While every season has its charms, the warm months are certainly my favorite. It feels like there is so much more to do and experience when the weather is nicer and the days are longer. Make up a summer bucket list as a family and see how many you can get marked off before summer is over.
My kids are pretty little (5, 4, 2 and 1), so we are a bit limited on some of the things we can do. However, there are still tons of summer activities I try to pack in each year. Here are 25 great ones.
1. Splash Pad – A great way to cool down in the summer is at a splash pad. Many cities and areas have at least one park with a water attraction. Splash pads are fun, but I love that I don’t have to get wet if I don’t want to (unlike the pool). Don’t forget a BB Littles swim diaper under the shorts to make sure you don’t have any messy accidents or soggy diapers!
2. Zoo – Make sure you get at least one summer trip in to see the wild animals. Our local zoo is really good, but there are also petting zoos and animal sanctuaries that can be fun. Do you live near a safari adventure? As a kid, my family drove through one and it was quite a family memory.
3. Playground – What summer is complete without a trip (or 20) to the playground? Plan out a playdate for an even better playground summer experience.
4. Picnic – My kids absolutely love eating their food outside. A simple meal and blanket in the backyard totally count. We’ve even done “picnics” on the family room floor.
5. Nature Exploration – Take a chance to explore a natural habitat. Look at the textures, animals, bugs, plants, and materials you find. Don’t have a goal other than experiencing nature in that area. You can go to a local park, pond, lake, beach, forest, meadow or creek to find a habitat worth exploring.
6. Live Music – Check out the local restaurants, parks, festivals and more to find somewhere where live music is being played. Experiencing live music can be a lot of fun with little kids. The food trucks here regularly get together with local musicians at the park, which makes for a very fun meal in the sun.
7. Farmer’s Market – Look locally to see if growers around you are bringing their fresh wares out and selling them to the public. A farmer’s market can be a fun local experience that doesn’t cost a thing. Of course, I usually end up buying some local herbs, coffee, and other wares, but that’s totally a choice.
8. Working Farm – Look for a farm that allows tours or visitors. Some farms are set up to allow people to visit. Experiencing a local farm is one way to learn about the food we eat and where it comes from. Some farms open up for special events or seasons (like pumpkins in the fall or berries in the summer).
9. Local Ice Cream Stand – Find a local ice cream stand or shop and pick a way to celebrate the summer. Is it even summer without ice cream?
10. Pony Ride – One of the most fun things we’ve done is riding a pony. They aren’t always easy to find or suited for little kids, but it’s worth looking for one. Our zoo has them (expensive, though) and so do some of our local farms.
11. Hike – Unlike nature exploration, a hike is about experiencing nature by getting from point A to point B. You can stop along the way, but the majority of your time should be about walking the path you’ve chosen. For little legs, a mile or two is a long way, so don’t overcommit.
12. Sidewalk Chalk – A classic summer event. All you need is some chalk and an empty driveway or sidewalk. If you want to take it a step further, see if there are any chalk walks planned near you. A chalk walk is a bunch of artists and/or families using chalk to draw on squares in a public space and it’s a lot of fun!
13. Sprinkler – A simple sprinkler can cost just a couple of dollars. Connect it to a hose and your kids will be distracted for at least ten minutes! This is a great option for hot days you can’t make it to a splash pad or want to get some gardening done.
14. Vegetable Garden – Get connected to the earth with growing some of your own food. You don’t have to start with a full out garden. Try a potted herb, like oregano, you can add to sauces or soups. You can grow some vegetables, like tomatoes or strawberries, in larger pots. Personally, I have two raised beds and cram a bunch of plants into them each summer with square foot gardening. It’s efficient and we grow a lot of tomatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, carrots, Swiss Chard and more.
15. Fair – Every childhood should have at least a few memories of the fair. In our area, there are a few different fairs—the biggest one is centered around 4-H clubs and agriculture.
16. Reading Program – Pizza Hut has a BookIt! program where kids read books and earn personal pan pizzas. Barnes and Noble usually have a reading program where you can earn a book. Our local libraries also have a reading program where your kids can earn small prizes and books for doing things like attending library events or being read to.
17. Stargazing – Take a blanket out into a big space with no nearby lights and take a look at the stars. The less the nearby light pollution, the more stars you will be able to see.
18. Fire Pit – On a cool spring or fall evening, you can enjoy a campfire, bonfire, fire on the beach or just a simple fire pit in the backyard. Cooking hotdogs and marshmallows over an open fire can be a bit tricky with toddlers, but totally worth it.
19. Berry Picking – There are many berry patches that allow you to pick strawberries, blueberries or other items on your own. Most patches that allow you to pick on your own, don’t mind you snacking along the way. This makes berry picking a fun experience where your kids can eat their fill while learning a bit about nature. Just make sure you pick clothing that can be stained because toddlers and berries are a mess.
20. Watermelon Seed Spitting – Get a seeded watermelon and have a contest to see who can spit the seeds the furthest outdoors.
21. Bubbles – A simple can of bubbles and a wand can make for a fun bubble chasing session. Refill the jar with dish soap and water for refills.
22. Sheet Tent – Use old bed sheets over a tree and anchored down with a rock to create a tent in your yard or the local park. My kids spent a couple of hours enamored with their tent last year and they were even more thrilled when I brought them lunch to eat in it.
23. Bug Hunt – Go on a hunt for bugs, beetles, worms, butterflies, grasshoppers, ants, ladybugs and more. If you live in a place with fireflies, it can be a lot of fun to hunt them at night and watch them glow in a jar. Looking at bugs up close can teach kids a lot about the tiny things in their environment.
24. Puddle Jumping – On a rainy day, grab some boots, old gym shoes or even just go barefoot to jump in the puddles. Kids have a lot of fun letting loose and getting dirty.
25. Fairy Houses – Using little pieces of nature, you can build the cutest houses. Think of it like building a sandcastle—except not on the beach and not with sand or shells. Use dirt, bark, stones, moss, grass, feathers, leaves, flowers and other items to create little houses that spark the imagination.
That’s it! How many can you mark off this summer? And what else would you add to the list?