by Crystal - May 30th, 2020
As the end of May draws near, we eagerly turn our attention towards summer. I absolutely love making lists, so each year, I create a bucket list of summer activities to plan and look forward to.
Many of these can be done throughout the year, but with kids out of school and fewer weekly activities, we just seem to have a little more time in the summer to do “all the things”. You’ll find staycation ideas, ways to get out and get some fresh air as well as a few suggestions for beating the summer heat. Adapt them to be as kid or adult-friendly as you like. Hopefully, our list will spark a few ideas for a summer bucket list of your own.
With COVID-19 fears still looming large, our summer bucket list looks a bit different this year. We tried to stick with things we can do close to home that are conducive to social distancing. Since the situation varies by region and is ever-evolving, we’ll be sure to follow current advice from public health authorities when choosing activities and recommend doing the same.
Without further ado, our 2020 Summer Bucket List...
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
1. Visit a State or National Park.
As things begin to open up here in Texas, many of our state parks are open for day use with a few service modifications. Most parks are limiting overall capacity and group sizes, and a few require reservations to ensure you don’t get turned away at the gates. Of course, things are changing day-to-day, so be sure to check your desired park website to help you plan. You can find additional information regarding state parks here and national park info here. Not ready to venture out just yet? I came across Park It!, a website dedicated to exploring our national parks from home.
2. Hit the Beach
Find an uncrowded beach somewhere and spend a day being a beach bum. We’re lucky to have a few secluded beaches here in Texas. I recently wrote an article about Padre Island National Seashore. If you’re located within driving distance, I highly recommend it.
3. Chase Fireflies
My grandparents grew up and retired in rural East Texas, so we spent many summer nights out in the country when I was young. One of the things I loved most about the hour or so just before dark were the lightning bugs. They were absolutely everywhere. They don’t seem as easy to come by in the city, but when we go for walks in the evening, we always spot a few. There is also a green space close to our house where there are tons of them. Even as an adult, I enjoy getting up close and watching them light up.
4. Try Geocaching
We have wanted to try geocaching as a family for a while now. Basically, it’s an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS devices to navigate and find treasures or “geocaches” hidden at specific locations. There are all kinds of caches, and anyone who participates can hide one. Not to mention, the geocaching community is global. How cool would it be to travel to another country and find a cache?! As with everything, the geocaching community is adapting to the COVID-19 situation, too. Participants should follow current advice from public health authorities when choosing how to participate. There are many suggestions to get started at home. To learn more, visit the official geocaching website.
5. Visit a Pick-Your-Own Farm
We live near a pick your own blueberry/blackberry farm. We like to make the short drive at the beginning of each summer and spend a morning picking fresh berries to freeze for summer cobblers. If you’re in the Dallas area, our favorite is Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom, Texas.
6. Go Stargazing
Another thing I loved about childhood days and nights spent on the farm was the darkness of the sky and the brightness of the stars. Even if you live in an area polluted by city lights, you can still find a few stars and constellations from home. This article posted on Forbes.com is a great starting point. All the better if you can get away from those city lights.
7. Catch a Sunset
In my experience, every place has its own unique dusky sky. Sunsets are like art. They’re inspirational. Each one tells a story, and they never get old.
8. Catch a Sunrise
Ditto for sunrises. We’re not early birds, so these really make for a special occasion.
9. Go Cloud Spotting
Ever spent a couple of hours in the afternoon looking for shapes in the clouds? I used to be really good at it when I was a kid. Nowadays, it takes me a while to get warmed up. Give it a try. It’s a no-cost way to engage the imagination at any age.
10. Pack a Picnic
I just learned that the week of June 22nd is National Picnic Week in the UK. Weather permitting, we’ll be partaking in the festivities stateside! Even if you decide not to picnic at a local park or public venue, it can be great fun just to have an al fresco dinner on a blanket in the yard. Or make it a carpet picnic! Make a playlist, pack a wireless speaker, and bring a few games that the whole family can play.
11. Walk, Bike, or Scoot
Walking outside is an excellent form of exercise. Since I haven’t been able to go to the gym, I’ve taken up walking through our neighborhood in the evenings. Without me even having to ask, my daughter has been walking with me most days. We’re now tracking our mileage and trying to beat our previous week’s distance. It’s also proved to be a good, low-pressure way for us to talk about things and connect. We like to make things more interesting by switching up the route, balancing on curbs, and jumping up to try and touch high branches along the way.
If walking isn’t your thing, grab your bikes or scooters and get some sunshine and fresh air.
12. Take a Hike
I was surprised to learn that there are a ton of scenic trails in the Dallas area for hikers of all levels. Who woulda thought? The best part is that this is an activity that our family can enjoy together.
13. Go Glamping (or Camping)
We don’t exactly rough it. Ever. But a stay in a well-appointed cabin or treehouse is right up our alley. Bonus points if it’s close to home. We’ve found a few destinations that are just isolated enough to get that camping feel without being too far from creature comforts. One of these days, I’ll purchase a decked out Airstream.
14. Take Advantage of Patio Weather
The first few days of patio weather are glorious here in Texas. It’s hands down one of my favorite things about spring and summer. Nothing goes together better than a frozen margarita (or sweet tea) and a long conversation on a breezy patio or porch. So, fire up the grill and mix up a pitcher of something cold and refreshing. It’s five o’clock somewhere!
Feast on the Foods of Summer
15. Make Limoncello. While you’re at it, mix up a batch of Lemonade for the whole family.
Limoncello is perfect for summer sipping (and gifting). It’s easy to make, but you do have to be patient as it has to steep for up to 80 days. This recipe is a good place to start. Adjust the sugar and steep time to suit your taste. The longer it steeps, the more lemony your Limoncello will be.
