Why You Need a Seasonal Family Bucket List

Recently, our family started creating a seasonal family bucket list.  By definition, a bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before they die.  Quality family time is important to us. However, as our kids have gotten older our time together has become limited.  Social time with friends takes precedence over family time and their schedules are packed with lots of extracurricular activities. These seasonal bucket lists have become a fun way for us to enjoy quality time together.  Here are some reasons why you need a seasonal family bucket list as well!

New Experiences

How many times have you thought, oh, we should do that one day (when referring to any number of activities or events)? That was us until we realized that the “one day” would never happen unless we actually scheduled it in.  By definition, a bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before.  Therefore, each family member selects an activity or experience that is new to him/her and the whole family gets to enjoy the experience together. It’s been so much fun to see the joy on my children’s faces as they get to experience new things!  And of course we take lots of photos to capture the memories!

Seasonal Fun

Every three months we create new bucket lists and make them seasonally appropriate.  In the summer we’ve gone berry picking, been to a Renaissance Faire, gone clamming and attended a local baseball game.  In the fall we have been hiking and geocaching.  In the winter, we either do outdoor winter activities (like snow tubing) or indoor activities (like going to an ice hockey or basketball game or doing an indoor adventure ropes course).  In the spring we took a trip to Philadelphia and went to a cupcake festival.  The ideas are endless!  But the point is that you get out and enjoy them!

Limited Number of Activities

Making a seasonal bucket list means that you’re not doing something every day of every weekend (unless you want to!).  Each family member gets to choose only one activity per season that they would like to do. So, in our family of four we have four activities that we consider must-dos each season.  Weather-dependent, we try to schedule them out throughout the three months and make sure they get written into the calendar.  For the four of us, that averages to one activity a month.

Quality Family Time

In our personal experience, when the kids are home they tend to bicker a lot. Somehow, when we are out and about doing things, almost no fighting occurs.  We truly get to experience quality family time.

Can Be as Expensive or Inexpensive as You Want

Although we are big believers in experiences over things, we are still on a budget.  Our kids don’t have lots of “stuff.” We’d rather spend money having memorable experiences than buying new toys that become unused after a couple of weeks.  Even completing our bucket lists we have found ways to save money.  Instead of going to major league sports events, we have attended local ones. For Christmas, we asked our families to give us a state park pass and a membership to a local historic organization as gifts.  Other ways to stay on budget include looking on Groupon and local sites for both activity ideas and discounts!  Trying a new restaurant at lunch instead of dinner can help keep costs down too, since prices tend to be cheaper and restaurants often offer lunch specials.

Some seasons we don’t complete our bucket list.  And that’s okay, we just move the items to next year’s list.  In fact, this winter was one of the first times we completed every activity on our family’s seasonal bucket list!

I would love to hear if you create family bucket lists and if so what activities have you done or would like to do?



Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Beautiful, scenic river views, exercise, and outdoor family fun.  A visit to Poughkeepsie, New York, isn’t complete without a trip to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park where you can experience it all!  Spanning 1.28 miles long, the Walkway is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  Walkway Over the Hudson opened in October 2009 and is a New York State park.

The bridge sits 212 feet above the Hudson River and offers spectacular scenic views.  Bike riding, roller blading and skateboarding are all permitted on the bridge. Dogs on a six foot lead are also welcome.  With the beautiful spring weather we’ve been experiencing, there’s no better time to visit the Walkway!

Our family has visited the Walkway twice now.  Our first visit was in the summer and it was hot!  So hot, that there was a warning posted that dogs should not walk on the bridge, as the temperature was over 100 degrees! That first visit our daughter rode her bike while we walked.  However, we didn’t even make it across the entire bridge as we were so hot and hungry!

Our second visit was on a breezy, sunny, spring day.  It was a perfect day for walking across the bridge and taking in the views.  We walked the entire bridge and back, with a few photo stops in between.  For our family 2.56 miles was plenty of walking!  If you prefer a longer walk or run there’s a 4.4 mile loop trail that crosses the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

There are picnic tables at both entrances of the walkway if you want to bring lunch or snacks and make a longer day out of your visit.  During our summer visit there was a hot dog truck at the Poughkeepsie entrance.  On our spring visit, there was a snack stand open at the Highland entrance selling kettle corn, beverages and other snacks. There are beverage vending machines as well.

