Summer is a fickle creature, isn’t it? Back in May, I looked out at all the empty weeks ahead and wondered how in the world my husband and I were going to fill them with enough activities to keep our daughter busy. Now, there are just a few weeks left in the summer, and there still a bunch of activities we have yet to do, because we’d convinced ourselves we have lots of time.
We have a “staycation” list of sorts: Places we can go and activities we can do in an around Atlanta (or at home) that are free, low cost, or at least memorable enough to be worth the cost. Here’s (part of) the list:
- Watch free movies in the park (check)
- Build a collapsible tent (check)
- Make homemade ice cream (check)
- Go to a Braves game (check)
- Put our daughter in summer camp for at least one week (check)
- Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Visit the Fernbank Museum of Natural History
- Visit Stone Mountain Park
- Eat dinner at Medieval Times (thanks to a current special on Living Social, we’ll likely get to do this soon)
- Spend some time at Lake Lanier (check)
As for that last item on the list: We’ve lived in Georgia for years, and at one point, actually lived along the shores of the lake. But other than a few visits to nearby parks and lunches on a dock before we had our daughter, we’ve never really spent time on or in the water. Crazy, given how much all of us love to swim and just be near water in general. So this week, my husband and I visited Buford Dam Park Beach.
Before I share anything else, let me say this: We are beach snobs. We are spoiled, we know it, and we’re working on it. We grew up in the Caribbean where the water is blue and crystal clear. You can be neck-deep in the ocean and still see your toes wiggling beneath you. We love salt water and white coral sand â€” though we could do without the jellyfish. All that to say our hopes weren’t high for what we’d find at a manmade beach on a lake with notoriously murky water, which is why we chose to do some recon without our daughter.
I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised.
Yes, the water was more green than blue, the sand was gritty and the beach only a few feet wide from sidewalk to shore, but it was a beach. Within 20 minutes of our front door. And the water was actually a lot warmer and clearer than we expected. It was no Caribbean Sea, but it was clear enough that both my husband and I felt comfortable taking a dip. Not comfortable enough to get my hair wet ( I KNOW what goes into Lake Lanier, andÂ ewww…I don’t want it in my hair or on my face), but baby steps, right?
In spite of the photo, I actually did swim. As in I was in the water up to my neck.
The one thing we’ve learned to do on all our little staycation adventures is to travel with food and drinks. Someone will inevitably get hungry, and it’s difficult to enjoy a day at the beach, or the park, or anywhere, if one of us is hungry and therefore cranky and complaining. So before we hit the beach, we stopped at Walmart for a bag of ice and drinks to fill up the cooler, along with a few snacks and food from the deli.
Our preparation may not have been pretty, but it was worth the effort.
In fact, it became a lifesaver about an hour into the trip when both my husband and I found ourselves to be ravenously hungry. Spending $15-25 at Walmart in advance of a day trip, along with the foresight to bring our cooler, always saves us a ton of money in travel because we’re not blowing unexpected money on food and drinks just because they’re convenient. This rings extra true when our daughter â€” a.k.a. the snack queen â€” is with us, and when our adventures take us to touristy spots with high price markups.
The very bold geese at the beach seemed happy to investigate our food choices too.
Anyway, now that we’ve seen the beach, we’ll take our daughter with us next week, and try to check as many other things off the list as we can before time runs out.
What adventures have you and your family embarked upon this summer? Â Please share, because even though we have a lot to keep us busy for the next few weeks, come next summer, I’m sure I’ll be scrambling for ideas again.
DISCLOSURE: As a participant in theÂ Walmart MomsÂ Program, Iâ€™ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.