Ultimate Summer Bucket List 2024 Ideas & Printable

Hiking trails and national parks Burney Falls 2024 summer bucket list

Summer is here or literally days away, depending on when you read this, and 2024 is the year of experiences and creating the best summer bucket list. While our first suggestion will always be travel because that’s our favorite thing, not everyone can leave for the entire summer, so here’s to creating a realistic summer bucket list for 2024.

We will cover topics ranging from outdoor activities, water activities, Amusement parks, and museums to at-home activities to keep busy. 

Let’s dive into the fun summer bucket list 2024 ideas.

We will go over topics so you can create your Ultimate and unique summer bucket list for 20204

Outdoor Adventure

Water Activities

Amusement and Theme Parks

Local Fairs and Carnivals

Culture and Educational Activities

Food and Drink Experiences

At Home Activities

Download and Print your Summer Bucket List and Get Started

Hiking trail perfect for a 2024 summer bucket list

Outdoor Adventures

Hiking and Nature Trails

Getting outside is the best way to experience the local wildlife and repair your mental health. It doesn’t have to be complex, but the summer months this is the best time to take advantage of the warm weather and try something new outside. 

Never discount your local hiking trails and parks in your own backyard or within a few hours of your home. Going out into the great outdoors as a family can be a great way to slow down and connect. Make a day trip out of your hike, and find a cute spot to eat or grab a coffee. The best part about getting outside is discovering new places and having fun doing it. Going on a hike can be for advanced hikers or people who have never stepped into a national park, but discovering a new trail should be saved for those who are absolutely prepared to be outside. 

Let’s dive into some of the top Scenic trails and parks in the United States, as well as some family-friendly options such as beach days and a few camping trips to add to your 2024 Summer Bucket List.

Highlight Scenic Trails and Parks

  • Yosemite National Park, California: Known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems. Great for both seasoned hikers and beginners.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Famous for its mist-covered mountains and rich biodiversity. Features trails like Clingmans Dome and Laurel Falls.
  • Zion National Park, Utah: Offers breathtaking views with trails like Angels Landing and The Narrows, catering to various skill levels.

Family-Friendly Options

  • Acadia National Park, Maine: This park is perfect for families, with trails like Jordan Pond Path and Cadillac Mountain. It also offers ranger-led programs for kids.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: Known for its unique hoodoo formations. The Navajo Loop and Queens Garden trails are accessible and enjoyable for families.
  • Olympic National Park, Washington: This are features diverse landscapes, from mountains to coastlines. The Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach offer easy hikes suitable for children.
Lake Tahoe 2024 summer bucket list

Beach Days

Best Beaches to Visit in the US

  • Maui, Hawaii: Ka’anapali Beach is great for families. Its soft sand and calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Clearwater Beach, Florida: Known for its white sands and family-friendly amenities, including playgrounds and nearby attractions.
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina: This destination offers a mix of adventure and relaxation, with opportunities for kite flying, beachcombing, and exploring the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Essential Beach Gear for Families

  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and UV-protective clothing.
  • Comfort: Beach chairs, umbrellas, and a large beach blanket.
  • Entertainment: Sand toys, frisbees, and beach balls.
  • SafetyLife vests for young children, a well-stocked first-aid kit, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Convenience: A cooler with snacks and drinks, waterproof bags for wet clothes, and a portable changing tent.

Ultimate Beach Packing List

Camping at Topaz Lake bucket list for summer ideas 2024
Camping summer bucket list idea

Camping Trips

We will discuss backyard camping shortly for at-home tips, but if you are a camper, this will not be new to you; book those camping trips you’ve been putting off. If you are new to camping or don’t have a camper, think about renting an RV or purchasing a tent. Do something completely out of your comfort zone, create the ultimate summer bucket list 2024 item, and go camping. 

The whole point of a bucket list is to do fun things and things that aren’t the norm. If you don’t want to commit to an RV or tent camping, many of these campgrounds offer cabins or cottages to rent. That way, you only have to worry about packing the right gear and stocking the fridge with food and drinks. 

Cabins are a great way to “camp” out of state and experience the beautiful scenery our States provide without driving or hauling everything across America. 

Park Rangers are an amazing resource and typically have a list of activities for kids and fun ideas when it comes to a nature walk in their National Park. 

Now, let’s get into some of the top Summer Bucket List spots in 2024.

