Monday, May 25, 2015

Our Summer Bucket List

Summer, summer, summertime!

My inner Fresh Prince is singing because it's summertime! Time to spend sunup to sundown outdoors enjoying Minnesota's shortest, but sweetest season.

I spent a good chunk of time last week populating our summer calendar with events and happenings near our house in the Twin Cities and around our Wisconsin lake cabin. I'm always amazed by the number of free kid's activities taking place in the community -- free concerts, farmer's markets, traveling puppet wagons, parades, picnics, story times, etc. I scoured local parks & recreation websites and city event calendars to develop a list, then plugged the events into my personal iPhone calendar. Now when I glance at my calendar for the week ahead, I can easily see what activities are happening around town and plan our day accordingly. Swimming lessons are the only real 'commitment' we have this summer, so I'll fill in the remainder of our days with these activities.

I have a few other must-do's on my mind this summer so I made a list of those, too. Here's our 2015 Summer Bucket List:

Attend a Concert in the Park
Many Twin Cities suburbs host free outdoor kid's concerts in the summertime, and they're one of my favorite things to do with Tory and Aden. They're usually held around noon-time, so I'll bring a picnic lunch and my favorite JJ Cole beach blanket; we'll listen to live music or to the kid's DJ and dance. The best part is, they're super low-key events so the kids can run around and be silly, or sit on the blanket and chill out. Love these!

Have Ice Cream & Fresh Fries
There's a Plymouth restaurant that's been on my bucket list for a while now, and I vow to cross it off my list this summer. Honey & Mackie's serves ice cream and French fries (um, match made in heaven!) and I think it'd be the perfect activity one sunny summer evening.

Eat at a Food Truck
Wouldn't it be fun to take the kids to lunch at a food truck? I think Tory would get a big kick out of dining al fresco (one of her favorite things), and scoring a free pass from cooking a meal + no clean-up are two favorite things of mine.

Shop at the Farmer's Market
Every week during the summer, I bring Tory and Aden to our suburb's farmer's market. I like supporting local events like this, and it's also a fun and easy activity to attend. Ours is held from 2pm-6pm so it's the perfect after-nap activity. Last year, I let Tory buy a fruit smoothie or an ice cream cone during our visits, and it was pretty much the highlight of her week.

Visit a New-To-Us Park
It's easy to walk to our neighborhood park in the evening for a quick play session, but I also enjoy making an adventure out of visiting a new-to-us park in the Twin Cities. On my list to check out this summer are: the "Teddy Bear Park" in Stillwater, the "Chutes & Ladders" park in Bloomington, Bassett Creek Park in Crystal, Elm Creek Park in Maple Grove and Oak Hill Park / Splash Pad in St. Louis Park.  

Go Strawberry Picking
Picking strawberries as a family is one of my very favorite summer activities. We visit a little pick-your-own place by the cabin and it's such a simple and lovely activity to do together. Aden is obsessed with strawberries and now that he's finally walking (!!), I'm dying to let him loose in the strawberry field.

See a Baseball Game
I'd love to take the kids to a baseball game at the new Saints baseball stadium this summer, but realistically I doubt we'll make it over to St. Paul to go. I might have to settle for a little league game at the local diamonds just down the road from us. There's a playground near the ball fields, so that might be the perfect alternative.

Visit a Nature Center
I remember visiting nature centers as a kid and it was so neat to see and experience plants and animals in their nature habitats. I've heard good things about nature centers in the Twin Cities like Westwood Hills, and admission is free so there's not much to lose.

Watch a Parade (or Participate in One!)
I'm a parade fanatic; I love them! There's something so simple and festive about sitting on a street curb, watching fire trucks and floats pass by. Attending the Musky Days in Hayward, WI every summer has become a cabin tradition of ours, and I hope to go back again this year. They have a fabulous parade in addition to rows of vendors lining Main Street, great food, and many other activities. Our neighborhood in the Twin Cities hosts a kid's parade every August and since I'm on the planning committee, I know the kids and I will participate in that one.

Grill a pizza
So wanted to try this last year, but never got around to it. Any tried and true recipes or tips?

Think this is enough to keep us busy this summer? I'm anxious to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine with the kids. It's my favorite time of the year.


  1. I never remember to check for free events, and if I do I never remember to go to them. I'm fail all around like that. At least I can manage to get us to the parks, zoo, and beach. I think my fave is the ice cream and fries. Is that all they serve or just known for the fries and ice cream? What more do you need though, really? mmm

  2. Great list. I feel like having a kid has motivated us to do more things instead of just go out to eat or go on walks. I’ve driven by Honey and Mackie’s a lot and always wondered if they served anything other than ice cream and French fries – guess not, but I still want to try it.

    Food trucks are one of the things I miss most about working downtown. If you go downtown to eat at a food truck I’d recommend going at 11 or at 1. I remember it being a nuthouse at the noon hour – often waiting a half hour for the line/food.

    We love Westwood Hills! So much to see and do. One of my list items would be to participate in one of the special activities they host. There is also a lady that walks there a lot and take leaves and sticks and makes a picture out of them. I haven’t come across one in a walk yet, but have seen them on the FB site and they are really cool. Might be a good incentive for a kid to keep walking – to have them find some of her artwork.