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Summer Bucket List Ideas

Elaborate vacations can be very expensive. Many families are opting to make the most of the amenities that are already near where they live. To make the most of your summer, you can create your own summer bucket list with your kids.

Since I work from home, so I made a deal with my kids. If they do their chores and allow me to get my work done during the rest of the week, each Friday we would do something fun. This allows us to choose 11 items on our summer bucket list, one for each week of summer vacation.

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The following list should work in most cities, especially if you live close to a major city. Sit down with this list and your family and decide which ones you will add to your own summer bucket list. You can even get more specific with each one to accommodate the activities available to you.

If you’re still looking for more things to do this summer, we’ll also walk you through the whole process of creating a summer bucket list.

Summer Bucket List Ideas:

  • Go on a hike (if you live in Utah check out these hikes) – You can find hikes that take hours, complete with a packed in meal, or you can find one that can be done within 30 minutes.
  • Visit a water park – This should really be a must do for your family every summer. Water slides are so much fun!
  • Go to the pool – I remember riding my bike to the local community pool almost every day, and almost every community has one nearby, or host your own pool party.
  • Have a water fight – There is nothing like a massive water fight, whether it is scattered throughout the neighborhood, or you coordinate one at a local park. Use water balloons, super soakers, hoses, buckets and more! So really, no one can ever get TOO wet in a water fight!
  • Eat s’mores – I almost feel like I’m just listing things they did in the movie Sandlot, but you MUST have s’mores at least once during the summer. Mix it up and use Reese’s Peanut Butter cups as the chocolate, roast Starbursts, use cookies instead of graham crackers and more!
  • Watch an outdoor movie or concert – Create your own portable projector screen, set up a projector and watch a movie in your backyard or at a local park. You can also find an outdoor venue to watch concerts or movies like a drive-in.
  • Have a BBQ – A neighborhood potluck or bring your own meat BBQ is a great way to get to know your neighbors and have a lot of fun.
  • Do a Science Experiment – There are a ton of science experiments you can replicate from YouTube. Some of them can be really fun, and kids just love making slime or goo.
  • Visit a museum – In my small town there are at least 3 museums nearby that are all really fun for kids to visit. One in particular does special events during the summer that even feature live animal shows.
  • Go to the Zoo – My kids love going to the Zoo to see all of the animals they don’t normally get to see. Lions and Tigers and Bears.. OH MY!.. Or maybe just some really cool elephants and giraffes. So be sure to find the most exotic animal you can find while at the Zoo.
  • See the fish at the aquarium – Similar to the zoo, an aquarium can have all kinds of amazing fish and other types of sea life. Aquariums also could feature some touch tanks that allow you to interact with star fish or sting rays or more.
  • Spend the day at an amusement park – You may need to drive a bit further to find an amusement park, but I imagine there could be one within an hour or two of your house. You will probably have to block out the entire day for this to get your money’s worth.
  • Enjoy the river/lake/ocean – Depending on where you live, there should be a body of water nearby. Rent jet skis, stand up paddle boards, surfboards, boogie boards, inner-tubes, go fishing or just play in the water. Some of my favorite memories involve a friend of mine walking down a shallow river for hours!
  • Go camping – Campgrounds can be found nearly anywhere. You don’t always have to hike or drive far away to find one. Most campgrounds want you to make a reservation ahead of time though. Be sure to search for some in your area and call ahead to see if they are booked for the day you want to go.
  • Play night games – Another childhood right of passage during the summer is night games. We would LOVE playing capture the flag under the cover of darkness.
  • Sign up for a day camp – There are day camps for just about every kind of interest for a kid. From drama workshops, to art lessons, to sports camps, there is literally something for everyone. Not only that, but you may just get a day to yourself!
  • Attend a parade – Here in Utah we have no shortage of parades during the summer. Each nearby city has their own celebration, complete with parades and community events. For other cities your best bet might be the 4th of July to find the best parades.
  • Visit a farm – Many farms allow public access to pet or feed animals or to see how the farm works. It can be a great learning experience for kids and you might learn something too!
  • Watch a Meteor Shower – Do a Google search to find the best date to search the skies for shooting stars. This is on our bucket list just about every year. We go up to the mountains late at night and watch for all the shooting stars to appear. It’s pretty amazing. However, if you are unable to catch an actual meteor shower, you can grab a telescope and just find constellations.
  • Fly a kite – In the immortal words of Mr. Banks… Go fly a kite, up to the highest heights.

So, grab a piece of paper and start making your summer bucket list. Once you have them all listed post it somewhere in the house and cross items off as you do them. Before you know it, school will be back in session! Is anyone else already counting down? Just me? OK.

How to Make a Summer Bucket List

Summer is here, and this year especially, your kids may already be bored of being at home. Remember, boredom isn’t inherently bad on it’s own.

Boredom is usually a disguised opportunity to find something creative to do, an opportunity to think, create, and play. But as parents we want our kids to overcome boredom with something that is positive for their mental and emotional health. Not something that could be destructive.  

One approach to overcome summertime boredom is to create a “Summer Bucket List”. Which is essentially a wish list of experiences you want to have together before the school year starts again.  Now, let’s go through the complete process for brainstorming what to do this summer.

