Summer is coming and I think we all want to get our kids outside as much as possible and let them breathe, explore and wonder. I know many kids participate in summer sports or attend summer camps but there are always times when you need an activity and don’t have the time or bandwidth to do the research. That is where this list will come in handy.
Many of the lists of outdoor activities I found had more than 50 ideas per site and for me, that is just too many, so I just went ahead and picked a few of my favorite ideas. I’ve also provided some additional resources to get you excited and prepared for summer.
Make ice cream outside
Making ice cream is easy and fun with an awesome ice cream ball! We have one and take it camping. It is especially great for smaller kids because you can all sit on the ground and roll it around while singing, talking, or quietly “being” until it is ready. LL bean offers their own recipes for the ball or you can find myriad delicious recipes online. We made a mint cookies-n-cream concoction and it was a hit.
Lemonade stand for a cause
If your kids are like mine, they are always asking to have a lemonade stand. I always want to say no because it is a lot of work for me but when I recently discovered that I could let go a little bit and give them the freedom and responsibility to run with it (and not lift a finger myself), I was pleasantly surprised. A lovely twist is to have them brainstorm about what types of organizations they can donate the money to. You will be surprised at how much they can accomplish on their own (with a little guidance when needed, of course).
Go to a local pool or water park
Summer is hot, which makes it a perfect time to get wet. RED TRICYCLE offers a list of local parks with a splash pad. I also love Lake Anza in Tilden Park and Cull Canyon lagoon in Castro Valley for kids who can swim.
Egg drop project
I hadn’t thought about an egg drop since middle school but this actually sounds really fun! BUGgyandBUDdy has wonderful resources to take on this project with kids of various ages. This is the kind of project that allows them to work independently, problem solve and build up those STEM skills. The actual dropping of the egg clearly happens outside, but I also envision my kids building their projects in the yard because I just like to keep that sort of construction project chaos out of my kitchen.
Summer is the time for ripe, juicy berries and RED TRICYCLE has a wonderful list of local u-pick farms
The Bay Area offers so many amazing hiking trails. Bay Area Hiker lists parks with hiking trails suitable for littles broken down by region (North Bay, East Bay, and South Bay). If your little isn’t much into hiking, we love to just explore in the redwoods up at Roberts or Redwood park or they can ride their bikes or scooters on the paved Nimitz trail in Tilden while you try to keep up!
Perhaps you have taken advantage of all the local hiking spots but haven’t yet experienced the joys of biking with your littles. Fear not, Bay Area Parent has got you covered with a list of kid-friendly bike trails, also broken down by region.
I love a day at the beach. The kids are thoroughly entertained and come home nice and tired. 510families provides a nice guide to beach staycations in the area. Our favorite is Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda. It has parking, picnic tables, bathrooms, lawn, grills, windsurfing rental, and a visitors center. (Did you know this beach used to be known as “The Coney Island of the West?!”). My eldest says her favorite part is seeking out the tiny crabs that live in the rocks.
Host an outdoor movie night
Gather your neigbors together at a park or home and project a movie on the big screen. Get out your folding chairs, pop some popcorn and sit back. It’s a great activity for all ages.
Last but not least is camping — the quintessential summer outdoor activity. Even for you parents out there who don’t consider yourself campers, there is a spot for you! Frogmom provides this handy list of “perfect family campgrounds in the Bay Area.” I would add Tilden, Sibley, Anthony Chabot, Del Valle, and Garin, which are all regional parks with campsites. East Bay Parks gives more information on some of those sites.
Hopefully this round-up inspires you and your littles to get outside this summer to have fun, strengthen bonds and nurture your connection to the great outdoors. Happy Summer!