The Most Incredible Summer Bucket List Ideas You Don’t Want to Miss Out On
Have the best summer ever with these 10 don’t-miss experiences.
Scream on a roller coaster
Summer and theme parks are a perfect match, so scout out what’s new to ride and get ready to scream. Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster, a roller coaster that makes riders feel like they are riding on jet skis, debuts in June at SeaWorld San Antonio. Meantime, Busch Gardens Williamsburg recently inaugurated InvadR, its first-ever wooden roller coaster. For more laughs than screams, head to Universal Orlando for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Watch the total solar eclipse on August 21
The first total solar eclipse in years will take place on August 21 and the best seats in the house will be along the path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Many are heading to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which is said to be one of the very best places for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Or, head to Casper for the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, which will include historical tours, a 10K race, and an astronomy convention over six days.
Watch a movie at drive-in theater
Another must for your list of summer bucket list ideas: Before drive-in movie theaters go the way of the CD player, plan to pile the family into the car for a night at the drive-in watching flicks on a 50-foot screen. Many drive-in theaters, including Bengies in Baltimore, feature first-run movies and are only open on weekends. According to Nerve, just 338 drive-in theaters are still operating in the U.S. Fortunately, they’ve got a list of all of them, so find the nearest one, get in the car and go.
Go whitewater rafting
There’s nothing like spending the day, or even just a half-day, whitewater rafting in the summer. Kids will love family rafting in West Virginia where you can find everything from gentle floats to more adventurous paddling on Class III rapids. Adventures on the Gorge offers whitewater rafting on the Gauley River and New River. As a bonus, children as young as six can raft. Out west, try Colorado River Discovery in Arizona for river rafting tours along the dramatic Colorado River.
Head to a new state to try its signature treat
Planning an out-of-state road trip this summer? Then make plans to sample some of the tasty foods unique to the states you’ll be visiting, like chislic in South Dakota and pepperoni rolls in West Virginia, or bison burgers in Wyoming. There’s just something about trying the local foods to give you a deeper experience when exploring a new city or state.
Enjoy a soak in a hot spring
After an active, nature-filled day, relax and enjoy a soak in the healing mineral waters of a hot spring. Nevada boasts more hot springs than any other state (more than 300). Two worth checking out include Spencer Hot Springs, located just off “America’s Loneliest Road” in Austin, and Bailey’s Hot Springs, just outside Death Valley National Park. Another great option is Old Town Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. As a bonus, there are two water slides, making this a real crowd-pleaser among the younger set.
Go tent camping in a National Park
Everyone should go tent camping under the stars at least once, if only for the campfire and roasting s’mores. Go online to book a campsite reservation in advance. If your favorite campgrounds are booked up, look for those with first-come, first-served campsites, but plan to arrive early since these can fill up by noon each day. Another option is a KOA, which has campgrounds within a few minutes of many national parks, including Yellowstone and Yosemite.
Stroll along a classic beach boardwalk
A walk along a classic beach boardwalk is one of the best summer activities. There’s a lot to love about the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk in South Carolina, which has sugar shops, arcades, multiple Ripley’s attractions, and the 200-foot Myrtle Beach SkyWheel. Or, head up the Jersey Shore to Wildwood, which has a wooden boardwalk boasting three amusement piers (think roller coasters and every ride you can imagine). The Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles is another favorite.
Go on a photo safari
Given we all have cameras with us at all times (hello, iPhone), why not put your camera to good use by signing up for a photo safari either in your town or in a new city. Washington Photo Safari in Washington, DC offers organized photo walks of the monuments and memorials. While most photo walks require you to have an actual camera (not just a phone), you’ll be surprised by how much you learn about angles, lighting, and storytelling that you can apply to iPhone photography.
Climb a mountain
It may sound challenging, but yes, you’ll want to hike up a mountain, especially once you learn that you can earn a patch, a sticker, and major bragging rights. In the Adirondacks of New York, climb the six peaks around Saranac Lake to become a Saranac Lake 6er. Not up for all six? Start with Mount Baker, which is well-suited for families and novice hikers. In Colorado, climb one of 54 fourteeners (peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet), a summer bucket list must-do. Start with Grays Peak or Mount Bierstadt, both of which are good for beginners.