Top Campgrounds

  • West Coast/California Camping:
    • Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Known for its ancient redwoods and family-friendly campsites.
    • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Offers towering trees, scenic drives, and easy access to hiking trails.
    • Joshua Tree National Park, California: Ideal for stargazing and exploring unique desert landscapes.
    • Redwood National and State Park, California: Have you ever driven through a tree? Nestled among ancient redwoods along the Smith River, it is great for hiking, fishing, and swimming. 
    • Crater Lake National Park: Offers a great base for exploring crystal-clear Crater Lake, with easy trail access and boat tours.
    • Olympic National Park, Washington: Dramatic ocean views and beach access. Ideal for coastal hikes and tide pools
  • Central Camping:
    • Badlands National Park, South Dakota: Offers easy access to the dramatic landscapes and hiking trails nearby. Beautiful sunsets over the badlands.
    • Ozark National Forest, Arkansas: Great for thinking and cave tours at the Blanchard Springs Caverns. 
    • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado:  Provides stunning mountain views and wildlife sightseeing. 
    • Custer State Park, South Dakota: Perfect for fishing, hiking, and exploring the nearby Black Hills and Sylvan Lake.
    • Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Tennessee/North Carolina: Offers a serene forest setting with cabins and numerous hiking trails. 
Exploring outside

Tips for Camping with Kids

  • Packing Essentials:
    • Comfortable sleeping arrangements like air mattresses or sleeping pads.
    • Plenty of layers for varying weather conditions.
    • Kid-friendly camping gear such as small backpacks, binoculars, and nature guides.
  • Activities and Entertainment:
    • Plan nature scavenger hunts to keep children engaged.
    • Bring along easy-to-prepare meals and snacks that kids enjoy.
    • Include outdoor games like frisbee, cards, or portable board games.
  • Safety and Comfort:
    • Teach kids basic camping safety, including how to stay within sight and what to do if they get lost.
    • Familiarize children with the camping area, pointing out bathrooms, water sources, and potential hazards.
    • Ensure you have a first-aid kit readily available and that children know where it is.
  • Personal Anecdote:
    • “I grew up camping. It felt like it was all we did as kids all Summer. These experiences fostered a deep appreciation for nature and created lasting family memories. Whether it’s the crackling of a campfire or the excitement of spotting wildlife, camping trips are invaluable for bonding and adventure. Head here for more detailed tips on packing and camping with kids, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for the whole family.”

Read our Ultimate RV Packing List Here – Whether you have an RV or not, this list will help you put together everything you need on your next camping trip. 

Water Activities

Water Parks

The perfect 2024 fun summer bucket list idea is heading to a local water park or traveling to one of the top US water parks for a day of fun. 

Side note: You do not have to go somewhere massive. The Water Park Resorts we are going to share can be kind of expensive to make an entire trip out of it. But, If you are on a family vacation and looking for something fun for the day, look up nearby water parks and spend a day enjoying the sun. 

List of Top Water Parks Across the US

  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Florida: Renowned for its themed environment, lazy river, and wave pool. Great for all ages.
  • Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Texas: Famous for its innovative rides and family-friendly attractions and the first surfing ride, the Boogie Bahn. Offers both relaxing and thrilling experiences.
  • Noah’s Ark Water Park, Wisconsin: Known as America’s largest water park, featuring a wide variety of slides, wave pools, activities, and kid-friendly areas.
  • Aquatica, California—Now SeaWorld San Diego Sesame Place: This offers unique attractions, such as underwater viewing of marine life, along with traditional water slides and wave pools.
  • Kalahari Resorts, Pennsylvania: An indoor water park perfect for year-round fun, featuring a variety of slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools. But honestly, any Kalahari Resort is a must. 
  • Aquatica, Orlando: Known for its exhilarating water slides, including Dolphin Plunge, which sends riders through a clear tube surrounded by dolphins.
  • Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, New Jersey & California: Known for its diverse range of water rides and the tornado, a funnel-shaped water slide. 
  • Water Country USA, Virginia: Famous for its family-friendly atmosphere and state-of-the-art ride Cutback Water Coaster, a water slide that defies gravity. 
  • Legoland Water Park, California: Known for its Lego-themed water attractions, including Build-a-Raft River, where kids can customize their own raft with soft Lego bricks. 
  • Splashin’ Safari, Indiana: Famous for its two record-breaking water coasters, Wildebeest and Mammoth, which are the longest water coasters in the World.

Safety Tips and What to Pack

  • Safety Tips:
    • Always supervise children and ensure they are within arm’s reach.
    • Familiarize yourself with the park’s rules and safety procedures and research kids’ height requirements to pick the best water park for your family. 
    • Stay hydrated and take regular breaks to avoid exhaustion. Many places have free water refill stations. 
    • Use life jackets for young children or weak swimmers. See our list for the Best Swim Vests, Puddle Jumpers, and More.
    • Apply sunscreen regularly to protect against sunburns, and bring rash guards to protect yourself from the sun and some of the slides as you go down on your back. 
  • What to Pack:
    • Swimsuits and extra clothes for changing.
    • Towels and water shoes for comfort and safety.
    • Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses for sun protection.
    • Waterproof phone cases or pouches.
    • Snacks and water bottles to stay hydrated and energized.
Summer bucket list river rafting

Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting

Some of our absolute favorite outdoor memories are renting a raft and floating in our local river. That’s why it makes the 2024 Summer Bucket List ideas. 

