26 Nostalgic Ways to Celebrate the First Day of Summer
Dive, sip, snack, splash, play, and laugh your way into this magnificent season. No one can resist a bean-bag toss!
Burn a marshmallow
What’s a good s’more without a slightly singed marshmallow? Celebrate with a bonfire with friends or just use a burner on the stove and whip up the classic sticky-sweet summer treat in minutes. Nothing says “summer is starting” like a little bit of marshmallow stuck in your hair and a smear of chocolate on your chin! Get inspired by these 10 delicious s’mores recipes.
Find the Milky Way
Anyone can spot a star or even a planet on a clear night but it takes getting far away from bright city lights to get a glimpse of our galaxy. But, oh, is it worth it! Take a nighttime drive or hike into nature and prepare to be blown away by how small you are and how amazing our world is. While you’re there check out these cool things you can only see in the night sky during summer.
Roll up your pants and go wading
There’s something so satisfying about stripping off sweaty socks and shoes and bathing your tired tootsies in a nearby creek, river, lake, or ocean. Even a full gutter or sidewalk puddle is perfect for splashing! Plus, wading through nice, cool water is one of the 50 ways to have your healthiest summer ever.
Sip a mint julep
Sweet mint syrup adds the perfect summer flavor to standard drinks. Daytime? Enjoy some sweet mint tea. Evening? Make it a julep by adding a shot of bourbon.
Hit up an ice cream truck
Remember when the familiar dulcet tones of “Turkey in The Straw” floating through the hot, summer air sent every kid in your neighborhood running out to the ice cream truck? And then the crushing disappointment of not having enough change? Well, now you’re an adult and definitely fast enough and rich enough to get a delicious caramel cone or dreamsicle from the ice cream man. Everyone knows treats from the ice cream truck just taste better!
Sit out on the porch in the evening
The first night of summer is tailor-made for porch sitting. It’s not too cold nor too hot and the smell of fresh grass and the sparkle of lightning bugs will have all your neighbors drifting outside too. Enjoy the quiet evening air or strike up a fun new friendship.
Make homemade root beer
Pick up a packet (carefully!) of dry ice, a bag of sugar, and a bottle of root beer extract from the grocery store, mix in a large container, and watch the magic of carbonation take place. Share your summer concoction with family, friends, and especially kids. It’s as entertaining as it is tasty. Talk about a sweet science experiment!
Jump off a diving board
When’s the last time you had an adrenaline rush that didn’t come from crazy traffic or forgetting your cell phone in a restaurant? Instead, get your endorphins going the way you did as a kid: With a jump off a diving board. High or low, backflip or belly flop—whatever you choose, it’ll be a rush! Add this to the list of 22 things you must do before summer ends.
Buy a yummy smelling sunscreen
Nothing brings on the anticipation of summer like a whiff of orange- or coconut-scented sunscreen. There’s something about the combination of heat and sweet scents that makes it feel like the beach is right around the corner (even if it’s really miles away). Bonus: Wearing daily sunscreen is one of the 38 non-negotiable beauty rules so you might as well pick one with a summery scent!
Make summer fruit skewers
Summer brings a bounty of fresh, seasonal, fruit. Enjoy the just-picked flavor (along with healthy vitamins and fiber) by making simple skewers of berries, cut-up peaches, pineapple, grapes, or any other of your favorite fruits. Why the skewer? Because food is always more fun on a stick. You know we’re right.
Float some flowers in your bathtub
Your nighttime soak gets an exotic summer upgrade when you add a few blossoms to your bathwater. Roses, jasmine, and other summer blooms will make you smell as pretty as you feel. An indulgence? Sure! But this is the first day of summer!
Watch a movie outdoors
All you need is a white bed sheet, a projector, and a laptop to turn your backyard into an outdoor cinema. Invite your neighbors, pop some corn, and enjoy the warm summer evening with your favorite flick. Need ideas? Check out one of these 9 summer-themed movies the whole family can enjoy.
