Barefoot hiking is a great activity everyone can enjoy. Contrary to popular belief, your feet will quickly adjust as you hike. Because feet are flexible, clingier, and more tactile than shoes, bare feet often provide better stability, increased environmental awareness, heightened proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body), and better balance when on the trail. Additionally, it offers a sensory experience that you (and your children) will enjoy. “The sensations from every part of the earth’s surface—leaves, rocks, soil—will leave you with a more full and dynamic hiking experience”.
Tips. For your first few shoeless hikes: choose a short trail, preferably one you’ve hiked before, which has a softer surface such as dirt or sand. Walk slow, watch your step, and enjoy nature. Before long, your feet will strengthen, and your balance align allowing to hike further on more rocky terrain.
Adventuring to destinations with your family is a great way to see and learn. Picking destinations with cultural and historical significance turns a fun trip into a learning experience as well. Take time to stop and visit roadside attractions and less tourist-oriented destinations. Take photos and share your trip with friends and family.
Tips. Not all adventures have to be about going barefoot, not even for the Bare Soles explorers. Get out and see your countryside, experience new places and people, and partake in the local cuisine.
Canoeing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding
Looking to explore a lake or river? Canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding is a great way to explore. Many state parks offer daily rentals with life jackets included. Canoe or kayaking trails also exist throughout the country – an online search can easily identify ones in your area. Pack the family, friends, a cooler and hit the water for a fun day outside.
Tips. Local outdoor stores will often offer water skills calls at minimal cost. If your family is looking to get involved with these activities, find a local outfitter, and ask what they have to offer.
Geocaching is a fun scavenger hunt for the whole family. Players can download coordinates to their mobile or handheld GPS device, then, use the device to navigate to the real-world location of the hidden cache. Caches range in size from pill containers to an ammo can. They may be hidden in a tree, a log, or just camouflaged on the ground. Some are easy to locate while others will take some serious searching. Caches can be found around town, at parks or just about anywhere someone can hide an item.
Tips. Multiple caching sites exist, the most popular and most used being geocaching.com. Check out their website to get started. Also, don’t forget to carry a pencil to sign the cache log!
A great way to relax, unwind, and unplug is to go camping. Whether your family is into park camping or backpacking, opportunities exist to experience nature from sunrise to sunset. Take off your shoes, kick back around the campfire and share stories (or ghost stories), connecting with nature and your family.
Tips. If it’s your child’s first-time camping – try a night of backyard camping first. This will allow them to become accustomed to spending a full night under the stars but with the safety of their own yard.
If your community has a botanical garden, you may find it a great place to unwind. Many not only showcase a variety of flowers, plants, and scrubs, but also unique sculptures, art, and cultures. Trails and paths often range in a variety of materials from sand, gravel, paved, wood chip, and even recycled rubber. If allowed, you can enjoy a picnic or spread out on a towel and enjoy a good book.
Tips. Take your shoes off and stroll along the variety of trails and paths barefoot. These paths can provide a sensory experience that will often result in relaxation of your mind.
More outdoor adventure ideas
- Animal parks, Wildlife Parks or Zoos
- Baseball or Softball
- Beach combing
- Camping and RV Camping
- Canoeing or kayaking
- Climb a rock wall
- Create your own barefoot Sensory Path
- Fishing, freshwater or saltwater
- Flying kites
- Football and Soccer
- Go Karting
- Mini Golf
- Model airplanes, helicopters or drones
- Model Rockets
- Paddle boarding
- Pickle ball
- Road biking, mountain biking or BMX
- Rock Climbing
- Running, jogging or trail running
- Slack line
- Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
- Tree Climbing
- Tug of War
- Ultimate Frisbee
- Wade into a river, lake or ocean
- Water Fights
- Whitewater Rafting
- Wildlife watching
- Windsurfing or Kiteboarding