Determine How Long Your Summer Bucket List Can Be

The first thing you want to do is decide how many items can be on your list. You don’t want your summer bucket list to be too long or overwhelming. Grab your calendar and see exactly how many weeks you have to complete your summer bucket list.  

With a traditional summer break, kids are usually excused from school for 12 or 13 weeks. This could give you 12 weekends to do larger, more time consuming family adventures. You’ll also want to take into account any weddings, family reunions, or vacations. And remember you’ll probably need a few weekends devoted to back to school shopping. 

In my opinion, a summer bucket list of 25 experiences is ideal, this means you’ll have to mark off about two experiences every week. Some families choose a list of 10 things, other families choose a list of 100. It’s up to you to decide!     

Brainstorm What To Have On Your Summer Bucket List

It’s important (and fun) to let the kids help you brainstorm what to have on the summer bucket list. One of the best ways to get everyone excited, and willing to participate, is to get everyone to contribute at least one idea. Then when it’s time for an activity and someone isn’t thrilled about it, you can explain that this is a group effort and that the family will eventually do their activity. 

To keep the summer bucket list from breaking the family budget, challenge your kids to come up with one experience that costs money, and one experience that is free. 

how to make a summer bucket list

If you’re still having a difficult time coming up with things to add to your summer bucket list, try thinking back to some of your favorite summertime memories when you were a kid. There are also lots of lists on Pintrest and the internet to help out.

Just remember that your summer bucket list doesn’t need to be extreme or difficult. Some of the best family moments are simple and laidback. 

How To Execute Your Family’s Summer Bucket List

The most common way I’ve seen families manage a summer bucket list is to have a sheet of paper with everything written on it. Spend some time decorating it together and takes turns writing things onto the list. Then hang it up where it’s easy to see, and most importantly, easy to remember. 

Another way my family has done a summer bucket list, is to write everything we want to do on strips of paper, then fold the paper in half and drop it into a mason jar. Then we take turns pulling the paper out of the jar. This is really exciting for kids, but slightly more stressful for the parents. 

If you’re worried about your kids nagging you about when they will get to do the next thing on the list, just pick two days of the week (for example Tuesdays and Fridays) and tell them those are the days they can ask you about the summer bucket list.

create a summer bucket list with your kids

The best piece of advice I have is to get the experiences you’re least looking forward to (or even dreading) done first. Get the difficult things out of the way early, so that when summertime burnout happens in the middle of July, you don’t have the temptation to skip out on your kid’s idea.

Remember, a summer bucket list is just an opportunity to make family memories and to deepen your relationships with your kids. I hope you have fun with it. 

Inexpensive Summer Buckelist Ideas

While getting out and about in the summer is loads of fun for the entire family, it can get quite expensive depending on the outing.

Here are some fun cheap things to do this summer that won’t break the bank,  these are some great inexpensive summer activities that will be enjoyed by everyone.

Plan a Potluck BBQ


Who doesn’t love a potluck? Who doesn’t love a BBQ? While barbecuing is absolutely delicious and a staple of many summer celebrations for a lot of families, it can be costly to throw one.

From the cost of meat, side dishes, drinks, cutlery, disposable plates, and other items it can be very expensive!  One tip to save in this department is to hit your local dollar store.

Gather around and see who wants to buy or bring each item and plan the event together. This can be a great way for everyone to showcase their favorite dish without having to foot the bill for the entire BBQ. Plus, it’s an awesome way to get together with friends and family.

Use Nature To Your Advantage

It really doesn’t matter where you live there are endless opportunities to get out and utilize the outdoor spaces around you – for free! Hit up Google and find local outdoor spaces that you and your family will enjoy.

Pack up the family and take a trip to the beach where you can have hours of fun for just the cost of gas and a cooler of yummy food and drinks. Find local hiking trails to not only get your family out into nature but burn off all of that excess energy from being out of school all summer. Lastly, all moms know that playgrounds are your best friend during the nice weather season.

Get together with your fellow mom friends and plan park hop playdates to not only see which playgrounds are out there but to spend time with your friends and provide your kids the same chance for socialization.

Hit the Open Road


Without a doubt traveling with an entire family can get very expensive, but there are simple ways to get out of town without spending a ton of money.

Hopping in the car and driving can save a lot of money as opposed to paying for flight tickets for everyone. Map out trips you can take within a days drive for just the cost of gas. Maybe Grandma only live a state or two over?

Great! Get in the car and go visit her, plus you won’t have to pay for a hotel once you arrive! Better yet, pack a couple of tents in the back of the car and pick a spot on the map that offers free or low-cost campsites so all you are paying for is the cost of driving there and food.

Utilize Free Community Events and Discounts

Many cities have free events during the warm summer months. Take advantage of free concerts in the park, little or no cost youth sports leagues for the kids, or community celebrations such as parades or free fireworks.

Since summer is the season of the county fair, keep an eye out for discounts on ride bracelets or cheaper prices on opening day. Some restaurants even offer discounts for families with children where children are free with an adult meal purchase or other money-saving alternatives.

Watch out for other free services such as community splash pads, town pools and free sporting events all of which are free or low cost and lots of fun for everyone involved!

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