by Katie Trudeau

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you’re sure to see restaurants advertising for romantic candlelit dinners for two.

But what if you can’t find a babysitter? Or what if you’d just really like to celebrate the Day of Love with all of your little people?

Family-friendly dates are becoming the next big thing, and there’s a good reason why! Your little ones (and even the big kids) all benefit from a good ol’ family day!

Not sure where to take your family on your family date? We’ve rounded up the top ten family-friendly dates.  

Winter-Summer Day

“Winter-Summer Day” is one of my favorite family traditions for Valentine’s Day. It was 2012, and our first Valentine’s Day as a family of three. We didn’t have a sitter and we weren’t really ready to leave our baby with a sitter so what were we to do?

We created our favorite family tradition: Winter Summer Day!

If you’re interested in recreating your own Winter Summer Day, this is what you need to do:

  • Pack up your hot cocoa, toboggan, and hit the sledding hills!
  • Reverse gears and head to your local rec center to warm up. Bring your swimming suit and take a dip in the pool!
  • After sledding and swimming, you’ll be famished so it’s time for the traditional dinner of pizza! Grab a take-out pizza and cuddle up with your favorite movie.

Bonus: Your baby will have the best night of sleep ever.

Animal Watching and Hot Cocoa Strolls

A trip to the zoo isn’t just for summer vacation. Valentine’s Day can be a perfect excuse to get wild and head to the zoo. Of course, you’ll need to bundle up, but most zoos have plenty of indoor exhibits too!

Load up your wagon with snacks, thermoses of hot cocoa, and extra blankets for the little ones.

Tip: Some zoos offer special events for Valentine’s Day so be sure to check the schedule at your local zoo!

Ice Skating

If your little ones are old enough, ice skating can be a fun family date idea! Most towns have outdoor skating rinks, but indoor rinks are becoming more popular too.

Tip: Some skating rinks have “walkers” for little ones to learn to skate.

Camp Under the Stars

Do you little ones love to camp? Don’t let the chilly February temps keep you from camping - bring the party inside!

After a day of ice skating or walking around the zoo, what’s more cozy than settling in under the stars?

To make the most out of your indoor campsite, keep these tips in mind:

  • Place glowy sticky stars on your living room ceiling (For a less permanent option, use a disco light that projects stars on the ceiling. You can find these in the science aisle of your local school supply store.)
  • Set up a pop-up tent in your living room
  • Bring out the sleeping bags
  • Make a “fire pit” out of pillows and tell stories around the fire

Pizza and an Arcade

This is a classic date idea, and it’s one that your whole family is guaranteed to love! Arcades have come a long way in the last few years, as they’ve become full-service locations with restaurants and huge game sections for every age.

Visit the Museum

Museums are another tried-and-true family date destination. Choose your museum based on the interest and ages of your children:

  • Art museum (might be better for older children who can appreciate the slow pace of gazing at works of art)
  • Natural history museum (always a hit with the little kids in the dinosaur-loving phase)
  • Science museums (usually good for all ages, there’s often interactive exhibits for smaller children)
  • Children’s museums (the clear winner for families with multiple children)

Tip: If you have multiple children, consider babywearing the baby and using a stroller for toddlers. Those little legs can get tired after a day of walking! While they nap, you can enjoy your favorite exhibits!

Concert for … 4?

One of the most cliche Valentine’s Day dates: a concert! There’s no reason you have to say adios to concerts once you’ve got little ones in tow! If you’re considering bring your children to a concert, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose family-friendly artists
  • Choose visually stimulating concerts/shows (such as Cirque du Soleil) to keep little ones entertained
  • Bring plenty of snacks; little hands stay busy while they watch. Air-popped popcorn, homemade trail mix, and bags of dry cereal are great ideas.

Revive Family Board Game Night

Thanks to popular board games like Apples to Apples and Risk, board games are not a thing of the past… which is a big accomplishment considering how reliant our society is on technology! A Valentine’s Day family board game night is ideal for families who prefer to stay inside on a cold winter night.

To ensure that your night is as fun as can be, make sure your game choice is suitable for all ages of your family. There’s nothing more frustrating than not understand the game you’re playing. If you have a small toddler, consider playing on teams to help out a younger family member.

The only problem is deciding which one to start with!

  • The Game of Life
  • Monopoly for kids
  • Connect 4
  • Pictionary (with the board game or just with your own paper and pens)
  • Candyland
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Mousetrap
  • Cashflow for Kids
  • Sorry!

Turn off the TV, prep the snacks, turn on some mellow music, and let the fun begin!

Think Big: Winter Getaway

Most family dates are local, same-day outings, but if you want to dream big this year, why not plan a Valentine’s Day getaway for the whole family? You can go as big (hello, Disneyworld!) as you want or you could keep it simple. Think: cozy cabin in the woods.

What about you?

What is your favorite family date idea?

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Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at  www.katietrudeau.com 

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