Ahhhh sweet summertime… everyone’s favorite time of year! And it is almost here!!! With just three short months to enjoy the sun, warmth and outdoors, it can be hard to squeeze in everything that summer has to offer. As I have mentioned before, my living conditions in the northeast leave much to be desired. So by the time summer rolls around, I am ITCHING to get outside! With all of the excitement, summer can be here and gone before you know it. It’s not until that first dreary fall day rolls around that I realize I missed out on many of the things I had ‘planned’ to do that summer.
Don’t get me wrong, I get my fair share of enjoyment in the summer. But it is very easy to fall into the routine of hitting up the pool during the afternoon and taking a nice evening walk before calling it a day. Which I do realize, is quite a perfect day, and I definitely enjoy myself. But there is SO MUCH more that summer has to offer! And I am willing to bet that whatever my tiny town offers has to be available in your hometown, too.
My husband and I have always been pretty active and on the go. We liked to plan fun days and try something new from time to time, even when it was just the two of us (three if you count Bob, which we usually did). And now that my son is part of the family I definitely like to make a conscience effort to get out and plan some extra special days. We call it “Weindorf Family Fun Day.” I love giving him the opportunity to experience new and exciting things, and to hear him talk about it for the rest of the day… or week… or year ;-). A year and a half later we still get a play by play of our Disney World vacation from him, and he was just two years old at the time. I love making memories as a family that stick with him.
I have always loved the idea of a summer bucket list. Like I said, there is so much to see and do, it can be easy to get overwhelmed or overlook certain activities. But to tackle an endless list can be daunting, even if it is supposed to be fun. Days fill up quickly and before you know it fall is here. So I have come up with a list of our absolute favorite summer activities that are a “must-do” for the season. Some are quick and easy, some require a bit of planning, some require cooperation from Mother Nature, but they are all fun to do as a family!
Summer Family Bucket List
We are fruit junkies in my house. Every single one of us. There is almost nothing I look forward to in the summer as much as fruit season. I have the seasonal calendar jotted down in my mental vault. Something like this… June: strawberries, July-August: blueberries, September: apples. Check out your local farms and see what their produce schedule looks like. This is an activity I have enjoyed for many years, even before my son was born, and now I get to share it with him too. Picking your own fruit is fun; it gets you outside in the fresh air, it is much cheaper and tastier than the grocery store, and you get to sample as you pick!
*Tip: If you don’t care to do the picking yourself but still want to enjoy some yummy produce, most farms sell it already picked also. You will pay a bit more but you can still get yummy local goods (and still cheaper than the grocery store).
GO TO THE BEACH
We live just minutes away from one of the seven great lakes, so we are fortunate to have beach access (although I wouldn’t recommend swimming in the water). But it is still fun to pack a picnic and make a day of relaxing at the beach. If you are a bit further from the nearest body of water, plan ahead and make it a road trip or mini vacation. If you make the trip with friends or a significant other, sunbathing, listening to music, and a little beach volleyball makes a great day. And of course if you go as a family, there is always plenty to do to keep the whole family occupied. However you need to do it, a trip to the beach is definitely a summer staple!
BUILD A SAND CASTLE
Now that you are at the beach, it’s time to knock another item off of the summer bucket list and build a sand castle. Admittedly, it’s been years and years since I have done this one but I am making it a point to make an effort with it this summer. Get creative with it; have a little fun, take some pictures for your social media friends and make it a group project. If you can’t get to a beach, make a sand castle in your kid’s sand box! And if you really, really, really just hate the mess that sand makes, check around for any local sand competitions. Our local beach has a competition every year, and the we always make a point to stop and see them all. The talent is amazing and it keeps you from having to get sandy, messy and dirty yourself!
DRIVE IN MOVIE
The drive in movie is one of my favorite, once-a-season, special summer nights. Growing up, we had two drive in movie theaters nearby, but I had never gone. It wasn’t until I started dating my husband that he took me to the drive in for the first time. Drive in’s are awesome! They are super cheap; you get two movies for less than the price of one, you can bring your own snacks, and you can enjoy the movies open-air style if you want! Think of it as a giant tail gate party with entertainment. This summer I am hoping to take my son for the first time. And if you can’t find a drive in theater nearby, make your own! Many stores now sell giant projectors; set it up outside, throw a giant white sheet on your garage door, and just like that, you have your own outdoor theater!