Best Spots for Kayaking

  • Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada: Crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain views make it perfect for kayaking.
  • Everglades National Park, Florida: Offers a unique experience paddling through mangroves and spotting wildlife.
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota: Known for its pristine lakes and extensive canoe routes.
  • San Juan Islands, Washington: Ideal for sea kayaking with opportunities to see orcas and other marine life.
  • Colorado River, Arizona: Paddle through scenic canyons with opportunities for both calm and more challenging waters.

Tips for Beginners

  • Essential Gear:
    • Properly fitting life jacket, paddle, and kayak/canoe or raft.
    • Waterproof bags for personal items.
    • Sun protection and hydration gear.
  • Preparation and Safety:
    • Take a beginner’s kayaking or canoeing course or local rafting course.
    • Start on calm waters to build confidence and skills.
    • Always check weather conditions before heading out.
    • Let someone know your paddling plans and estimated return time.
  • Paddling Techniques:
    • Learn basic paddling strokes and how to steer.
    • Practice getting in and out of the kayak/canoe safely.
    • Maintain a steady rhythm and balance to prevent tipping.
    • ENJOY! 

Swimming Holes and Lakes

Here are a few great ideas for our state that you can add to a family vacation for your 2024 Summer Bucket List. 

Hidden Gems and Popular Locations

  • Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas: A natural swimming hole with a stunning grotto and waterfall.
  • Sliding Rock, North Carolina: A natural water slide located in Pisgah National Forest, perfect for adventurous swimmers.
  • Devil’s Den, Florida: A prehistoric spring with crystal-clear waters, great for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada: Offers several picturesque swimming spots with clear, refreshing water.
  • Blue Hole, New Mexico: Known for its striking blue color and excellent diving conditions.

What to Bring for a Perfect Lake Day

  • Essential Gear:
    • Swimsuits and extra towels.
    • Water shoes to protect feet from rocky or slippery surfaces.
    • Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses for sun protection.
    • Inflatables and pool noodles for added fun and relaxation.
  • Food and Drink:
    • Pack a cooler with snacks, sandwiches, and plenty of water.
    • Reusable water bottles to stay hydrated.
  • Safety and Comfort:
    • Portable first-aid kit for minor injuries.
    • Shade options like a beach umbrella or pop-up tent.
    • Insect repellent to keep bugs at bay.
  • Entertainment:
    • Waterproof camera to capture memories.
    • Books, magazines, or a portable speaker for music.
    • Outdoor games like frisbee, paddleball, or beach volleyball.

Roller coaster ultimate 2024 summer bucket list

Amusement and Theme Parks

An absolute MUST for your 2024 Summer Bucket List and a non-negotiable for us!

Our favorite section because, well, who doesn’t love an amusement park? 

I will be completely honest: We do love Disneyland, but who has $4,000+ each year to go? Not me, and most people save for years to go to Disneyland/Disney. While they are on our list because they are the top theme parks, let’s dive into other fabulous hidden gems and great places for the entire family. 

Top Theme Parks

  • Walt Disney World, Florida: This dream destination for families comprises four distinct parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Each park offers unique attractions, parades, and character experiences. This is a must, BUT plan ahead and use layaway programs through Get Away Today and Undercover Tourist to save money. 
  • Universal Studios, Florida and California: Known for its thrilling rides and immersive experiences based on popular movies and TV shows. Highlights include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Transformers: The Ride-3D, and Jurassic World, as well as Super Nintendo World. Keep an eye out for the new Epic Universe opening in the Summer of 2025 and Universal Kids Resort opening in 2026.
  • Cedar Point, Ohio: Renowned as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” it boasts some of the tallest and fastest coasters. It’s a must-visit for thrill-seekers.
  • Knott’s Berry Farm, California: Offers a blend of thrilling rides, family-friendly attractions, and rich history, including its famous Ghost Town and seasonal events. This is the hidden gem of Southern California. 
  • Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey: Features a mix of intense roller coasters and family rides, along with a safari park that allows visitors to see animals up close.
  • Busch Gardens, Florida: Combining thrilling rides and animal encounters in a lush African-themed setting. Montu is one of the longest and tallest inverted coasters in the world. 
  • SeaWorld, Texas, Florida, and California: Its marine life shows, and up-close animal encounters are just part of what SeaWorld has to offer. Making a transition more into rides and attractions and not focusing on marine life. 
  • Hersheypark, Pennsylvania: Once created for his employees. The theme park has thrill rides and sweet treats and is close to Hershey’s Chocolate World.
  • King Island, Ohio: Family-friendly rides and world-class coasters, and is home to the longest wooden coaster in the world. 
  • Dollywood, Tennessee: A top for our 2024 Summer Bucket List, this Southern charm, Dolly-Parton-themed attractions, and live music will steal your heart nestled in the beautiful greenery. Don’t skip the Cinnamon bread. 
  • Carowinds, North Carolina/Soth Carolina: Straddling the North and South Carolina border with thrilling rides, and home to the tallest and fastest giga coasters in the world. 
  • Silver Dollar City, Missouri: 1880’s Themed attractions and demonstrations provide some of the most unique theme park experiences. The newest ride is Fire in the Whole and it is a MUST DO!
  • Legoland, Florida & California: The Lego-themed park is perfect for kids and families of all ages. And the Florida location is famous for its Lego Landmarks models.
  • California Great America, California: Known for its thrilling roller coasters and water rides. 
  • Kennywood, Pennsylvania: Full of historic charm and classic rides and one of their coasters dates back to 1924
  • Holiday World & Splashin Safari, Indiana: Holiday-themed sections and award-winning water park and home to the world’s longest water coaster.

