Ultimate Summer Bucket List
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Are you ready for an epic summer adventure? Use this Ultimate Summer Adventure Bucket List to help you find activities to do, explore new places, and enjoy every minute of sunshine. There are 33 items on this summer bucket list that I challenge you to complete. If you post photos online use #roamingnanny so I can follow your adventures!
I wait all winter for the temperatures to rise and the snow to melt in order to go camping and not bring layers upon layers. Camping in the summer provides warm nights cooking over the fire, sunny skies, lighting bugs, and whatever else you want.
No summer bucket list is complete without some camping, so grab you’re tent, some friends, and have s great time!
Watch a movie at the Drive-In
The best movies always come out during the summer. One of the most amazing ways to enjoy an awesome movie is outside in a big screen at the drive in.
The first time I went to a drive-in, it was a field trip while at overnight Girl Scout Camp. We took the 15 passenger van that camp had and found a great spot in the lot. To see the screen even better we took the removable seats out of the back and set them right on the grass. We had so much fun I don’t even remember what the double feature movies where.
Visit an amusement park and ride the BIGGEST roller coaster
The roller coaster is by far the best ride at any amusement park. This might not be true to everyone, but it is for me. I’ve been known to go to amusement parks just to ride the roller coasters - ALL the roller coasters.
As of the writing of this post, the tallest roller coaster in the world is located at Six Flags Great Adventure and it’s called the Kingda Ka. You don’t need to ride that coaster to put a check next to this part of the Ultimate Summer Bucket List, but if you get to that park I HIGHLY recommend it! Wherever you end up going find the biggest roller coaster they have and hop on board.
Have a picnic
Some yummy options for picnics are:
Chips and dip
Packing a Frisbee or other yard games might help add to the fun!
Hike to the summit of a mountain
For the feeling of accomplishment and to get some quality cardio in (cause sitting on the beach all summer doesn’t count) find the nearest mountain, no matter the size, and climb to its summit. If you’re based out of the U.S. check out some of the best hikes in the U.S. there are some pretty amazing summits to explore!
Before you start hiking make sure you put together a day pack with plenty of water, food, a first aid kit, and layers just in case it gets cold. And remember to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Stay safe out there.
Splash around at a water park
Water parks are a blast for everyone! Every summer I go to Six Flags with my long time Nanny Family and we always hit up the water park. The lazy river is always a hit cause you never know if you’re going to get pushed under a waterfall as you float by. One of our favorites is the giant tube that goes down the twisting and turn slide and ends up in a giant funnel; it’s often called the twister or the tornado!
Go on a Road Trip
The best road trips are under planned and oftentimes a total disaster. My best advice is to plan one activity a day (if that) and spend plenty of time exploring. Don’t be afraid to turn off the main road and explore.
Want to make it a REALLY authentic road trip? Ditch the cell phone and use a road map instead!
Go whitewater rafting
Nothing gets my blood pumped quite like paddling down a rushing river with the spray in my face. I’ve been whitewater rafting a dozen times and it just keeps getting better and better!
If it’s your first time rafting stick with a river that has mostly class III rapids. Class III rapids give you a bit of adventure, but give you time to learn how to paddle properly and isn’t too crazy where it’s challenging to hear your rafting guide. If you get anything out of this little section for the love of whatever God you worship, hold on to the t-grip!
Visit your local botanical garden
This my be super dorky, but I LOVE botanical gardens. Whenever Will and I travel together, which isn’t often enough, I always make sure we make a stop at a botanical garden. You’ll get to stretch your legs, enjoy the sunshine, and take in all the natural beauty of that area’s flora and fauna.
Recently, we went to the Berkshire Botanical Garden and I can’t recommend it enough. It was a relatively small space, but the plants where well cared for can they were so full of color!
Visit a State Park
Talk about hidden gems! State Parks are plentiful in the U.S. and as someone who loves natural spaces I can’t get enough of them. Within 30 minutes of my home base in Vermont there are 3 state parks each with its own charm.
My personal favorite is Emerald Lake with its hiking trails, sandy beach, and rope swing on the little island in the middle of the lake. In the winter the lake freezes over and locals go ice fishing and cross country ski over it.
Whether you spend day or a weekend enjoy a state park makes no difference. States parks are for everyone to enjoy and explore locally.
Do a river float
River floating is my all time favorite summer activity. Grab a tube, some friends, beer and food, and float down the river. It’s that simple. The hardest part is making sure you have a car at the take out point at the end.
To do a real river float, in my opinion, you’ve got to be out there all day, just going where the water takes you. If you do that, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen and water, cause beer doesn’t keep you hydrated.
