Around this time each year, parents everywhere are scrambling to plan the best summer ever! While there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids experience boredom from time to time, summer is an amazing season for making special memories together as a family. Ready to get started? Maybe you need some bucket list ideas for the summer vacation. As usual, Indy with Kids has you covered.
Summer fun doesn’t have to cost a million dollars! Many of our favorite summer bucket list activities are free or low-cost. Everything on this list can be done on your own time when it fits your schedule. However, summer in Indianapolis is packed full of local events and festivals you won’t want to miss! Keep an eye on the best calendar of family-friendly events in town to learn how you can join in all the excitement happening this year.
Bucket List Ideas for the Summer
Take a Camping Trip
Camping is a classic summer activity, with so many ways to customize the experience. You could take a weekend trip to an Indiana State Park and enjoy a campsite, or you could simply have a backyard camp-out. Sleep under the stars with no travel necessary!
If you find that the weather has spoiled your plans, we love camp-outs in the living room. Sometimes we make a tent or fort out of linens. Though a simple idea, camping creates lifelong memories and is the perfect summer activity.
Spend a Day Canoeing or Kayaking
Head over to Fall Creek, the White River, or Eagle Creek Reservoir and go on a boat ride adventure! Several companies in our area offer rentals. Make sure to bring or borrow life jackets, just in case. Canoeing and kayaking are not only fun, but great exercise, and the perfect way to unplug and spend time together as a family.
Go on a Picnic
Picnics are fun changes of pace from a typical meal, and you can enjoy them with very little work. Pack up something simple like sandwiches, or even grab food from your favorite restaurant to-go. Make it your mission to find your favorite park to have a family picnic!
Plan Out an Ice Cream Crawl
The greater Indianapolis area has countless ice cream shops, and what says summer more than ice cream? Make a list of your must-try summer treats places and check out all that the ice cream scene has to offer here in Indy. You can make a day of it, or try checking out a new shop each week.
Catch a Movie — Or Host Your Own
There are a number of theaters in the Indy area that offer cheap screenings of popular family films during the summer. For just a few dollars, you can see a kid-friendly classic on the big screen.
For a different but equally fun experience, backyard outdoor movie nights are one of our favorite family traditions. They can be done with very little equipment! Purchase or borrow a projector, hang a white sheet on the side of your house, and at dusk, start rolling the movie. Grab some popcorn, start a bonfire, and enjoy the slowness and beauty that summer brings.
Have Field Day in the Backyard
School field days are fun, and they’re easy to recreate at home! This could be as simple as a water balloon fight or sprinkler day. If you have a plastic tarp and soap, you can use those to make a homemade slip ‘n slide. We also like the “Minute To Win It” style games, like cup stacking, filling a bucket with a sponge, and the classic egg on a spoon! There are so many easy DIY options, perfect for a fun and memorable field day at home.
Go Creek Stomping
Creek Stomping is a family favorite, and there are so many cool places around Indianapolis to explore. Cool Creek Park and Skiles Test Nature Park are two family favorites that are great for little ones and big kids alike. I would recommend bringing lots of towels and a change of clothes for the ride home!
Gaze at the Stars
A short drive out of the city will take you to the abundance of farmland that Indiana has to offer. Without the light pollution from the city, the stars are so bright and perfect for stargazing. This is a great family activity or even a good date night to unplug and spend time together. For extra fun, bring a constellation guide, and see how many you can find!
Have a Campfire and S’mores Night
Do you know how many combinations there are of the classic s’more? I have tried several variations, but the possibilities are endless! A s’mores buffet is a fun summer night activity. Work together as a family to think of all the different modifications you would like to try and sample your creations. I recently saw the idea to roast a strawberry, covered in marshmallow fluff, and I can’t wait to try it on s’mores night this summer!
Take the Kids Fishing
Fishing is a classic summer activity and for good reason! It’s easy, relaxing, and very family-friendly. Most state parks have equipment to rent and set you up for a day of fun if you aren’t wanting to invest in the upfront cost. You could rent a boat as well, and make a day out of it that the entire family will enjoy!
Grab Local Produce at a Farmers’ Market
Farmers’ markets are a refreshing way to start the weekend and come with fresh produce, locally grown goods, and small businesses to support! If you’ve never visited your local farmers’ market, you are in for a great morning. Enjoy browsing and shopping, and possibly even an outdoor concert or other entertainment.
My favorite item to pick up is local honey, and my husband often finds homemade barbecue sauce and beef jerky. There is something for everyone, and you are supporting your local community as a bonus!
Day Trip to Brown County
Brown County is known for its scenic views, small-town shopping, and gorgeous state park. This summer, enjoy the beauty that nature brings and plan a day of hiking, exploring, and checking out the local shops for a treat before you leave. Already visited Brown County and looking for something new? Indianapolis is just a short drive from several other cities and road trip destinations.
Find the Best Donuts in Indy
I know we already talked about ice cream, but who doesn’t love donuts? There are so many cool donut shops around Indy and summer is the perfect time to try them. Our family’s personal favorite is Ohana’s in Fishers, and they also have ice cream and coffee as an added perk! For a unique take on donuts, try Mochi Joy in Noblesville.
Make a Splash at a Local Waterpark
Of all our bucket list ideas for the summer, this one somehow seems most essential. Indy is home to many local pools, but you can always take the excitement up a notch by planning a trip on a hot summer day to one of our favorite Indiana waterparks. Grab the sunscreen, towels, and snacks, then splash on in for a day of fun.
Bury a Time Capsule
Pick out a few things that best represent what you want to remember about this particular summer and make a DIY time capsule in the backyard. In a few years, you can dig it up and see what you buried! To preserve your treasures, I recommend burying them in a plastic or metal container with a lid.
Summer can be just so magical and memorable for the whole family. I hope you are feeling inspired by these bucket list ideas for the summer and are ready to kick off the fun with your kids! Make sure to take us along for the ride by using the hashtag #PLAYINDY on social media.