There’s no denying that this summer is different.
Our calendar is littered with canceled vacations, scratched summer camps, voided volunteer opportunities, called off visits to our friends and loves ones and a dozen other adventures that disappeared.
But we’ve still got this time together and so we decided to take a look at how we can fill these warm weather months with our kids at home in a way that intentionally brings us joy while keeping us safe. We quickly realized that there really is still a ton of fun to be had with a little bit of imagination.
We determined that the best actionable way we could focus on the bright side and give ourselves some direction was to create a list. A Summer Bucket List.
Our list contains creative activities, educational activities, entertaining activities and plenty of play and discovery. There’s rest and relaxation, taste and indulgence, wonder and whimsy. There will be days we don’t accomplish anything on our bucket list. And almost certainly we won’t get to every item. But our list isn’t pressure. It’s possibility. It’s an amalgamation of ideas…a memo of our mission to suck the marrow out of life…and a call to celebrate being alive in whatever big or small pleasure that means. Whether it’s hiking a mountain, devouring a watermelon in our back yard or watching a great movie on the couch.
We are sharing our Safe Summer Bucket List for anyone who may be looking for fun things to do during this summer of social distancing too. We hope you will find some inspiration to help you build good memories from this time together.
100 Ways to Have Fun This Summer While Social Distancing
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– OLD FASHIONED FUN –
1. Family Movie Night
Cuddle up on the couch with some popcorn and candy and enjoy a classic or check out something new on one of the streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney+. Change things up by watching along with friends using the Netflix Party feature on Netflix online or take your movie night outside with a projector and screen.
2. Play Games Galore
Have a weekly game night and rotate who chooses the game. Our favorites include Scattegories, Teletrastions, Taboo, Rummikub, Phase 10, and Uno. If you don’t mind potty humor, Kids Against Maturity and What do You Meme Family Edition are fun options. You also can’t go wrong with a classic like Clue, Scrabble, Monopoly, Sorry, or Dominos. You can even make your own life-size board game using chalk in your driveway to play Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land.
3. Giant Jigsaw Puzzle
Now is the perfect time to try a challenging puzzle that will take at least a couple of days to complete. Set it up on your dining room table or find an empty spot where you can all work together. This is the big 3,000-piece puzzle we ordered on Amazon.
4. LEGO Challenge
Pull out all the Legos and get creative! You can find great LEGO challenges online based on certain themes or a set amount of time. Or if you’ve got older builders or an advanced creator try taking on a complex LEGO set that’s sure to keep everyone occupied for a while.
5. Build a Blanket Fort
Gather up all the blankets and pillows in your home and make the most epic blanket fort. Once you’ve got it all set up settle in for a night of indoor camping together! When it’s time to take it down, clear all the breakables and sharp edges and have a massive pillow fight first.
6. Cursive and Calligraphy
Cursive and calligraphy are not often taught in schools anymore so summer is the perfect time to learn this timeless skill. You can print off practice pages online or use a workbook like this one.
Going to the movies may not be an option, but there’s always a beautiful show playing out across the night sky. See if you can spot specific stars and planets using a telescope or download SkyView Lite. This free app, for apple and android, lets you point your phone to the sky and identify the stars, constellations, galaxies, satellites, and planets that are present.
8. Catch Fireflies
Head outside with a net and jar and see if you can capture these tricky little lightning bugs. Take a second to admire their glow up close and then set them free again.
9. Have a Picnic
Complete with a blanket and basket, enjoy a picnic in your backyard, or a secluded spot with a special view. Let your kids plan the menu and pack everything up. Want to make it more unique? Have a picnic breakfast!
10. Get Messy
A Shaving Cream Battle is the perfect way to connect as a family, share laughter, and enjoy a beautiful summer day. Turn on the sprinkler, pass the kids a couple cans of shaving cream (Barbasol brand is our foamy favorite for this) and enjoy the most messy, most memorable summer fun!
—– ARTS & CRAFTS —–
11. Make Masterpieces
Arrange a family painting session, complete with canvases, supplies, snacks, and a good playlist. Choose a painting you can all replicate or follow along with a tutorial on YouTube or introduce the kids to the old school fun of painting with Bob Ross.
