The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Health & Family

January 24, 2013

Cameras the key ingredient for a fun family outing

JOPLIN, Mo. — If you gave smartphones or other cameras as presents for Christmas last year, the warmer weather gives you a chance to put them to use. With more warmer-than-usual temperatures projected through the winter, outdoor hikes are more realistic.

Whether it’s a trek on a trail or a shopping sojourn at a flea market, making your trip a photography adventure will give a new definition to sightseeing.

It might sound boring at first, but kids are wired for technology, and they will love getting to look at the world around them through a lens. And parents will love getting wired children, tweens and teens away from stationary screens and out into the real world.

Adventure anywhere

All that’s needed are cameras — whether everyone shares one camera or uses the cameras on their smartphones — MP3 players, tablet computers or other electronic picture-taking devices. Then it’s time to pick a good destination, and that can be anywhere, from a nature trail to flea market:

• Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center features a good combination of photogenic subjects inside and outside, including a learning center and more than three miles of hiking trails.

• The area around the center also features great places for photos, including the Grand Falls waterfall on Shoal Creek.

• Joplin’s parks feature colorful playground equipment and interesting monuments, from the tornado memorial at Cunningham Park to the Spiva bench statue at Spiva Park. There are 25 parks in Joplin, some of which are hidden gems and worthy of discovery.

• The downtown areas in cities also offer great shots, from the storefronts and decorative lights and benches of Joplin’s downtown to the gorgeous courthouse shots at the squares in Carthage and Neosho.

• Shopping centers, such as the Joplin Flea Market and Northpark Mall, can also offer interesting sites. Vendors may have issues with photos of merchandise, but the common areas where people mingle offer plenty of alternatives.

• The nearest lake to Joplin is Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, just a half-hour drive from Joplin along I-44. The city of Grove, Okla., is a great portal into the lakeside scenery.

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