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65 Summer Family Activities

Summer is here!

That means no more school lunches and a lot more fun in the sun. For all the parents out there, it also means quite a bit more, “I’m bored!” Although I’m not a proponent of constantly entertaining my children, I thought I'd come up with a list of fun summer family activities.

My 9 year old son and I made this list on a drive to visit grandma for Canada Day. Kids are more likely to buy into things when they have input and it helps to pass a three hour car ride!

In no particular order, here are 65 things to do over summer vacation:

  1. Have a BBQ. I don’t know about you but everything tastes better on a BBQ. Plus, the oven leaves the house feeling especially hot over the summer months. Invite your child(ren) to assist in meal planning and preparation. BBQ’s are also a great excuse to get together with friends and family.

  2. Go to the park. Local parks are a natural way to meet your neighbours and build community. It’s also an opportunity for kids to blow off some extra energy.

  3. Play a sport or game. Take a ball, frisbee or game to the park and play a little pick-up. You might even start a neighbourhood game of kick the can.

  4. Go swimming. Cool off by taking a dip in your local body of water. We are fortunate in British Columbia to have access to a variety of swimming holes. My son, and I, have challenged ourselves to swim in a pool, lake, river and the ocean this summer.

  5. Do a scavenger hunt. Kids love searching for things. There are ideas on the internet that can be printed off. You can even do it on the fly (“Go find me 3 sticks, 2 rocks, and a leaf”).

  6. Go camping. This takes some extra planning but most people would say it’s worth it. There’s something about getting away and enjoying the outdoors that screams summer.

  7. Sleep under the stars. Do this while camping or in your own backyard. I’m partial to placing a mattress on a patio.

  8. Make a fort. Who doesn’t love a good fort? All it takes is some sheets, blankets and a little imagination.

  9. Bake. Even though the oven can lead to a warm house, baking with kids is lots of fun. Plus, it provides extra snacks and yummy desserts.

  1. Make a craft. Harness that creativity and keep the kids busy with a craft. This works wonders when trying to get dinner ready as it keeps those little hands busy.

  1. Do a science experiment. Again, there are a lot of simple ones to be found on the internet. The warm weather is conducive to outdoor experiments.

  2. Read. (You’re welcome teacher friends). Reading throughout the summer months helps to keep kids on track. I especially love reading books and then watching the corresponding movie afterward. I’m also a huge fan of book clubs!

  3. Write a story. Use your imagination and create a story of your own. Don't forget to have accompanying drawings/paintings.

  4. Attend a sporting event. You don’t have to watch professional sports if you don’t want. There are some amazing amateur games and tournaments in every town and city. Go cheer on your local team for cheap entertainment.

  5. Geocache. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s like a world wide scavenger hunt. Small containers (caches) are hidden all over and you solve clues and use GPS coordinates to find them. It’s free and a tonne of fun.

  6. Bikeride. Bike riding is a great way to see your town/city and excellent exercise. Get out there and explore.

  7. Visit a splash park. There are so many free splash parks throughout British Columbia. It’s the perfect way to cool down and have fun. Plan to have friends accompany you and make an afternoon of it. My kids love to bring ice cubes with them and see how long they take to melt on the sidewalk or in the water. Might sound odd but usually a big hit.

  8. Go on a picnic. My kids love to picnic. We keep it simple with sandwiches, fruit, veggies and water. Set out a little blanket and enjoy a meal together.

  9. Visit an arcade. For a few dollars in quarters, I can make my son’s day with a trip to the arcade. I love a good air hockey battle.

  10. Go fishing. This is something we don’t do often but thoroughly enjoy when we do. Some time catching and releasing is relaxing and a nice way to spend an afternoon in nature.

  1. Have a movie night. Make some popcorn, grab a few treats and hunker down for an evening with the family. Spending a quiet night in can be a nice alternative to the hustle and bustle of the day.

  2. Eat ice cream. Nothing is quite as refreshing as cold ice cream on a hot summer day.

  3. Find live music. There are many communities that provide free live music at local parks. Check your town/cities webpage to see if they offer such events. Packing a picnic and a soccer ball, football or frisbee to spend quality family time with music in the background is the perfect way to cap off a summer day.

  4. Make water balloons. You can find these at the dollar store and they are a blast. Play games or have a water fight.

  5. Have an ice dig. A few years ago I took containers and filled them with water. I added some dollar store dinosaurs and marbles and then froze the containers. On a hot day the kids went outside and loved to chip away at the ice with some small chisels to get to the items inside.

  6. Go for a hike. Appreciating nature and getting some exercise is an awesome way to spend a summer day. Just remember to pack lots of water, sunscreen, hats, snacks and bug spray.

  7. Get your face painted. Lots of children’s fairs or parks provide free face painting.

  8. Have a water fight. This might mean buckets with sponges, water balloons or super soakers.

  9. Run through a sprinkler. Do kids do this anymore? Perhaps with the need to conserve water this isn’t common place. It could be a 2-for-1 as you water your lawn and let the kids cool down.