A jewelry craft encourages creative expression and leaves you with a fun finished product of your design. Try stringing colorful beads onto elastic string or make friendship bracelets using embroidery floss.
13. Shrinky Dinks
Shrinky Dink crafts are making a comeback! Yes, the same plastic sheets that you used as a kid are popular again! Because who doesn’t love watching your artwork shrink down in the oven to a fun finished product that can be added to add a charm bracelet, key chain or dozens of other creative ways to use your mini masterpiece.
14. Create Candles
Make candles from scratch with yummy smells to give as presents.
15. Feed the Birds
Make bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed or use a ready-made bird house craft kit. Then head to Audubon.org to identify them.
16. Face Painting
Learn to face paint and practice on each other. Face paint kits come with all the supplies you need. Our favorite brand for face paint is Snazaroo! You can check out “How To” tutorials on YouTube or use a face painting book for inspiration. Then hold a contest over social media to vote for “best paint job,” “most realistic” or “scariest” creation.
17. Try Tie Dye
Do you have some white T-shirts you would like to breathe some new life into? Tie dye is a simple and fun way to unleash your creativity. There are several ways to tie-dye that don’t involve the mess. You can either use sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol or a kit that comes with pre-measured dye in squeezable bottles. Easy peasy!
There is something calming about coloring at any age. So grab a coloring book and some crayons or fancy blending markers and enjoy quiet time coloring.
19. Capture the Memories
No doubt you will want to capture all the awesome memories you will be making over the summer together. Now is the perfect time to get your kids behind the camera too and teach them the ropes of photography. Check out my tips for taking better family photos to get you started.
20. Make Slime or Play-Doh
Kids have been obsessed with the satisfyingly gooey texture of slime and the squishy nature of play-doh for generations. You can pick some up premade slime or you can score some extra cool parent points by making a batch by hand. The kids will love it and you willl pretty much win parent of the year award!
—– OUTSIDE PLAY —–
21. Water Balloon Battle
Send the kids outside to battle it out and get soaked or join in on the fun. Filling balloons has never been easier! We use “Bunch O Balloons” to fill several up at once using our garden hose. If you want to make it really competitive set up some bases to hide behind.
22. Run Through Sprinklers
Whether it be a planned outdoor activity on a hot day, or if you’re just watering your lawn anyway, invite your kids to come outside and run through the sprinklers!
23. Go Fly a Kite
Another fun memory from childhood that never grows old is getting a kite dancing up in the air. Take a peek at that anemometer and when there is a gentle to moderate breeze head out in the back yard or open field to give it a try.
24. Lively Lawn Games
Invest in a croquet set, bocce ball set up, or badminton kit. Even an inexpensive frisbee can keep your family entertained for hours.
25. Cool Off in a Kiddie Pool
What better way to cool off your kids (and yourself) on a hot summer day then in a cute little kiddie pool in your own backyard. Try laying a tarp down underneath to reduce the amount of dirt and grass getting tracked in the water and as with all kiddie pools, never leave little ones unattended.
26. Blow Giant Bubbles
There are dozens of online recipes on how to make your own bubbles. Stir up a quick recipe with Dawn dish soap and glycerin or buy some ready-made solution and pop away! Try using a kiddie pool and hula hoop to make bubbles big-enough your kids can fit inside them.
27. Super Soakers
Water gun games are the perfect way to beat the heat and cool off outside. All you need is water and your choice of soaker. From a simple water blaster to big super soaker there are endless choices. We just bought two sets of these water guns so everyone could get in on the water gun fun.
28. Slip and Slide
Slip ‘n slides are a fun way to cool off on a hot summer day, no matter what age you are. Try making your own with a large roll of clear or white heavy duty plastic sheeting so that it doesn’t get hot and landscaping stakes to hold it in place. Just add water and some Dawn dish soap and you are ready to go!
29. Have a Ball
Head outside with the kids to shoot some hoops, kick around the soccer ball or play some catch. We also love a good game of tennis or ping pong.
30. Climb a Tree
Climbing trees is a time-honored childhood tradition and about as back-to-basics as summer fun gets. Go out on a limb and pretend you are still that monkey-kid you used to be and race your kids to the tippy top.
