But even simple, off-beat adventures have become treasured memories for his family. Taking the local commuter train to the zoo or planetarium upped the fun factor for the kids. Given his kids' fascination with bowling, Wixon asked for, and received, a behind-the-scenes tour at the local bowling alley. "You just have to be kind of creative sometimes," he says.
Bottom line: Open up and mix it up. "Don't take your usual routes anywhere, even to the supermarket; you never know what you might discover right in your own backyard," Lapin says. "Better yet, rent some bikes, and see your city from fresh wheels," she says, suggesting a bike-rental site called Spinlister.
4. Cash in on deals. Summertime is chock-full of discount programs, particularly for kids. Lapin notes that Target offers free museum tickets on select days, and many movie theaters offer $1 or free admission for kids.
Lapin also recommends CityPASS, a discount program currently in 11 cities in the United States that offers reduced rates to local attractions. She adds that a library program called OverDrive lets you borrow ebooks, and Project Gutenberg provides e-books for free.
5. Let go. Wherever you vacation, "don't shorten it mentally" by starting to worry about work before your vacation ends, Krauss Whitbourne says. And don't add stress by putting pressure on everything to be perfect, she says. "When you least expect something great to happen, that's when it does happen."