How to use the family bucket list to create a memorable summer.

Estimated read time 9 min read

Whether you have no summer plans or are dealing with the fall out of canceled dreams, you can still have an amazing summer with your family.  It’s never too late to rethink your goals and repurpose them into doable moments all summer long.  Think outside of the box and invite ideas from even the smallest members of your family to come up with your own family bucket list and create a memorable summer.

family bucket list

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If we travel to experience new things, then it is the experiences we are searching for, not necessarily the travel.  The travel part can be hard, long, and tiring especially when the plans don’t happen as scheduled.

The first thing to remember when making your bucket list is to never listen to the ones who say that something is too boring.  Afterwards, they always tell me they didn’t think it would be fun and they are usually wrong.  

Every moment does not have to be filled with excitement.  Let me say that again, some moments can be less exciting and more inviting.  Those slow moments are when we enjoy each other’s company, awkwardness can be laughable, silence can be loud, enjoy those moments because they bring you closer.

How to make a family bucket list?

Start with a family meeting. They can be informal and informational or used for brainstorming. You can schedule one right before a movie night or breakfast, whenever you have everyone together.  (And if you don’t have a movie night planned, add it to the list.)

  • Go over the summer plans of what everyone will be doing, camps, working, hanging out days and look for the free days.
  • Talk about everyone’s interests – baseball games, gardens, beach, festivals, museums, zoo, pool day, spa, nothing day, just brainstorm everything.
  • Agree to try at least one thing from everyone’s suggestions. (There are no bad answers – you can make it work.)
  • You might have a quiet group that is too afraid to say what they really want, go ahead and offer suggestions that you think each person would like.
  • Discuss a budget for making these ideas come to life.  Be honest with your kids about money, it sets expectations, lessens your worries, and gives them early financial experience.

What are some bucket list ideas?

Here’s some bucket list inspiration to keep in mind and help you get creative with new ideas.Start with simple concepts and themes, then consider how you can create a moment by celebrating it with things you already have, nearby places to visit, as a family party, or a weekly activity.

Amusement Parks – maybe you want to avoid the crowds and still enjoy a love for amusement parks this summer.  Make amusement park foods (like funnel cake), throw a backyard carnival, do amusement park science activities together, or build a paper roller coaster.

How to use the family bucket list to create a memorable summer.
Carnival Games Pack on Amazon

Around the World in 60 days – Pick countries to explore (virtually) every week, learn new things about the flora and fauna, re-create popular dishes, try a local restaurant that specializes in that cuisine, listen to music, and try creating some crafts from the country – easy to find more ideas on Pinterest.

Architecture – look for local architecture tours or head to a nearby city. This does not have to cost anything, there are plenty of free resources to do your own walking tour.  Try Free Tours By Foot for destination ideas.  Some of my favorite architectural tours were in Chicago and New Orleans but they’re easy to find in historical areas, cities, and small towns.  

Art – the artist in us all might love a paint party, a vivid art museum tour, heading out to the largest art show in the area, or creating interesting art at home all summer. When you want to find a new idea or explore new mediums, go to Dick Blick project ideas for amazing step-by-step inspiration like alcohol ink painting and art journaling.

Baseball – Celebrate your baseball lover, even if you can’t take them to a major league game.  Go for a Minor League Game. Tickets can often start under $10 and be found all over the country.  Have a baseball themed party and diy a baseball pinata.

Bike Ride – A family bike ride is a must.  It can happen almost anywhere and sometimes, you don’t even need your own bike.  There are all sorts of bike rentals available in some locations from tandem bikes, E-Bikes, bikes with trailers, and even a beach trike or surrey bike for the whole family.  We’ve done the family surrey bike rental at Disney’s Boardwalk at Disney World and even on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.  It’s not easy, the little kids are no help at all but it’s fun and creates good memories.  You’ll laugh later about trying to go uphill, I promise.

Boats – This is another area where the possibilities are endless.  In Central Florida, it could be a swan paddle boat at Lake Eola, a kayak in a local lake, a glass bottom boat at Seven Springs, a pontoon rental in Cocoa Beach, an E-boat in Tampa, or a deck boat to Beer Can Island. Don’t forget boat tours also, such as dolphin watching or a pirate’s sailing.

Rainbow Springs State Park boats
Rainbow Springs State Park

Books – Start a summer book club, book drive, or book quest.  Places to find books for less: use the books sale finder or a book exchange like book mooch or book crossing. Sign up for kindle unlimited for $9.99/month and read ebooks for free like Motion at the Amusement Park (Amusement Park Science).

Bowling – Don’t forget about the wonderful Kids Bowl Free program that’s been around for years! It includes 2 free games at your local bowling alley and now you can even pay for a summer pass for up to 4 adults as well for only $39.95.

Disney Love – even if you can’t go to Disney World, you can still celebrate all things Disney all summer long. Pick a movie each week to watch and do a fun craft or make cultural foods to go with it.  Need ideas?  For instance, my son likes Mr. Freeze from the Incredibles so we could have snow cones, do an instant ice experiment, and create a comic book using a blank comic style sketch book.  At the same time, since my daughter likes Elsa, cooling off with more frozen style activities can include making snowman cupcakes or braiding her hair like Elsa. Watch Elsa’s coronation tutorial for help.

Farmhouse stay – search VRBO for a completely unique experience like a farmhouse stay.  The kids will love visiting with the animals and experiencing life on a farm.  In Florida, there’s a in a 2 bedroom barn, hammocks, a firepit, and farm fresh goat milk soap.

Free & Cheap days – look for your local zoos and museums that usually have a pricier admission rate to show their free or family days on their event calendar.  For instance, Central Florida Zoo has Family Sunset at the Zoo one night a month all summer long for reduced entry rates of $6 per person.  

Gardening – You can visit local gardens, garden stores, or work on a new plan together for starting your own garden.  If you don’t have a green thumb, now’s a great chance to try to work on it.

Ice Cream – have an ice cream social and make it super cute! 

Parks – Make a point to visit a new local park, a state park, and/or a national park.  Search them on google maps to find the closest ones to you.

Tie Dye – It’s not summer without a tie dye shirt, is it?  This is one of the oldest summer camp traditions so why not make it a family one too?  Best of all, you can try new styles that you’ve never done before like the v-pattern or rainbow spiral, or you can make it a theme using only certain colors.  Go with an easy to use pre-filled tie dye kit to keep things simple.

Video Games – We’re always seeing tips about getting them to put the games down but don’t forget that sometimes, they really appreciate your efforts to play the game with them also.  It’s the best way to teach that when we love someone, we can do what they enjoy as well.  It also gives them a chance to be the teacher, if you’re not “good” at it.  You may even get to set good examples of losing AND winning with grace.

The great part about this list is that you can take the parts that work for you and build on with activities that fit your family’s needs and wishes. It doesn’t matter how big or small your family or budget is as long as you find ways to have special moments crafted just for you and them. 

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  1. 1
    Sean O

    Sometimes I get so sidetracked that I forget, it is important to plan for fun times because if I don’t those things will pass by and I didn’t do anything. Nice post to remind me to get busy enjoying things.

    • 3
      Portia O'Laughlin

      Once things get more like normal, we’ll be able to plan and snatch up good deals again. Meanwhile, explore whatever we can, right?

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