—–SOCIAL DISTANCED OUTINGS—–
31. Go for a Scenic Drive
Hop in the car and head out for a change of view. It doesn’t really matter what the destination is, it’s the journey that counts here. We recently headed out for a long drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway this summer ourselves.
32. Pick Your Own Produce
Many farms are offering pick your own blueberries strawberries and other produce by appointment. Check online or call around for reservations and availability. After picking you can come up with fun ways to eat your produce together. Bake blueberry muffins, make homemade jar jam using pectin or just enjoy them plain by the bowlful.
33. Watch a Drive-In Movie
Drive-ins are making quite a comeback as one of the best ways to enjoy a summer blockbuster while social distancing! We are lucky enough to have one within driving distance that offers movies in high definition.
34. Make a Splash
Even if your local neighborhood pool or rec center isn’t open yet chances are you can find a local lake or swimming hole where you can jump in an cool off away from a crowd.
35. Raft Down a River
Slow tubing down a sun-drenched river has to be one of the most relaxing ways you can spend a summer day. We recommend you invest in your own rafts and floating cooler. A dry bag is also a great idea! Look for a river access point in your area that isn’t congested or head out early on a weekday. We recommend driving two cars and parking one at your planned exit point to make the excursion easier with kids.
36. Take a Hike
We’ve joked with our kids that this will be the summer of hiking since so many of our bucket list items have to do with walking trails. Not only is hiking one of the safest outdoor activities you could enjoy this summer its good to get out in nature. Find a local conservation area or greenway in your area and go for a nice, long family walk.
37. Climb a Mountain
If your family lives near a mountain then go climb it! Bearing safety in mind with younger kids, you may want to avoid spots that are off-the-grid and instead stick to official city or state parks with marked trails. Enjoy the view from the top!
38. Visit a Botanic Garden
Stop and smell the roses this summer, literally! Botanic gardens and conservatories can be great place to connect with nature. They are meticulously maintained and offer endless backdrops for photos in the fresh air.
39. Go Fishing
Some of the best conversations that parents can have with their children occur while sitting at the dock of the bay. This leisurely outdoor recreational sport is great for all ages. You may need to apply for a fishing license depending on the rules where you live.
40. Go Mini Golfing
Depending on what is open in your state this summer, playing putt-putt golf could be a great way to get out of the house with kids while social distancing. Just be sure to wait your turn for each hole and keep a good pace.
41. Public Art/ Mural Crawl
Art installations, sculptures and murals punctuate many urban landscapes. Take a leisurely stroll or hop on two wheels and explore the public art in your area. Snap some selfies for social media of your findings.
42. Kayak and Canoeing
It’s hard to imagine a better way of social distancing than rowing your canoe or kayak out into the middle of a peaceful lake on a summer day. If you do not have one of your own, research local rental companies that are operating safely. Make sure to ask how equipment is cleaned, how social distance will be maintained and whether the rental process can be done online to limit interactions.
43. Search for Hidden Gems
Want a rewarding outing? Try your hand at gem mining, sluicing or panning for gold. Look for a local mine or park in your area. Some even offer buckets with guaranteed treasure inside.
44. Drive Through Zoo
One way to see some animals super safely is to head to a drive-through Safari type park. We have one called Lazy 5 Ranch about an hour away. You can even feed some of the animals right from your window if you are brave enough!
45. Secluded Beaches
I hesitate to recommend hitting the beach as so many of them have been crowded with people clearly not maintaining social distance. However, if you can find a quiet corner where the sand meets the ocean it can be pure summer bliss.
46. Find Some Falls
Go online to research waterfalls in your region. Plan a day trip and bring along a picnic with plenty of water for hydration. Just make sure to put safety first — getting the perfect picture isn’t worth an accident.
—– FOOD & DRINK FUN —–
47. Nailed It Challenge
Create a challenge for your family, where you attempt to recreate an intricate dessert or create a shortlist of ingredients that must be used in a meal and see what your family can whip up.
