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Celebrate summer with this warm-weather checklist. Everything on this list can be done while spending time with your family!

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated March 15, 2021
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Grab your beach towel, plan a barbecue, and get ready to spend some quality time with your family this summer. Because we’re still living through the pandemic, this summer probably looks different than the one you dreamed about during the cold winter months. But amid changed plans and social distancing guidelines, it’s still possible to have a fun summer with your family. 

Plan an outdoor adventure (like camping in the backyard or seeing a drive-in movie), and squeeze in some extra family time by whipping up a delicious summer treat or picking fresh fruits and veggies together. Technically, summer begins on June 21, but any sunny day is a good time to print out our summer checklist and get started on these warm weather must-dos.

print the free checklist
Smoothie Pops
Credit: Carson Downing

1. Make Ice Pops

There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a delicious frozen treat. And luckily, they’re easy enough to make at home. Whip up a batch of Aperol Spritz Pops for a grown-up soiree, or help the kids freeze their own scrumptious smoothie pops.

2. See a Drive-In Movie

Because many in-person movie theaters are currently closed due to the pandemic, drive-in movie theaters are seeing a resurgence right now. Find a drive-in theater near you, pack the car full of popcorn and snacks, and enjoy a safe family outing this summer. If there’s not a theater near you, consider setting up an outdoor movie screen in your backyard instead!

3. Watch Fireworks

There’s nothing more traditional than watching a fireworks show on the Fourth of July. In fact, there have been fireworks on every Fourth of July since 1777—the year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. While your viewing party may have to be virtual this year, you can still catch a great summer fireworks show.

flowers, sunglasses and wallet in beige tote bag
Credit: Brie Passano

4. Learn to Sew

Some days it’s just too hot to go outside, so summer is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. You can easily teach yourself how to sew by working your way through our sewing guide for beginners, then trying out one of our easy sewing projects. Order a beginner sewing kit ($28, Target) and you’ll be stitching up your own DIY tote bag in no time!

5. Read a Book

While you might not be reading them on a tropical vacation this year, summer is the perfect time to pick up a good beach read. There are plenty of good books by female authors that you can add to your summer reading list. 

6. Go on a Hike

After a whole year of living through the pandemic, we could all use a breath of fresh air. Studies show that taking a 20-minute walk or hike in nature can significantly lower stress levels, so grab your favorite pair of sneakers and find the nearest walking trail. 

fourth of july hot dogs july 2019 cover image
Credit: Carson Downing

7. Grill Out

Gather the family for an intimate backyard barbecue! If you don't already have an outdoor grill, summer is the perfect time to invest in one. Throw some brats on the flames and fire up delicious grilled corn on the cob that everyone will enjoy. For dessert, whip up a batch of classic homemade ice cream

8. Help a Charity

If you’re looking for ways to give back this summer, consider giving to a local charity. Traditionally, donations for food pantries and shelters peak around the holiday season, which means summer is a great time to help out. Plus, these organizations are likely helping an overwhelming number of people in need amid the coronavirus pandemic so if you’re able to donate time or money, reach out to one near you and find out how you can help. 

9. Plant Vegetables

Nothing tastes better in the summer than fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, and they’re actually fairly easy to grow yourself. You’ll want to plant warm-season vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers) in early summer, depending on your hardiness zone. When your veggies are ripe, turn them into a delicious summer salsa

10. Set Up a Pool 

If your local public pool is closed this summer, not to worry: These inflatable pools will last all summer, and they’ll look great in your backyard. Throw a grown-up pool party with your roommate, or set up a makeshift outdoor waterpark for the kids. Either way, don’t forget the sunscreen!

