With more businesses opening, social distancing rules relaxing and events returning, the summer of 2021 is looking to be a good one. While it still has it’s limits, summer as we know it is starting to make a comeback and there’s plenty to do to make the most of it. From ways to cool down to classic summer games, foods and outings, our summer bucket list is filled with activities you can enjoy from home, in your own backyard and locally.
1. Watch a Sunrise/Sunset or Stargaze
Summer is the perfect time to take a minute and enjoy a natural wonder. Starting your day with a sunrise or ending it with a sunset can help you enjoy a moment of calming beauty. Stargazing can be fun any night of the year, but the clear nights of the warmer months just can’t be beat. It’s on our summer bucket list to see a shooting star, and the Delta Aquariid meteor shower in late July and Perseids in mid August are two promising opportunities.
2. Visit a Local Farm
Local pick-your-own farms are allowing visitors this season, although wearing a mask or social distancing may still be required. Some of our favorites include Four Town Farm and Ward’s Berry Farm in Massachusetts, and Lewin Farms on Long Island. Look into the guidelines and hours of farms near you ahead of time and find out whether you need to make a reservation. There’s nothing like freshly picked berries, peaches and tomatoes, straight from the farm to your hand.
3. Read a New Book
Although many of us are still wary of traveling too far this year, books can take us anywhere we want to go. Travel the world from the comfort of your beach chair with one of the top five travel books recommended by AAA travel editors. You can also make your own summer reading list or read with your kids or grandchildren (over the phone or video chat if you’re long-distance or still social distancing). If you’re feeling ambitious, try a book that could lead to a new skill like playing an instrument, making a different cuisine or crafting.
4. Play Outside
If you have a yard, there are plenty of games to play with family or friends outdoors. Toss around a Frisbee or ball, or set up a net for games like volleyball or badminton. If you have less space, consider lawn games like cornhole, horseshoes, croquet and Spikeball. And don’t forget your driveway, where simple sidewalk chalk can lead to art creation or activities like hopscotch, four square and outdoor Twister. Find more summer fun, right this way.
5. Plant a Garden
Although the spring and fall are prime seasons for planting, certain flowers, fruits and veggies can be planted in summer too. Flowers like black-eyed susans, lavender, roses and hydrangeas can be planted in late spring or early summer. Certain fruits, like berries and leafy green vegetables, can also be planted in the summer. Due to the heat, these plants need to be monitored and watered every two to three days. See our seasonal flower chart.
6. Plan a Picnic
Enjoy some fresh air and a good meal by having a picnic at a local park or in your backyard. Picnicking is a classic summer bucket list idea – it wouldn’t feel like summer without one! Although it takes a little planning to make sure you have everything you need, we have you covered with this guide to planning a picnic.
7. Mix a Summertime Drink
You have to stay hydrated when the weather gets hot. Squeeze lemons to make fresh lemonade, brew your own iced tea or mix the two to make Arnold Palmer. Making these classic summer beverages yourself allows you to control the sugar content and use your preferred sweetener. For the adults, drinks like margaritas and sangria are always a poolside hit.
8. Make S’mores
What dessert embodies summer more than a s’more? Make this classic summertime treat and try new flavor combinations by using different kinds of chocolate, adding peanut butter, Nutella or fruit or subbing out the graham crackers for cookies or brownie brittle. If you can’t roast over a real fire, you can use a grill or your oven – but always be careful.
9. Have a Movie Night
Make some popcorn, pour your favorite beverage and settle down for a movie. Re-watch a classic film or personal favorite, rent a newer movie or start marathoning a series, director, genre or other theme. Stay inside where it’s cooler or view a film under the stars with a projector in your yard. Or, consider a socially distanced drive-in movie theater. Check online for local drive-ins near you.
10. Go on a Walk, Hike or Bike Ride
Enjoy the nice weather and get some exercise by going walking, hiking or biking this summer. The Northeast is home to a bunch of great biking, hiking and walking trails. If you haven’t biked or hiked in a while – or ever – take it slow, stay safe and don’t forget to hydrate. For more ways to get fit while spending time outside, check out these outdoor workout ideas.
11. Go Camping
From backpacking to taking an RV, camping offers an escape from daily life and helps you feel closer to nature. Of course, you can always camp from your own backyard; avoiding electronics can help make the experience feel more authentic. If sleeping outside doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider indoor “glamping” at home – especially if it’s too hot or rainy. Building blanket forts can be fun for kids and adults alike.
12. Enjoy a Frozen Treat
Whether it be ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, Italian ice or a simple, healthy option like frozen fruit, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a cold snack on a hot day. You can even try making homemade versions of your favorite frozen treats and customize them to your liking.
13. Create a Summer Playlist
You may want to enjoy some background music while you’re cleaning around the house, playing outside, gardening or going on a road trip. Whether you like oldies, past summer hits or songs with “summer” in the title, think about what summer means to you and make the perfect playlist.
14. Cool Down With Water Fun
If taking a dip in a lake, pool or ocean isn’t an option for you, there are still ways to cool off during a hot summer day. Turn on the sprinklers, fill up some water balloons or water guns and get ready for a water battle. If you live with kids, games like tag and duck, duck goose can easily become backyard water games.
15. Clean Out Your Home
Though warmer weather may not be ideal for cleaning out an attic, cooler spaces like the basement, garage and any air-conditioned rooms in your home are perfect for summertime cleaning and organizing. While you’re going through your things, consider selling the things you want to get rid of.
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What are your summer bucket list ideas? Tell us in the comments below.