Even if money is tight, there are still plenty of ways to have an exciting summer. In fact, the best summer memories are often made up of small, simple pleasures. When the heat's on, don't sweat the big stuff. Take time to sip lemonade, read a good book, and enjoy the beauty of nature. At LDS Living, we've looked, asked, and researched the top twenty-one things to do before summer ends.
1. Take a Hike.Being outdoors is like owning a pet - there's just something healthy about it. It feels great to get back to nature, so while the weather is nice, why not explore some of the wonderful parks, trails, and reserves near your home? Bring a magnifying glass and pair of binoculars for a closer look at insects, birds, and other wildlife.
2. Read a Biography. Books are an easy vacation you can fit under your arm. They are distractions our tired brains love, and there are few things as gripping as a good biography. Many people throughout history have lived lives of achievement and inspiration. So bring a blanket and find some shady trees - they were made for reading good books.
3. Make Real Lemonade. Summer just doesn't seem like summer until you've had a nice cool glass of real lemonade. Try this recipe:
Peel three fat lemons. Cut them into smaller pieces. Drop the pieces into a blender with 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 1-1/2 cups of water. Use the blender to chop until coarse, then strain into a pitcher. Add ice cubes. Adjust as needed.
4. Host a Neighborhood Block Party. Summer is always a season of change, meaning at least one new family will move into the neighborhood. So why not host a potluck block party and give everyone a chance to get to know one another better? You can oftentimes obtain a special permit from your city that allows you to block off the street.
5. Go on a Field Trip. Remember the time you were reading about the art museum that wasn't far from your home? Summer is the perfect time to explore all that your community has to offer. How about visiting an aquarium, aviary, or zoo? Or try your state capitol building.
6. Sleep Outside. Most of us have fallen asleep outdoors a few times in our lives, or at least slept with the window open. Brigham Young once said that summers were meant for sleeping outdoors, and that the fresh air does the mind good. So take a trip back to your school days and enjoy sleeping under the stars.
7. Go to a "Dive-in" Movie. Sometimes you need to take a break from the sticky summer night heat. One great way to spend a summer evening is cooling off while watching a good movie. Many water parks show movies on giant screens while people relax in the pool. Can't find any in your area? Opt for a matinee. A nice cold soda and a dark, cool theater can provide a much-needed break from the hot summer sun.
8. Take a Dip. Studies show that 86 percent of all the swimming you'll do in your life is completed before you're twenty years old. And most of that was done in the summer. Make this the summer of swim. Visit the community pool, or better yet, take a trip to the ocean or a nearby lake. You can do some beachcombing or fishing while you're there!
9. Have a Yard Sale. Yard sales are a great way to get organized and cleaned up before the school year starts. Get your kids involved and let them earn some money. They may not want to give away some of their toys, but they might be interested in selling them. Have a yard sale - and don't forget to sell some of that good lemonade.
10. Eat Homemade Ice Cream at Sunset. Making ice cream is one of the crowning events of any summer - eating it while watching a beautiful sunset makes it even more special. This event needs to be planned and executed as though your summer depends on it. Go all out - get berries, cones, and whipped cream to dress up simpler flavors, which are easier to make and tend to turn out better than complicated flavors. Make it a fun time you'll always remember.
11. Attend a Concert in the Park. Many cities host a series of free concerts during the summer months, often with a wide variety of music from Celtic to bluegrass to classical. So grab a blanket or a lawn chair, pack a picnic, and sit back and enjoy!
12. Go Horseback Riding. Most people don't have the chance to ride horses very often, so saddle up and go on a mini adventure. Even if you're not an experienced rider, there are many businesses that can accommodate beginners. This will be great for kids, too, who tend to enjoy close contact with animals.
13. Visit an Amusement Park. If horseback riding isn't your style, you can always opt for a horse on carousel. Most amusement parks have something for everyone to enjoy. Even if you'd rather not take a spin on the roller coaster, there is sure to be dancing, singing, or some kind of entertainment for you to enjoy.
14. Attend a Festival. During the summer months, festivals are everywhere. So grab the kids and spend the day learning about the food, crafts, history, music, and dance of another culture. From Greek to Scottish to Polynesian, you're sure to find a great cultural event to attend. Check your local paper for dates and details.
15. Shop at a Farmers' Market. Local farmers' markets are overflowing with fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables. In summer, you're sure to find perfectly ripened tomatoes, sugar-sweet corn, and delicious watermelon. Go to localharvest.org or farmersmarket.com to find a farmers' market near you.
16. Pick Fresh Fruit. You can also enjoy the bounty of summer by going to the farm yourself to gather juicy strawberries or plump blueberries right from the field. Later in the season, try picking peaches or apples from a local orchard. Check pickyourown.org to see if there is a kid-friendly farm in your area.
17. Clean Up a Park. With the kids out of school, it is often hard to keep them busy with productive, meaningful projects. So grab some gloves, some garbage bags, and a rake and head to your neighborhood park. After you finish cleaning up, let the kids spend some time at the park to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
18. Build a Fort. Kids love to have a special place of their own. Let them drape sheets and blankets over some tables, chairs, and piles of couch cushions for a few days, or round up some scrap lumber and cardboard boxes for the perfect outdoor escape.
19. Attend a State or County Fair. A great event for the whole family, local fairs usually have carnival rides, games, food, entertainment, competitions, crafts, and displays. It's the perfect way to celebrate your local culture.
20. Go Stargazing. Warm summer nights are perfect for stargazing. You can make it as simple as admiring the stars in the night sky, or, with a little planning, you can catch meteor showers, locate constellations, and even find out when other planets will be visible. Find a secluded area near your house that has less light pollution so you can enjoy the full glory of the night sky. Go to stardate.org for lots of tips and a weekly calendar of celestial events.
21. Complete a Triathlon. Races are popular and common in the summer, and the days are long enough to give you ample time to prepare. Find a "sprint" triathlon, a form of triathlon that typically includes shorter, more achievable distances for novice racers. Your whole family can participate in the training, making it a summer of health. It can also bring you closer together as you all work towards a common goal! If you can't race, find out how you can assist with one.