Tips for Avoiding Long Lines and Maximizing Fun

  • Plan Ahead: Check the park’s website for peak times and plan your visit during off-peak hours or days if possible.
  • Use Fast Passes or Express Passes: Many parks offer passes that allow you to skip the regular lines on popular rides.
  • Arrive Early or Stay Late: Arrive when the park opens to experience popular attractions with shorter wait times, or stay until closing to catch shorter lines.
  • Prioritize Must-Do Rides: Make a list of must-do rides and attractions and head to those first.
  • Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks: Keep hydrated and take breaks to avoid exhaustion. Use downtime to enjoy shows or parades.
  • Mobile Apps: Use the park’s mobile app for real-time updates on ride wait times and to find the nearest dining options or restrooms.

Theme Park Guides

Knott’s Berry Farm

Universal Studios Hollywood

Conquering Theme Park Queue Lines

Top Toddler Theme Park Tips

19 Amusuemt Parks For Toddlers

Swing ride at a County fair and carnival summer bucket list 2024

Local Fairs and Carnivals

Adding local fairs and carnivals to your Summer 2024 bucket list is a fantastic way to experience the vibrant culture and community spirit of different towns and regions. These events offer a unique blend of thrilling rides, delicious food, and entertaining games, creating fun-filled memories for the whole family. From the lively atmosphere of the Reno Rodeo, one of the largest in the West, to the charm of small-town fairs, there’s something magical about the traditional fun and excitement these events bring, making it one of the best summer bucket list ideas. 

Don’t forget to try your hand at carnival games, savor local delicacies, and enjoy the festive parades and live music that make these fairs and carnivals truly special.

Reno Rodeo and Local Fairs

  • Reno Rodeo: This is #1 on our Summer Bucket List 2024. Known as one of the largest and most popular rodeos in the West, it is held annually in June. It features a wide range of events, including bull riding, barrel racing, and steer wrestling.
  • Local Fairs: Many small towns host their own fairs and rodeos throughout the year, offering a charming and community-focused experience. These fairs often feature local crafts, food, and entertainment.

Dates and Locations of Popular Fairs

  • State Fair of Texas: Held annually in Dallas, typically from late September to mid-October. It’s known for its unique food offerings and large-scale attractions.
  • Iowa State Fair: This annual event, which takes place in Des Moines in August, is famous for its agricultural exhibits and competitions.
  • Minnesota State Fair: Held in St. Paul in late August through Labor Day, offering a variety of foods, rides, and performances.
  • California State Fair: Located in Sacramento and usually held in July, featuring diverse exhibits, live music, and fairground rides.
  • Garlic Festival: Located in Gilroy, California, this is the perfect spot for garlic lovers to find delicious things all themed around garlic. Add a day of wine tasting at a nearby winery and a day at Gilroy Gardens Amusement Park. 

Must-Try Rides and Games

  • Classic Carnival Rides:
    • Ferris Wheel: Offers great views of the fairgrounds and is a favorite for all ages.
    • Tilt-A-Whirl: A fun, spinning ride that’s a staple at many fairs.
    • Carousel: Perfect for younger kids and those looking for a nostalgic ride.
  • Thrill Rides:
    • Drop Tower: Experience the thrill of free-fall from a great height.
    • Scrambler: Spins riders in multiple directions, providing a fast-paced thrill.
  • Carnival Games:
    • Ring Toss: Try to land a ring over a bottleneck; it is challenging but fun.
    • Balloon Dart Throw: Test your aim by popping balloons with darts.
    • Basketball Shoot: Shoot hoops for a chance to win prizes; it can be tricky due to the angled rims.
  • Pro Tips:
    • Set a budget for games and stick to it.
    • Practice patience and enjoy the experience, even if you don’t win every time.
    • Look for games with lower prizes but better odds of winning for younger children.
Feeding animals at the zoo for summer bucket list ideas 2024

Cultural and Educational Activities

Incorporating cultural and educational activities like museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites into your Summer 2024 bucket list enriches your travel experiences and broadens your horizons. 

Visiting top museums and zoos provides insightful glimpses into art, history, and wildlife, while interactive exhibits and kid-friendly attractions ensure fun learning for all ages. 

Explore the depths of the ocean at renowned aquariums such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Aquarium of the Pacific, where unique marine life experiences, like swimming with mermaids, await. Delve into the past at must-visit historical landmarks, such as those in Washington, D.C., where engaging tours and activities make history come alive. These adventures promise to foster curiosity and create lasting memories, combining education with enjoyment.

