Don’t let the impending summer days stress you out. Fill your calendar with adventures like a day in San Francisco, a road trip to Morro Bay, movies under the stars and a day at the beach. The summer is about trying new things and making memories. With this list of 50 ideas, we’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Summer Bucket List!
photo: Stern Grove
1. Put on your dancing shoes for a summer concert. From Stern Grove to a Folk Festival, here’s the low down on where to groove.
3. Skip the produce aisle and head to a local farm to pick your own berries!
4. Gimme s’mores! You don’t have to go camping to get these ooey-gooey treats around town.
photo: LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
5.Secure your nomination as world’s best parents and take your little LEGO-heads to check out the new LEGOLAND Castle Hotel.
6. Spend a night at the museum (or the zoo) when you book a family night at one of these unique overnights.
7. Try and spot a shooting star. Here are some of the best places to stargaze in the city.
8. Celebrate flower power at these gorgeous botanical gardens.
photo: Sonoma County Fair
9. Get your cotton candy, funnel cake and Ferris wheel fix at a county fair. There are eight happening around the Bay this summer.
10. The Randall Museum just re-opened and it’s new, improved and still free every day! What are you waiting for?
11. Plan a wine country weekend and let the kids come along!
12. Play tourist for the day and have a blast a Fisherman’s Wharf. (Really!)
13. Mark your calendar and buy your tickets for the summer’s most epic camp out—the Tentsile Camp Out at Camp Navarro. You get to sleep in the trees (literally, they set up a Tentsile tent for you, suspended between trees) and enjoy activities like kayaking, tree climbing, hiking, kids’ activities and more. Bonus: the cooking is done for you so all you have to do is chill out and enjoy the fresh air.
14. Stay up a little past bedtime and watch one of your favorite movies outdoors, under the starts.
15. Make a meal out of French fries at Santa Clara’s new #getfried fry cafe.
16. Cool down in calm waters. Check out one of these swimming beaches perfect for kids!
17. Get your glamp on! Book a few nights at a nearby cabin, yurt, lighthouse or safari tent (with real bathrooms and showers!).
photo: Kate Loweth
18. Make your way to Mendocino for beaches, wine tasting, train rides and the most gorgeous landscape around.
19. Explore the great outdoors on a hike that is perfect, even for the youngest hikers.
20. Support the schools and enjoy some great eats at the same time. Head to Tacolicious and Mendocino Farms.
21. Take a scenic (and stroller-friendly) hike in Pacifica then reward yourself with some killer local barbecue.
22. See the world from the dinner table: Try a kid-approved exotic dish at a local restaurant to add some spice to your meal routine.
photo: Kate Loweth
23. Touch a starfish! Head to a nearby tide pool and get up close and personal with local sea life.
24. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! If a day at the SF Zoo is in your future, read our guide so that you don’t miss any of the animal magic.
25. Jump in a kayak and explore your city by sea.
26. Talk about fresh eggs: spend the night at a nearby farm!
27. Skip the sunscreen and jump into one of the Bay’s best indoor pools.
photo: Kate Loweth
28. Ditch the tent and rent a cabin for an easy night under the stars.
29. Get your STEM on at these science centers from SF to Sausalito where the kids can learn about robots, animals, space and more.
30. Check out a new playground like the dual wonders of the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds.
31. Ditch the kitchen and enjoy brunch at one of these family-friendly spots with early opening hours. Our fave: the newly-opened MerSea on Treasure Island!
32. Mark your calendar on the second Saturday of the month for free visits to the CA Redwoods State Parks.
photo: Justin Ennis
34. Cool off inside while the littles listen to a story at these non-library spots that offer story time.
35. Get a date night on the calendar. Head out on the town after you drop the kids at one of these drop-off play spots.
36. Plan the perfect picnic. We’ve got a shortlist of the best spots right here.
photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium
37. On a hot day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the place to be. Get our tips on how to maximize your day there.
38. A day in Golden Gate Park doesn’t have to break the bank. It is full of free activities and sun shine!
39. Eat under the sun by dining at one of SF’s many family-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating.
40. Make this the summer the kids perfect their kicks. Enroll them in swim lessons at one of these trusted locations.
41. Take a spin on one of the Bay Area’s many magical carousels.
photo: Kate Loweth
42. Up your tween’s summer style with a visit to the new Hayes Valley hot spot—Orange Bird.
43. Get some up-close-and-personal time with the animals at these wildlife centers.
44. What’s hot in Berkeley? Check out our guide and head down to Fourth Street to see the sights!
45. Go for a spin around one of these rad retro roller rinks.
46. Find out how your favorite foods are made, from jelly beans to fortune cookies, by going on a family-friendly food factory tour.
photo: Melissa Bouse
47. Make your way to the East Bay. There are playgrounds galore and we’ve shared our favorites with you.
48. Take a trip to the islands without leaving the Bay Area—Alcatraz and Angel Island.
49. Head south. Morro Bay is the perfect spot to whale watch, hike, eat loads of seafood and relax this summer.
50. Two words: Ice Cream.
How many have you already checked off this list? Tell us in the comments below!
—Kate Loweth & Erin Feher