Family Fun in the Sun

Make the most of family time this summer.

Campout

Family fun can be as simple and inexpensive as setting up a tent in the backyard for a campout.

Jesse Kunerth/Fotolia

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In today’s hurry-up world, many families are looking for ways to slow down a little and spend some quality time together, just having fun. The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and you don’t have to go very far to have a great time.

Here are some ways your family can make the most of family time and have some serious fun.

Become day trippers.

Feel like getting out of town, but don’t want to go far? Try a family day trip.

State parks: You can go on a hike or bike ride, have a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors on your own, or participate in events such as fishing tournaments, wildlife education, moonlight walks or star gazing talks.

Nearby cities: Play tourist in a city that’s close by, but you haven’t been to before. Check out the local shops, museums, parks and restaurants; you may be surprised at how much there is to do. Get suggestions from your friends using Bing’s new social search features; someone you know may have recently been there and have some great ideas. Or you could find people who are experts on that area and can help you find the perfect place to visit.

Have some homegrown fun.

You don’t have to go to one of the big theme parks in another state to have a great time.

Carnivals and street fairs: Get in on some old-fashioned fun and make the most of these hometown celebrations. The kids will get a kick out of it, and you may feel like a kid again yourself.

Local museums: Art, history, science, kid-themed and quirky. There are all kinds of museums just waiting to be explored. Keep an eye out for special exhibits and family events. Many museums have free days and no- or low-cost activities and classes you can all do together.

Free movie screenings and concerts: Some parks and rec departments and shopping centers have family movie and music events. Take a picnic dinner, go early and enjoy some free family fun.

Backyard camping: Pitch a tent and spend the night under the stars. Grill dinner, or make S’mores over the fire pit, and “rough it” together without ever leaving home.

Geocaching: If you’ve always wanted to go on a treasure hunt, geocaching just might be for you. You use a GPS-enabled device and clues to navigate to a specific set of coordinates in order to locate hidden containers. Search online for geocaching near you.

Help your community.

Serving together is a fun way to grow closer to each other and make a difference where you live.

Charity events: Sign up to help with or participate in a charity race. From planning and organizing to checking people in, setting up water stations and actually racing, there are plenty of ways you can help make a fundraising event a success.

Urban and community gardens: Sowing, watering, weeding and harvesting, there’s always something that needs to be done in a community garden. Even the littlest ones can have some fun doing good.

Work days: Shelters, schools and churches often need a helping hand to keep their buildings clean and in good repair. Your family can pitch in to take care of the facilities that help so many people.

Make a difference in your neighborhood: www.DoSomething.org and Bing have teamed up to inspire people to “do good” in their neighborhood by hosting various events across the country this summer. Visit www.bing.com/doing to see if they’ll be stopping by a neighborhood near you, or learn how you can participate online. Perfect for the teen in your life, these events don’t require money, an adult, or a car to participate.

Be hometown foodies.

Discover your inner “locovore” by exploring all the different ways to enjoy locally produced food.

Farmers markets: From apples to zucchini, you can find just about any kind of fresh produce, as well as bread, honey, herbs and more. Take your time, try some samples and talk to the vendors about their goods. Bring home some fresh ingredients and experiment with new recipes.

CSA: Community Supported Agriculture groups bring the local harvests to you. For a set fee, sometimes paid in full up front, sometimes paid weekly with pickup, you get a generous selection of whatever is in season. The options change each week, which means you get a tasty surprise.

Restaurants: Try that new restaurant down the street, or the one you’ve driven by a few times but have never been to. It can be a culinary adventure and a great way to support the local economy. If you’re not sure where to go, or if you want to know if a restaurant is good, look it up on www.Bing.com and check out the new feature which allows you to do this all in one place. It shows you reviews from across the web, location maps and directions, as well as interior shots; you can make a reservation, find where you’re going and see what it’s like, all without leaving your search page.

When making a decision like where to spend your time and money, most people say it helps to have some input from people they know and trust.

A recent Bing survey found that

* More than 90 percent of respondents are likely to seek the opinions or advice of friends and family as part of their decision-making process.

* More than 90 percent of respondents will even delay a decision in order to first get input from family and friends.

* More than 75 percent of respondents report they are likely to solicit opinions or advice from their online social networks; 44 percent get the most useful recommendations on travel and restaurants from Facebook and/or Twitter.

When you’re looking for new ways to make some family fun time, find out about how to get those trusted opinions from your friends, plus new ideas and the best of the web recommendations at www.Bing.com.