On the walkway closer to the Poughkeepsie entrance there’s a glass-enclosed 21-story elevator operated by a NYS park employee which leads down to the waterfront.

Within walking distance is the Poughkeepsie train station, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum,the Poughkeepsie Ice House on the Hudson restaurant and more.

Other important things to note is that there are bathrooms at both entrances that house self-composting toilets with hand sanitizer only, no sinks or running water.  There were no changing tables for babies and toddlers.

Although the bridge isn’t that long, if walking it with kids be ready to take frequent breaks! Strollers and wagons are allowed on the walkway.  There are benches in a couple of spots along the bridge that are great photo spots as well as a place to rest tired feet for a few minutes.  Bring quarters and your kids can enjoy using the coin operated binoculars.  I also recommend bringing water or beverages (or be prepared to purchase them!), as from personal experience, your kids will get thirsty, especially if it’s hot!

Spend an hour or a day visiting the Walkway Over the Hudson!  As you can see in the picture below, there is lots to do in the area.  Regardless, the walkway is a Hudson Valley experience you should not miss!

The Details:

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Poughkeepsie Entrance:
61 Parker Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Highland Entrance:
87 Haviland Road
Highland, NY 12528

Hours:  6:30 AM to sunset (varies depending on the month – check here for the schedule)
Elevator operates from 9 AM to one hour before park closing

Parking:  $5 (for four hours) to park in the New York State parking lot
Empire passes are accepted
There is a free parking lot on Parker Avenue, before the state parking lot entrance

The bridge is 1.28 miles long and is 212 feet above the Hudson River.


Maple Weekend 2017

When you sit down to eat a hot stack of freshly made pancakes, you pour real maple syrup on top, right?!  With over 2,000 maple sugar makers, New York is a large producer of pure, all-natural syrup.  Back in 1995 the New York State Maple Producers Association organized the first “Maple Sunday” to educate the public about maple syrup production.  22 years later and Maple Weekend continues!

This year Maple Weekend 2017 will be held on March 18-19 and March 25-26.  Over 160 farms and museums will open their sugar houses for tours, samples, family-friendly activities and more.  Now is a great time to see how maple syrup is made, restock your syrup supply and maybe also purchase some additional goodies like maple sugar candy. Some sugar houses are also hosting pancake breakfasts, for an additional charge.

You can read all about our experience at Crown Maple when we visited during NYS Maple Weekends in 2015.  This is a fun, family experience that we will be participating in again this year!

5 Must-See Exhibits for Kids at the RISD Museum

We recently took a family trip to the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. Since it’s a museum on the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design, I thought it was going to be a small, dinky place to spend an hour or two.  Boy was I pleasantly surprised at what a treasure trove of art is showcased in this museum!  We visited the museum on a Sunday, when admission is free.  In a rather quick, cursory tour, we were able to see almost all of the museum exhibits in a day.  After a long day of walking around the galleries, we spent some down time in the open studio where the family relaxed and crafted.

If visiting the RISD Museum with kids, I highly recommend checking out the following exhibits that will hopefully interest your kids, like they did ours.  I did not include pictures of the pieces because I think that it’s more fun to see the art for the first time in person.  I also only included pieces that are in the permanent exhibits, although the temporary exhibits have lots of interesting and fun pieces as well!

12th Century Japanese Buddha (Asian Art Galleries)

The 10-foot tall wooden sculpture of the Dainichi Nyorai Buddha is truly breathtaking.  The Buddha was originally installed in the museum in 1936.   After a 2-year, 2.7-million dollar renovation, the Buddha has a new home in the museum’s sixth-floor galleries, in a room of its own.

Egyptian Coffin of Nesmin (Ancient Egyptian Galleries)

I think coffins and mummies interest most children.  The Egyptian Coffin of Nesmin is the highlight of the museums’s Egyptian collection. Nesmin was an Egyptian priest who lived during the Ptolemaic Period.  The details on the coffin, including images of protective deities,  are unbelievable.