Buy a new swimsuit
Know what you need to get a swimsuit bod for the summer? A swimsuit and a body. Period. But you’ll enjoy the beach more if you have a suit that you love and feel amazing in. Celebrate the onset of pool season by splurging on a fun new suit.
Set up a lemonade stand
Lemonade stands aren’t just for adorable kiddos (although you’ll be more successful if you involve some). Show your love of summer by setting up a drink stand in your neighborhood and offer some cold beverages for free. You’ll meet your neighbors and get a kick out of helping people cool off on a hot day. Plus this is a perfect parent-child bonding activity.
Leap through the sprinklers
What was the first thing you did during summer vacation when you were a kid? Ran through the nearest sprinkler of course! The fun doesn’t have to stop just because you now wear dry-clean-only pants or leather shoes. Change your clothes, lose the shoes, and get your frolic on!
Eat a rocket pop
Popsicles are the quintessential summer treat and the red, white, and blue Rocket Pops are the ultimate popsicle. For a grown-up upgrade, try one of these 16 delicious summer ice-pop recipes—including some fruity, some creamy, and some boozy.
Take an after-dinner stroll
You don’t have to do something major to celebrate the arrival of summer. Simply take advantage of the beautiful evening with an after-dinner walk around your block. Admire your neighbor’s flowers, catch up on how big their kids are, pet any new pups (or old ones!), chat about your day, and enjoy the fresh summer air.
Pick (or buy) a bouquet of daisies
Fresh flowers are one of the summer’s most beautiful gifts. Bring some inside by making your own bouquet. You don’t have to be a master flower arranger to select a few blossoms—from the farmer’s market or your yard—and create a little work of art for your home. Every time you see them, you’ll smile.
Sleep with your windows open
Late-summer evenings can be stuffy and humid so take advantage of the cooler air of the first night of summer by sleeping with your windows open. As long as you don’t have terrible allergies or noisy neighbors, the breeze will soothe you into a deep sleep.
Go (naked?) night swimming
R.E.M. was on to something with their classic summer song, “Night Swimming”—there’s just something magical about taking a swim through dark, quiet water still warm from the summer sunshine. Make it into a first-day-of-summer adventure by shedding your clothes and inhibitions and go skinny dipping!
Make a flower crown
A simple wreath of braided daisies, posies, poppies, or even dandelions makes the perfect summer crown for a child, a pet, or even yourself. Not into crafts? Tuck a flower or two behind your ear. Don’t miss learning about the fascinating ways countries around the world celebrate the summer solstice.
Snap a beach selfie
Summer calls for a new profile picture! You don’t have to be a supermodel or Instagram star to snap a fun, flattering summer selfie. Pose outdoors, on a beach, near a pool (or wearing your flower crown!) and then add filters, stickers, borders, banners, and other summery extras.
Host a backyard barbecue
The smell of meat grilling, the sight of a bright tablecloth, the sound of chill music—Does anything scream “first day of summer” more than a backyard barbecue? Delight your friends and families by hosting the first party of the summer. And no worries if you’re not Martha Stewart; check out these 11 simple tips for throwing the perfect summer barbecue.
Play capture the flag
Round up the neighborhood kids or make it adults-only and set up the classic summer night game. All you need are two “bases,” two flags, and enough people for two teams. For bonus fun, bring glow-in-the-dark bracelets for everyone.
Make a fresh summer salad
Nothing showcases the early bounty of your summer garden (or the summer farmer’s market) like a salad filled with fresh, seasonal greens, veggies, and fruit. The great thing is that salads are practically foolproof—any combination of veggies with a tasty dressing is great. Find out the life hacks that will make your summer even breezier.
Set up lawn games
Cornhole. Ladderball. Life-size Jenga. Giant dice. Hopscotch. Lawn darts. OK, so the lawn darts might be a tiny bit dangerous but setting up some fun lawn games in your front yard is the perfect low-key way to celebrate the summer season. No one can resist throwing a beanbag into a hole! Ready to hit the road? These are the amazing beaches to add to your summer bucket list.