Quality (summer)time isn’t just about camps and popsicles. When it comes to spending time together as a family, we thought up 10 summer family activities to get you logging serious togetherness and serious fun. So grab the sunscreen and read on for inspiring ways to bond all summer long.

Take In the Great Outdoors

Now that it stays light out well into the evening, there’s even more time to spend outdoors after camp, work or other summertime activities. So commit to an after-dinner stroll once a week or use the weekend to go exploring. Best part? No matter where you live, awesome national parks are within reach. You can skip the summer crowds with our list of under-the-radar national parks in every state!

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

See Stars and (S')More

When the sun does set, and those stars come out, turn off the TV and head into the backyard or out to the front stoop for some stargazing. If you want to go all out with forecasts, gear and snacks (even more than s’mores!), plan a complete astrological adventure with our how-to-stargaze guide. If you like your stars with a splash of spontaneity, give one of these interstellar apps a go.

photo: Great Wolf Lodge

Dive Into Major Fun

From north to south and east to west, nothing says summer quite like a dive into a refreshing swimming pool. So be sure to get the whole family splashing about. If the kids are water safe, spring for passes to a community pool this, hit up a local splash pad with tots of any age, or check out one of the awesome new water resorts opening across the country this summer.

Gather Round for Family Story Time

Who doesn’t love a good story? Taking the time to bond over books gives everyone in the family a chance to listen (and read, depending on age level) and compare takeaways afterward. Talking about what we read is a great jump on reading comprehension, too. For a whole summer’s worth of inspiration, check out our list of 100 best books to read before the kids turn 12.

Plan a Picnic

Whether you spread out a blanket in the backyard, load up for a table spread at a local park or playground, or invite the neighbors over for a full-on picnic party, a picnic is a fun way to shake up mealtime with al fresco dining. It’s a novel way to have the kids help out too, from prepping lunch to packing up the basket to picking that perfect spot in the sun or shade.

photo: Yeti in My Spaghetti

Fire Up Family Game Night

Raising little competitive spirits? Put them to fun family use with a weekly game night. For preschool players, go for Go Fish, Guess Who, or classic Candyland. For older gamers, get out Otrio or one the many Monopolies now available. Our roundup of the best board games for every age and stage also promises to get everyone participating.

photo: Vermont Festival of Foods

Find a Fair or Festival

Is it even summertime if you don’t hit up a carnival, county fair or street fest? This is the season of hayrides and Ferris wheels, cotton candy and ring toss, movies or concerts in the park and prizes and laughs galore. If you’re looking for summer festivals that are a little off the beaten path, we have you covered. And be sure to check out one of our local or national Red Tricycle guides for the kind of summer fun the kids will be sure to remember.

Try Something New

Everything’s more fun if you’re not the only first timer, so work in bonding time by taking a family vote and trying something brand new. Take up rock climbing or dune surfing. Learn about flora and fauna at a local nature center. Fearless fliers may even fancy aerial trapeze. Who knows, by the end of summer you or the kids may just have a new hobby or passion to pursue throughout the year. If you need ideas, we found something fun to try in every state.

Make Meals a Priority

If summer feels just as busy as the rest of the year, you can still commit to a family meal as often as you can, especially when summertime cooking can be as easy as quick pasta, fresh salads or throwing something on the grill. In the spirit of gathering around the table, we have mealtime tips to share that sound good year round.

— Jennifer Massoni Pardini



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