48. Do a Blind Taste Test
Prepare an assortment of different foods with the same theme such as fruit or chips and have your family taste them blindfolded and try to guess what they are. Our favorite blind taste test is the Pringles Challenge.
49. Indulge in Ice-Cream
Create an ice cream bar with options for sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, toppings and more. You can even make your own home-made ice cream using a counter-top ice-cream machine or rock-salt , zip-lock bags and ice.
50. Disney Recipes
Can’t take a trip to Disney? Your kids can experience a bit of the magic this summer by making some of their iconic snacks like Dole Whip, Churros, and Mickey-shaped Pretzels right in your kitchen. Disney has released several of its formerly top-secret recipes. We recommend you try making the gray stuff, it’s delicious.
51. Have Breakfast for Dinner!
Whether it’s trying out Eggs Benedict or making a big pile of pancakes on the griddle, it can be fun to change things up and surprise the kids!
52. Try Take Out!
Take a break from the repetition of cooking and cleaning up multiple meals a day and order out. Pick a few new-to-you restaurants in your city to support and order your food for delivery or curbside pick up! It can be something as simple as donuts or a fancy five-course feast.
53. Get Grilling
Grilling is always a good idea in the summer time. Not only does it make anything from burgers and hot dogs to veggies and shrimp taste that much better, it keeps the heat of cooking out of your house. Take the opportunity to teach older kids this summer to safely master the grill.
54. Roast Marsh Mallows & Make S’mores
End a perfect evening by enjoying some s’mores around an open fire. Backyard firepits and extendable metal roasting sticks make it easier and safer than ever to make this summer-camp classic. Of course you will also need graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows!
55. Watermelon Eating Contest
Another treat synonymous with the season is fresh watermelon. See who can eat the most of this juicy treat without using hands or who can eat a slice the fastest.
56. Eat Someplace Else
Pick another state or country with food you like, cook it and listen to music from that location during dinner. This is especially fun if you had planned a trip to that destination. You’ll be inspired and ready to go when travel opens back up!
57. Have a Homemade Pizza Night
Skip the pizza delivery and make your own from scratch instead including the dough! Everyone can take a turn tossing and putting on own tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.
58. Bake Something New
Get out those cook books and try baking something you’ve never made before. This is the time to let try something tricky like macarons or the recently released Double Tree chocolate cookie recipe. You can make an extra batch for your neighbors.
59. Make Your Own Popsicles
On a hot summer day, fresh-from-the-freezer homemade popsicles really hit the spot. There are a ton of cool popsicle molds available or you can use paper cups and popsicle sticks and just add a puree of your favorite fresh fruits and juices.
60. Crab Cracking
A crustacean laden feast is synonymous with summer in our family. There’s something so fun about cracking open crab shells and making a big ole mess as you scoop up the delicious catch. You can grab crabs from your local supermarket of seafood restaurant and enjoy them at home. Just lay out some brown craft paper on the table. No plates or utensils needed!
61. Sip Summery Drinks
Cool off with some refreshing lemonade or an iced tea. Try a few mocktails (no alcohol needed), a root beer float or use a shaved ice machine and flavored syrups to create yummy snow cones.
—– GET MOVING —–
62. Circuit Train Together
If you’ve been indulging in some of the fun food ideas above it can be easy put on the “quarantine 15”. Get the whole gang moving with a series of exercise stations like jump rope, burpees, and ab mat sit-ups.
63. Have a Family Dance Party
There’s nothing like some upbeat tunes to shake up a dull day. So crank up the volume and burn some of that bouncing-off-the-walls energy with a family dance party. Learn to salsa from the pros via YouTube or try Just Dance with Wii or the Nintendo Switch if you want some choreography.
64. Family Bike Ride
Biking with the family in your neighborhood or local greenway can be a great safe option to get everyone moving. If you have little ones who can’t ride on their own try a trailer or tag-along that attaches to an adult bike.
65. Morning Yoga
Clear your couches to the side and lay down some yoga mats and start your day off with some movement and mindfulness. Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube for some kid-friendly yoga routines that the whole family can enjoy.
66. Master a Gymnastics Trick
Learn to cartwheel and flip this summer on a trampoline or on the lawn. Solid gymnastics skills can take weeks to fully perfect so make sure you are on hand to spot and supervise.
—– BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS —–
67. Learn a New Language
Challenge yourselves this summer to learn a new language! Of course it may be unrealistic to achieve full fluency, but certainly you can master a few small phrases. Duo Lingo is a fantastic free resource that makes it easy for any age to pick up fast.
68. Make Music
There has never been a better time practice your instruments. Don’t have any? Use common household items to make your own. Form a family band and put on a musical show.
69. Take an Online Course
Just because school is out doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Take this time to learn a new skill or hobby, study a new subject or re-learn an old one. Utilize Free Education Sites Online like Scholastic Learning at Home, PBS Learning Media, and National Geographic Kids. Also take some time to check out the online programs and course offered at your local library.
70. Do a Science Experiment
There are tons of easy science experiments you can try at home with your kids. Try making slime or tornado in a bottle or use a pre-made kit that contains everything you need for making a volcano, growing crystals or creating a terrarium. Science Buddies and has some great ideas online to get your STEM juices slowing or you can purchase a kit that contains making different projects like those made by Smithsonian Maker Labs.
71. Plan Your Next Vacation
It might not be the right time to travel just yet but that doesn’t mean you can get cracking on your planning. Here on Mom Abroad you’ll find lots of vacation inspiration.
72. Reading Time
There’s nothing that opens up new worlds and ideas quite like a good book. Set aside some time every day for quiet reading. Sign up for your local Library’s summer reading program to track books and even earn rewards. Many local libraries are offering online checkout and curbside pick up or and free e-book downloads.
73. Book-to-Screen Combo
In our family we each pick a handful of books to read over the summer that have a movie or television adaptation. Once someone finishes one of their books we all get to watch the screen version and the reader gets to tell us about the differences, what they enjoyed about each and how close their imaginations came to the filmmaker’s vision.
74. Virtual Visit
See a play or listen to a concert online. Take virtual tour of your favorite museum or one that you have never visited before. The Google Arts and Culture platform allows you to view world-class museums and art collections from the comfort of your own home. Featuring content from more than 1200 partner museums and archives you can explore the works of Monet, Rembrandt and Frida Kahlo without ever leaving your living room!
75. Tour a Park
Virtually touring a national park is a fun way to pass the time and scout places for a future in-person exploration. Visit the National Park Foundation website and National Park Service “Find Your Virtual Park” pages to get started.
76. Complete Your Family Tree
Spend some time this summer researching your roots. Do some digging and create a family tree using resources like Ancestry.com This might motivate you to connect with some family members you haven’t reached out to in a while or some kids didn’t even know about.
—– THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT —–
77. See a Broadway Show
Broadway has gone dark for the rest of the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see a live show! Amazon Prime Video and Vudu offer select shows, and Broadway HD offers all of the classics. Film adaptations of musicals, such as Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys can also be streamed on select platforms. Hamilton is even coming to Disney+ on July 3rd.
78. Play Video Games
Want to be the coolest parents ever? Hop online with your kids and play the video games and apps they love with them. From Minecraft to Mario cart its game on!
79. Listen to Podcasts
From fantastical stories to science explanations, there are podcasts that will appeal podcasts for kids to anyone in your family’s interests. Our favorites include Hidden Brain and Planet Money. You can find more great podcasts for kids here.
80. Watch Old Family Videos
Take a walk down memory lane by watching old family home videos. Our kids love seeing themselves as toddlers and think it’s hysterical how much we, as their parents have changed.
81. Make Movies
Speaking of movies starring your family, now would be the perfect time to film some new footage. With video capabilities on our cell phones, the technology is right in your hands, so put it to good use. Either chronicle your family’s summer adventures or develop your own scripted story for a fun summer project. Let the kids practice video editing on your computer or tablet.
82. Solve a Mystery
Try a virtual escape room or murder mystery kit to get the whole clan working together to hunt down clues and solve puzzles. These immersive games are especially fun for older kids and teenagers.
83. Karaoke Sing-Along
Since singing in large groups is a risky activity at the moment, we can pretty much only sing safely with the ones in our quarantine pack. Check out the Disney Family Singalongs on Disney+ or make an Amazon playlist and singalong with the lyrics on your TV. Another fun option is to sing some sweet harmonies with your very own karaoke machine.
