collage of photos of a toddler having fun

The Ultimate Guide to Capturing Pure Joy: 15 Local and Fun Places To Take Toddlers

Last updated on September 21st, 2023 at 08:34 pm

If you’re looking for fun things to do with your toddler, then you’ve come to the right place! There’s nothing quite like watching their eyes light up in delight as they get out and explore the world.

From outdoor parks to indoor playgrounds, there are plenty of places near you that can give your little one a fun-filled experience.

To help you make the most of these exciting adventures, we’ve rounded up 15 fun places to take toddlers that offer plenty of activities for curious little ones—so pack your backpack, and let’s hit ’em all!

Outside Places to Take Toddlers Near Me

 1.    Petting Zoo

toddler giving popcorn to a goat

Petting zoos are typically less busy than big city zoos. You can also get up close and personal with the animals and teach your toddler about being gentle with animals.  

I have a whole post on why petting zoos are great outdoor places to take toddlers. Click here to read more!

2.   The Zoo

mother and daughter looking at a giraffe

A large zoo is probably too big to do it all in one day, so pick your child’s favorite animals and visit them first.  

Look for a kid-only zone that you can take advantage of and let them run around and burn some energy.  

Zoos can also be great in fall and winter as they also have indoor exhibits with a little outdoor walking in between. Read more here to learn why zoos are such fun places to take your toddler and tips and tricks on getting the most out of your day.

3.   Go To A Beach

Sand and water – a toddler’s dream.

The beach can be a great place to spend a few hours when the weather is nice.   Ensure you keep a close eye on your toddler, especially around water or if the beach is busy.

Why the Beach is Great for Toddlers

Sand & water allow for unstructured play.    Also known as ‘free play’, unstructured play is when kids explore without having any predetermined rules or guidelines.    

An example of Beach free play is building a sand castle – there are no rules for your toddler to follow and they will be amazed as you teach them how when sand and water are mixed they can be used to build things.

Physical Development

toddlers running at the beach

Scooping, shoveling, carrying a bucket of water, etc all help your toddler’s physical development.

Walking on sand also helps with balance, especially when carrying a few toys.

And of course, there is swimming in the water. Getting your toddler comfortable with water and learning to swim are skills that will keep them safe for their whole lives.

Toddler Beach Must-Haves: Check out our favorites on Amazon

  1. Bucket & Shovel Set
  2. Hat
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Blanket
  5. Life jacket or puddle jumper  
  6. Sun cover/pop up tent
  7. Swim Shoes/Water Shoes  
  8. Hooded Beach Towel
  9. Toddler Beach Chair
  10. Portable potty
  11. Swim Diaper
  12. Wet Bag

4.   Check Out a Park Outside Your Neighborhood

A park is a great place for little ones – stairs, slides, and swings will help burn a lot of energy and help improve their strength and gross motor skills.

If you have a local park you always go to, adventure away from home and check out some others that are nearby. That will keep things interesting for everyone.

According to Help Me Grow, ‘playgrounds and outdoor spaces are ideal for free play because there are endless opportunities to explore and interact with the world. Children can race through a play structure, run in open spaces and create their own games based on what’s available.’

5.   Splash Pad

A great way to cool down and expose your toddler to water is a splash pad. You can get as wet as you want by avoiding the big sprays, or get soaked and run through the whole place.

What to bring to the splash pad:
  • Swimsuit
  • Swim diaper
  • Water shoes
  • Towels (don’t forget one for yourself)
  • Hat
  • Change of clothes
  • Diaper bag

6.   Fair/Food Festival

family on a fair ride

Summer and Fall tend to have a lot of food festivals that include an area for families.   Check them out and take your toddler on rides, play games and expose them to new food.    

Let your toddler try some age appropriate rides (ex. Carousel or Ferris Wheel) with you to get them exposed to new things.    

Keep your eyes out for face painting, balloon animals, and fire trucks to explore.    

7.   Pool

Indoor or outdoor pools are great places for toddlers.   Indoor pools often have kid-designated pools that are shallower and warmer. They are great for introducing your kid to pools.   But the big ones can be just as great.    

8.   Your Own Backyard

Set up your own backyard adventure spot for your toddler.  

You can pull out all their toys in one day and make it special by adding some new climbing structures or toddler pools.

Use what you already have, but mix it up!

1. Water Table – add bubbles to it today.

2. Toddler Pool – If you don’t already have a toddler pool, this one is our favorite. If you already have one, you can add a bunch of beach balls or a bunch of fish to catch.

3. Sandbox – bury plastic dinosaurs or farm animals and give them a bath afterward.

Some other fun things to do in your backyard:

  • ‘Paint’ the fence with paint brushes and a bucket of water
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Color the driveway
  • Car Wash/Bike Wash  

9.   Fruit Picking

Apples, Strawberries, blueberries – whatever is in season head out to the farm and pick your own fruit.

Lots of farms have kid friendly activities beyond the picking they can explore as well. Look for farms with play areas and that host bigger events on holidays.  

I have all this fruit now what?  Bake with your toddler!    

Check out these toddler-specific cookbooks for some ideas. They were specifically written with toddlers in mind and lay out exactly how your little one can help based on their age and ability.    

Sesame Street Let’s Cook!

The Tickle Fingers Toddler Cookbook: Hands-on Fun in the Kitchen for 1 to 4s

Little Helpers Toddler Cookbook: Healthy, Kid-Friendly Recipes to Cook Together

toddler hands rolling up balls of cookie dough

Here is our daughter rolling up some no-bake cookies from Little Helpers Toddler Cookbook

Fun Places For Toddlers – Indoor Adventures

Whether it’s a cold and rainy day, or you just need to get out of the sun for a few hours these indoor toddler activities will expose them to new things, get some energy out and help improve their gross motor skills while expanding their vocabulary.  

