50 essential summer activities
We asked you what some of your favourite summer activities were. Get your family active this summer with this selection of kid-friendly ways to have fun together.
Essential summer activities
Take advantage of your summer by spending as much quality time with your family as possible. We asked our readers for their favourite summer activities and we have compiled 50 of them. See how many you can check off your to-do list this summer.
New: Keep track of your activities this summer with our printable checklist!
Make your own box car
You know the saying: give them the toy, they'll play with the box? Here's your chance to take it that one step further for hours of creative fun.
Source: "Making cars out of old boxes." ~ @MomItForward via Twitter
Fishing can be such a relaxing pastime. Head out to your favourite lake or river and spend some quality time with your family. See who can catch the biggest fish... or the oldest boot.
Source: "Going fishing." ~ Laura Laird via Facebook
Take a family road trip
Take the family on the road this summer. Between the car games, the new places to discover and the special time spent together, it will be an experience you will remember forever.
Source: "Take a family road trip." ~ Today's Parent staff
Chase an ice cream truck
There is nothing but excitement on every kid's face when they can hear the ice cream truck music getting nearer. Next time, let it get that little bit too far away and chase it down for your favourite soft-serve cone. It's like an adventure in your own front yard.
Source: "Chase down an ice cream truck." ~ @MomBabyhood via Twitter
Make your own car wash
Sometimes doing chores can be fun! Get the family outside on a sunny day and wash the car. Have a mini competition to see who can get their rim cleaner or who can shammy the fastest. And of course, the more bubbles there are, the better.
Source: "Wash the car together with a hose and lots of bubbles." ~ Jasmin Jessen-Howard via Facebook
Catch a frog
If you're spending time by the creek, look for some amphibious friends and see if you can catch them before they hop away. After getting used to his sliminess and introducing him to the family, let him go and see if you can guess where he heads next.
Source: "Catch a frog and let it go after." ~ Lacey Sturge via Facebook
Play with sidewalk chalk
The best part about sidewalk chalk is the fact that there is usually a big, empty canvas available in your neighbourhood and that it is quite easy to erase and start again when you've run out of room. See if you have the next Monet or Picasso in your family, and who can draw the biggest picture with the most colours.
Source: "Sidewalk chalk art. Remember to take pictures of all the sidewalk chalk art your kids make this summer!" ~ @Navneet Ghuman-Samra via Twitter
Who doesn't love a good pie? Even though this kind isn't of the edible variety, mudpies are easy to make and allow kids to let their imaginations run wild. All you need is some sand, some water and a smile on your face.
Source: "Make mudpies." ~ Brandy Gilvear Paul via Facebook
Track down a creature (like Big Foot)
Who says interesting creatures can't live in your own backyard? Get a team together and put your sleuthing skills to the test while you search for the mysterious animal of your choice.
Source: "Sasquatch or Big Foot tracking." ~ Brenda Gelean via Facebook
Build a sandcastle
Sandcastles are great because they can be as modest or extravagant as you have the patience to make, and can be quite exquisite if you have that certain eye for detail. Get your pail and your shovel, and head for the beach!
Source: "Build sandcastles." ~ @MomBabyhood via Twitter
Looking up at the stars on a clear night can be quite fascinating, especially if you've got a telescope in tow. See how many constellations you can find, and how many different shapes you can find out there in the universe.
Source: "Stargazing." ~ Courtney Kingsbury via Facebook
Play with Nerf guns in the park
One little Nerf gun is able to provide hours of entertainment to a child. Take the family out to the park this summer and discover who has the best aim. See if you can get some other family and friends involved too: The more the merrier.
Source: "Nerf gun wars at the park." ~ Valerie Foussias via Facebook
Take in an outdoor concert
There are so many great outdoor events happening this summer, no matter where you're from. Try to make it to at least one this season, and it'll be an unforgettable experience for your family. Who knows, it may become a tradition.
Source: "Take the kids out to many outdoor festivals & events and expose them to live music of all kinds — with no auto-tune." ~ @ChrisForKids via Twitter
Pick a wildflower bouquet
Wildflowers are everywhere! Next time you pass some, why not pick a bouquet to put in a vase at your house? You can never get too much of nature.
Source: "Picking a bouquet of wildflowers." ~ Jen Hughes via Facebook
Have a water fight
A water fight is a great way to cool off while having fun. Who needs a pool when you've got a water gun loaded and ready to go?
Source: "Water fights." ~ @MomItForward via Twitter
Go to the zoo
The zoo is a great place to learn about your favourite animals and be amongst nature. In the summer, a lot of zoos have special activities planned for little ones, so make sure to look up what's happening ahead of time to maximize your fun. It'll be more entertaining than a barrel of monkeys!
Source: "Go to the zoo." ~ Patricia O'Halloran via Facebook
Grow a garden
Growing a garden with your kids is a great way to get them to learn to nurture something from seed to bloom. There is no better feeling than seeing your hard work pay off with a beautiful flower or a delicious vegetable. Get your kids involved by letting them pick out their favourites and helping you out as much as they can.
