25+ Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List | Quicken (2024)

June 21st marks the summer solstice — the sun will set at its latest time all year in the northern hemisphere, and we officially move into the summer season. Whatever your favorite summer activities are, it’s a season for us to enjoy the wonderful weather, spend time in the sunshine, and celebrate life.

Ready to get the most out of your summer? Tick off every item on this bucket list and enjoy!

The ultimate summer bucket list

1. Eat ice cream

Is there anything more quintessential to summer than enjoying an ice cream on a hot day? Sundae or cone, the vibe still remains — ice cream on a hot day is the pinnacle of summer. Whatever your flavor, you can opt to hit an old-school ice cream parlor, visit the grocery store, or even make some homemade ice cream!

No dairy? No problem. There are tons of non-dairy alternatives for vegans and other individuals who don’t eat dairy. Consider this frozen treat your first stop on the summer bucket list.

2. Have a barbecue

Picture this — it’s a sunny day, you’ve got a pair of Wayfarers on, and the smell of glowing charcoal floats in the summer breeze. Not bad, right? There are few better things to do on a summer day than have a barbecue with your friends.

Whether you’re hosting on your Weber Genesis or using the cast-iron charcoal grills at your local state park, almost everybody loves BBQ. Searing steaks and Beyond Burgers at a barbecue is a great way to socialize, bond with your pals, and even perfect new recipes!

If you’re barbecuing in a park, be sure to pack out what you pack in — especially food wrappers, aluminum cans, and any paper plates or napkins.

3. Hit the pool

Swimsuit? Check.

Towel? Check.

Sunscreen? Got it.

Whether you want to beat the heat, perfect your cannonball, or just grab a few laps as exercise, hitting the pool is a can’t-miss on your summer bucket list.

Don’t have a pool in your backyard or apartment complex? No sweat — the good folks at SwimmersGuide have put together a pool-finder database! Just put in your zip code, find the pool closest to you, and go for a dip.

4. Go for a road trip

Ahh, the summer road trip — a favorite pastime from the likes of Jack Kerouac, baseball fans, Jason Sudeikis (you know the film), and many, many more. Itching to see lakes, deserts, and everything in between this summer? Hop in your car and hit the road!

Before you go, be sure to create a budget, check-in with your vehicle (make sure you’re up to date on routine maintenance), and have a plan in place. Whether you want to drive cross-country or just take a day trip in your own state, the freedom of the open road offers you your own little slice of adventure in the summertime.

5. See an outdoor concert

There’s something really special about an outdoor gig on a summer’s night. Who doesn’t want to watch the stars come out on the heels of twilight as their favorite band takes the stage for set two? It doesn’t matter if you’re a live-music nut or a casual listener, seeing an outdoor concert can be downright magic.

Take a look at the schedule for any amphitheaters in your area — there are literally hundreds of summer tours happening until September. Whether you’re seeing Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium, Dead and Company at Alpine Valley (don’t forget your tie-dye), or a jazz quintet at a pavilion in the center of your town, be sure to get outside for some music this summer.

6. Go camping

There are few things as refreshing as falling asleep beside a babbling brook as the crickets chirp, far away from city lights and sounds. You can usually find campsites in your area at local parks or KOAs, just be sure to book in advance — summer is the busiest season!

If you’re new to camping and are unsure about what to bring, you can take a look at REI’s checklist here. Be sure to plan for inclement weather — being sopping wet can quickly ruin a camping trip. Also, don’t forget a first aid kit, especially if you’ll be doing any sort of hiking or climbing.

7. Visit an amusem*nt park

Scratch that daredevil itch and get your adrenaline fix at the local amusem*nt park! If you’ve got a Six Flags nearby or you’re making a trek to Disneyland or Cedar Point, visiting an amusem*nt park is a classic summertime activity for kids and adults alike! Hop on a rollercoaster, zip down a water slide, or catch a show — all while enjoying the warm weather. Many have traditional rides and a water park, giving you the best of both worlds.

Not into the Tilt-A-Whirl or water slides that climb into the mesosphere? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Amusem*nt parks have tons of other activities for people who don’t love rides — like lazy rivers, good restaurants, bars, and more.

8. Play soccer at a local park

If Ted Lasso has you wondering which Premier League club you support, double down on that energy and go have a kick! Whether you live near a proper pitch (“soccer field” in the US lexicon) or you have a beautiful, open park nearby, all you need is a ball, a friend, and some room!

If you want to play on an actual team, look into local rec leagues — you can hone your skills and meet new friends. Whether you’re a football newbie or you can bend a screamer under the woodwork like Beckham at United in ‘01, going out for a kick is a great way to enjoy a summer day!

9. Set up a Slip ’N Slide

Let’s step back in time for a minute — it’s 1993, Michael Jordan just led the Bulls to their third title in three years, you’re blasting chart-topping “Whoomp! There It Is” by Tag Team, and you’re about to break a land speed record on your backyard Slip ’N Slide. Sweet, sweet nostalgia.

