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9 Experiences your family should have this summer

From watching fireworks to jumping in puddles, these easy (and mostly free!) summer activities are sure to make lasting good memories for the whole family.


Summer is here! What are your plans for family fun? We’ve asked moms and dads about their summer fun and came up with nine ultimate experiences for this summer.

1Get on a boat

For much of the country, wintertime means no-go for water sports and boating. But come summer? It’s boating time! Whether you have you have your own vessel, take a harbor cruise or hop a ferry, your family should experience a little boating this summer. Even land-locked folks can take a rowboat to a local creek or take a ride on a river.

Dad Tony Harrison says that his family will be boating the San Juans this year. “We own 50% of a 32-foot Bayliner that we keep in La Conner, Washington, and we try to spend at least three weeks each summer on it. My parents are boaters and it’s an annual trek we’ve made since I was a small child,” says Harrison.

2One-on-one time with family members

When school’s out, you have time for things you might not otherwise, like visiting family and taking your time with it. It’s the perfect time for one-on-one. Renaye Thornborrow, a mom of twins, says that her kids will be visiting grandparents one at a time this summer. “This will be the first time they’ve ever spent alone time with them and will give them an opportunity to bond deeper and create special memories,” says Thornborrow.

3Camp a little

I can hear the echoes of protest already. But let me tell you two things: First, camping doesn’t mean pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground — unless you want it to. Second, it’s way more fun than it sounds.

For Harrison’s family, that means enjoying the outdoors at their Cascade, Idaho, cabin. It’s “been in my family for three generations, so we spend a lot of time there. And we try to take a couple camping trips — at least one of which to the Stanley area and the amazing Sawtooth Mountains — every summer,” says Harrison.

>> Best family camping spots: Midwest/Great Lakes | Southwest US | California | Southern US | Rocky Mountain region

4Sit on the deck or patio

Some of the best summer experiences don’t require leaving home — like enjoying an evening on the deck or patio. “As simple as it sounds, my three sons (14, 13 and 8) are so busy all school year, and I had a crazy year building this here dream house and writing a book, Real Moms Love to Eat (Penguin Books, January 2012), that my husband and I just want some solid, calm family time to kick back,” says Beth Aldrich.

5See some fireworks

Independence Day wouldn’t be complete without seeing a fabulous fireworks display. Make a point to visit one in your area this summer. Harrison says that his family likes to watch fireworks over Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho. “Trekking to McCall for the holiday to watch a spectacular pyrotechnics presentation over Payette Lake while escaping the heat ‘down in the valley’ has become a beloved tradition for thousands of visitors — including my family. There’s no better place to watch them than the historic boutique resort Shore Lodge, which I must confess is a client of mine,” says Harrison, who is in public relations.

>> 4th of July entertainment fireworks


Keep reading for four more must-do summer activity ideas >>

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