Gilded Frost and Jet Chandelier (Above the East Stair)

Artist Dale Chihuly helped found the glass department at RISD and taught classes at the school until 1983.  His Gilded Frost and Jet Chandelier was created in 2008 and is comprised of 196 pieces.  This is a stand-out piece of art! Before reading the exhibition description my son thought the glass tubes were snakes!

 Marble Sarcophagus (Ancient Greek and Roman Galleries)

The Ancient Greek and Roman galleries have several marble statues on display.  Be forewarned, the nudity will get lots of giggles from the kids!  The must-see piece that will interest kids is the marble sarcophagus.  The intricately carved fragments of the sarcophagus depict scenes of the Trojan War.  The museum acquired the sarcophagus in 1921, after more than 100 pieces were assembled to recreate the coffin.

Paintings from Famous Artists (Modern and Contemporary Galleries)

The RISD Museum has a small, but impressive collection of Modern art.  Although children may not be familiar with the particular pieces displayed, many will recognize the names of such artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol and Frank Lloyd Wright.

If you go to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum:

Where: 20 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903
You can also enter the museum at 224 Benefit Street

Parking:  Metered street parking, North Main/Steeple Streets Metropark lot, RISD faculty/staff lots on weekends only

When: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM.  The third Thursday of every month it is open until 9 PM.

Cost:  Admission is $12/adult, $10/seniors (62+), $3/youth (5-18), $5/college students (with I.D.), free for members.  Admission is free every Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM,  and the third Thursday of every month from 5-9 PM.

Food:  Cafe Pearl, operated by Bolt Coffee, is located inside the Benefit Street entrance and serves coffee-based beverages, pastries, salads and sandwiches.  No food or drinks are allowed in the galleries.

A Night with the Black Knights Hockey Team

Hockey Knight

Living in northern Westchester County, we are fortunate to be so close to West Point Military Academy.  Besides being a top tier educational institution, West Point is home to some pretty competitive sports teams.  This past Saturday evening, our family visited West Point to spend a night with the Black Nights ice hockey team.  This was the first time that either my husband or kids had ever been to an ice hockey game.

Attending an ice hockey game was my husband’s winter family bucket list item.  We decided to go see a West Point hockey game, since they play so close to home.  After referencing our calendar, we picked a date and purchased our tickets online via the Army Hockey website.

Tate Rink is located inside the 131,000 square foot Holleder Center.   There are multiple entrances to the building. We parked in the F lot, where there are stairs that lead directly down to the center.  Our tickets had an 8:00 PM start time printed on them.  Luckily, we arrived at the rink around 7:15 PM, thinking we were early.  We discovered that the game had started at 7 PM and we had missed almost the entire first period!

The Black Knights Hockey Team

We had purchased $15 bleacher seats that were three rows from being the last seats.  Although our seats were high up, literally almost in the rafters, I thought we had a great view of the game.


For those unfamiliar with ice hockey, like I was, two teams of 5 players, plus the goalie are on the ice at a time.  The game consists of three, 20-minute periods.  With time outs, ref calls, etc. and zambonis resurfacing the ice in between each period, expect to be at a game for more than the 60 minutes of active play time.

Black Knights vs. Niagara University

The evening that we attended, the Black Knights were playing Niagara University.  The game was fast-paced and exciting. I was a bit surprised at how aggressive the players were and several fights occurred throughout the game. At various times throughout the game the penalty box was occupied by players from both teams!

Black Knights final score

During the game we saw, breaks in the playing time were filled with upbeat music, an emoji camera (requesting you to flex for the cam!) and more!

These two particular teams were pretty well matched and the game went into a five minute overtime, after the third period ended in a 4-4 tie.  With less than 41 seconds remaining on the clock,  Conor Andrle scored a goal, clinching a win for the Black Knights!

Concession Stand

Thinking we were seeing a late game (8 PM) we ate dinner before we arrived at the rink.  However, there are concession stands selling food and beverages.

Overall, we had a great time seeing the Black Knights hockey team play.  I am looking forward to attending another game or two next year!

