Following the recent birth of my son, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about childhood and how I want my children to grow up. I met with one of his doctors today and was extremely flattered when she paused for a moment and said, “It’s clear that you want the very best for your son.” I know she was saying this in response to my typical new mom barrage of questions, but it’s very true. I want him to look back on his childhood and know that we did everything we could to give him the best life possible. I’m not talking about spoiling – not at all. I’m talking about quality time and understanding, providing for his needs as well as helping him to grow. I want fall to bring the best schooling possible, winter to bring joyful holidays and summer to be filled with memorable getaways. Here are some of my favorites:

Taking a child camping and giving them a love of the outdoors is one of the best things you can do for them, in my opinion. There’s nothing quite like joining together with family over a campfire and roasting s’mores and hot dogs. Even busy parents can get away from the loud TV and hectic technology-filled home by setting up a tent in their own backyard and staring at the stars for an evening with their kids.

It’s a pricey trip, but every kid should see the most magical place on earth at least once. Getting to sit in Mickey’s lap and see Minnie’s house is a treasured experience. While I’m always skeptical of children’s adventures that come at such a cost, Disneyland truly is one of those unique, wonder-filled once-in-a-lifetime childhood events.

Grandma and Grandpa’s House
There’s nothing like getting away to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma makes cookies while Grandpa hoists the kids up into trees or hauls them around in a wagon. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was one of my favorite getaways when I was a kid. Even if your children don’t have grandparents, they can enjoy the care of elderly neighbors or relatives who know how to parent and how to spoil a child with treats and games – just a little bit! – and give you a day to yourself.

The Zoo
My personal favorite is the San Diego Zoo, but any zoo can help a child develop a love of animals and a respect for nature. He or she can pet a goat or sheep in the petting zoo and see elephants and giraffes in their enclosures. To me, the zoo helps children grasp that there is a great big world out there that they should see.

The Local Park
One of my favorite memories as a child is feeding ducks at the park with my dad. This getaway isn’t really about the place in particular, but the familiar feeling that comes with repeatedly visiting the same local park. I still go back to that park from my childhood and reminisce, and I know that’s something I will enjoy for the rest of my life. I’m thankful to my dad for giving me such a tangible location to associate with those childhood memories.

What were your favorite childhood getaways? Were they local, or did you travel to get to them? The backseat of our car was actually a favorite summer place for me, because my family spent a lot of summers on road trips. There are quite a lot of trips we took where I can’t quite remember the location we ended up, but I remember sitting in the backseat with my sister, counting license plates and singing the most annoying songs we could possibly think of!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.