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The Ultimate Summer Bucket List: 9 Ideas for the Best Summer Yet

Graphic with summer bucket list activities
Grab your summer bucket list & get ready for fun

The summer season always seems to fly by faster than all the rest. Taking a little time to create your summer bucket list and prioritize your top activities is a definite way to guarantee you make the most of your summer.

From classic activities like hitting the beach or planning a backyard BBQ to finding the best ice cream in your town, there is an art to just checking items off your summer bucket list and really experiencing them to the fullest. Keep reading for the details!

1. Day at the Beach

Probably one of the first things you think of when you imagine an ideal summer is having as many days as possible spent at the beach. Who doesn't love listening to the waves lap the shore as kids laugh and splash? However, the sun, wind, and temps can take their toll too but with our tips below you'll elevate classic beach days to an art form

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

Whether you'll be at the seashore or lakeside it's important to make sure everyone in your group is safe for maximum fun. Checking the weather and beach reports the day before your trip would be a wise thing to do too.

Being knowledgeable of the six most common beach hazards such as lightning storms, rip tides, sunstroke, dehydration, or wildlife encounters are just a few ways to make sure your beach day is all fun.

What To Wear:

Bathing suit of course!

But also layers. If you'll be at the beach near or after sundown temps can really drop and get chilly quickly so grab a sweatshirt. You may also want to consider a rash guard or lightweight long-sleeve if you feel you've gotten a little too much sun. I always like to pack a simple change of clothes too so I can get out of my wet suit before the trip home.

Big hats, sunglasses, and comfy sandals are also a must!

What to Bring:

SPF, Towels, cooler, beach toys, beach blanket, waterproof speakers, and maybe an umbrella for a break from the sun.

Hopefully, you already have one in your car, but a first aid kit is always handy too. Remember sound travels easily on the water so be mindful of young ears and other beachgoers when you pick your playlist. Nobody wants to be those people...


We could probably make a whole summer bucket list dedicated to all of our favorite summer snacks but these are our top picks that transport easily and keep well while hanging out at the beach.

Water, lemonade, iced tea, sparkling water, watermelon, bananas, oranges, grapes, hummus and crackers, chips and salsa, and deli sandwiches or wraps.

2. Pool Party

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

Getting ready for a pool party can vary a lot depending on if you're hosting it at your home or at a community pool. Make any necessary arrangements in advance to reserve and clean the area. Check to make sure there will be adequate seating and a good mixture of sunny and shaded places for guests to relax.

What To Wear:

Similar to a beach day you will want to pack your favorite swimsuit and a cute cover-up. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses too. I'm always a fan of having a dry set of clothes to put on so you might want to pack something to change into as well.

What to Bring:

Beach ball, pool noodles, dive rings, waterproof speaker.

If you're at home and hosting your pool party with kids consider splurging for some water balloons. One of my favorite memories as a kid was having water balloon fights at our pool. Though it takes a little extra effort to prepare and there's some cleanup involved it's definitely fun.


Will there be a grill? If so, load up the burgers and hot dogs! They're always simple crowd-pleasers and relatively budget-friendly too. Again depending on if you're at home or using a community facility you may need to pack everything up in a cooler. Either way, having an assortment of fruit and salty snacks should keep everyone happy.

Protip: Want to kick back and enjoy the party rather than stay busy cooking? Opt for a crock pot meal that will stay warm and allow guests to eat whenever they're ready. Something like sloppy joes or pulled pork will keep for hours in the crock pot and taste delicious no matter what.

3. Picnic

What to pack:

There are so many good picnic options I guess it depends on if you're planning a light snack or main meal. Cheese and crackers or cheese and bread if you're feeling a little Parisian are always good choices. If you're looking for something a little more substantial and have a way to keep things cool I highly recommend a cold pasta salad with lots of veggies.

What To Wear:

Are we going for cute or cute and comfy? A sundress always comes to mind but I tend to prefer a skort or cute shorts. Wind always seems to be a factor and trying to carry a picnic basket and have a classy Marilyn Monroe moment isn't always easy. But it's your picnic you decide.

What to Bring:

Your picnic basket loaded with goodies, a picnic blanket, a good book or a journal for writing and sketching. Maybe even a pillow or extra blanket you could use as a pillow if you decide a little siesta is in order.

Protip: Bring a trash bag, several paper towels, and some wet wipes for easy cleanup.

4. Backyard BBQ

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

Open flames, lighter fluid what could go wrong? Make sure your hose is nearby in case things get a little wild. Accidents happen and it wouldn't be the first time a rogue football knocked the charcoal grill over or a flaming marshmallow was flung from its respective roasting stick.

What to Bring:

If you're planning an evening BBQ, having some sparklers or other little fireworks for kids and guests is always fun when safely supervised.


Yeah right! It's gonna be a meal. Listing the things that don't make great bbq foods is probably easier than listing all the things that do. However, a few classic favorites are roasted corn on the cob, bbq chicken - kansas city style, potato salad,

5. Curb Appeal

Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or home there are projects big and small to suit any space. Creating a fresh and inviting space will set the tone for any other summer bucket list activities you might be hosting.