I highly recommend attending local college and or minor league sports events with your family.  They are an affordable night of family fun and are a great introduction to sporting events for kids.

The Details:

The Black Knights hockey season is usually from October through February.

When:  There are still two home games, February 18 and February 25.

Tickets:  $15-$20 ($15/bleacher seats, $20/chair seats)

Getting There:  Take 9W north to 218.  (the first exit that notes West Point) The entrance to West Point is directly across the exit ramp.  Be prepared for the driver of the vehicle to show picture ID and have your car trunk searched.

Parking:  Free parking is available in the A or F lots.

Concessions:  Food including chicken fingers, fries, popcorn, cotton and beverages are available for purchase.

NY Foodie Family’s Winter Bucket List

Today is the official first day of winter and boy does it feel like it here in New York!  So I thought today would be appropriate to share our family’s winter bucket list.  We haven’t created a seasonal bucket list in awhile.  However, there are some things that we’ve been wanting to do for awhile.  Why a bucket list?  Because having something written down makes us more likely to do it.  When we create a bucket list, each family member chooses one seasonally appropriate activity that he or she would like to do.  We then have three months to try to complete the activities.  Although we try to have more than four family fun experiences during the winter, we only commit to the four bucket list items.  Two kids means two busy activity schedules.  Plus, winter means unpredictable and sometimes bad weather.  Here is a look at our 2016 family winter bucket list:

Me:  I would like to go snow tubing.  I don’t mean sleigh riding down the hill at our local school.  I mean visit a ski resort and go tubing down the big hills!  The kind of tubing where they have a lift to help carry the tube back up the hill!  I even bought snow pants for myself last winter thinking we’d go….but we never went.  So, it’s on the list which means we are doing it!

Husband:  My husband would like to go to local ice hockey game.  Although my son likes to play NHL ’16 on the Xbox, neither of the kids have ever seen an ice hockey game before.  We will most likely go see a game at West Point, which is close to home.

Daughter (age 10):  My daughter’s bucket list activity is to go see Matilda on Broadway.  This is probably our first bucket list item since the show is closing after the January 1, 2017 performance.  We are hoping to go next week during their holiday break.

Son (age 8):  My son’s bucket list item is going to a basketball game.  We seem  to have a sports theme this year!  My son has been playing basketball for four years now through our local recreation department and he loves it.  He’d like to see the professionals play.  While I’m not ready to shell out $75+ per ticket for us to attend a professional basketball game, I’m happy to go to the Westchester County Center.  The venue is close to home and much more affordable!


NY Renaissance Faire


Last weekend my family and I visited the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York.  It was the last weekend before school started and we wanted to spend the day outside.  This was our kids’ first time visiting the faire so they had no idea what to expect!  Since the last time my husband and I visited was 10+ years ago before we had kids, this was like our first time as well!

So what is a Renaissance Faire?  This Renaissance Faire is a recreation of a Renaissance Village.  It is filled with entertainment, food and shops where everyone is dressed “character.”  For those who like to dress up, this is the perfect time to wear your favorite Renaissance costumes.  We saw MANY people dressed in Renaissance garb as well as, pirate, elf and fairy costumes.  If you don’t have a costume, no worries!  You can rent or  buy one at the various shops.

The NY Renaissane Faire runs weekends now through October 2 from 10 AM – 7 PM.  Tickets cost $25/adult, $20 Seniors/Military (with ID) and $12/child (5-12).  Children 4 and under are free.  Tickets are available to purchase on the grounds at the box office or can be purchased online in advance.  Select Walgreens stores offer discounted tickets, which is where we purchased our tickets.  They cost $20/adult and $10/child.

The drive from our house in Northern Westchester to the Faire is a little over thirty minutes, without traffic.  We arrived around 9:45 AM for the 10 AM opening.  We parked in the preferred parking lot, right across from the fair grounds for $10 (cash only).  There are free parking options further away from the entrance gate (although we didn’t see them, so not sure how far away they are!).