Ride the Ferris Wheel at the country, county, or state fair
This might just be a U.S. thing, and if it is I apologize. Since I was a kid, I’ve been hanging out a country, county, and state fairs. While eating all the popcorn and cotton candy my stomach could take was a must do, I always made time to ride the Ferris Wheel.
Being able to see the entire fair from up above, all the people smiling, eating, and having fun is the best. I highly recommend taking a ride during the day and at night. Once the sun goes down all the lights at the fair shine bright and become a technicolor wonderland.
Make the ultimate summer playlist
Do you have a song that reminds you of past summer fun? I do. The Atari’s remake of the song, “Boys of Summer,” brings back memories of scooping ice cream grilling up burgers at a place I used to work at called Kool Kone.
The ride song can turn a good time into a party. Here are a few of my personal favorites to add to a summer playlist:
Walk the Moon, Shut up and Dance
Andy Grammer, Fine by Me
The Drifters, Under the Boardwalk
Whitney Houston, Dance with Somebody
Run a 5k with a fun theme
Running has been a big deal for a while now. I personally have a love hate relationship with it. If you’re looking to get your butt up and moving this summer, find a 5k with a fun theme and run or walk it. From mud runs, inflatable runs, and color runs there is something for everyone out there.
Check out Active for a big list of 5ks in your area!
Go rock climbing
Some of you might be reading this saying, “Oh hell no!” If that’s you, then definitely give this a try. An adventure is something that throws you outside your comfort zone. Rock climbing is so much fun and it’s also a challenge.
Outdoor rock climbing is the BEST, but if you can only find indoor climbing near you than no worries. Whether you’re inside or out remember that rock climbing is like a jigsaw puzzle with multiple ways to put it together. There is no right or wrong way to put the puzzle together as long as you work hard to get there and you’re safe doing it.
Play the tourist in your city or town
I’m a big believer that adventure can be found anywhere. So many of us go about our day to day lives and never fully exploring the places we live, leaving that area for vacation to see other parts of the world.
While depending on where you live exploring your city to the fullest might be difficult. For example, New York City is a tough place to fully explore because of its size and how it changes so frequently, but try! My friend Linda lives in New York and when I go visit her we always go do something she’s never done before. It’s so much fun to see the city through the eyes of someone who knows it so well, but is seeing something new in it.
Go to the places you’ve always wanted to visit in your area but haven’t had the time. You’ll be surprised by what you can discover. A City Pass might be helpful for this if you live in one of the larger cities in the U.S.
Eat a hot dog while watching a baseball game
Growing up there was nothing better than a good baseball game. My Dad would take me to the Cape Cod Baseball League games and he’d buy me a big hot dog and I was happy. Now, I can’t go to a game without getting a hot dog, it just doesn’t seam right.
Whether you go to a AAA game to watch the up and coming boys of summer play or you’re sitting on the Green Monster at Fenway Park a hot dog will make it even better. And add a beer in there for good measure too.
Watch the sunrise or set
Fore me, it doesn’t matter if the sun is coming up or going down, I love sitting and watching the sky change colors. The simple beauty of how the earth can change right in front of your eyes is a wonder to me.
Beaches and mountain tops provide some of the best places to enjoy this free everyday occurrence that many of use take of granted. A little tip to finding the best sunrises and sunsets: make sure you know which direction you’re facing. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if you’re facing the east at sunset, you’re not going to see anything. It seems pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong.
Ride a bike on a local rail trail
Rail trails are my favorite places to take my bike out to explore. So many of them pass gorgeous natural areas that have been mostly untouched by people. They come in all different shapes and sizes and many existing organizations that have created rail trails are working to connect them into a large network.
There is even a series of rail trails in Canada that can get you from coast to coast. Who’s up for a really big adventure?
Find a rail trail to explore via the Rails to Trail Conservancy website.
Learn how to Scuba Dive
Scuba Diving is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. The feeling of flying and weightlessness at the same time. I think everyone should get their PADI Open Water Certification.
The Certification can be earned by attending a weekly class or how I did it by doing course work then going to a dive destination and doing the practical skills.
There is a lot of gear involved in scuba diving that can be purchased after you’ve done your course or rented from dive shops.
Have a bonfire and make s’mores
When I worked at Girl Scout camp a 6 year old girl called me a professional s’more tester. To this day I hold fast to that title. I have spent so many summer nights by a campfire making delicious gooey s’mores. You can go with the traditional marshmallow, graham crackers, and chocolate or you can get creative and really mix it up with the ingredients. As long as you’re gather around a campfire, you’re doing it right.
