25 Outdoor Activities that Make the Best Summer Memories

Let’s open up with a little exercise in childhood self-reflection. Yes, your own childhood.

If I were to ask you to name three or four of your top summertime childhood memories, what comes to mind?

Take a minute to ponder this. Close your eyes perhaps, and imagine. If you have the space, drift back to the time and place and just enjoy the memory.

Now, I’m no mind-reader, but can I make a crazy assumption?

Most, if not all of those memories, occurred in the outdoors.

(Am I right?)

When I asked my friends this question, I got answers like: Summer camp, running through sprinklers in the backyard, playing in a tree fort, going to the public pool, camp fires with my family, floating down a river, star-gazing, and much more. Almost every memory came from the outdoors.

Yet it seems a bit harder today to give our kids ample time outdoors than it did when I was young. Freely roaming children are not as safe, (not to mention socially acceptable) as they used to be.

It seems that in order for us to give our kids great experiences in the outdoors we have to physically be outdoors with them. (What happened to the days of mom pushing kids out the door and saying “Be back at dinner time!?” I love that idea but I would never actually do it!)

We have to plan things. We have to prepare, organize…and, I don’t know about you, but all of that speaks to me of: WORK.

In order for us parents to get anything done at home, it is much easier to: turn on the gaming system, pull out a set of Legos…click on Netflix, or bring out just about any indoor project. (Most of which are good as well, they just all keep us…well, indoors.)

So, going back to our own summer memories, let’s be reminded of the VALUE of outside time when kids are young!  And let me suggest that we don’t have to make it complicated to make it memorable.

The fact is: A bit more outside time is good for all of us…adults included. It doesn’t have to be an all-day affair, but can be mixed into our productive and busy days. With that in mind, I am sharing a list of 25 outdoor activities for you to try this summer. Perhaps you can use this as a checklist and attempt to do each item once during summer break!? Or add to the list and make it personal.

  1. Lay on a blanket in the yard (even on a porch or deck) and read books!
  2. Run through a sprinkler/hose/anything!
  3. Pack a picnic and take it anywhere to enjoy with your kids.
  4. Take a walk straight out your front door. Whether it takes you through the city, a neighborhood, or into the woods, just go! Bring a bag along to collect “treasures.”
  5. Find a nature center of any kind and visit it with your kids. (An arboretum, nature reserve, bird sanctuary, etc.)
  6. Take a slow walk and simply OBSERVE: the bees, a worm in the dirt, how the wind moves through the trees, the setting sun, birds making a nest…etc.
  7. Build a fire and roast marshmallows.
  8. Look for stars on a clear night. Try to find a constellation or two. (If you live where there are too many lights to see stars, you can use the phone app to spot where they would be if you could see them. Still gazing into the night sky is fun!)
  9. Play tag, hopscotch, or any old-fashioned game with friends
  10. Blow bubbles.
  11. Pick wildflowers.
  12. Visit a boardwalk or some part of a town you don’t normally go to, and walk around just for the sake of taking in the summer sights.
  13. Go out for ice cream cones!
  14. See a drive-in movie (or any outdoor showing of a film).
  15. Play miniature golf, or visit a fair or carnival.
  16. Fly a kite.
  17. Pick up simple rocks to bring home and paint.
  18. Go berry picking.
  19. Jump rope with friends.
  20. Do cartwheels in the grass.
  21. Go for a bike ride. (If you don’t have your own, find somewhere to rent them and really have an adventure.)
  22. Walk barefoot in the grass.
  23. Visit a market and let everyone choose their own ice cream bar/sandwich. Sit on a curb and enjoy them together!
  24. Visit a Farmer’s Market. See what is locally grown and taste the samples. Talk to the people working there.
  25. Make (or go out for) real lemonade. Enjoy it on a hot day!

Here’s to a great summer, and many memories for your and your kids to share!