We purchased a faire guide and entertainment schedule for $1 before entering the grounds.  The faire guide is a necessity because it contains a map of the grounds.  You also want the day’s entertainment schedule so you can plan your day around the shows that you want to see.  Both the map and entertainment schedule are available online and can be printed ahead of time.

Opening Gate

The gates opened promptly at 10 AM with the Sheriff speaking to the crowd prior to the opening. The majority of our day was spent seeing shows.  There are 20 stages throughout the 65 acres of faire grounds.  We spent 7 hours at the faire and didn’t see all the shows that we wanted to.  It was HOT and we were tired so we left around 5 PM.

Glass Blowing Demonstration

Besides a glass blowing demonstration that we watched for a bit, here are some of the acts that we did see:

Gypsy Geoff

Gypsy Geoff – Fire Circus Show – A juggler and comedian, this was an entertaining show!

Vixens en Garde

Vixens en Garde – Three vixens perform Shakespeare using swords, comedy and sassiness.  This was my daughter’s favorite show!

Arsene Dupin MAGIKANA! – A comedic mime, who juggles and performs magic.

Stewart and Arnold: Knife Throwing Show – Father & son knife comedic knife throwing show.

Jamila Lotus Dance Carnivale

Jamila Lotus Dance Carnivale – Dancing, acrobats and belly-dancing to a live band.

Trials by Combat Chess Match – A chess game where opponents battle it out to win the square.

The Sheriff’s Joust – One of two jousting shows, as jousters compete in different skills.  This is very similar to the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament Show.


There are also games (like the axe throw, royal darts, and ring toss) and rides (like The Sea Dragon and The Whirly Burly) for an additional fee. You can try your hand at archery, ride a llama and participate in a pub crawl.  There’s an interactive Kidsquest and Sword Fighter training, geared especially for children.  Everything mentioned requires additional fees.

As for food, you can find everything from Steak-on-a-Stake, Turkey Legs and Dragon Wing Chips to Falafel, Pad Thai, and Burritos.  We shared a Cheesesteak Sandwich and a Sausage and Peppers Sandwich.  By the time we ate we were all starving and not very picky.  However, we weren’t impressed with either of the sandwiches.  Since it was so hot we had several frozen Lemonades.

There are so many shops at the faire!  You can find anything Renaissance including clothing, jewelry, crowns, candles, instruments, sculptures, soaps, pottery, glassware and souvenirs.  You can also get your hair braided or your face painted.

There is just so much to see and do at the Renaissance Faire!

Some tips for visiting the NY Renaissance Faire:

Get there early! – We arrived right at opening and the grounds were pretty empty.  A few hours later the place was packed!

Pack and apply sunscreen.  All stages are outdoors and shade is limited.

Bring cash.  Parking and food vendors are cash only.  There are ATMs located throughout the grounds, but save yourself time!  Besides the shows, all games and rides cost additional fees.

Bring hand sanitizer.  There is one bathroom with flushable toilets located at the back of the park.  Otherwise you are left using a port-a-potty.  At one point, we visited three different areas to find one that actually had soap in the dispenser.

Get to the joust early for seats!  There are only two jousting shows (2:20 and 5:50).  By the time we arrived, the bleacher seats were full.  We sat on the grass so far back on the hill that the kids weren’t able to get a good view of the show.

Bring extra money for show “tips”.  After every performance that we saw, the performers collected tips.   It appeared that most performers travel the Renaissance Faire circuit and this is how they make their living.

Summer Bucket List Update

View of Bear Mountain Bridge

It is hard to believe it is already August!  We are halfway through the summer and I thought I’d share our summer bucket list update.  We are making great progress!  Although not on the original bucket list, we attended a polo match and have eaten some great, local food as well!


Go strawberry picking at Fishkill Farms.   We missed strawberry picking, since they are usually only available in June.  However, we did get to go blueberry and raspberry picking!  You can check out our post here.

HV Renegades

See a Renegades baseball game.   We went to a game in July and had a lot of fun.  We were chosen to get a seat upgrade and got to sit right behind home plate!  There was also a great fireworks show after the game!  If we have time before the season ends, I would go back to see another game!