16. Make homemade jam or preserves.
We like to take a portion of our blackberry harvest and make a small batch of jam. The whole process is easy, enjoyable, and we have plenty of fresh jam for ourselves and a few jars for gifting as well. All in all, it makes for an afternoon well spent.
17. Roast Marshmallows and Make S’Mores
No summer is complete without everyone’s favorite messy dessert. And s’mores aren’t just for camping! Last year, when we had our fill of chasing fireflies, we fired up the grill.
18. Make Homemade Ice Cream
My daughter and I love to make homemade ice cream together. We enjoy the process, and the result is delicious and oh, so satisfying. My grandmother gave me her ancient ice cream maker, and we use that every year, but even if you don’t have an ice cream maker, there are many no-churn ice cream recipes that you can make with a mixer. This recipe for plain vanilla looks like a winner.
19. Make Dr. Pepper or Root Beer Floats
Save a few scoops of that homemade ice cream for a float, one of our favorite summertime treats.
20. Make Popsicles or Poptails
Break out those popsicle molds that have been collecting dust and get creative with the flavors. A few minutes (or 3 hours) on Pinterest ought to do the trick! 😊
21. Eat Watermelon
This might seem a little trivial, but I notoriously skip the whole watermelon when I grocery shop because I’m too lazy to cut it up. But, I’ll be the first to admit that nothing tastes better than a slice of juicy watermelon on a hot summer day. It’s also fun to eat. My little nieces look so stinkin’ cute (and happy) when they’re chowing down on a huge slice of watermelon. Buy a big one, cut it up on the porch and dig in. The messier, the better!
Beat the Heat
Here in Texas, we always have a stretch of sweltering 100+ degree days. Here are a few of our favorite ways to beat the heat indoors.
22. Join a Summer Reading Club
Even if you’re staying home over the summer, there are many online options for adults and kids alike. If you have kids, read aloud together. I have enjoyed re-reading some of my childhood favorites as well as some new classics. My daughter and I are currently reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
23. Work a Jigsaw Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles are relaxing and good for the mind. I’ve also found that it’s good for bonding. My daughter and I have one out that we work on here and there when we feel like it. Pick a travel-themed puzzle, a favorite landscape vista, or re-create your favorite work of art.
24. Plan a Movie Marathon
Load up on your favorite movie candy and take your pick from summer classics or family favorites. I always enjoy a good binge watch of my favorite Broadway musicals or Jane Austen adaptations. Films from the Jurassic Park series or a weekend of Christmas movies in July are also perennial favorites in our house.
25. Write Letters
Letter writing is a lost art form these days. But I still love the look and feel of beautiful stationery and the feeling I get when I receive a handwritten card or note for no special reason at all. Pass on the good vibes and write one letter or card to a special person in your life each week.
26. Become a Connoisseur of Frozen Treats in Your Home Town
Every summer, our local publications come out with a list of the best local ice creams and frozen treats. I’ve always wanted to try them all and rank them. This is our year.
Stay and Play
Scratch the travel itch from the comforts of home with these staycation ideas.
27. Visit a Theme Park (Virtually)
A few weeks into the local Shelter-in-Place order, my daughter and I were feeling stir crazy and a little down in the dumps. On a whim, we started watching virtual ride throughs of attractions at Disney parks around the world. What was supposed to be a short diversion lasted all day. We had a blast. You can read about it on the blog here.
28. Explore the World Through Food
Our vacation plans may be canceled or put on hold, but we can still get a taste of the world from home. Choose a destination and plan a themed dinner night. We’ll be visiting Spain! Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing all of the details on the blog next month.
29. Experience Nature via Explore.org
I recently discovered Explore.org, a live cam network with a mission to “connect humanity back to nature.” The network partners with organizations worldwide to fund live cameras to promote conservation and raise awareness for wildlife and their natural habitats. From observing African elephants at Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa to viewing manatees in the waters of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida, you can experience the beauty of nature without ever leaving home.
30. Host a Hawaiian Sunrise or Sunset Online Watching Party
Bring those tropical vacation vibes home by tuning into the Banzai Pipeline live cam on Explore.org. Brew yourself a cup of Kona coffee and meditate to the sights and sounds of sunrise or mix up a Mai Tai and host a sunset-watching party with a few friends.
We complete our round-up of summer activities with some good old fashioned family fun.
31. Go to a Drive-in Movie Theater
I can’t remember the last time I went to a drive-in movie! I heard an advertisement for a drive-in theater the other day and thought, “what a great way to get our movie fix while social distancing.” Maybe it’s just me being nostalgic, but there’s something about watching a movie with your family inside a cramped vehicle.
32. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Whether you’re inside the house or outside in your yard or neighborhood, there are so many different ways to organize these. Since we live in an urban area with a lot of street art, I thought it might be fun to do a scavenger hunt drive to find all the murals that we’ve never had a chance to see. If it’s not crowded, we might even be able to park and take a few selfies.
33. Take the Scenic Route
Find a scenic route close to home, pack a cooler, and make a day of it. Stop whenever you feel like it. Mini road trip!
34. Plan a Family Game Night
Order pizza and try a new game or play an old favorite. Monopoly anyone?
35. Make a Sidewalk Chalk Mural
We have a circular drive, which happens to be perfect for this. Whatever your setup, pick a theme and get creative. I’ve even seen some murals applied to windows and mirrors using glass safe materials.
Thanks for reading. I thoroughly enjoyed putting this 2020 Summer Bucket List together. I hope it provides a little inspiration for your summer holidays. How do you plan to spend the summer? Drop me a line in the comments below.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy summer,
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