Source: "Plant a garden." ~ @MomBabyhood via Twitter
Paint some rocks
Kids love to paint... especially when it isn't on paper. Have your kids help spruce up the garden by gathering some rocks and letting them paint on their favourite animal or design. These crafts make great paperweights too.
Source: "We colour and paint rocks and put them in the garden." ~ Holly Schwieger via Facebook
Try paddle boating
If you're wanting to get out on the water without having to travel, try paddle boating this summer. It's a great way to get the kids on the water, especially if it's for the first time, and is easy to do in a pond at a park. Don't forget your life jackets!
Source: "Going for a paddle boat ride in your local urban park." ~ Laura Laird via Facebook
Go for a bike ride
Learning to ride a bike is a milestone in most kids' lives and a skill that they will never truly forget. Whether your little one is still on training wheels or not, get some exercise this summer by taking a bike ride as a family to a new park, a library or even the perfect picnic location.
Source: "Go for a family bike ride!" ~ Today's Parent staff
Pick some berries
Spend some time outside this summer by picking some berries. Not only does your family get to come home with fresh, juicy fruit, but you get to sample what you're picking as you go. The kids will be surprised to see how many berries it takes to make their favourite jam or pie filling.
Source: "Strawberry picking." ~ Tamara Bozek via Facebook
See a drive-in movie
A drive-in is an inexpensive way to see a movie since there's usually a two-for-one deal and kids are admitted for free. There's a unique experience in getting the trunk set up for the ideal movie-watching experience, and trying your hardest to stay awake for the whole of the second movie. You can even bring your own snacks from home.
Source: "Drive-in." ~ @MomItForward via Twitter
Explore your own hometown
Take the time this summer to explore the place you live. It's a great way to find new restaurants, shops and parks, while meeting new people. Who needs to travel when you've got pockets of your own hometown to discover?
Source: "Explore the place you live. People often neglect their own 'backyard.'" ~ Deborah Hart via Facebook
Feed the ducks
Make some new animal friends by bringing some bread to the park and feeding the ducks. See how many types of birds you can attract and how close you can get to them without scaring them off. Maybe your new friend will even follow you home.
Source: "Feeding ducks." ~ Tracey Struthers via Facebook
Put on a family show
Brush up on your acting/singing/dancing skills by putting together a family show. Have your little ones come up with the ideas and help them write a script and memorize it. Too shy to show anyone the final result? Video tape it and watch it together to laugh about it.
Source: "Create a family show for other friends and family to see." ~ Kara Buttree via Facebook
Roll in the grass
There is nothing more freeing than rolling in the grass, especially when on a hill. If you can stand the potential grass stains, try and get rolling as much as possible this summer, but watch out for anything hiding that could cause injury.
Source: "Roll in the grass." ~ @MomBabyhood via Twitter
Camp in your backyard
Sometimes driving all the way to the perfect camping spot just isn't a possibility. Why get stuck in traffic and have to put up with many "Are we there yet?"s when you can set up a tent in your own backyard. It's also a great option for younger kids who might not be ready to spend a night in the woods.
Source: "Camping in the backyard at night." ~ Kiisga Newitt via Facebook
Fly a kite
Mary Poppins said it best: "Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height!" When the wind is just right, there's nothing better than watching your kite dance in the sky. Personalize the experience by making your kite by hand.
Source: "Fly a kite." ~ Andree Lau via Facebook
Catch a butterfly
Butterflies are beautiful, delicate and mysterious creatures that fascinate children. If you're lucky enough to find one, get your child to chase it, but make sure to let it go after you've taken a souvenir photo.
Source: "Chase butterflies." ~ Terri O'Donnell via Facebook
The combination of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers is a classic, especially when there's a campfire around. This gooey, delicious treat is a family favourite and is even fun to make! Make sure the kids are being careful by the fire (or barbecue) and roast away.
Can't get by a fire? Try this version instead.
Source: "Eat s'mores by a campfire." ~ Karen McNeil via Facebook
Go to the farmer's market
Farmer's markets are a great way to get out into your community and support local products. Have your kids help choose the produce you'll use for dinner that night or try new foods by the way they look or smell. It's much more exciting than the grocery store.
Source: "Visit a farmer's market." ~ 411ontariokids.com via Facebook
The great thing about a Frisbee is that it can be played almost anywhere: the beach, the park and even your backyard. It's fun for the whole family and can be used for a variety of games, from Ultimate to a simple game of catch.
Source: "Frisbee." ~ Today's Parent staff
Put on or go see a fireworks show
Fireworks are quite the surreal experience. With their beautiful colours, interesting shapes and awe-inspiring bang, both adults and kids can appreciate them when they're done right. If there isn't an event hosting a fireworks show near you, don't be afraid to purchase some of your own and put on a great show.
Source: "Fireworks." ~ Cathy Brown Landolt via Facebook
Swim at the local pool
People often forget that you don't have to go far to enjoy the refreshing splash of a pool on a hot, humid day. A trip to the community pool is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. Check online or in your local newspaper for free swim times or other water activities planned by the facility near you. Maybe this summer will be the one where your little one learns to swim.