11. Volunteer 

If your typical summer activities have been canceled, look for a constructive way to spend your newly-found free time. There are dozens of ways you can volunteer from home (you don’t even have to get off the couch!) or sign up to help others in your neighborhood, like with this volunteer program that coordinates grocery deliveries for seniors

12. Have a Picnic

If you're not yet comfortable eating in a restaurant, having a socially-distant picnic in the park is one of the easiest and safest ways to enjoy a meal with friends this summer. Grab a blanket and pack your picnic basket full of individually-wrapped treats for a safe outdoor gathering.

tie dye hanging outside
Credit: Allison Cottrill

13. Make Tie-Dye Shirts

Tie-dye is making a comeback! Whether you’re looking for a summer craft for the kids or want to dye a trendy sweatshirt for yourself, learning how to tie-dye is fun and easy. 

14. Visit the Beach

Since public spaces like parks and beaches are slowly reopening, you may get to dig your toes into the sand this summer after all. If you live near a beach, grab sunscreen and a lounge chair and spend an afternoon relaxing in the sunshine. If you’re looking for a good beach read, these are a few of the books we’re reading this summer

15. Go Camping

If your big summer vacation was postponed again due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, don’t sweat it. Round up the family and host a fun backyard campout instead. Gather around the firepit (or the grill) to roast marshmallows, and set up tents in the backyard where you can sleep under the stars. This adventure doesn’t involve a road trip or a plane ride, but the family memories will be just as sweet. 

smores, treat boxes, chocolate, marshmallows,
Credit: David Tsay

16. Make S’mores

Even if your family isn’t the type to set up tents in the backyard, everyone will enjoy making (and eating) these super-easy s’mores. You know the drill: Roast a few marshmallows and sandwich them between chocolate and graham crackers for an ooey-gooey dessert. After you’ve made them a few times, up your s’mores game with these delicious recipes.

17. Go Strawberry Picking

Since this classic summer activity is done outside, it’s a relatively safe activity to do with friends or family this summer. Find out if there’s a berry farm near you and call to see what kinds of social distancing precautions you’ll need to follow while filling your basket. When you get home, you’ll be able to cook up these delicious fast and fresh strawberry recipes

18. Build a Fire Pit 

This year’s backyard parties might be limited to roommates or immediate family members to accommodate social distancing guidelines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a relaxing evening around the fire! It’s easy to build your own fire pit—seriously, you can get it done in an afternoon—and you’ll be able to enjoy nights by the fire all summer long. 

Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base
Credit: Andy Lyons

19. Make Ice Cream

It’s not summer without a sweet frozen treat, and what better time to mix up your own bucket of homemade ice cream? Start with our Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base and add in different ingredients to make your own delicious flavors. Enjoy a dish of Strawberry and Cream Cheese Ice Cream or serve cones of our delicious Peach Ice Cream that tastes just like summer.

20. Bake a Cake

Because of social distancing guidelines, we’re planning to spend a lot of time at home this summer—so what better time to make a delicious cake for the whole family to enjoy? Decorate a festive Fourth of July cake or celebrate a summer birthday with one of our classic cake recipes

21. Go on a Bike Ride

Gather friends or family for a socially-distant bike ride on a local path or bike trail. If you’ve never learned how to do it, now’s the perfect time to start riding! You can learn to ride a bike in under 15 minutes with our helpful tips. 

corn on the cob with a butter brush and bowls of salt and pepper
Credit: Karla Conrad

22. Eat Corn on the Cob

Whether you make it on the grill, in the oven, or in a pot on the stove, corn on the cob is a classic treat we’ll be making all summer long. You can even prepare it in the air fryer for a quick seasonal side dish. No matter how you make it, top off your corn with one of our tasty corn on the cob toppers

23. Send Snail Mail

Normally summer is packed with road trips and weekend getaways to see friends and family. Since many of our travel plans have been postponed again, so have our in-person rendezvous. If you’re missing family and friends, brighten their day with a handwritten card or letter to let them know you’re thinking of them.

24. Make Lemonade

This summer will look a lot different than we planned due to the ongoing pandemic, but as they say—when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And luckily, a batch of freshly-squeezed lemonade is one of our favorite summer staples. Whether you enjoy it poolside or on the couch with a good book, this delicious summer treat will brighten your day.

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