Museums and Zoos

Top Museums and Zoos for Families

  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.: Features historic aircraft, spacecraft, and interactive exhibits like flight simulators.
  • American Museum of Natural History, New York City: Famous for its dinosaur exhibits, planetarium, and butterfly conservatory.
  • San Diego Zoo, California: Known for its vast collection of animals and beautifully landscaped habitats. Offers a children’s zoo and interactive experiences.
  • The Field Museum, Chicago: Home to “Sue,” the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton, and numerous interactive exhibits.
  • Philadelphia Zoo, Pennsylvania: America’s first zoo, featuring a Zoo360 animal exploration trail system and a children’s petting zoo.
  • National Zoo, Washington DC: This will completely change your perspective when it comes to zoos in the US. As they welcome back their giant pandas this year you will feel like your are walking through a museum and not a zoo.

Interactive Exhibits and Kid-Friendly Attractions

  • Children’s Museums: Places like the Boston Children’s Museum and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offer hands-on exhibits that encourage learning through play.
  • Animal Encounters: Many zoos, such as the San Diego Zoo and Philadelphia Zoo, offer behind-the-scenes tours and up-close animal encounters.
  • Science Centers: The Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago provide interactive science exhibits and educational shows.
  • Art and Creativity: Museums like the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York and the Crayola Experience in Pennsylvania let kids create their own art.


Best Aquariums in the US

  • Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California: Features over 11,000 animals and numerous exhibits highlighting the Pacific Ocean’s diverse ecosystems.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium, California: Known for its stunning kelp forest exhibit and open sea galleries. Offers hands-on activities and educational programs.
  • Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta: This is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It features a wide range of marine life, including whale sharks and manta rays.
  • New England Aquarium, Boston: Famous for its Giant Ocean Tank and interactive touch tanks.
  • National Aquarium, Baltimore: Highlights include a living coral reef, a rainforest exhibit, and a large collection of jellyfish.

Unique Marine Life Experiences

  • Diver Shows and Feeding Demonstrations: Many aquariums, such as the Georgia Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium, offer live shows where divers interact with marine life.
  • Swimming with Mermaids: At the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, visitors can watch mermaid performances or even swim with mermaids in designated programs.
  • Touch Tanks: Interactive exhibits at the New England Aquarium and Aquarium of the Pacific allow kids to touch starfish, sea urchins, and other marine creatures.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Tours: Exclusive tours at places like the National Aquarium offer insights into the care and conservation of marine life.

Historical Sites

Must-Visit Historical Landmarks

  • Washington, D.C.: Home to numerous iconic landmarks, including the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.
  • Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: A living-history museum where visitors can experience life in the 18th century.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania: Offers guided tours of the historic Civil War battlefield.
  • Independence Hall, Philadelphia: Birthplace of the United States, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and adopted.
  • Mount Vernon, Virginia: George Washington’s preserved plantation home, offering tours and educational programs.

Fun Ways to Learn About History

  • Interactive Exhibits: Many historical sites, such as Colonial Williamsburg and the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., offer interactive exhibits that bring history to life.
  • Reenactments: Participate in or watch historical reenactments at places like Gettysburg and Jamestown Settlement in Virginia.
  • Educational Programs: Many sites, like Mount Vernon and Independence Hall, offer special programs, guided tours, and activities for kids.
  • History Trails: Walking tours in cities like Boston (Freedom Trail) and Philadelphia (Historic District) provide immersive learning experiences.
  • Digital Learning: Museums and historical sites often have apps or online resources that offer interactive maps, scavenger hunts, and augmented reality experiences

Food festival 2024 summer bucket list

Food and Drink Experiences

Enhance your Summer 2024 bucket list with delightful food and drink experiences, including visits to local farmers’ markets and food festivals and hosting picnics and BBQs at home. 

Farmers markets offer fresh, locally sourced produce and artisanal goods, making them perfect for discovering regional flavors and supporting local farmers. Food festivals provide an exciting opportunity to savor diverse dishes, enjoy live cooking demonstrations, and immerse yourself in the culinary culture of various locales. 

At home, organizing picnics and BBQs in your backyard or favorite park combines the joy of outdoor dining with the comfort of familiar surroundings, allowing you to experiment with new recipes and create memorable meals with family and friends. These experiences not only tantalize your taste buds but also enrich your summer with the joys of good food and great company.

