The 2017 summer fun list

For the past few years, I have observed a summer tradition: creating a list, in late spring, of things I want to do before Labor Day. Time passes whether we think about where it is going or not, and I find that thinking about what I want to spend time doing vastly increases the chances that I spend time doing those things. There are also certain activities that make summer feel like summer to me. I don't want the weather to turn cold and me to say "Oh, I wish that I had…"

I am posting this year's list a little early (pre-Memorial Day) as I have some adventures coming up that I feel should be included. And as we productivity sorts know, being able to cross stuff off a list is incredibly satisfying! We like to put stuff on lists just to cross it off. So here we go.

See Brad Paisley in concert. My husband and I have tickets for this, coming up soon. My husband is the country music fan but I am going to enjoy the night out anyway, with good music and good company.

Speak at my high school's graduation. This will happen over Memorial Day weekend. I'm already looking forward to the trip down memory lane that will come from wandering around the town. I suspect it will be one of those things where I open the rental car door and the smell alone will unlock all sorts of mental flights of fancy.

Publish a summer reading guide. Modern Mrs. Darcy released her list earlier this week, and it is amazing as usual. Mine is going to feature some ready-made lists of books to read in sequence on a certain theme (e.g. "Place" or "1925-1927" or "Encounters with the absurd" — published at various points, not just this year.) I find that figuring out what to read next is sometimes tricky, and often I want to keep reading about a certain thing, so these literary "playlists" will hopefully solve that problem for other people.

Do Mommy Days with the three big kids. The 2-year-old naturally gets a lot of time because of his neediness. The others, less so. I want to do a one-on-one day with each of the three big kids over the summer, doing something the child desires. We did this last summer and had a great time, though I feel now that they get the concept, they are starting to push the limits. One child inquired about Orlando. I said it needed to be more of a day trip.

Pick strawberries. Our local pick-your-own farm has turned this into quite a commercial production, but I still enjoy it. Public service announcement: Remember, the berry season is short. And there is nothing like a big bowl of ripe red strawberries, fresh off the plant, and doused in home-made whipped cream.

Go to Ocean Grove, NJ. We have booked a week in August, and will be hosting my extended family to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I will be sure to eat at Day's Ice Cream multiple times while there. I will also run along the boardwalk daily.

Go to Brew at the Zoo. My husband and I have tickets for this as well. It should be a fun date night to go to the zoo without the kids and with open containers. It will be entirely the opposite of my overnight at the zoo.

Go on a long solo bike ride. I have determined that my bike fits in the trunk of my SUV if I fold one of the back seats down. So there is nothing stopping me from loading it in some day and hitting a trail. I may do part of the Lehigh Gorge trail again. I just need to figure out a good way for packing water and snacks (which I didn't have last time, thus limiting me to about 20 miles).

See fireworks and the fountain show at Longwood Gardens. We have this booked with the big kids for August. And I even have a babysitter booked for the little guy (the show starts at 9:30 p.m.)

Swim in Lake Michigan. I am pretty sure this will happen as we are visiting my husband's extended family, and renting a house on the lake, in early July. We'll be celebrating my mother-in-law's 80th birthday. Hopefully I'll see fireworks over the lake to celebrate the 4th.

Eat a picnic breakfast. Now that it's summer, I should start thinking beyond PAW Patrol for ways to entertain the little dude when he's up before everybody else. We could have an hour in the backyard in the morning, and with my coffee, that might not be so bad.

Eat lobster in Cape May. There's a restaurant by the boats, just outside Cape May, that serves great seafood outside. Summer isn't summer without some lobster and Blue Moon there.

Inhale some honeysuckle. It's one of my favorite scents. I need to find a patch somewhere. Then maybe I should buy some honeysuckle soap or something to keep breathing it in all summer long, after the vines stop blossoming by late June.

What's on your summer fun list?

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21 Responses to The 2017 summer fun list


  1. Monica says:

    Great list. My husband and I have something similar with a day excursion planned later this month at the Brookfield zoo in Chicago. I’ve never been and he grew up in the city, so I think he’s excited about taking me to a place he visited so many times as a kid.