10.   Concert

I took my daughter to her first The Wiggles concert when she was about a year and a half and she loved it.   Danced in her seat and loved interacting with her new friends in the seats next to us.    

Find an age appropriate show and make a day of it.   We took the train in and grabbed dinner after. We have tickets booked for their upcoming show in October.

When the weather’s nice look for free local outdoor concerts that you can drop in on.   They are less formal and your two year old can dance away anywhere.  

11. Library

Get your two year old to love books by visiting the library and taking out books to read all week.   They often have toddler specific programs for free that you can go to and some libraries also have toys to play with.  

toddler sitting on a chair reading a book at a library

12. Museum

Are you ready for an ultimate toddler adventure? Check out local children’s museums or check your ‘adult’ museum and see if they have a kid area where they can touch the exhibits.

Your toddler will learn so many new words and will see so many new things.

13. Aquarium  

We are lucky to have a Ripley’s Aquarium close by and we have visited it often. It’s such a calming activity and you can go through it as fast or slow as you want. Because of this, aquariums make a super fun place for toddlers!

Tips: If your aquarium is big like ours buy your tickets in advance. This will speed up the entry time for you and your family. Toddlers hate lines!

14.    Indoor Playground

Indoor playgrounds are amazing places for toddlers to work on their climbing, sliding, and running skills.   The quality of indoor playgrounds ranges so check reviews and try different ones. When they are good, they make such fun places for toddlers to play

Tips:

  1. Bring socks for everyone – its a requirement or you will have to buy a pair there
  2. Bring snacks – most have a seating area you can bring in food
  3. Call ahead and make sure they aren’t closed for a birthday party (or open and hosting a big one – that can be annoying and intimidating for little ones)

15.   Fire Station  

kid sitting in a firetruck

Give your local fire station a call and see if they would be willing to give your toddler a tour.   They often do tours for daycares and elementary schools and they may let you tag along if they don’t do private tours.    

Bonus: bring some of your baked goodies from your fruit-picking adventure to say thank you to the firefighters.   Your toddler will LOVE seeing firefights gobble down their treats.

What do Toddlers Like to do?

fun places to take toddlers. Toddlers running on dirt road

EXPLORE!   They love climbing and trying new things.    

They can be an extrovert and love being around other kids, or they may still be a bit clingy to mom and dad and need some encouragement to talk to new people.

Either way, exposing them to other kids is a great idea.

Toddlers at this age are very interested in doing things themselves and often get upset when things don’t go their way. The Terrible Tows gets its name because of these little tantrums.  Their new favorite word is most likely – NO!

Your toddler may have suddenly become a Picky Eater and will only eat their sandwich if it’s cut into triangles (or maybe your toddler is like mine and they don’t want anything cut at all!)

They are becoming independent.   They want to start picking out their own clothes and putting them on themselves.    This is also the time potty training usually starts or there is at least some interest in the potty.  

Toddlers are also so fun – they can be cuddly, goofy, silly and sweet. You are their hero and they love learning from you.

The below places were chosen as they are engaging, age-appropriate, and fun for toddlers.  

Tips to Make the Most of Your Day:

toddler sitting in a car seat

1.    Make sure your toddler is at their best.    

Don’t try to have a big outing with your child if they are hungry, tired, or not feeling well.  Pay attention to when your toddler is at their best, for us it’s mid-morning after breakfast and some playtime.

Trying to take your toddler out after a long day at daycare or after a terrible nap won’t be fun for anyone.

  1. Bring snacks

No matter where you are going, bring some healthy snacks to keep that energy going.  Fruit, cheese or crackers, and other low-refined sugar snacks are best. Sugar crashes are not fun!

  1. Pack up that diaper bag.

My daughter and I went to the zoo and had a toddler vs puddle incident.  

Luckily I was able to make her laugh about it and I quickly changed her outfit, but soon realized I didn’t have an extra pair of shoes.

She spent the last bit of the day in her stroller with her bare feet (which she didn’t mind, but I would have preferred at least the option of her walking).  

Double check you have extras of everything packed in your bag.    

Conclusion: Fun Places to Take Toddlers Near Me

The toddler years are some of your child’s best years.

They are little explorers and seeing old things through new eyes can be just as exciting for parents and caregivers.    

Where is your favorite fun place to take toddlers ?

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in the car to and from the activity?

todder in a car seat

The car is a perfect place for talking about what you did or plan to do! Asking silly, insightful and thoughtful questions can help deepen your connection with them. Also, asking about their favorite parts of the day is a great way to help them feel smart and loved. This will also help gauge their interest in the activity.

What to bring on a toddler outing?

toddlers eating snacks

Snacks, bring lots of snacks! Don’t forget some extra diapers or a change of clothes, just in case!
Also, bring your PATIENCE! It’s a big world out there and can be a little overwhelming for your little one. Plans can always change!

What are fun places to take toddlers near me?

family at the grocery store

Explore these delightful destinations right in your town! Whether it’s the local library, a bustling grocery store, or even the neighborhood hardware store, every location can transform into a thrilling adventure.
Engage in interactive games like ‘I Spy’ or go on an exciting scavenger hunt. The best part? Your little one will be so entertained, they won’t even realize it’s just a typical errand run!

Where can I take my toddler to play?

woman talking to her child

If you’re lucky enough to have a museum, library, indoor playground or park near by these make super fun places to take a toddler to get their wiggles out!

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