Even a familiar place can be a thrill.

Field Trip Ideas for Toddlers

by Kathryn Walsh

His legs may be short, but they've covered every inch of your home, yard and block. Your toddler has seen it all, done it all and been bored by it all. Time to get out of the house before one of you throws a tantrum from restlessness. Your tot is too young for some of the field-trip locales elementary-school students explore, but when picking a destination, you have one thing on your side: He's easily impressed.

1. A Store

He's tagged along to the grocery store too many times to count. This shouldn't stop you from taking him to the local shop as a field trip, even when you don't need anything. Let him toddle along on his own and stare at packaging instead of pushing him along in a hurry. He'll be even more interested in stores he doesn't usually get to enter. Take him to a sporting-goods store where he can gaze upon rows and rows of golf clubs and camping tents, or head to a bookstore to peruse the latest adventures of his favorite cartoon bunny.

2. The Woods

In your mind, "the woods" might mean a forest. To your toddler, "the woods" is three trees set close together. Whether you live in a city where a handful of trees will have to do or in the country where miles of woods are a short walk away, take your toddler on a nature expedition under the leafy shade. Wander a hiking path, encouraging him to keep his eyes on the ground as he looks for bugs, interesting leaves and rocks that appeal to him. Tell him not to touch anything, though, without asking you first.

3. Another House

Someplace as simple as the neighbor's backyard might be interesting enough to hold your tot's curiosity for an hour. When you just need to get out of the house, ask a friend or family member if you can pay a visit. Your toddler might be happy just wandering around on the grass, but visiting someone with farmland, a kiddo for your tot to play with, or a backyard pool for a group swim is even more exciting. If you're afraid of imposing, ask to swing by for a quick chat just as a change of scenery, then take your toddler for a walk around the neighborhood before driving home. You'll see different sights, people and plants than you're used to outside your own front door.

4. A Workplace

Your munchkin can't be allowed to crawl around on someone's laptop or go wild in the stock room, but exploring a workplace with close supervision can be fun for him. While you wouldn't show up at a store where a friend works and expect a playdate, if you know someone who owns his own business and wouldn't mind visitors, call ahead and ask permission to visit. Or ask at the grocery store, zoo, restaurant or wherever your tot likes to go whether it's possible to get a quick behind-the-scenes tour.

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