Food Festivals

Upcoming Food Festivals and Events

  • Taste of Chicago, Illinois
    • Known for: Being one of the largest food festivals in the world, offering a diverse range of dishes from local restaurants.
    • When: July
  • Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine
    • Known for: Celebrating Maine’s famous lobster with cooking contests, seafood dinners, and a parade.
    • When: Early August
  • New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Louisiana
    • Known for: Highlighting the city’s rich culinary scene with wine tastings, gourmet dinners, and culinary seminars.
    • When: June
  • Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy, California
    • Known for: Celebrating all things garlic with unique dishes, cooking competitions, and live entertainment.
    • When: Late July
  • Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Georgia
    • Known for: Showcasing Southern cuisine and beverages with tasting tents, dinners, and cooking classes.
    • When: June
  • Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Colorado
    • Known for: Featuring celebrity chefs, wine experts, and gourmet tastings in a stunning mountain setting.
    • When: Mid-June
  • Charleston Wine + Food Festival, South Carolina
    • Known for: Celebrating Charleston’s culinary heritage with tastings, workshops, and chef demonstrations.
    • When: Early June
  • Feast Portland, Oregon
    • Known for: Bringing together top chefs, winemakers, and artisans for a weekend of food and drink events.
    • When: Mid-September (though technically late summer)
  • New York City Wine & Food Festival, New York
    • Known for: Hosting renowned chefs and offering a variety of tastings, dinners, and culinary demos.
    • When: October (again, late summer into fall, but a major event worth noting)
  • Taste of Dallas, Texas
    • Known for: Featuring a wide array of food from local chefs, live music, and family-friendly activities.
    • When: June

Must-Try Dishes and Treats

  • Deep-Dish Pizza (Taste of Chicago): A Chicago staple, these pizzas are known for their thick crust and hearty toppings.
  • Beignets (New Orleans Wine & Food Experience): These powdered sugar-coated fried dough treats are a New Orleans classic.
  • Fresh Maine Lobster (Maine Lobster Festival): Enjoy lobster rolls, steamed lobster, and lobster bisque.
  • Key Lime Pie (South Beach Wine & Food Festival): A Florida favorite, known for its tangy and sweet flavor.
  • Texas Barbecue (Austin Food & Wine Festival): Sample brisket, ribs, and other smoked meats, a true Texas tradition.

Farmers Markets

Best Farmers Markets to Visit

  • Union Square Greenmarket, New York City: One of the largest and most famous markets, offering a wide variety of local produce, meats, dairy, and artisanal products.
  • Pike Place Market, Seattle: An iconic market with fresh seafood, produce, and unique crafts, along with live performances.
  • Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco: Known for its high-quality produce, specialty foods, and location at the Ferry Building.
  • Eastern Market, Detroit: A historic market offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and local crafts.
  • Portland Farmers Market, Oregon: Offers a wide variety of local produce, artisanal foods, and live music, creating a vibrant community atmosphere.
  • Santa Monica Farmers Market, California: Known for its fresh, organic produce and visits from top chefs who source their ingredients here.

Tips for Finding Fresh and Local Produce

  • Arrive Early: Get there early to find the best selection of fresh produce and to avoid crowds.
  • Bring Reusable Bags: Carry reusable bags or baskets to transport your purchases sustainably.
  • Talk to the Farmers: Engage with vendors to learn about their farming practices and get recommendations on what’s in season.
  • Plan Ahead: Check online or with the market organizers to find out which vendors will be there, and plan your shopping list accordingly.
  • Seasonal Eating: Focus on buying what’s in season for the freshest and most flavorful produce.
Picnic 2024 summer bucket list ideas

Picnics and BBQs

Ok, bucket listers, this is a spin-off of a date night idea we had one night a few years back, and it’s a picnic date at a local park. After a hot summer day, we love to pack up a small basket with some snacks and drinks and relax in the park when the sun goes down.

When you create your own 2024 summer bucket list, this is a must-add. Let’s talk about dream picnic spots, delicious recipes, and BBQ essentials. 

Perfect Picnic Spots While You’re on Vacation

  • Central Park, New York City: With vast green spaces and scenic views, it’s ideal for a city picnic.
  • Golden Gate Park, San Francisco: Offers numerous picturesque spots and amenities for a relaxing picnic.
  • Millennium Park, Chicago: Enjoy your meal with a view of the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture and lush gardens.
  • Balboa Park, San Diego: Features numerous gardens and open spaces perfect for a family picnic.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Provides beautiful natural scenery and numerous picnic areas.

Easy and Delicious Picnic Recipes

  • Sandwiches and Wraps:
    • Caprese Sandwich: Layer fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze on ciabatta bread.
    • Turkey and Avocado Wraps: Combine sliced turkey, avocado, lettuce, and a spread of hummus in a whole wheat tortilla.
    • Chicken Salad Sandwich: Mix shredded chicken with mayo, celery, grapes, and pecans, then serve on croissants.
  • Salads:
    • Greek Pasta Salad: Mix cooked pasta with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, and a Greek vinaigrette.
    • Quinoa Salad: Combine cooked quinoa with black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, and a lime-cilantro dressing.
    • Fruit Salad: A refreshing mix of seasonal fruits like berries, melons, and citrus tossed with a honey-lime dressing.
  • Snacks and Sides:
    • Deviled Eggs: Classic deviled eggs made with mayonnaise, mustard, and a sprinkle of paprika.
    • Veggie Sticks with Dip: Carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks served with hummus or ranch dressing.
    • Cheese and Crackers: A variety of cheeses paired with whole grain or gluten-free crackers.
  • Desserts:
    • Brownies: Rich, fudgy brownies that are easy to transport.
    • Cookies: Classic chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies.
    • Fruit Kabobs: Skewers of strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and melon chunks.
  • Drinks:
    • Lemonade: Freshly squeezed lemonade, perfect for a sunny day.
    • Iced Tea: Brewed tea served chilled with lemon and mint.
    • Infused Water: Water infused with slices of cucumber, lemon, and mint for a refreshing, hydrating drink.