FDR Park

Take a hike and geocache.  We took a trip to both FDR and Bear Mountain State Park and hiked and did some geocaching.

Vanderbilt Mansion

Visit the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and the Vanderbilt Mansion.  My daughter has her Every Kid in a Park pass that expires this month.   So far we were able to visit the Vanderbilt Mansion and even found a geocache on the property!  They are doing renovations on the mansion and there was fencing and supplies around the outside, making it not very photo-worthy.  The gardens however, were beautiful!  We haven’t yet made it to the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site though.  We have to try to fit this in soon!

Walkway Over the Hudson

Walk the Walkway Over the Hudson.  We did the Walkway Over the Hudson on a super hot day!

Have a picnic.  We visited FDR park on Father’s Day and had a picnic lunch before we went geocaching.

Mini Golf

Play mini golf and have lunch at Red Rooster Drive-In.  We did play mini golf at a local course but have not yet made it to Red Rooster.

Enjoy an outdoor concert.  We saw a couple of local bands play at a park before we watched Goonies outside on the big screen.

Visit Untermyer Gardens and the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.  We still have to do both of these!  I keep seeing beautiful pictures on Instagram of Untermyer Gardens and can’t wait to see it in person!

Daily Moos Creamery

Summer is all about ice cream!  We are definitely going back to The Hudson Creamery (the Breakfast Club Sundae was so good!) and I’d like to visit The Blue Pig.  So we revisited The Hudson Creamery, where I enjoyed the Serafina sundae.  We still have to visit The Blue Pig.  However, we visited a new local ice cream shop called Daily Moos Creamery, which serves flavored soft serve!

Hot Dippity Donuts

And when not indulging in ice cream, we’d like to eat some doughnuts.  While we like Dunkin’ Donuts, we hope to get to Gypsy Donut and Hot Dippity Donuts.  We’ve been to Hot Dippity Donuts twice now!

If you have been following along with us on Instagram you have probably seen most of these pictures.  Look for more posts about our summer adventures on the blog as our family hopefully completes our summer bucket list!


5 Things Our Family Wants To Do In NYC


When you don’t have the funds or the time to travel a great distance, it is often suggested that you be a tourist in your own town.  Our family is certainly trying to take advantage of all our town and the surrounding Hudson Valley has to offer this summer.  However, we also live a short train ride away from New York City. The city offers so much to see and do that there’s always something to add to our NYC to do list.  Here are five things that we’d like to do in NYC:

1. Visit the Statue Liberty – The last time I visited the Statue of Liberty was in elementary school on a Girl Scout trip.  I thought that maybe we’d take the kids this summer and went online to reserve tickets to the crown…..because if we go visit the Statue of Liberty, I want to go to the top.  The next available tickets were for the middle of October!  Since I don’t know the kids’ sports and activity schedules for the new school year, I didn’t want to make any reservations yet.  I guess this trip won’t be happening anytime soon.

2.  See a Broadway Musical – The last musical we saw was Finding Neverland and it was amazing!  Of course I’d love to see Hamilton, but I think I have a better chance of winning the lottery than of scoring tickets to this musical.  My daughter wants to see Matilda and the musical is closing in NYC on January 1, 2017.  We may have to see this one sooner than later!

3.  Take a Bus Tour – I’ve been saying for awhile now that I’d love to do the whole touristy thing and take a bus tour through NYC.  While The Ride is a bit on the pricey side, I’ve heard it’s one of the better bus tours available.

4.  Have Dim Sum in China Town – Last year, my family conducted our own food tour of China Town.  My kids ended up loving soup dumplings and have been asking for them again.  Instead of doing another food tour through Chinatown, we think they’d like having dim sum there.  It has been years since we’ve had dim sum and what better place to get some than in Chinatown?!

5.  Visit a Museum – Last year we visited the Museum of Natural History.  While we took the kids to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan when they were much younger, we think they are old enough now to enjoy the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) or the Guggenheim.  We may have to take advantage of the MoMA’s free Friday nights one day this summer.

And a bonus:

6.  Walk the High LineThe High Line is an elevated freight rail that has been turned into a public park.

We are fortunate to live so close to New York City.  There is always something new to see or do and we are hoping to take advantage of this more often.