    • @Monica- there’s something really cool about revisiting places you knew as kids. You have to be open-minded about it (because some stuff will not be quite as remembered) but sharing it with someone special is like sharing a little piece of your past. It is a gift from the part of life when you didn’t know each other.

  2. I don’t usually do envy but I have a TOUCH of envy that you’re going to see Brad Paisley – I adore his music! That should be so much fun.

    As is the rest of your list – it all sounds wonderful!

    I scored an almost affordable ticket to Hamilton, we’re going to San Diego Comic Con again as usual, and we’re going to a family reunion this summer so that’s about all the excitement I have energy for amid our househunting project. 🙂

    • @Revanche – ooh, Hamilton! that’s a great summer fun list entry. I hope it’s as amazing as everyone says!

  3. Maria says:

    Strikes me as something that could be in the works, as Anne has talked about you before on her show, but you would be an AMAZING guest on What Should I Read Next! I would get behind this lobby. 🙂

    • @Maria- I’d be honored to be on it some time! I love her book recommendations.

    • Mimi says:

      Agreed. You would be a great guest on her podcast. And I can’t wait for your summer reading list.

  4. Sara says:

    I love honeysuckle, too! Mrs Meyer’s has a lovely honeysuckle scented hand soap that I love – simple pleasures 🙂

  5. Marie says:

    Thanks for this idea, which I borrowed a couple years ago. I even went a step further and created seasonal lists, after spacing out on some fun fall activities one year. We just paid for an expensive screened-in porch, so my activities this summer will be low-budget, which is kind of a fun challenge in itself.

    • @Marie- I like fall lists too! I think of doing a summer list, a few fall activities (e.g. apple picking, hiking/biking in the leaves, maybe a football game), and then I think of Christmas activities. I guess the rest of the year (January to May) doesn’t seem to lend itself as well to it. Or else I just need a break!

  6. Zenmoo says:

    I love picnic breakfasts – I did one towards the end of summer here. It was forecast to be really hot (like 100F hot) so everyone got up and we went to the park 5min from home at 7am. It was deserted so no waiting for the flying fox or swings! The kids played, then had muffins and bananas for breakfast & we were home around 9:30 just as it started heating up. It’s something I plan to do again next summer. A Breakfast picnic now seems much lower effort than a lunch or afternoon picnic.

    • @Zenmoo- I agree, everything about breakfast seems lower maintenance. And no one’s fretting about eating vegetables. It’s the fun meal of the day!

  7. ANgela says:

    Love your list!

    I am so excited to hear that you are speaking at a graduation- I have no doubt that you will inspire MANY young minds and hearts!
    I love your book list idea too.

    Funny that you mention a breakfast picnic- my children did that this morning- they were dying to get outside and I obliged, as long as they ate their breakfast while outside and came in to get ready for school when I asked them too. I was surprised how much I wanted to join them… maybe I can use that as motivation to get out of bed earlier!

    • @Angela- thanks! And I agree that even just having a cup of coffee outside makes a morning feel special. Summery!

      • angela says:

        Tomorrow I think I will do just that! and again on Saturday with some cinnamon rolls (pillsbury) to accompany the coffee.

  8. Traci Lee says:

    Great list!! I thrive on lists like this. Would you share the name of the restaurant you recommend in Cape May? We’re going there for the first time in September. Thanks!

    • @Traci Lee- it’s The Lobster House. The inside is nothing special, but there’s a take-away counter and a bar and outside tables – that’s where to go!

  9. Diana says:

    I love this! There are things I try to do every summer but the act of writing them down (and being able to check off!) makes me much more likely! I added berry picking to ours, taking our son to a drive-in movie (my husband and I already went last weekend on our own!), and bike rides downtown, among other things. Thanks for the motivation to make a list!

    • @Diana- definitely make a list! Putting stuff down on the list totally nudges me to check it off. And makes sure I have a fun summer. It’s easy to let summer weekends slip away without thinking through the plans.

  10. Kari Gormley says:

    Hey fellow Midwesterner in Philly, Thank you for all of the great ideas! What a terrific reminder to go for a swim in Lake Michigan, and see the fireworks at Longwood Gardens. I think we may even go to Cape May so we can have lobster while eating outside. Don’t you LOVE summer?!

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