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22 Things Everyone Should Do at Least Once Before Summer’s Over

Don't let the last few warm, beautiful days of the season go to waste! Ice cream, stat!

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Flag down the ice cream truck

The catchy jingle, the delight of choosing one of the novelty treats, and, of course, the cool satisfaction of eating said treat on a hot afternoon—nothing says summer quite like an ice cream truck. Could you buy an entire box of ice cream bars at the grocery store for the same price as one from the truck? Sure, but where’s the fun in that? Make it even more magical and buy a frozen treat for a nearby child. Not sure where to go? Try the best ice cream shop in your state.

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Walk barefoot in the grass

Strolling barefoot through soft grass is the perfect way to get out of your daily bubble and smell the roses (literally!). The smells, sounds, and feel of nature will soothe your work-weary soul and melt away stress. It may even offer some unique health benefits; according to proponents of “earthing,” walking barefoot can help with insomnia and other afflictions. In case you need more reasons to get off the couch: 15 great reasons to take a 15-minute walk.

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Read under a tree

Unplug and take a fun novel, gossip mag, or other light-hearted read outdoors. Set up under your favorite tree and enjoy the stillness and tactile pleasure of reading a real paper book. Bonus: Everyone looks smarter reading under a tree. It’s pretty much science.

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Visit a farmer’s market

Many cities offer a farmer’s market on summer weekends, allowing you to support local farmers and up your health game in the tastiest way possible. Come for the fresh veggies but stay for the interesting crafts, bright flowers, sweet honey, hand-made sausages and new friends. Pro tip: Use these 13 strategies to get the best deals at the farmer’s market.

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Go to a concert or play in the park

From Shakespearean classics to local bands to movies to music festivals, your park entertainment options are endless in the summer. Check out your neighborhood Facebook page or city website for dates and times. Even better, many of these events are free or very low-cost. While you’re out don’t forget these cute and chemical-free ways to protect against mosquitoes (another unfortunate summer staple).

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Run through a sprinkler

Think playing in a sprinkler is just for kids? Adults can play this refreshing game too and it doesn’t even require a swimsuit. The next time you see a sprinkler watering the grass in the park or at your neighbor’s house, take a few running leaps through it. Skip. Laugh. Frolic. You’ll dry, we promise.

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Catch fireflies

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place still frequented by fireflies bring back happy childhood memories by capturing a few to put in a bottle. Their gentle flicker speaks of warm, summer nights. (And then let them go. Seriously. They’ll die if you leave them in the bottle. And no, “feeding” them grass doesn’t work, even if you thought it did when you were a kid.) You might even want to do this at one of the 15 greatest American campsites.

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Play the cloud game

Finding shapes in the clouds is a simple way to take a break and have some fun. And all it takes is a grassy spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, where you can lay down and look up. When’s the last time you looked up at the sky? Only rule is you can’t say “bunny”—you can be more creative than that. Having a creativity block? Ask a kid to help you.

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Stargaze

If you think clouds are fun, the night sky will blow your mind—especially if you can get far enough away from city lights to see the milky way. It’s worth the trip to the mountains or out to the countryside. Seeing the vast expanse of eternity laid out on a clear summer night will change. your. life.

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Go camping

Camping is the quintessential summer activity yet so few of us actually head for the hills. Being outdoors (and away from cell service) is a great way to reset and get in touch with nature. If you’re worried about not sleeping well outside your own bed, science shows camping can actually help cure insomnia. No tent? No problem. If you go car camping you can even sleep in your car and if things get rough you’re only a short drive from home.

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Build a sandcastle

Sand in between your toes (and in your hair and down your swimsuit) is peak summer. But don’t just settle for laying on the beach. Get dirty the fun way by building a sand castle complete with turrets and a moat. It’s just one of ten things that make a perfect day at the beach.

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Eat at a food truck

Food trucks and outdoor dining go together like…restaurants with no seating? What they may lack in chairs they make up for in taste, offering a wide variety of new flavors and old favorites at a good price. Make it a walking dinner and you can indulge in a food truck dessert to go!

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Have a bonfire and roast s’mores

Sticky fingers, smoke-scented hair, and a smile are the signature style of summer. So invite your neighbors and light (a small, well-maintained) bonfire. Add to the fun by roasting marshmallows for s’mores, everyone’s favorite sticky treat. Here are 15 ways to throw the best summer party ever.

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Watch a street performer

Warm evenings turn every street corner into a stage and you’ll be amazed at the talent in your community. Dancers and musicians are staples but in many places you can also find living “statues,” contortionists, and magicians, among others. Don’t forget to leave them a tip to show you enjoyed their performance!

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Get new sunglasses

New sunnies can take your look to the next level as well as protect your eyes. And they’re all on end-of-season clearance now! Buy two. Now that you’ve got a new accessory, try one of these 8 summer date ideas you can plan in five minutes.

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Go to a drive-in movie

Popcorn? Check. Speakers on? Check. Awesome double feature? Double check. Stay up late and watch a movie from the comfort of your own car. You’re outside but with all the comforts of being inside.

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Meet a new neighbor

A simple stroll around the block can turn into a block party during the summer. Everyone’s outside and relaxed making it the perfect time to introduce yourself. If you’re not a natural at small talk, try one of these 37 conversation starters that will make you instantly interesting.

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Jump off a diving board

It’s totally fine if you have to hold your nose! You’ll never believe these 9 outrageous summer camps actually exist.

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Count your freckles

Who says you have to cover up your freckles with makeup? Wear your summer sun kisses with pride. Count them and remember all the fun in the sun that got you each one. They, along with your memories, will fade all too quickly when fall comes.

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Wear beach-scented sunscreen

Going to the office and not the beach? No problem. Dab some coconut-scented sunscreen on before you leave and all day you’ll be reminded of summer weekends. Plus, you know, it’s sun protection—something you need regardless of the season.

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Pull some weeds

This is the perfect time to spruce up your spring garden and get it ready for fall by cutting back plants, pulling weeds and fertilizing. Sound like more work than play? Just try it. There’s something so zen about it and gardening has so many health benefits. Plus, there’s a reason your 5-year-old self loved playing in the dirt!

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Try an outdoor fitness class

Forget resolutions, this is about fun: If you’ve ever wanted to try a different workout, this is the best time. Outdoor offerings include yoga in the park, stand-up paddleboarding on the lake, guided night hikes, bootcamp, fishing excursions, and many other activities. You’ll be having so much fun you’ll forget all about the sweat. These are the 15 best summer activities that burn the most calories.