Sun’s Out- Fun’s Out ! Summer Bucket List ideas for Your Family

Summer is in full swing here, there, and everywhere!

Pools are (mostly) open, camps are in full swing, playgrounds and parks are full of laughter and smiles. Families are going camping, heading out on vacation, traveling to family reunions and kids are enjoying those blissful months of NO SCHOOL.

A frequent asked question right now for so many families is “what should we do today?” Summers can be so full of so many things, but also can have so much free time! Summer boredom can be great, but at the same time – can be just that – boring.

summer bucket listLet’s fix that!

Here are some summer bucket list ideas that will give your family something to do! These are not just specific to Cedar Rapids.

  • Ice Cream for Dinner
    • This is such a fun tradition and one your kids will remember for years. Head out to your favorite ice cream spot – whether it’s Dairy Queen or Dan & Debbies in Ely or Almost Famous in NewBo. Everyone gets their favorite sundae or big treat. Afterwards, head to a playground to run off the sugar high! Your kids will never forget the night Mom let them have ice cream for dinner.
  • Movie Under the Stars
    • This may work better for neighborhood groups or large extended families. You can rent blow up screens or see if a friend has a projector you can hook up. Gather up snacks or make it part of a barbecue. Invite friends over to join you. Spread out blankets or use lawn chairs and on with the show!
  • Wash the Family Car
    • A childhood memory for so many people is washing the family car with their siblings and/or parents. It does not have to be perfect by any means but on a hot day washing the family car can be a fun activity for the kids that is relatively inexpensive and will get everyone to cool off. Grab a bucket and some old towels and sponges. Bonus – the car gets clean!
  • Christmas in July
    • Hear me out! When it’s either a rainy day or too hot to play outside- at least once a summer (usually in July) we turn on our favorite holiday movies, bake and decorate Christmas cookies, play holiday music, and even make a simplified version of what we have for Christmas dinner. It sounds wild but it really brings us some good spirit and makes us laugh.
  • Summer Camp
    • Going to camp is one of my very fondest memories from childhood that I suggest to ALL families. There is every kind of camp one can imagine available these days- crafts, sports, video games, horseback riding, you name it. Camps are a great way to keep your kiddos on the move all day to burn off that summer energy.
      • For our family, summer is not complete without a visit to YMCA Camp Wapsie. My son and his five cousins will come home sunburnt, bug bitten, smelly and exhausted with bags of filthy laundry but exhilarated with memories and new friends. I cannot recommend a trip to overnight summer camps enough. If your heart is not ready for that yet – several day camps offer just one overnight away. If I can give you one piece of advice- overnight summer camp gives your kiddo a real chance to grow, learn to be on their own and break out of their shell. It also gives you a chance to recharge your batteries while they are away.

Above all – just have fun!

If there’s one thing you take away, the simpler the memories are, the more the kids will remember. The nights you barbecue as a family or toast marshmallows for s’mores. The afternoons at the pool followed by sweet corn for dinner. Summer time makes such wonderful memories!

So there you have some of my favorite summer bucket list things to do! Happy Summer!



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Samantha was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. She grew up around a large, crazy, loving extended family who gets together every Sunday for lunch and to catch up. She spent six years working for The Walt Disney Company - where she met her husband directly in front of Cinderella Castle. They moved back to Iowa in 2016 to be near family and have three rambunctious kiddos who are 5, 6 &10. Autism awareness & understanding is a close cause to her heart as two of her kids have autism. When not working or spending time with family, Samantha enjoys reading, listening to music or a podcast, cooking, baking, and binge-watching shows with her husband.

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