84. Have Your Own Olympics
Just because the 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some competition this summer. Events can be as simple and silly as timing who can get an oreo from their forehead into the mouth the fastest without dropping it.
85. Hang Out in a Hammock
Let’s get real here. Sometimes you just want to spend your day chilling in a hammock in your back yard. You can read, watch videos or just take a nice long nap.
86. Binge Watch Contest TV
There are all kinds of family friendly reality TV series these days. Get sucked into the Masked Singer, be inspired by the Great British Bake Off, or laugh yourselves silly at the bad bakers on Nailed It. The wonderful thing about binging contest type shows especially is you don’t have to wait weeks to find out who’s the winner!
—- SPREAD SOME LOVE —–
87. Phone or Facetime Family & Friends
Not being able to interact with others outside your family is in person is hard. Taking time to FaceTime or Skype with friends and extended family can help you still feel connected.
88. Send Snail Mail
Write letters to a loved one or send “Thinking of You Cards” out to friends. Real mail is lovely to receive and could really brighten someone’s day.
89. Chalk Your Walk!
Use your driveway or sidewalk as a canvas. With so many people walking these days this is a great opportunity to spread good cheer and gratitude with hopeful messages of encouragement and thanks.
90. Kindness Rocks
Paint rocks with encouraging messages and fun designs and then hide them around your neighborhood or a local nature trail for others to find. Finding just the right rocks to paint can be the trickiest part. You can find large smooth river rocks on amazon that were perfect for painting.
91. Make Masks
Get everyone involved in making fun face coverings this summer. Have kids cut fabric, thread elastic, iron pleats or even stitch the seams. It’s a great excuse to learn some simple sewing skills!
—– D.I.Y. —–
92. Home Haircuts
Order some clippers and a good pair of scissors and go ahead and get rid of that hair. We’ve learned that the patio is a great place for hair cuts and getting creative like using leaf blower can add an extra element of fun. You can find some great hair cut tutorials on you tube.
93. Grow Your Own Garden
Use this summer to plant your own container garden or raised bed garden full of your favorite veggies, fruits, lettuces and herbs. Then once it grows, use your new ingredients in your family’s favorite recipes.
94. Home Improvement Project
Take the opportunity to tackle a big home improvement project together. Whether its adding a patio extension, landscaping your yard or finishing your basement think of ways to involve everyone in the family in the endeavor.
95. Declutter and Organize
It’s the perfect time to organize the garage, declutter the attic, sort through daunting piles of paperwork or just go through those junk drawers. Donate any unwanted items to a local charity drop off site.
96. Room Make Over
It might be time to give your rooms a little update. Especially for kids headed into the next stage of life. Let your kids pick out a some new bedding or art online or select a fresh paint color for the walls. Then work on redecorating together. This can also be a great incentive for decluttering and organizing!
97. Learn to Mow the Lawn
Are your kids trying to earn some cash this summer while social distancing? Now may be the perfect time to train them on how to safely mow your lawn. This could be a new fun job for them and one less chore for you.
98. Car Wash
Another chore you could offer up for some extra cash is washing the family vehicles in your driveway. Fill up a bucket with some soap and water, give the kids a sponge and hose and let them have at it.
99. Pamper Yourselves
Get out the bath salts, nail polish and clay masks and enjoy a little spa time for everyone. You can take turns doing each other’s manicures and pedicures or just relax with some hot towels, cucumber eye pads, and candles. Whatever makes you feel pampered!
100. Build Something With Wood
This summer is the perfect time to learn to safely use power tools. Create a corn hole set, build a raised bed garden or a new home for Fido. Look online for free build plans and what tools you will need.
There you have it friends, 100 fun family activities you can do while social distancing this summer! I hope this article inspired you and your family with some ideas! If you enjoyed this list, please share it with your family and friends and save it to Pinterest by clicking the “P” icon on this image. Join us over on the Mom Abroad Facebook Page or follow us on Instagram for more vacation inspiration.
Stay safe! Stay healthy!