What are your favorite New York City family-friendly recommendations? 

I am linking up with Tif for H54F.  Have a great weekend!


Quickstart Guide to Geocaching Using the App

Geocaching App

My family has become big fans of geocaching.  It is a fun summer activity and we’ve recently been doing a lot of it.  Geocaching uses navigational techniques, or in our case, a phone app, to find hidden caches.  In other words, it’s a scavenger hunt in the great outdoors.

If you’ve never geocached, then read this post and you and your family can get started in as little time as it takes to download the app.   Yes, it’s as easy as downloading the free geocaching app and creating a user profile.

Now, let me preface this tutorial by noting that my family and I are recreational geocachers.  We have only been geocaching  a couple of times and as of today have found nine caches.  We do it for the thrill of the hunt and it’s free outdoor family fun!  If you want more detailed information, check out geocaching.com

So, now you have the app downloaded and you’ve created an account.   The app will identify your location, noted by a blue circle, and load the caches near your location.  The free caches are identified by a dark green circle.  You will also notice dark blue circles (mystery caches), orange circles (multi-caches) and locked dark green circles (noted as premium), which are only accessible with an upgraded premium membership.  We recently upgraded to a premium membership, which cost $9.99 for 3 months, as we found there to be a limited number of free geocaches in our area, and thought the price was worth it.


Choose the geocache you’d like to find by touching a green dot.  You will then see information at the bottom of the screen like in the image above.  Each geocache has a name, given by its creator.  The distance from your current location is noted in miles.  The bug icon indicates if there is a trackable item in the cache.  (We have yet to find a trackable geocache).  Once you are ready to begin geocaching hit the green start arrow.

Geocache Start

An orange line will show the path from your location to the cache.  A compass appears along the bottom of the screen as well.  As you walk, use the compass as your guide.  You want to keep the orange compass needle centered on your screen.  As you walk, the needle will move and the distance in the bottom right will change, hopefully decreasing.  Once you get in about 30 feet of the cache it will alert you and let you know that you are close.  The GPS on the app isn’t exact, so once we get in approximately 10-12 feet we start looking for the cache.  

Geocache About

You can swipe the screen up to get additional information about the cache, like its difficulty, the terrain and its size.  From our experience, extra small (XS) caches are usually camouflaged film canisters, while small and medium caches have been lidded plastic containers.  We have not done any geocaches higher than a 2.0 terrain rating, and the 2.0 cache required us to climb up a steep incline in a forest.  In the about section you can also view hints, if there are any, as well as owner photos, if provided.

Geocache log

Activity Log

Once you find the cache, sign and date the physical log.  Be sure to hit the log geocache bar at the bottom of the screen as well. (We weren’t able to find this particular geocache!).  It’s nice to comment when you log the cache.  A simple “TFTC” will suffice, though I usually add if it was easy/difficult to find. Your info will then appear in the activity log.  The green dot will turn into a smiley face icon once you have logged the cache.  The app keeps track of your caches.

Geocache find

Depending on its size, some caches have trinkets.  The kids especially love finding larger-sized caches so they can trade trinkets.  We have seen small toys, pins, shells and more.  We only take a trinket if we have brought something to leave behind.  Otherwise, we just sign the log.  Be sure to place everything back in the container and return the cache back where you found it before leaving.

And that is a quick overview of geocaching that will get you started!  We learned all of this through trial and error and are continuing to learn as we go.

Beware though, geocaching is addicting!  Once you have found your first cache, you will then want to find your next one!

Some helpful info:

We have dedicated a small book bag as our geocaching bag.  We keep it in the car along with several pens, some small pieces of paper and a bag of trinkets (goodie bag toys) to trade.  With the app, you can geocache anywhere so we are always prepared!

The two most used acronyms that we have found helpful are:
BYOP – Bring Your Own Pen (as seen in the “about section” of several caches, to be able to sign the physical log)
TFTC – Thanks For The Cache (a way to say thanks to the creator of the cache)

Please share any geocaching tips or tricks that you have!