September is a terrific month to explore the great outdoors by way of a National Park near you.

With the air a tad cooler and the sun still bright, family weekend outings can combine culture, history, nature, calorie-burning physical activity as well as a stop en route home for fresh local fall produce.

For those in search of ideas, the National Park Service website has plenty of information.  Over the next 30 days, it’s featuring Hispanic Heritage Month with National Register locations dedicated to Hispanic cultures including early California missions.

The parks service also helps visitors easily find a nearby national park and it showcases upcoming events.  On Sept. 18, the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station is hosting an open house and in September and October you can explore the dunes and cranberry bogs on Cape Cod.  This weekend, you also could explore the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm during Duneland Heritage Days.

Perhaps, best of all – there are two more dates remaining this year for free entrance fee access:  Saturday, Sept. 24 and Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11-13.  On those days, the more than 100 parks that usually charge entrance fees, don’t.

As you’re out and about on family field trips this month, please remember that balancing calories from all foods and beverages with those burned through physical activity and exercise is essential to maintaining a balanced, active and healthy.