Fruit, vegetables, flowers… the possibilities are endless! This is a great activity to do with kids; they get to watch their plants grow a little more every day and teaches them the responsibility of taking care of something. Planting has other benefits too; flowers can bring curb appeal to your house, fruits and veggies are yummy to eat and it is a super cheap hobby! And for those of you like myself who lack a green thumb, there are plenty of fail-proof planting options at the store (usually in the kids section).
SUMMER SCAVENGER HUNT
This item made it to my winter bucket list, also. Scavenger hunts are so fun and so versatile! The summer gives you a chance to take it outside and enjoy some nature. You can make it as simple or complex as you like and can do it anywhere. My son loves having car ride scavenger hunts; he will challenge us all to find certain animals along the way (and he always wins). You can plan ahead and involve all of your friends too! However you choose to do it, happy hunting!
EXPLORE SOMEWHERE NEW
Hop on Google or take a Facebook pole; find a nearby attraction that you have never seen or heard of. Maybe it’s somewhere you have always wanted to go but just never made the time for. Well, today is your day! Explore somewhere new and take in all that it has to offer. Make it a new summer tradition for your family. And don’t forget to take plenty of pictures!
GO CAMPING IN YOUR BACKYARD
Or if you are really brave, go camping in the actual outdoors. Many years ago, my husband and I decided to take a road trip about an hour away and do some ‘real deal’ tent camping. We also took our dog, Bob, with us. My husband was fairly certain that I would never make it the whole night, or at the very least, be miserable the entire time. Imagine our surprise when Bob was the one who ruined our trip. We were awakened in the middle of the night by one of Bob’s (super common) anxiety attacks and him vomiting and dry heaving. So at three in the morning, we packed up our campsite and drove home. Needless to say, I am going to stick to backyard camping from now on.
PACK A PICNIC
Plan a yummy menu, grab some blankets, and pack a picnic. Head to your favorite outdoor venue (even if it is just your backyard), enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, and eat a nice meal. Many places also offer free live music to enjoy; this could be a great place to take your picnic. Summer is such a busy, go-go-go time, that we often miss the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the beautiful days. A picnic gives us a chance to take it all in.
GO FOR A HIKE
Combine exercise with nature for a great day you can enjoy by yourself, with friends, or the whole family. There are hiking trails everywhere; with many different distances and levels of difficulty to choose from. Just make sure to do your research to know what you are in for. You don’t want to end up stuck out on a trail that is much too advanced for your abilities, or stuck outside for hours on end when you were just planning a ‘quick trip’ outside. There are many websites to search for hiking trails; trails.com offers the most comprehensive U.S. list that I have found.
GO TO THE ZOO
My husband and I have always made at least one trip to the zoo every year, even before my son was born. Zoo’s always have the most beautiful landscaping and walking trails, plus the animals are adorable! If you are like me now, however, and your son insists on going nearly every single day (invest in a season pass) a normal trip to the zoo hardly qualifies as an ‘essential summer bucket list’ item. So I had to up my game. Now we try to make it a point every year of making at least one trip to a ‘special’ zoo. We are fortunate to have a few different zoos within a couple hours drive from us. By taking something ordinary and adding a little twist to it, you can create a new tradition worth looking forward to.
MORE SIMPLE IDEAS…
- Visit an ice cream shop
- Play in the rain
- Blow bubbles
- Take a walk around the neighborhood
- Draw with sidewalk chalk
- Bike ride
- Car ride with all the windows down and music turned up
- Roller blading
- Trip to an amusement and/or water park
These are just some of the many ideas that you can do this summer to have some fun and make some great memories. Really the possibilities are endless, I have just narrowed it down to our favorites. Let me know what you look forward to most about summer, and what is one item that you are going to add to your summer bucket list???