Essential BBQ Recipes

  • Grilled Meats:
    • Classic Burgers: Beef patties seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled to perfection and served with all the fixings.
    • BBQ Chicken: Chicken breasts or thighs marinated in a homemade BBQ sauce and grilled until juicy.
    • Steak Skewers: Marinated steak pieces skewered with bell peppers and onions.
  • Side Dishes:
    • Potato Salad: Boiled potatoes mixed with mayo, mustard, eggs, and pickles.
    • Coleslaw: Shredded cabbage and carrots tossed in a creamy dressing.
    • Corn on the Cob: Grilled corn slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt.
  • Vegetarian Options:
    • Grilled Veggie Skewers: Skewers of mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes, brushed with olive oil and herbs.
    • Portobello Burgers: Marinated portobello mushroom caps grilled and served on buns with toppings.
    • Stuffed Peppers: Bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of rice, beans, and spices, then grilled.
  • Desserts:
    • Grilled Fruit: Pineapple, peaches, and bananas brushed with honey and grilled.
    • S’mores: Classic campfire treats with graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.
    • Berry Cobbler: Mixed berries baked with a sweet biscuit topping, served warm.
  • Drinks:
    • Craft Beers: A selection of local craft beers.
    • Sangria: A refreshing blend of wine, fruit, and a splash of soda.
    • Mocktails: Non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling water with fruit slices and herbs.
    • Lemonade: The perfect summer treat
Backyard camping 2024 summer bucket list

At-Home Activities

Adding at-home activities like backyard camping, DIY water fun, and movie marathons to your Summer 2024 bucket list offers a delightful mix of adventure, creativity, and relaxation without the need to travel far. Backyard camping transforms your yard into a mini-retreat, complete with tents, s’mores, and stargazing, providing a memorable outdoor experience right at home. DIY water fun, such as setting up a homemade splash pad or engaging in water balloon fights, ensures hours of refreshing play and laughter on hot summer days. Capping off the day with a themed movie marathon, complete with cozy blankets and favorite snacks, creates the perfect ambiance for unwinding and bonding with family.

These activities offer a wonderful way to fall back in love with your hometown. We won’t lie: getting out of town is our favorite thing to do, but being together as a family and doing things at home is a great summer bucket list idea. 

Backyard Camping

We’ve done the camping in the truck, which, if you are up for sleeping in the back of your truck if it has a camper shell, is an easy, fun way to road trip and try new things. 

But for those who want to stay home and bring the adventure to their backyard, this is the perfect activity this time of year. Without fully leaving your comfort zone, you can pitch a tent in your backyard and bring camping to you.

How to Set Up a Backyard Campsite

  • Choosing the Spot: Pick a flat area in your yard that’s safe and free from obstacles. Ensure it’s far enough from the house to give a sense of adventure but close enough for safety.
  • Pitching the Tent: Use a family-sized tent that can comfortably fit everyone. Lay down a tarp underneath for added protection against moisture.
  • Comfort Essentials: Include sleeping bags, air mattresses or foam pads for comfort. Bring pillows and extra blankets for warmth.
  • Lighting: Use lanterns, string lights, or flashlights to create a cozy ambiance and ensure safety.
  • Fire Safety: If you plan to have a campfire or use a portable fire pit, make sure it’s in a safe spot, away from flammable materials, and keep a bucket of water or hose nearby.

Fun Activities for a Backyard Campout

  • Stargazing: Use a telescope or binoculars to explore the night sky. Apps like SkyView can help identify stars and constellations.
  • Campfire Stories: Share spooky or funny stories around the campfire. Encourage kids to make up their own tales.
  • Outdoor Movie Night: Set up a projector and screen to watch family-friendly movies under the stars. Don’t forget the popcorn!
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items for kids to find around the yard, such as specific leaves, rocks, or bugs.
  • S’mores Making: Classic campfire treat. Have graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate ready for roasting.

Ultimate RV Packing Tips and More: Everything you need for a camping trip


DIY Water Fun

Homemade Water Games and Activities

  • DIY Splash Pad: Use a large tarp or plastic sheet, set up sprinklers around the edges, and let the kids run through the water.
  • Water Balloon Fight: Fill up water balloons and have a friendly battle. Set up rules to keep it safe and fun.
  • Homemade Slip ‘N Slide: Lay down a long plastic sheet on a slope, wet it with a hose, and add a little soap for extra slipperiness.
  • Backyard Pool: If you have an inflatable or above-ground pool, set up pool games like pool volleyball or floating relay races.
  • Water Gun Tag: Equip everyone with water guns and play a game of tag. The person who is “it” has to spray the others.
  • Obstacle Course: Create a water-themed obstacle course with sprinklers, hoses, and buckets of water to navigate through.

