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21 Things every family should do this summer

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Summer vacation bucket list

Make this summer vacation count by marking off items from this summer family bucket list.

Connect with nature

1. Swim natural: It's easy enough to hit the local pool (or the pool in your backyard, if you're lucky), but if you have the chance for the fam to dip their toes in a pond or a lake, don't pass it up.

2. Go camping: Break out the tent and the makings for s'mores. It's time for your family to get back to nature. Before you head out, make sure to read our family camping checklist.

3. Plant a garden: Food tastes so much better when it's fresh — and when you know what went into growing it. Plant a family garden and reap the benefits of fresh food.

4. Go for a hike: Put on your hiking boots (or a sturdy pair of tennis shoes) and hit the trail with the fam. Whether you're hiking a well-known local trail, or exploring some new territory, it's sure to be an adventure.

Mother and son at the zoo | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: DragonImages/iStock/360/Getty Images

Can't-miss destinations

5. Ride a roller coaster: It's the ultimate thrill, and should be a part of every family's summer break. Visit a theme park and decide as a group what coasters you'll tackle together. Have kids of varying ages? Pick one parent to brave the big rides with the older kids, but make sure you find at least a few attractions you can do as a group. Got a group of thrill seekers on your hands? Check out our list of the top 10 scariest coasters in the U.S.

6. Play miniature golf: Miniature golf isn't just for teenage date nights. Bring the whole family and show them your putt-putt skills (or lack thereof).

7. Visit a zoo: Lions and tigers and bears... and every other animal you can imagine. Spend a day at the zoo and watch your kids' eyes light up when they spy their favorite creatures. Take a trip to your local zoo, or pick one from our list of the top zoos for kids.

8. Watch fireworks: With the Fourth of July set right in the middle of your summer vacation, you have no excuse for not catching at least one fireworks show. Throw down a blanket and watch it together. If you'd like to work some travel into the holiday, check out these cheap Fourth of July destinations.

9. Visit a sporting event: Whether it's a professional sports team, or your local little league, find a night to attend a game and make sure to get the full experience. Order hot dogs and learn a few chants while you're there.

10. Shop at a farmer's market: Do you shop the local farmer's market? If not, this year is the time to start. Buying fresh fruits and veggies direct from farmers at a farmer's market offers a unique chance for learning. Have your kids pick out a few new items, then go home and figure out what to do with them.

Father and son fishing | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: Image Deklofenak/iStock/360/Getty Images

Just for fun

11. Pet a farm animal: Visit a local farm and see their livestock. Your kids will love getting their hands on the horses and goats, and so will you. Make it a learning opportunity by encouraging the kiddos to ask lots of questions.

12. Play in the rain: Mother Nature will inevitably rain on a few of your summer days. Make the most of it by having a dance party — outside.

13. Go fishing: Wake up with the birds, pack your fishing poles and take the family fishing. Whether you're hitting a lake, river or well-stocked pond, you'll have a great day together — no matter how many fish you catch.

14. Catch fireflies: Those bright little fireflies sure are pretty. Arm the whole family with a few jars and lids and send them out at dusk for a classic firefly hunting session. It's one of those things every child should have memories of doing, isn't it?

15. See a movie: You don't have to spend every day of your summer vacation outside. Pick a day that's unbearably hot and relax in the comfy chairs and cool air conditioning at your local movie theater. Some of the biggest movies of the year come out over the summer months, so pick one everyone can agree on.

16. Have a scavenger hunt: Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. Set up one just for your family, or get the whole neighborhood involved.

17. Ride bikes: How long has it been since you've ridden a bike? Dig yours out of the garage, put some air in the tires and hit the road with your kids.

Boy picking berries | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Summer cuisine

18. Go berry picking: Growing your own garden is one thing. Visiting a commercial farm and standing in a massive field of fresh berries is completely different. See who can fill their bucket the highest, then go home and create something delicious together. We suggest a big batch of strawberry jam.

19. Barbecue: Those smells from the grill mean it's officially summer, and they should be a part of everyone's childhood memories. Try to cook out at least once a week this summer, or as much as you can work it into your schedule. Not sure what to cook? We've got you covered with our ultimate backyard BBQ menu.

20. Chase down the ice cream truck: The next time you hear the telltale tune of the ice cream truck, grab your wallet and the rest of the family and head of in search of that freezer on wheels. Enjoy your treats together as you make your way back home.

21. Have a picnic: It doesn't matter if you're in your local park or in your own back yard. Pack a delicious picnic lunch and enjoy a meal together while you're surrounded by nature.

More summer fun for the family

Family service projects
Super staycation ideas
DIY games for family game night

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