Head over to Pinterest and gather some inspiration for your curb appeal project. Next, make a list of any supplies you may need from the hardware store. I am a big fan of gathering all supplies the night before so I can dive right into the project first thing in the morning. Or it's my way of subliminally building in buffer time for all the things I realize I've forgotten midway through the project...

What To Wear:

Comfy clothes you don't mind getting dirty. No matter the size of your project, my guess is some dirt and flowers will be involved. Maybe it's just me but somehow I always manage to get a little dirt smeared somewhere so I wouldn't recommend tackling this summer bucket list project in your Sunday best.

What to Bring:

Or should we say who to invite? Have a friend who also loves to get their hands dirty? This is a great project because it can be equally fun to do solo or with a buddy.

6. Plan a day hike

Prep Stay Safe & Smile More:

Not all local nature walks are created equal. If you live in Montana, a simple day hike will look a lot different than one in middle Tennessee so prepare for your surroundings accordingly. Did you get that first aid kit in your car yet? Like we were saying, research your trail for reports of spotty cell service and prepare for temps, weather, and nature encounters.

What To Wear:

Maybe shorts, maybe long pants, depending on where you are. Hiking boots or sneakers should be more than adequate for most hikes. If you're planning to hike five miles or more bring a small backpack for waterbottles and a snack or two.

What to Bring:

SPF, Bug Spray, first aid kit, water, small backpack, extra socks. Maybe some bear spray and whistle if you're in a more rural area.


Plan to pack foods that don't create a lot of waste and are easy to pack out. For example, a banana or apple sounds like great hike snacks but then what do you do with the peel or core? Sure it will decompose eventually but it will also attract critters to the area.

Opt for granola bars that won't melt and make a mess or trail mix. If it's a shorter hike you may not need any food at all and can save yourself for a delicious lunch somewhere nearby afterward.

7. Horse Back Riding

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

All trail horses are going to be well-mannered horses but it's still a sixteen-hundred-pound animal with a mind of its own between your legs. So doing a little homework on common horse cues is one way to make sure you both have an enjoyable time on the trail.

What To Wear:

Long pants, a T-shirt, and hiking boots or sneakers. Yes, it's summer and it's hot out but unless you're an experienced rider you'll be glad your legs had some extra protection against the saddle and any shrubs or trees you may brush against on the trail.

What to Bring:

Most riding facilities will have everything you need so bring your excited self and be ready to have a lot of fun. This is definitely a cool activity to check off your summer bucket list. Even better if you're able to do it as part of your summer vacation away from home.

8. Kayaking or Stand up Paddle Boarding

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

It sounds silly to ask sometimes but does everyone know how to swim? The most important rule to remember on the water is always to remain calm. Panicking and flailing will make recovering from any situation more challenging. Keep an eye on how the water is moving either by currents or the wind. On rivers especially, make sure to stay away from any fallen trees and the river banks where it can be easy to get tangled in debris and pulled under.

What To Wear:

Probably the most important thing to wear is a pair of water shoes. I have a pair of sneakers made of rubber that work great as water shoes. Popular brands like Keens or Tevas are also great. They will help protect your toes from any sharp objects you cannot see in the water and are also helpful at the boat launch or put-in location.

Otherwise, a swimsuit and comfy clothes you don't mind getting wet are a great choice.

What to Bring:

A waterproof phone case that floats! If there is one thing I've learned after years on the water it's to protect your phone first at all costs. Dropping your phone in any body of water is a quick way to ruin a perfect day. Even if you're lucky enough to retrieve your phone there's always the risk of damage. So grab a waterproof case so you can take pictures and enjoy yourself without the stress of losing or damaging your phone.

9. Bike Riding

There is a lot of variance when it comes to bike riding based on your experience level and the type of riding you like to do. From mountain biking to road cycling or a casual ride through the neighborhood getting on a bike is a quintessential summer bucket list activity any year.

If you're an infrequent bike rider I highly recommend looking for a paved bike trail system in your area. These trail systems are usually made from old railways making them pretty flat and fun for the whole family.

Prep to Stay Safe & Smile More:

Check your bike tire pressure, brakes, reflectors, and seat height to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. If you're planning to ride on the road definitely refresh yourself on the proper biking hand signals and road etiquette.

What To Wear:

Comfy clothes that will not chafe and a helmet. If you're riding ten miles or more you may also want to look at getting a padded bike seat or bike shorts with cushioning built in.

Closed-toed sneakers or hiking-style sandals are also highly recommended. Blowing a flip-flop and or getting a toe caught in a tire spoke is not a fun way to spend your day. I can neither confirm nor deny having done either of those things...

What to Bring:

Like hiking you may want to bring a little backpack for small items. Your bike might even have a basket you can use for a granola bar, sunscreen, and water. In many cases, you don't need to pack anything at all. Sometimes the best activities are the ones you can do without a special commute and minimal planning.

In Conclusion

If you're still reading and haven't already packed your gear and taken off to enjoy your first summer bucket list item I am impressed. Hopefully, this article gave you plenty of ideas and tips for making this summer the best yet. Stay safe, plan it out, and have a backup ready to go if weather or other circumstances get in the way of checking off one of your bucket list items.

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