Sunshine, flip-flops, tan lines, beach floats, bare feet, fresh watermelon, the colors of the coast shining like a thousand tiny diamonds… when it comes to things to love about summer, the list goes on and on (and on!). I could wax poetic all day about the many reasons to revel in this sun-drenched season. But here’s the thing about summer: It flies by. Just about the time you reach your summer stride — whether it’s perfecting your sangria recipe or finding the best new summer series to binge — summer sneaks out. So, if you want to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of these next few months, it helps to have a summer bucket list. Otherwise, you might blink and miss out on some quintessential summer moments you wish you’d made time for. 

Naturally, what goes into a summer bucket list is going to vary from person to person. For me, summers mean lazy, hazy days spent by the pool. Or going to the beach to play in tide pools and plant my toes in the hand, leaving with a full heart and salty hair. It means eating more tomato sandwiches than any person probably should (with vine-ripened tomatoes, and only with Duke’s mayonnaise). Summer is painting my toenails in festive colors and then letting them chip away gradually as the days slide by, along with my worries. When I was little, it was annual vacations to Edisto Beach or the Great Smoky Mountains. Now that I’m a mom, it’s… vacations to Edisto Beach or the Great Smoky Mountains. Funny how that works, isn’t it? The things that make summer feel like summer to us become so intertwined with who we are that we want to pass them on to our kids, too. 

Still, there are some activities that simply speak the universal language of summer. Many of them revolve around water because, well, that summer sun can be unrelenting. For those of us who live in the South, this might even feel like an understatement (hello, humidity!). Refreshment can come in the form of a cool blast of water from the hose, a dip in the pool, diving through the surf, tackling seemingly endless stairs at the water park to slide down that monster slide, having a water balloon fight — it’s impossible to pick just one. 

If you live near a lake, you probably never go a summer without jumping off a pontoon. If you live on a creek or river, you might spend the sunny months waiting for the bobber on your fishing line to take a tell-tale dip. And if you live by the beach, your summer days are a revolving parade of seashells, shark’s teeth, bodysurfing, and bathing suits. 

However you decide to spend your summer, I hope you have a truly memorable one. 

Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List Essentials

  • Start the day with a smoothie
  • Road trip it with your besties
  • Tie-dye something
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Two words: beach day!
  • Hit every slide at the water park
  • Visit a national park
  • Build an epic sandcastle
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Find the fireflies
  • Take yourself out to a ball game
  • Farmer’s market
  • Stock up at the farmer’s market
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Go fishing (or at least eat some super-fresh sushi!)
  • Chase waterfalls
  • Read a new book
  • Perfect a go-to braid 
  • Eat a funnel cake
  • Curate a vibe-y playlist
  • Catch the sunrise
  • DIY your own snow cones
  • Go nightswimming
  • Light lots of sparklers
  • Get zen at sunset yoga
  • Finally try paddleboarding
  • Whip up some frozen hot cocoa
  • Bust out of an escape room
  • Chalk art your driveway
  • Go stargazing
  • Throw a paint twister party
  • Play in the rain
  • Take a hammock nap
  • Send a postcard
  • Recharge with a moon bath
  • Pick some berries
  • Make a summer movie list
  • Drink from a coconut
  • Ride on a pontoon boat
  • Make a cucumber salad
  • Blow dandelion seeds
  • Visit an aquarium
  • Actually finish a puzzle
  • Go for a hole-in-one at mini-golf
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Host a cookout
  • Make blood orange sangria
  • Unwind with a pool day
  • Book a pedicure
  • Stroll in a botanical garden
  • Eat breakfast for dinner
  • Play backyard Jenga
  • Hold an end-of-summer bonfire