This summer, dare to hearken back to early 90s summer glory and set up a Slip ’N Slide. Whether you have kids or just want to invite some adult friends over for some backyard fun, the Slip ’N Slide is a timeless summer classic. Bonus points for a sprinkler set-up adjacent to your slide operation!

10. Count the stars

Well, maybe not all of them! The point is to get outside at night this summer to enjoy the warm weather and bask in the glory of the cosmos. Stargazing is a wonderful summer activity — especially if you can get away from the city and excessive light pollution.

If you really want to embrace your inner astronomer, consider downloading an astronomy app to help you spot constellations, identify planets, and look for other cool astronomical events, like shooting stars, supermoons, or eclipses.

11. Eat a watermelon

When it comes to fruit, watermelon is practically synonymous with summer. Whether you like your fruit deseeded or natural, eating a few slices of watermelon is a healthy rite of passage for the summer months.

If you haven’t yet mastered the skill of picking the perfect watermelon, head over to the grocery store or your local farmer’s market. You’ll want to find one that’s heavy for its size (these are generally sweeter), uniform in shape, and darker and duller in color.

Not only are watermelons delicious, but they’re also high in nutrients like vitamin A and C — and have great water content to help keep you hydrated!

12. Go to a baseball game

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the call of “Ice cold beer here!” from the concession vendors — make no mistake, summer is baseball season.

Consider adding a game to your summer bucket list this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching the Brewster Whitecaps on an August night in Cape Cod or seeing the Houston Astros defend their title at Minute Maid Park, attending a baseball game is one of the high points of summer.

Between the 30 teams in the MLB and the 120 minor league affiliates across the US and canada, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a game to catch. Get yourself a ball cap and a hot dog, and prepare for a good 7th inning stretch!

13. Try stand-up paddleboarding

If you live in an area where water sports are popular, you’ve probably seen people stand-up paddleboarding (also known as SUPing). For the uninitiated, SUPing involves either an inflated or solid surfboard, a large paddle, and an open body of water (the calmer, the better).

SUPing is not only a fun summer activity for the water, but it’s also a great workout! To get the most out of paddleboarding, you’ll need to engage your legs and abs for balance, as well as your obliques, chest, and arms to propel you through the water.

Not super into breaking a sweat on a hot summer day? Stand-up paddleboards are also great for practicing gentle yoga on the water, simply hanging out, or tethering to some friends in tubes! Just remember a personal flotation device and waterproof bag for your phone and car keys.

14. Hit the links (or mini-golf course)

Golfers rejoice — the season is in full swing and you can play anywhere from Chambers Bay to your local 9-hole course down the road. The summer months can be a great time to get in 36 holes with a foursome of your best buddies — just be sure to start early, especially if you’re in the south!

If your game needs work, hit the driving range with a bucket of balls and see how far you can crush them. Who knows, maybe you’ll unleash your inner Happy Gilmore!

Additionally, mini-golf always provides another golf(ish) avenue to get outside and enjoy the great weather. First date? Fun with the whole family? Outing with some pals? Mini-golf will check that box.

15. Read on a rainy day

Sunny days wouldn’t be as special if they weren’t balanced out by rainy days, right? Invariably, we can expect some days when the weather doesn’t permit us to spend much time outside. So, what’s the fix? If you’ve not sat with a favorite book on a covered porch as the summer rain falls, you’re missing out the sublime.

If you don’t happen to have a library full of classic volumes, no problem. Start by getting a card at your local library and just browse at your leisure — see what catches your eye. You can also find cheap books at thrift stores and deep-discount bargains at your favorite digital retailer.

Once you find something you like, go ahead and save it for a rainy day!

16. Go kayaking with friends

Double down on the great outdoors and spend some time kayaking this summer. If you don’t own a kayak, you can rent one for fairly cheap — day rates often range from $30-50, depending on where you’re going.

If you’re new to kayaking, you’ll want to start off on calm waters — choppy lakes and rivers with rapids can put you in hot water, especially if you’re still learning! But a leisurely paddle along tranquil waters can be incredibly peaceful.

Whatever body of water you settle on, be sure to keep anything valuable (like your phone, wallet, and car keys) in a waterproof bag. Also, make sure you apply sunscreen to your arms and face — you won’t have any shade coverage once you’re out on the water!

17. Watch fireworks on Canada Day and the 4th of July

Watching the incredible patterns and pyrotechnics of a professional fireworks display is truly an unrivaled experience. Whether it’s a small community get-together or a metropolitan gala, be sure to enjoy the awesome views on Canada Day as well as the 4th of July. If you happen to live near Niagara Falls you can enjoy fireworks on both days — or any other day all summer long, starting at 10:00 pm!

While exhilarating, remember that fireworks can be dangerous. Unless you’re going with snakes and sparklers, leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. Also, remember that fireworks can trigger PTSD in certain individuals and terrify dogs, so please be respectful and courteous!

18. Ride on a Ferris wheel

In 1893, RPI-educated engineer George Ferris unveiled his new creation for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A 250-foot wheel, it was built to rival the Eiffel Tower, hoisting riders high into the air for pure exhilaration. While the original one was torn down two years later, the concept lives on around the world to this day.