  10. Use sidewalk chalk. Make cool designs and show your creativity. Our family especially enjoys a giant sized game of X’s and O’s.

  11. Blow bubbles. This is fun in every setting and all times of the day. Kids love to blow bubbles and pop them.

  12. Hit up the waterslides or make your own slip n’ slide. I can remember as a teenager loving to go to the waterslides in the summer. We’d spend all day sliding down and running up the scorching hot path to go again.

  13. Do a puzzle. Set one up and let everyone participate. We like to leave them up for a week or so and work on them when we have time.

  14. Play board games or cards. These are great ideas when you want some time out of the heat. It’s also fun to bring along on a camping trip for the early evening hours when everyone is starting to settle down.

  1. Go to a petting zoo. Sometimes there are free ones throughout the community where you can take your fruit and veggie scraps to share with the animals. Remember to pack a container of water, some hand soap and a towel for afterward if a bathroom isn’t available.

  1. Skip rope. It’s not quite as common for kids to skip rope any longer but it’s a lot of fun. You can do it single, double or in a group. Maybe this is the year I will learn double dutch!

  2. Go to a fruit stand or farmers market. Buying right from the farm is where you get the best produce. Plus, buying locally supports those in your community.

  3. Have a lemonade stand. Cold lemonade from a child on a hot day is quintessential summertime.

  4. Fly a kite. You can make one yourself or buy one at the store. Flying a kit inspires awe in children.

  5. Attend a yard sale. Browsing yard sales is fun and also an excellent way to buy used and prevent something from entering the landfill. My teenaged daughters love searching for finds secondhand. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

  6. Take a walk in the evening. Have a chance to unwind and stroll with your family through your neighborhood. This is a nightly ritual with our family over the summer months.

  7. Go stargazing. Once a summer I take my kids outside of the city limits on a clear night to stargaze. Sometimes we take a blanket or lie on the hood of my vehicle.

  8. Make smores. This doesn’t even need an explanation. Yum!

  9. Go to a fair. There are mini donuts, fair food, games and rides. I typically make this a “child pay” adventure where they save their money to attend.

  10. Build a sand castle. Creativity runs wild with this activity. You can build a moat and add decorations with rocks and sticks. If it’s not to your liking, it’s easy to start all over again.

  11. Go to a fireworks display. Another free activity to enjoy as a family. A cool way to celebrate Canada Day or the 4th of July.

  12. Try a watersport. There are so many interesting watersports one could try. Whether it’s paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, boating, skidoing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, sailing, parasailing or surfing. Trying something new can be a rewarding challenge.

  13. Float down a river or channel. This isn’t available in all communities but if you have the chance it’s a fun activity. Make sure to pack food, drinks and sunscreen!

  14. Eat at a food truck. This gives children an opportunity to try some unique or new food options.

  15. Hoola hoop. Fun for kids of all ages!

  1. Play an instrument. My kids loved going to the park and playing drums, tambourines and similar instruments with their peers. They can make lots of noise and create music in a group.

  2. Make a puppet show. This can be done indoor or outdoor and used over and over again.

  3. Take a road trip or day trip. It’s exciting to pack some food and drinks and head off for the day or weekend with the kids. This gives us an opportunity to see all the beautiful landmarks and tourist spots nearby.

  4. Visit the library. There are often summer reading programs, activities, book clubs and special events at libraries over the summer. All for free! It’s also a nice way to spend some time inside.

  5. Go to a drive-in movie theater. There aren’t many of these left so if you are near one, you might want to check it out. I’ve had this on my bucket list for 3 years. This summer I’m making it happen.

  6. Visit a museum or art gallery. Sometimes there are special events or opportunities to visit either at no cost or a reduced rate during the summer months.

  7. Enrol in a kids camp, sports camp or vacation bible school. For many children, summer camps are the highlight of their summer and they carry those memories with them for a lifetime.

  8. Mail postcards. Kids love to receive and send mail.

  9. Go mini golfing. Get outside and enjoy a game of putt-putt. Most kids and teenagers love a friendly game of mini golf.

  10. Garden. It’s the perfect time of year to grow your own produce or flowers. If you don’t have space at your home, check out a community garden.

  11. Skip rocks. A simple summertime pleasure.

  12. Have a bonfire. Pack a guitar, marshmallows, and hotdogs for a fun evening around a fire.

  13. Take photos. Let your child be a photographer. It’s amazing to see the world through their eyes.

  14. Try something new. Do you have something on your bucket list you’ve wanted to try or a place you’ve been wanting to go? This might mean go-carting, ziplining, river rafting or other activities. Summer is the ideal time for adventure.

  15. Give to others. Volunteer to mow a neighbor's lawn, walk their dog or make them a meal. Make a bagged lunch with a water bottle for someone down on their luck. Go plug expired meters with coins. There are plenty of opportunities to make someone’s day. Enjoy the summer and time with your family. If you have any other ideas, share them with me.

Visit the Resource Folder for a Printable of these activities.


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