade Playdough

This easy, make-at-home playdough requires just four ingredients and no equipment or cooking, making it fun for kids of all ages, including toddlers. The salty dough deters eating and you can choose any kind of dye, or no dye at all. We like to use gel food coloring because a little goes a long way. Here’s how to make your own in just a few steps.

photo: Gordon via flickr

3. DIY Chalk

Before venturing out to the sidewalk, take the morning to create your own chalk. This easy-to-follow tutorial from Ray Pajar of Get Crafty Crafty shows you how to get the kids involved in making chalk in only a few easy steps. Watch the how-to here.

photo: nsmithtmz via flickr

4. Instant Watercolors

It doesn’t get easier than making your own watercolor paints. All you need is food coloring and a few drops of water. Make a palate using an ice cube tray. The ice cube tray works great because that’s about the right amount of water. Teach the kids about color mixing, too, by creating purple (red + blue), green (yellow + blue), etc.

photo: Emily Cox via flickr

5. Reuse Old Makeup

Okay, moms, no matter what the fashion mags are telling you, the ’90s called and it wants its blue eyeshadow back. When you think your kids are old enough (i.e. they are not going to eat the art supplies or think they can use your “good” makeup for these projects) try letting them play around with eyeshadow pigments, the remains of your favorite lipstick and the nub of eyeliner. Again, use common sense: a kid that can’t keep it on the table might end up painting the wall with lipstick so make sure they are ready for this. But just in case, here are 19 stain-removing hacks that might come in handy.

photo: Mum in the Madhouse

6. Food for Thought

You can create a variety of natural dye using food supplies. Berries, beets and onion skins (boiled) can create shades of red and purple, carrots can create orange and leafy greens like kale can create shades of green. Try making a potato stamp with these instructions. The end of a stalk of celery makes a perfect rose stamp, too, like the one here designed by Jen from Mum In the Madhouse.

What’s your favorite easy at-home art supply? Tell us your tips in the comments below! 

—Amber Guetebier & Gem Platte

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Princess Cruises Rolls Out Reimagined Kids Clubs

Think you’re not “cruise people”? Think again. Setting sail as a family can actually be a brilliant combo of together time, fun, interesting (and educational) outings on land, and you relaxing by the pool while your child rocks out in the kid’s club. Take note: Princess Cruises is rolling out revamped kid’s club facilities, on-board programming and shore excursions in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products. We checked out the maiden voyage. Here’s our report!

photo: Princess Cruises

Oh, They’re Expecting You Alright
The partnership with Discovery Communications is not new; the cruiseline launched the Discovery at Sea partnership in 2015. However, the reimagined kids clubs, Discovery-themed programming and select excursions (i.e. on-shore explorations guests can book) are.

One of the best things about Princesses kids clubs is that, unlike some family-friendly resorts, there is no extra charge to use them. Yes, childcare is included in your vacation!

The Kids Clubs
Princess’ Kids Clubs got a complete overhaul. Camp Discovery, as it is called, features three spaces designed for kids of three different age groups. The Treehouse, for children ages three to seven, is a forest and animal-themed space; The Lodge, for cruisers ages eight to 12, is inspired by the great outdoors, and The Beach House, for the teens (ages 13-17) is a surf-themed lounge for hanging and socializing.

The Kids Club staff is of course, all about fun (the crewmembers on our ship seemed to really enjoy kids and their job), but they also take caring for your child seriously. Children are signed in and out of the kids club with a photo ID, and a handy beeper provided to parents or guardians goes off should any issue arise, calling you back to the clubs. (We saw one dad try to pick up his kid without photo ID; staffers politely told him he needed to go get it.)

In the Club
Each center features age-appropriate diversions, ranging from a tiny treehouse play structure, puzzles and books in the Tree House to Skee-ball, Xbox, foosball in The Lodge, and air hockey and plenty of couches for lounging in, appropriately, The Lounge.

But that’s really just the beginning. Evenings and days at sea are filled with programming (much of it with a Discovery tie-in) both in the clubs for the kids and to enjoy together as a family. (Things are quieter in the clubs when the ship is in port, as most cruisers leave on an excursion, but the clubs are open. Advance pre-booking is required on days in port.)

We traveled with a four-year-old who fully enjoyed all the activities in the kids club, including Pirate Night (pirate face painting and temporary tattoos, a treasure hunt and parade around the deck); Shark Night (learning about sharks, making shark hats, Shark Attacks game) and Pajama Night (nail art by Klutz, games, a movie, etc.) When we picked her up (programming is from 6 – 10 p.m., typically ending with a theme-related movie) she invariably had some kind of craft, a prize or toy and body-paint of some kind. She did, in fact, opt to go to the kids club over hanging out with her parents.