If you want a bird’s-eye view of your city, just hop on a Ferris wheel! From the waterfront in Seattle to Navy Pier in Chicago, hopping on a Ferris wheel is a great way to see beautiful cityscapes and natural vistas wherever you might roam.

19. Find a lemonade stand

If watermelon is the official fruit of summer, then lemonade is surely the official beverage. Sugar, water, and lemon — it’s the trifecta of all things good, refreshing, and delicious. If you live in a family neighborhood, perhaps good fortune will fall upon you and the local kids will set up a lemonade stand. Don’t miss out on a classic summertime tradition.

However, if your neighborhood is lacking an influx of entrepreneurial children, you can always make your own homemade batch of lemonade! Grab some fresh, ripe lemons and juice them, concoct a simple syrup using sugar and filtered water, and don’t forget to add ice! Pro tip: use some of your batch to make your own popsicles.

20. Go fishing

Cast a few lines into a nearby lake or river and enjoy the solitude that comes with fishing. If you’re new to angling, you’ll need a rod, reel, and some bait. Whether you want to use live bait or tried-and-true lures, it’s always fun to try to land a few fish!

The best times to fish are at dawn – it can be really peaceful and serene watching the sunrise through the morning fog while you’re in nature. The fish can also “hit,” as they say in angler jargon, at dusk — you can watch the fireflies and the sunset while you try to bring in a largemouth bass!

No matter if you catch fish all the time or don’t get a single bite, getting out and going fishing can be a great outdoor activity to enjoy during the summer.

21. Go for a bike ride

Whether you prefer a Schwinn or a Harley, summertime is the perfect time to get out on two wheels. If you like to pedal off-road, take a look at some trails in your area and get out into nature — local state parks and preservation areas are known for excellent trail riding. Got a road bike? Explore new parts of your city — it can be a great way to find new spots to eat, drink, and hangout!

If you’re riding on something with a bit more power, consider going for a cruise through rural areas. By taking back roads, you can get a good look at the countryside and bypass the headache of riding on a busy highway. Be sure to wear closed-toed boots, protective leathers, eyewear, and an ECE-certified helmet!

22. Swim in the ocean

As the atmosphere warms up, the oceans in the northern hemisphere also get warmer — making the summer months the perfect time to take a dip. From Nova Scotia to San Diego, summer is the time to swim!

Before jumping in, make sure the water is safe. Be sure to check local red-flag warnings for rip currents or rough surf, and keep an eye out for jellyfish, sting rays, and other sea creatures that can sting or bite!

Not much for getting in the water? No problem! The beach provides tons of other options for non-swimmers — you can collect seashells, build sandcastles, or even toss around a Frisbee!

23. Listen to a favorite record with the windows down

Roll down your windows, queue up your favorite album, put it into first gear, and hit it! Listening to your favorite record with the windows down and wind in your hair should absolutely be on your summer bucket list.

Consider what time of day you’ll go for your drive — you can use the mood of the light outside (or lack thereof) to inform your choice. Never cruised while listening to Definitely Maybe by Oasis on a bright, sunny day? Might be worth a try. Windows down while blasting Hotel California during a summer sunset? You’re in for a treat.

It doesn’t matter what genre you prefer — just get out there, let your hair down, and bask in the freedom.

24. See an outdoor movie

While the drive-in movie has mostly gone the way of Crystal Pepsi and the floppy disk, you can still find theaters around. Seeing an outdoor movie is a fun idea for a summer evening — take a look and see if there are any operational drive-ins in your area, find a showtime, and enjoy a classic!

Additionally, parks sometimes offer outdoor screenings — check in with your local events website or the parks department to see if they have anything planned.

If all else fails, grab a white sheet, a projector, and some friends, and have your very own DIY outdoor screening! Movie night is always a hit — now it’s time to try it in the great outdoors.

25. Make cold brew coffee

If you’re a java drinker, nothing really hits like a strong cold brew first thing in the morning on a hot, sunny day. Try brewing your own cold brew at home this summer — it’s far cheaper than ordering at a coffee shop, and you can tweak the recipe to your liking.

Grab a 16-oz bag of coffee — you’ll want a medium to darker roast for the fullest flavor. Be sure to grind your beans to the correct level of coarseness for your brewing method (usually a sea salt coarseness for a pour-over).

Next, get yourself a 16-oz Mason jar, and add 3 oz of ground coffee to 12 oz of cold water, stir it, and place it in the fridge for 12 hours minimum. Separate the grinds using a Chemex or Hario V60, and voila — cold brew concentrate! Tweak the ratios as needed to perfect it.

Remember, you’ve made a cold brew concentrate — dilute it with three to four parts water unless you feel like time-traveling and/or having an existential crisis.

26. Plan a summer budget to do even more!

At the end of the day, nearly all of these summer bucket list ideas above will cost at least a little cash. Gas to fill your tank for road trips, buying swimsuits, and tickets to concerts can all add up.

To keep the fun going all summer, plan ahead with a monthly summer bucket list fund!

Create a Savings Goal or Watchlist in Simplifi for your ultimate summer adventure, track your spending, and let the good times roll.

25+ Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List | Quicken (2024)
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