20 Nostalgic Summer Fun Ideas

Sitting in the car watching a movie?  It’s something millions of Americans used to do weekly and is now something people search for to experience as a novelty.  The Drive In Movie Theater is largely gone across the United States, but almost every state has at least a few that you can find and make a weekend fun adventure of reliving one of the great summer past times of years gone by.

As we were talking about our fondest summer memories, we thought it might be fun to give you some great nostalgic ideas for how to bring back those memories for yourself and create some new ones for younger members of your family.

Some of our ideas are simple and will just take a little time and some are more adventurous but they all will make you think back to your past or a past you wish you had!

  1. Watch a movie at the drive in.  In fact, most drive in theaters show two movies per night.  If you stay for both features, you’ll pay about half what you would at a traditional theater.  This is also the way to see new movies if you have smaller kids who can just bunk down in the backseat and will never bother anyone!
  2. Dig some clams.  Granted, you have to be in a place where clams live — which means a beach somewhere — but there is a level of catharsis that comes from digging, then cleaning, then steaming your own clams.
  3. Plant something you can eat.  This is a great activity if you have younger kids because they get to help tend to your little plants and then harvest and eat the fruit or vegetable it produces.  You don’t have to go full on vegetable garden.  A few seeds and a few pots will do just fine.
  4. Play in a creek.  It seems like creeks were the ultimate in entertainment in our youth, so if you live anywhere near one, take the kids and see what they can (literally) dig up.
  5. Go to a baseball game.  It’s America’s pastime and if you haven’t been to the ballpark lately, this might be a beautiful summer to watch some ball with a few buddies and a hot dog or two.  Also, check Get My PERKS often to see if your favorite minor league or junior league team has tickets on sale!
  6. Go Downtown!  Downtown is still a place in most cities int he United States and there are some lovely buildings, restaurants and small shops you can visit in many downtowns across America.  Take a late afternoon stroll through downtown and soak in what made your town special.
  7. Re-read your favorite book and remember why it was so special to you.  If your favorite book was teen or kid friendly, read it aloud with your kids and they can share in your special memory.
  8. Go Fishing.  A Saturday morning fishing and a Saturday evening fish fry was part of many childhood memories for many people.  Don’t forget to get a license if you need one.  Most states will issue weekend licenses or free permits on select weekends.
  9. Go Camping.  You can combine this with go fishing if you’d like. If you are not a regular camper, many camp stores rent tents and things so you don’t have to buy a ton of gear.
  10. Have a picnic in the park.  When was the last time you visited your city park just to be at the park?  Take some food along and have a fun afternoon playing in the park, napping under a tree, reading a good book or just soaking in the summer.  Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!
  11. Visit your local farmer’s market.  It’s exciting to see how many towns and cities have farmer’s markets (usually on the weekend) where local produce and homemade goods can be purchased.  Support your local growers and artisans and visit the farmer’s market a few weekends during the summer.
  12. Eat a Popsicle outside on the front porch.  Actually, it might be some kind of law that that is the only place you can eat Popsicles.  That might be why we were never allowed to eat them inside….
  13. Get out the garden hose and start playing.  For many of us, the pool was a grand idea that was rarely realized in our summers but there was usually a garden hose around and it provided endless entertainment and a way to have fun and cool off.  Grab the hose and see how much fun you can have with your kids on a hot afternoon.
  14. Watch the stars on a warm, clear night.  We don’t suggest you climb out on the roof like we did (and, amazingly, never got caught) but if you can find a safe way to watch the stars on a warm night with a light breeze and holding the hand of someone you love. . . well, there is magic in that.
  15. Go to the fair!  Yes, the fair!!  When was the last time you had a wonderfully greasy and delicious funnel cake or rode the Tilt-A-Whirl?  Going to the fair gets you back to your community roots and usually helps out a good cause while giving you a fun night of outdoor games and laughs.  Don’t forget to tour the exhibits and see who won the blue ribbon in the cake baking contest.  A fair is the way to go when you want to feel like times have never really changed.
  16. Stop at a roadside park and have a snack.  Yeah, it sounds weird (and you have to be in the right state to do it) but on long car trips, one of our favorite things to do was eat a quick sandwich lunch at a roadside park along our route.  It’s inexpensive and gives you more fun family time.
  17. Ride bikes together with your kids.  In the long summer afternoons, if you would disappear for hours at a time with a bike and friend, you probably had a lot of fun, got into a little bit of trouble, and created amazing memories.  It is harder to let kids wander as they did then but you can still hop on your bike and explore your neighborhood or community with them.  The exercise is great and so is the experience.
  18. Fly a kite.  You might combine this one with about a dozen other things on our list, but it’s amazingly fun and relaxing.  Better yet, make your own kites and fly them together.
  19. Take a road trip.  It doesn’t have to be anywhere far or exotic.  Maybe you just drive an hour and spend the night somewhere and explore a new place.  Maybe you go to the water or amusement park or maybe it is a museum weekend.  Do something spontaneous!  Look for great ideas in over 20 cities across the US at Get My PERKS.
  20. Drop the devices.  If you don’t do anything else . . . pick a few days during the summer where your family ditches the devices and you play games or do something fun as a family.  Give your kids a time limit (devices off from 5:30pm – 8:30pm) and give them 10 minutes to tell their friends they won’t be able to chat . . and then, put all the devices (including yours) in a safe place and, as a  family, have a little fun that is disconnected from the Internet but totally connected to each other.
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