Geocaching: Free Family Fun with Kids Outdoors

Have you ever been on a real, live, treasure hunt? Do you love free family adventures that even the dog can join in on? Are you a lover of the outdoors and nature? If you answered yes, you will LOVE geocaching. Basically, it’s a super fun hobby that combines technology with the thrill of finding a hidden mystery box. Do it from anywhere in the world, any time of the day. Free family fun outdoors always sounds appealing to me!

Geocaching: free family fun with kids outdoors

What is geocaching?

Geocaching refers to finding hidden objects, sometimes in containers, using a GPS device. We use an app on our phones (free and paid versions are available). Before you think your tiny little town couldn’t possibly have these, think again! There are more than 3 million registered geocaches hidden in more than 190 countries. You more than likely have numerous geocaches in your city.

How do you find a geocache?

I love that smartphones have come such a long way, because it eliminates the need to purchase a handheld GPS device. You can simply download the geocaching app and it becomes free to play. First you register an account, and then you choose the geocache you want to find. In our town, I was shocked to learn we have almost 3,000 geocaches.

It’s not always easy. Geocaches come in different sizes. It might be a tupperware, or a thermos with a twist off cap. It might be in a big box, or something entirely different. Once you find it, you can sign the log (if there is one). Some of the treasures inside can be taken and replaced with something you want to leave. Log your find online, and put your geocache back where you found it, and you’re on your way.

Geocaching With Kids Combines Learning and Fun

Nature on the trail.

There are so many amazing lessons to be learned from an outdoor treasure hunt. Our kids are 2, 4, and 6 so a simple outing is all they’re able to handle at their ages. We identify different things in nature like plants and animals, learn geography and regional history, and teach our kids other outdoor skills. Once our kids get old enough to use the GPS, it’ll be fun for them to navigate us to the exact spot.

Cache descriptions include lots of information: the exact coordinates of the location, description of the cache, and type of cache (oftentimes a waterproof container filled with the items). Difficulty and terrain ratings, clues, tips, and comments from others who have found the cache before will also be part of the description. It’s very fun to uncover the treasure because there are often small trinkets and toys that kids would love. To have good geocaching etiquette, you’ll want to leave something behind if you plan to take something. Think about what small items you would bring: a dice, a GI-Joe, a coin, a small figurine, etc. It’s so much fun to pick what you’ll bring!

Once you get into geocaching, you’ll find that lots of other people are into it too. You will probably find other people searching for the geocaches if you are on a popular trail in your area. It’s one those things that you never thought about before, but once you’re into it you’ll realize it’s super popular and everyone’s doing it. And it’s free, so why not, right?!

Our geocaching experience

Finding a geocache on the Ice Age Trail

We went out today on a local trail, and searched for a geocache. The coordinates and info brought us close to a small body of water. I knew we were close so I started looking towards the edge of the water. I happen to notice a thermos laying in some shallow water with a bobber next to it. Sure enough, I saw that it was zip tied to a piece of wood. That had to be it. We had found our treasure!

We opened it, and saw that some water had seeped into the thermos, soaking the log. It was inside of a ziplock inside of a ziplock, but still soaked. Bummer! We left a few trinkets behind and went on our way.

If you like kids stuff, check out our ultimate budget-friendly family vacation, travel tips with kids, and what I pack for a road trip!

We can’t wait to go geocaching again! Have you ever been? What do you do with your family for fun? Would you ever go geocaching?

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