By Shannon Traphagen

Families looking to stay busy or get away on the weekends this summer often look for activities that appeal to the whole family while getting everyone out of the house. According to the U.S. Travel Association, nearly three out of four domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes.
The following are a handful of local getaway ideas the whole family can enjoy this summer.

Hiking: Hiking is a rewarding, healthy hobby that also happens to be free, which can be especially appealing to those who are budget-conscious. When exploring potential hiking destinations, parents should look for parks with kid-friendly trails. Many parks have paved trails on flat surfaces, which are ideal for families with small children. The United States is home to nearly 240,000 miles of hiking trails. Some great local hiking trails can be found at Tiff Nature Preserve, Falls Park, Bond Lake Park in Lewiston, Chestnut Ridge Park, and Knox Farm State Park, just to name a few.

Rivers and Lakes: Escaping to a nearby river or lake for a day on the water can make for a family-friendly getaway. Activities such as fishing, paddle-boarding, dog-friendly splash zones, and more make for a memorable fun weekend activity. Canalside downtown offers lots of kid-friendly activities (along with historic river boat tours) the whole family can participate in. A short drive down to Pennsylvania, Presque Isle is a beautiful park with lagoons, rides, rental bikes, fishing, and beach access. Or, take a stroll over to Hoyt Lake — part of the Olmsted Parks, and pay a visit to the Buffalo History Museum. There’s also Lasalle Waterfront Park, Erie Basin Marina, and Woodlawn Beach State Park. Don’t forget the beautiful finger lakes and the great places to explore in Ontario.

Zoo/Aquarium: According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there are more than 220 accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States and Canada. That makes it easy for families that live just about anywhere to plan day trips to local zoos, where they can spend the day soaking up some sun and marveling at exotic wildlife. Zoos and aquariums offer outdoor exhibits, allowing families to soak up the sun and enjoy the wildlife. The Buffalo Zoo — near Delaware Park — is home to multiple outdoor exhibits like sea lion cove and rhino yards. The Aquarium at Niagara offers children a waterfilled destination with multiple sea life exhibits. There’s also the option of a historical cruise along the Lockport Locks, or taking a short trip across the border to visit Happy Rolph’s animal farm and petting zoo.

Farms: From Becker Farms and Stockoe, to Gregg’s U-Pick, Kelkenberg, Akron Acres, and more, Western New York is home to some wonderful farm experiences.

Theme parks: Many themed parks offer rides and attractions for young children. In Buffalo there’s Grand Island’s Fantasy Island, Darien Lake, Safari Niagara, Jellystone Park in North Java, and Olcott Beach Carousel Park.

Weekend activities and getaways offer unique experiences for families to spend time in the great outdoors and visit local attractions. To learn about more of these great summer opportunities visit