Source: "Head to the pool with the family." ~ Today's Parent staff
Visit different playgrounds
Fact: Kids love playgrounds. Not only is it a great way to use some of that bottled up energy outside, but it's also a good way to meet new friends (for both kids and adults). Instead of hitting up the same playground all the time, try to mix it up a bit, for variety.
Source: "Last year our family challenged ourselves to visit 100 different playgrounds." ~ Amber McInnis via Facebook
Build a bonfire
Whether you have a large group of people coming over or simply a small gathering with the family, a bonfire is an amazing way to bring everyone together (and keep the bugs away). There's nothing better than the smell of burning wood and the crackling sound it makes.
Source: "Bonfire at night, roasting marshmallows." ~ Dianne Oliveira via Facebook
Run through the sprinkler
On those hot and humid summer days when there's no pool available and a cool-down becomes necessary, try running through the sprinkler. There will be nothing but squeals of joy coming from your children, no matter how many times they've tried to outrun it.
Source: "Running through sprinklers! Always a favourite of mine." ~ @londonchildcare via Twitter
Have a picnic
Picnics don't have to include only ham sandwiches and fruit. With minimal prep, it's easy to get a practically gourmet meal outside with you and your family. Follow your feast with a nice walk or by playing in the park.
Source: "Have a picnic." ~ @MomBabyhood via Twitter
Play or watch baseball
For the Today's Parent staff, no summer is complete without experiencing baseball in one way or another. If you can't get out to a professional game, enlist some friends to get together and play a game on your own (or t-ball for the little ones). This is one sport that everyone can play together.
Source: "You can't have summer without baseball." ~ Today's Parent staff
Host a BBQ
Using your BBQ is an easy way to cook — there's little to no mess at all! When cooking for a large gathering, there is no better way to get everyone outside than to use your BBQ to cook burgers, grilled favourites or even dessert. Have some games set up in the backyard for the kids and you're good to go!
Source: "BBQ." ~ Courtney Lewin via Facebook
Go horseback riding
Horseback riding is probably not something that screams "summer activity," but it is definitely something different. Every kid wants a pony or a horse growing up, and this is the perfect opportunity to let them visit with one (that you can give back!) and learn how to properly take care of these lovely animals.
Source: "Horseback riding!" ~ Aarin Sorensen via Facebook
Open a lemonade stand
A lemonade stand is the perfect way to get your little ones to learn about making their own money and the hard work it takes to undertake any business venture. They'll love making their own lemonade and will be brilliant salespeople... who could resist them?
Source: "Making a lemonade stand!" ~ Tricia Mumby via Facebook
Visit a theme park
There is nothing more thrilling than riding a roller coaster. Even little ones get a kick out of the kiddie-sized rides. Theme parks are a perfect way to spend a summer day, since there's usually something for everyone, including some less-adventurous thrill seekers. If it's a really hot day, don't forget the water park either!
Source: "Theme parks, like Canada's Wonderland." ~ Today's Parent staff
Blow some bubbles
Bubbles can keep kids entertained for hours. They enjoy blowing them, chasing them and even popping them. Have some fun with bubbles this summer. If it's raining outside, you can always pop some bubble wrap instead.
Source: "Bubbles!" ~ Sarah Sorbara via Facebook
Nothing says peace and quiet more than canoeing on the open lake. Of course, canoeing with kids is a little different since they don't appreciate a difficult trek the same way adults do, but that shouldn't stop you from taking a nice little trip together. If you're really adventurous, you can even go on a camping trip too, canoeing from one spot to the next, if you think your little ones can handle it.
Source: "Take a canoe trip." ~ Anne Sutton Norzia
Take a hike
Hiking is not only a great form of exercise, but it is also a way to explore nature and discover new things. If you aren't near a provincial park, take a look online for some nice trails near you.
Source: "Hiking." ~ Today's Parent staff
It has been proven that reading is an important way to keep your child engaged and challenged over the summer break. Let them grab their favourite book and head outside for the best of both worlds. Reading time can quickly become family time if you take turns reading a couple pages out loud to each other. You can even make it more challenging by starting a story of your own invention, and letting the person to your right take over midway through.
Source: "Reading outside!" ~ Lei Shimbashi via Facebook
Go on a treasure hunt
Your future private detective (or pirate) will love going on a treasure hunt. Whether it be searching for a special summer treat or their favourite toy, every new clue will be as exciting as the one before it. All it takes is some paper and some creativity. You can even have your kids and their friends write personalized treasure hunt for each other.
Source: "Go on a treasure hunt." ~ Jessica Holstine
Watch the sunset
The perfect end to the perfect day always involves the sunset. Watching the sky go from blue, to orange, yellow and pink, and finally to the dark night sky never gets old.
Source: "Watch the sunset." ~ Tamara Roy-Molloy via Facebook
Make your own ice cream
The staff here at Today's Parent suggest you make your own ice cream this summer! Now everyone's favourite treat can be had without even leaving your house! Try experimenting with flavours you love to come up with the new, ultimate palate pleaser.
Summer essentials checklist
Print out our PDF to keep a running checklist of all the activities your family does this summer!
More summer activities