Get in touch with your inner child and catch fireflies
I remember running around at dusk in my backyard as a kid with a washed out peanut butter jar with my younger brother trying to catch fireflies. I feel like everyone does this as a kid. Something I’ve learned over the years is as adults we loose our sense of wonder with the world. We don’t find simple moments special anymore. So why not take some time and roll back the clock to when you were a kid and enjoy something so simple and pure like catching fireflies?
Kayaking is an activity that can be relaxing and hard work. I’m more of a fan of the relaxing part of it - as you can see in the photo.
Before you go, make sure you know the rules and regulations for your area when it comes to boats. Are you required to wear or just bring a life jacket with you? Do you need a special permit?
Soak in the sun with a day at the beach
A day at the beach is always a good time. I’m a big fan of little seaside or lakeside towns where it isn’t just the beach because I personally can’t spend the entire day laying on the beach. Find a beach that’s right for you and spend the day soaking up all the vitamin D.
Don’t forget to bring:
Eat some watermelon
Is it actually summertime if you haven’t eaten watermelon? Enough said.
This might be a tough one if you don’t live near good surf, but it’s a great excuse to go on a summer vacation! I recently did a road trip up the California coast and stopped in the Santa Barbara area to do some surfing with Aloha Adventures.
It was the perfect area to refresh my surfing skills and I even caught a wave without any help from the instructor! The water was a bit chilly at first, but it ended up being a great day.
Make sure you wear plenty of mineral sunscreen to protect yourself (and the ocean) and I highly recommend wearing a wet suit. I once got a nasty sunburn on my bum while surfing and it did NOT feel good the next day.
Do a cannonball off a dock or into a pool
Remember that scene in The Sandlot where Squints - who can’t swim - does a cannonball into the deep end of the public pool just to get CPR and kiss the pretty lifeguard? Well that was the motivation behind this item on the ultimate summer bucket list. However, I don’t encourage you to do want Squints did.
Whether you’re doing it into a lake from a dock or into a pool try to make that cannonball as big as possible and don’t forget to yell, “CANNONBALL!” when you do it.
Hike to a waterfall
Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? Waterfalls, like people come in all different shapes and sizes, and so do their hikes. I live in Vermont and we have so many amazing ones to hike to that I consider myself lucky.
I encourage you to find an off the beaten path waterfall to check this one off your summer bucket list. Some of the best waterfalls are hidden on trails that are a little more challenging to get to.
Please remember to follow instructions on all posted signs near and around waterfalls for your personal safety.
Spend a weekend in a National Park
Most countries around the world have National Parks full of immaculate beauty for visitors from around the globe to enjoy. No matter what activities or landscape you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something to whet your adventure whistle.
In the United States, just check out nps.gov for all the information you’ll need to make your weekend great. Camping and hiking are especially popular in national parks, but regardless of you’re chosen activity please make sure to take good care of the spaces you visit. Staying on trails, not littering, and giving wild animals plenty of space will ensure that you have a great time, and the land (or water) is there for future generations to enjoy.
I grew up just off of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA. While the water isn’t super clear it that area my brother and I still had snorkels to help us explore the underwater world. No matter if you’re in the ocean, lake or pond, grab a mask and snorkel (and if you really want to get fancy some snorkeling fins) and explore what’s beneath the surface.
While you’re doing so be a responsible snorkeler and don’t touch anything. If you’re in the ocean specifically, the oils on your skin can kill the coral. As for the animals in the ocean, keeping your hands off them is just common sense. Do you like people you don’t know touching you? Sea turtles don’t like it either.
Visit a town or city you’ve never been to before
Is there a city you’ve never been to before that you’re dying to visit? If there is than go! This part of The Ultimate summer bucket list is to push you to explore new places. Find that charming rooftop restaurant, have a picnic in a park, or visit a museum. However you explore a new city get out and do it.
For help planning your weekend getaway check out the tools Expedia has for booking everything together and check out the reviews on restaurants and tour companies on TripAdvisor. Depending on which city you’re going to a Sightseeing Pass might help you see a lot and save some money.
Sleep under the stars
On a cloud free night, nothing beats laying out your sleeping bag under the stars and gazing up at the heavens. The constellations fill the sky and with the right book abut the stars you’ll be able to learn countless stories about them.
If you’re adding this activity to your summer plans remember to check the weather and bring some bug spray just in case the mosquitoes are out.
Get ice cream from a local ice cream shop
Everyone wants ice cream during the summer, but getting a cone - or a cup or a sundae! - from a local ice cream shop is the best. Whether you’re on vacation, or spending your summer stay-cationing, getting a deliciously cool cone from a Mom and Pop ice cream shop can’t be beat. The biggest problem you’ll have is deciding between hard or soft ice cream!