It should be noted that older kids on the cruise — even the teens — seemed to enjoy the activities designed for them as well. We say this based on observation and chats with other cruising parents.

photo: Princess Cruises

All in The Family
Parents can get in on the kids club action and Discovery-themed programming, too. Examples include a Family Carnival in the kids club, featuring assorted games and challenges, and tickets that can be redeemed for prizes; a Family Ship Hunt; a Family Kids Disco Party in the ship’s dance club; searching for Big Foot on ship (a nod to Discovery’s Mythbusters), and Stargazing at Sea — where the stars are indeed really bright!

photo: Princess Cruises

Family Fun Ashore As Well
With more than 300 destinations worldwide, there’s no shortage of fun things to do when ship is in port. Excursions include ziplining in Cabo San Lucas; whale-watching in multiple cities (Cabo San Lucas, San Diego, Victoria, British Columbia); visiting the LaBrea Tar Pits and Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, glacier and wildlife tours (Alaska); snorkeling and dolphin encounters (multiple ports) and even a visit to a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, a Princess Cruises exclusive partnership.

Our trip stayed close to home, with stops in Santa Barbara, where the brand new children’s museum Moxi is a must-do; Long Beach, Ca; San Diego, where we explored the city’s gorgeous, museum-packed Balboa Park, and Ensenada, Mexico, where we picked up a few souvenirs on the tourist main drag.

What’s To Eat
There are lots of ways to satisfy your hunger on ship, including two dining rooms, pizza and snack bars for light bites, ice cream and coffee on the go, a buffet for more causal dining, a gourmet pizzeria, and specialty restaurants Crown Grill and Sabatini’s, the last two of which are not part of the all-inclusive meal plans, but are nice for an upscale dining experience for a flat fee of $29. (If you have to choose one, do the Crown Grill, which specializes in steak and seafood.)

Our tiny dining companion did eat her fair share of pizza, but it’s worth mentioning that the gourmet pie on Princess was name Best Pizza at Sea by USA Today. Oenophiles may want to check out Vines, which in addition to a wide array of wines, serves complementary tapas plates.

What’s To Do
Princess does a good job of letting passengers know what’s happening on the ship in a variety of ways. Daily bulletins with programming notices and announcements are dropped at cabins daily, and the closed circuit television broadcasts information as well, including a morning show with cruise directors dubbed “The Wake Show.”

Of course, relaxing or playing at one of the pools (either indoor or outdoor) is a popular option; “Movies at Sea” frequently play on the large screen above the main pool area, with fare such as music concerts and animated films screening during the day and features playing at night (popcorn included!)

A variety of live entertainment is staged throughout the cruise, including magicians, standup comics and Broadway-style shows. (For those wishing to do some performing themselves, a “Voice of the Ocean” competition takes place throughout the cruise, with the winner receiving a trophy and, if of drinking age, a bottle of champagne.

Gamers can stay occupied too: there’s on ship bingo, board games in the ship’s library and giant chess and shuffleboard on the top deck.

For Adult Fun
Finally, for more adults-only fun, there’s an on-ship casino, a nightclub, several roomy bars with live music, a spa (we enjoyed a lovely massage), gym and even a “No Kids Allowed” area dubbed The Sanctuary, which can be visited with a $40 day pass or $20 half-day pass.

The Cost of Staying Connected
In our opinion, a cruise is the perfect excuse to log off and unplug; even if you aren’t in the middle of the ocean, it can feel like it.

However, if you start to twitch when not online for extended periods of time, internet access packages can be purchased, starting at $69 for 120 minutes, up to $199 for 680 minutes.

Princess does provide free access to the on-ship intranet, which is yet another way to stay on top of what’s happening each day. Perhaps most important, being connected to the intranet enables people to communicate via text — a feature that becomes key when various family members are in different parts of the ship.

Coming to a Port Near You
We sailed on the Grand Princess, the first in the fleet to receive the youth club upgrade, which leaves from San Francisco year-round. The Caribbean Princess and the Regal Princess are also outfitted with the new clubs; future rollouts include the Sea Princess in October, the Island Princess in November, with the remainder of the fleet completed by 2018. Get the full rollout details and learn even more about Camp Discovery here. 

Princess Cruises depart from many other cities in the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, Galveston and Anchorage.


Have you cruised as a family? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

— Mimi O’Connor

This trip was paid for by Princess Cruises but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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100 Best Family Outdoor Adventures

You don’t need a pricey plane ticket or an extravagant vacation to make a lifetime of memories with your kids. Get ready for the bucket list to end all bucket lists that features 100 awesome outdoor adventures to do with your kids before they turn 10. Bonus: many of these activities are free or cheap! Read on, print this list out and go play.

1. Go camping and spend the night in a real tent (the backyard totally counts!).

2. Not into camping? Try glamping!

3. Find a pond and feed the ducks.

4. Go fishing in a canoe.

photo: Ian Sane via flickr

5. Hike up a mountain and admire the views from the top.

6. Build a sandcastle with just your hands.

7. Run through a sprinkler in your backyard.

8. Plant a tree.

9. Catch fireflies in a jar.

10. Jump into a lake.

jumpinalake_KylieandRob_flickr_outdooradventures_redtricyclephoto: Kylie & Rob via flickr

11. Ride in a row boat.

12. Explore a forest.

13. Stargaze.

14. Run a mile.

15. Pick fruit off a tree (or a bush!).

16. Climb a tree.

climbatree_hoher_flickr_outdooradventures_redtricyclephoto: hoher via flickr

17. Plant a garden.

18. Roll down a grassy hill.

19. Make a fort with driftwood and sticks found on the beach.

20. Go water tubing down a lazy river.

21. Seek out the most picturesque playground with a view and snap away.

22. Go on a hike and see how many types of wildflowers you can spot.

baby-wildflowers-flickr-cc-usfsregion5photo: usfs region 5 via flickr

23. Perfect your handstands and cartwheels.

24. Have a three-legged race.

25. Host a water balloon toss.

26. Play capture the flag.

27. Build a fort with boxes and sheets.

28. Roast s’mores over a real fire.

makesmores_bureauoflandmanagement_flickr_outdooradventures_redtricyclephoto: Bureau of Land Management via flickr

29. Fly a kite.

30. Go an entire day without technology (yes, that includes your smart phone!).

31. Make a flower crown out of mini daisies.

32. Create a paper airplane and see how far it will fly.

33. Count to 60 while hula hooping.

34. Learn to ride a two-wheeler bike.

girl-on-bike-flickr-cc-thierrydrausphoto: Thierry Draus via flickr

35. Take story time outside by reading your favorite book under a tree.

36. Strap on the life vests and kayak on a lake.

37. Surprise the postman with a thank you gift.

38. Make your own trail mix and then head out on a hike.

39. Go on an overnight backpacking trip.

40. Sail a leaf boat down a creek.

41. Fill your yard with bubbles.

kids-bubbles-flickr-cc-brayn-montecillophoto: Bryan Montecillo via flickr

42. Take a family bike ride (don’t forget the helmets!).

43. Teach your kids old school games like Red Rover and bobbing for apples.

44. Play frisbee.

45. Lay back and look for shapes in the clouds.

46. Play duck, duck, goose.

47. Build a rocket ship out of cardboard.

DIYrocketship_marieholmes_cardboardrocketship_outerspace_national_redtricyclephoto: Marie Holmes Photography

48. Create an impromptu obstacle course at your local playground. Hop over logs, whiz down slides and swing on the monkey bars.

49. Make a nature collage.

50. Play hopscotch.

51. Decorate your sidewalk with imaginative chalk art.

52. Make a bird feeder.

53. Visit a farm and feed a horse.

children-horses-flickr-cc-familjenhelsinborgphoto: Familjen Helsinborg via flickr

54. Pick a wildflower bouquet.

55. Have a family meal outside.

56. Jump rope 100 times without stopping.

57. Paint garden sticks.

58. Try composting (psst…here’s how to easily build your own bin).

59. Play hide-and-seek amongst the trees at your local park.

hidenseek_jamalafzal_flickr_outdooradventures_redtricyclephoto: Jamal Azfal via flickr

60. Take a photo every weekend for a year. At the end of the year turn your photos into a collage or album.

61. After a storm put on your rain boots and see who can make the biggest puddle splash.

62. Go geocaching.

63. Take your kids fishing. Don’t have a creek bed near you? Make your own dry creek and go fish!

64. Cruise like you did as a kid with a pair of roller skates.

65. Make a bug catcher out of a mason jar.

bug-catcher-craft-final-1photo: momtastic

66. Spread literacy by building a Little Free Lending Library in your front yard.

67. Make a terrarium with what you find outdoors.

68. Get up early and watch the sunrise as a family.

69. Play freeze tag.

70. Plant an herb garden with a reclaimed wheel barrow.

herb-garden-planting-1photo: Built by Kids

71. Try breakfast camping.

72. Watch the planes land at your local airport.

73. Make a time capsule and bury it for discovery 50 years from now!

74. Make your own bubbles.

75. Create instruments out of what you find in a park and then have a jam session.

76. Make mud pies.

mudpies_patrickbuechner_flickr_outdooradventures_redtricyclephoto: Patrick Buechner via flickr

77. Embark on a letterboxing adventure.

78. Create a new family tradition and follow it every year.

79. Look for seashells on the beach.

80. Take a walk in the rain.

81. Walk (or run!) a full circle around your favorite park.

82. Make and float your own sailboat.

boat-in-the-streamphoto: Julie Seguss

83. Construct a water wall.

84. Host a mini Olympics.

85. Spot a shooting star.

86. Have an ice cream taste test.

87. Go to a baseball game.

88. Enjoy an afternoon of outdoor art.

sheetpainting_carolynebert_easycleanup_outdoorart_national_redtricyclephoto: The Pleasantest Thing

89. Set up a lemonade stand.

90. Have a backyard car wash.

91. Play “parachute” with a sheet.

92. Learn a new sport.

93. Discover why boats float.

94. Make a fairy (or gnome!) garden.

FairyGarden5 (1)

95. Create your own sundial.

96. Go on a night hike.

97. Collect sand at the beach to make a craft.

98. Whip up a few magic potions.

99. Skip rocks across the water’s surface.

100. Look for rainbows after a storm.

What else should we add to this list? How many activities have you checked-off?

— Sara Olsher, Christal Yuen, Gabby Cullen, Erin Feher, Mandy Hale, Laura Rodde, Jen Caynan and Erin Lem

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