Favorite Backyard Pools

Best Backyard Inflatable Pool
Best Backyard Inflatable Pool and Water Tunnel Summer Bucket List 2024

We love this little air pump, this one makes it really easy to blow anything up on the go.

Inflatable Lemon Pool and Water Tunnel

Handheld Inflatable Mini Air Pump

Gardening Projects

The Garden is the perfect place to spend time together as a family this summer season. Your own backyard provides a space for the whole family no matter the skill level. A few of our favorite local garden stores have fruit and vegetables you can plant on your own; watching our strawberries make it through the winter and start producing in the spring is such a special moment; every night, our daughter asks if we can go look at our strawberries in the garden. 

Lets dive into more outdoor gardening projects for summer activities on our bucket list. 

Easy Gardening Ideas for Kids

  • Mini Herb Garden: Use small pots or a garden bed to plant easy-to-grow herbs like basil, mint, and parsley. Kids can take responsibility for watering and harvesting.
  • Vegetable Patch: Start with simple vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. Let kids help with planting, watering, and picking the veggies.
  • Flower Bed: Choose colorful, low-maintenance flowers such as marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias. Kids can learn about different flowers and enjoy watching them grow.
  • Fairy Garden: Create a small, magical garden with miniature plants, fairy figurines, and tiny decorations. This can spark creativity and storytelling.
  • Composting: Teach kids about composting by creating a compost bin with kitchen scraps and yard waste. They can learn about recycling and the benefits for the garden.

Benefits of Gardening as a Family

  • Educational: Gardening teaches kids about plant biology, the environment, and where food comes from. It’s a practical, hands-on science lesson.
  • Health Benefits: Being outdoors and physically active in the garden promotes better health, including physical exercise and vitamin D from sunlight.
  • Responsibility: Taking care of plants teaches children responsibility and the importance of consistent care and patience.
  • Bonding Time: Gardening together provides quality family time, fostering teamwork and communication.
  • Sustainability: Growing your own food can teach kids about sustainability and the importance of taking care of the environment.
  • Stress Relief: Gardening is known to reduce stress and improve mental well-being for both children and adults.

Movie Marathon

It’s one of our favorites on the family bucket list 2024 ideas list. We like to go all out and pick a movie and theme food, drinks, and snacks around the movie to really make it a unique summer bucket list idea. 

Creating a movie marathon day as a summer activity offers a fun and cozy way to spend quality time with family and friends while escaping the heat. 

Choose a theme, such as classic Disney films, superhero sagas, or a beloved movie franchise, and set up a comfortable viewing area with plenty of pillows and blankets. Enhance the experience with a selection of themed snacks and drinks, such as popcorn, nachos, and refreshing lemonade. You can even add fun intermissions with movie trivia or related games to keep the excitement going. 

This relaxing and entertaining day provides the perfect blend of nostalgia and enjoyment, making it a memorable summer highlight.

Creating a theme

  • Pick a movie: Family friendly, summer-themed, Scary, or perfect for little kids.
  • Make a bed or lounge area: using pillows, blankets, blow-up pools, and air mattresses make the area fun and comfortable to watch a movie.
  • Gather snacks: Popcorn, candy, and sodas galore.
  • Set up outside if you can: Pick up a projector screen and projector from amazon or post up inside and use your living room.  
Going to a baseball game summer bucket list 2024

Other Great Summer Bucket List Ideas

  • Local farmer’s market: Great spot to get fresh fruit and fresh local produce and support a local business
  • Baseball Game: College, Semi-Professional or Professional baseball games
  • Start a Summer Book Club: Support a local book store and pick up a good book, meet with friends, and discuss your newest summer book pick.
  • Cooking Class: 
  • Volunteer at a Local Non-Profit: These random acts of kindness are the best way to do something good this summer break
  • Make a Time Capsule: 
  • Create a new homemade ice cream flavor: Sorbet or full ice cream is
  • Visit a local museum: Whether small or big, visiting your local museum is a great way to reconnect with your community and learn something new. 

Download Your Summer Checklist Here

Here, you can download a Summer Bucket List that is pre-created or blank for you to fill in with your own summer fun!

Summer Bucket List Printable

Ultimate Summer Bucket List 2024
Summer Bucket List Blank

As summer unfolds, embrace the myriad of possibilities that both outdoor adventures and at-home activities offer. Whether you’re exploring scenic trails, enjoying the thrills of a water park, or creating unforgettable memories with backyard camping and DIY water games, there are endless ways to make this summer extraordinary. With these ideas, you can ensure your family experiences the perfect blend of excitement, relaxation, and quality time together. So, pack your bags, gather your gear, and get ready to make Summer 2024 the most memorable one yet. Happy exploring and adventuring!

We hope you enjoyed this list and find things to do all summer long! 


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