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Bust Summer Boredom at 9 Kid-Friendly Destinations

As summer vacation begins to wind down, boredom can set in--but remember that the possibilities for free or low-cost local entertainment are endless.

Summer is a time to get out and have fun. If you are like me, fun doesn’t usually involve sitting in a car asking “are we almost there?” I want adventure, but without a long drive.

I have a dear friend who seems to always be off on an adventure with her boys. I recently asked where she gets her great ideas and she actually attributed some of them to me! This was flattering but doubtful, since she has been to places I've never heard of. Yet some of her trips were reminders to me of just what wonderful opportunities we have close by.

Another requirement for me is that places we visit be free or low-cost. When you are loading up the car with kids, the last thing you really want to have to do is also load up your wallet.

So here are some of my favorite destination picks for a fun summer adventure without the long drives and large entrance fees:

: After watching the weather report for this week, a trip to is definitely on my list. The temperature in the cave is always a cool 52 degrees. There is a fee to get in, but when it's 90 degrees outside that fee may just be worth it! An added bonus is that your children will have the opportunity to learn about geology while inside.

Crystal Cave: This cave near Kutztown offers visitors a similar experience to Lost River Caverns, albeit with a longer drive. Personally I've always wanted to visit both to see what the difference is between the two.

: If you haven’t walked or biked this new trail yet, consider doing so. , and is perfect for easy family strolls, jogs or bike rides. We had fun seeing who passed more people they knew, socializing with friends and getting some exercise at the same time. Parking is available in and at the Wagner Grist Mill, along Walnut Street in Hellertown.

Lake Nockamixon: Looking for a walk or bike ride that's a bit off the beaten path? Don’t miss Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County. Just a short ride away you will find lots of trails, a boat dock, boat rentals and a community pool. Entrance to the park and trails is free.

Crayola Factory and the National Canal Museum: Another great place to visit--rain or shine--is Easton. If you have been to the Crayola Factory but haven’t made it upstairs to the Canal Museum, you are missing out on a fun experience. I have found it hard to leave, as my girls want “just one more time” to take the boats through the barge, build a bridge or take their turn on the computers. I was pleasantly surprised the first time we went, and we spent more time learning about bridges and barges than we did downstairs coloring.

: I’ve mentioned this Allentown education center many times in my columns because it is one of my favorite places for the kids to have fun. Their interactive exhibits change on a regular basis, so there is always something new to discover. Members enjoy special "members only" events throughout the year.

: Want to see animals without the drive to Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.? Then the Lehigh Valley Zoo should be your destination of choice. The Lehigh Valley Zoo doesn’t have as diverse a representation of fauna as the big zoos do, but there is still plenty to see in a fun, family-friendly environment.

The Library: Did you know that our local libraries have ? You can find out what's going on at either the or the Bethlehem Area Public Library. What better way to encourage your child’s love of reading than spending time in the library? Another free and air conditioned option for your day.

: Want a fun way to get your children to eat fruit? At Strawberry Acres you take a short ride in a converted school bus to the trees for picking. If you haven’t tasted , you will be pleasantly surprised.

I could go on since the Lehigh Valley is packed with fun, low-cost destinations for families. But before summer is over, make it a point to try just one or two new places and let me know what you think.

Did I leave your family's favorite nearby destination off my list? Please share it with us in the comments section below. I am always looking for new fun ideas.

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