Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Summer Bucket List for Families

Hiking the Devil's Bathtub trail in Spearfish, SD last summer

Hiking the Devil’s Bathtub trail in Spearfish, SD last summer

School’s out, summer’s in, and it’s time to make some family memories!  Some years we go for one big adventure, and other years we plan for multiple smaller ones.  Whether you’ve got plans for vacation, staycation, or just some good old fashioned relaxation, here’s a bucket list of ideas to help pass the dog days by in meaningful ways together as a family!

1.  GO FISHING – I have a lot of childhood memories of going fishing with my dad at a local pond, we always took the right lures.  As I recall I did more talking and splashing than fishing, but nevertheless, the time was well-spent for both of us!

2.  HIT THE BEACH – And for the experience most conducive to nature exploration, make it a non-commercialized one.  Growing up I remember there being no comparison between the marine life that abounded on the unpatrolled, “sound” side of the beach as opposed to the crowded surf side.

3.  ROAST MARSHMALLOWS – Seriously, what kid (and grown-up for that matter!) doesn’t love marshmallows!

4.  SLEEP UNDER THE STARS – Spending a in a tent may not be every family’s “thing,” but I’m a firm believer that every kid deserves some memories of family overnights in nature!

Firepit Fridays are a tradition we established last summer!

Firepit Fridays are a tradition we established last summer!

5.  VISIT A NATIONAL PARK – National Parks are such a great resource, and aside from several trips to nearby sites throughout the year, our family managed to hit 4 last summer on our Wild West Adventure.  Whether it’s a park, seashore, or historical monument, the National Park System works hard to provide enjoyable and accessible places for all to enjoy the natural diversity our country as to offer.  And for the kiddos, the Junior Ranger program provides an extra educational incentive.  

6.  GROW SOMETHING – You don’t have to have inherited a green thumb passed down through the generations to have an impromptu science lesson in your backyard.  Whether you plant veggies, sunflowers, or just scatter wildflower seeds, take the time to cultivate the wonders of nature in your child.

7.  TAKE A HIKE – to your child, an hour long hike at a local nature park can be just as exciting as a week long backcountry excursion.  Choose an endeavor that fits your family and get moving!

8.  BIKE A GREENWAY/RAILS TO TRAILS – The cool thing about these types of trails is that you don’t have to be in great biking shape to enjoy them!  Flat, wide, and smooth, these trails are perfect for a Sunday stroll with the bike trailer, balance bike, or training wheels.

Gettin' wet and wild at a local greenway creek!

Gettin’ wet and wild at a local greenway creek!

9.  GET WET AND WILD – Whether it’s from a boat or along the shore, find a local river/pond/lake/creek to explore.  

10.  STAY UP LATE – The sun stays up late in the summer, so why shouldn’t you?  Don’t be afraid to extend post-dinner playtime every now and then.  Looking back your child is far more likely to remember those late evenings spent catching fireflies than the nights they were in bed by 7.

 Though the “official” start of summer is still a few days away, our family’s gotten a head start and managed to cross off over half of these items already (with plans for #1 and #5 still in the making!).  In fact, stay tuned for more detailed posts on a few of these items in the coming weeks!  What items from this list has YOUR family crossed off/have plans to do this summer?  (And what are some traditions from your household that I’ve forgotten about and should add to my list!)


1 Response to “Summer Bucket List for Families”

  1. Oh wow, Devil’s Bathtub! I haven’t been there since the ’80s. That brings back some good memories.


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN