175+ Screen-Free Activities For Your Family Summer Bucket List
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175+ Screen-Free Activities For Your Family Summer Bucket List

175+ Screen-Free Activities For Your Family Summer Bucket List

As summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to unplug, step outside, and embrace the endless possibilities of screen-free activities. In our family, creating a summer bucket list has become a beloved tradition, a chance to dream up adventures, crafts, and activities that bring us closer together and make the most of the sunny days ahead.

Crafting a summer bucket list is more than just listing activities; it’s about setting the stage for a season filled with creativity, exploration, and cherished memories. Whether it’s stargazing on a clear Canadian night, building an epic LEGO city, or visiting a local farmer’s market, there’s something magical about the simplicity of these moments. And – they create the memories that last their whole lives. We always take lots of pictures of things we do so we can look back and remember the fun we had.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to play video games. I think there are quite a few really great things kids learn from playing video games, but it’s far too easy for my family to all sink into our chairs and couches to binge watch episodes of our favourite shows or battle bad guy instead of putting the effort in to an actual plan. So being intentional about creating balance with on and off screen activities can help!

This guide is here to help your family jump-start your own summer bucket list with over 175 screen-free ideas that cater to every interest and age group. From outdoor adventures to creative crafts, and from sports to educational activities, we’ve gathered a diverse collection of fun-filled suggestions that will keep your summer vibrant and engaging.

a green bucket on a beach with the text "175+ Screen-FREE SUMMER IDEAS" overlaid

Creating a Summer Bucket List as a Family

The first step to an intentional summer is to create a list of things that you would like to do. At our house, we call this our summer fun bucket list. Over the years, we’ve done this in a few different ways, but mostly it involves either a whiteboard or a giant piece of paper. We’ve even used and decorated poster board from the dollar store before.

It’s really important to include the kids in the bucket list idea brainstorm, especially if you want them to be invested in the plan and willing to participate. So set aside some time to do the planning as a family.

Steps to Create a Bucket List

Creating a summer bucket list is a fun and collaborative process that can set the stage for an unforgettable season. Start by gathering the whole family together and brainstorming ideas. Encourage everyone to contribute, from the youngest to the oldest, to ensure a diverse range of activities. Add everything, even if it seems impossible (like find Bigfoot), is out of your budget (like a trip across Canada), or is really silly (like having a paint fight.) You can narrow things down or get creative when all the ideas are out of their heads and onto the list!

Keep in mind the screen-free activities and ideas that you put on your list don’t need to be big, expensive, or out of the ordinary. They can be as simple as eating a giant freezie or going on a bike ride.

Once you have a comprehensive list, the next step is to look through and see what you can realistically do. If there are ideas that need to be removed, now is the chance to have that kind of discussion. For example, “Take over the world” might not be something that you can accomplish this summer, but here are some creative ideas for the other challenging ideas mentioned above:

  • Find Bigfoot – why not make a day where you go “searching” for Bigfoot by going on a nature hike with a camera and some research about the who, what, where, and when of this mythical being?
  • Take a Trip Across Canada – Instead of renting a trailer and packing everyone into the car for hours of driving and a cost that might not be reasonable for your family, you could do a virtual trip across Canada instead! (I know, it’s not completely screen free, but it’s got some fun offline activities included!)
  • Have a Paint Fight – If paint is a little too much on the mess-o-meter than you are willing to do, you could always suggest a water fight or a mud fight as an alternative. Or you could adapt it into a splatter paint party or some other kind of outdoor paint activity.

The goal is to get creative and think of ways that your family can enjoy time together!

Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas into realistic things you can do this summer, you can categorize the activities by interests such as outdoor adventures, creative crafts, sports, and educational pursuits, if you would like to. This makes it easier to balance different types of fun and ensures there’s something for everyone. This step is optional.

Next, prioritize the activities into which ones are *must do* and which are *would like to do if we can.* This way you can make sure you get all the best activities in place first and don’t bump them for one that not everyone wants to do. Then you can start scheduling them on the calendar. This helps in managing time effectively and ensures that you can fit in as many activities as possible throughout the summer.

Don’t forget to include some room for spontaneous fun and unplanned adventures. Flexibility is key to making the most of those unexpected opportunities that can make summer even more special.

a large piece of paper taped to a wall with a list of 79 screen-free activities my kids wanted to do in the summer of 2012.

Some Summer Bucket List Tips

  • Create something visual – like a poster or a list on the whiteboard so that everyone can see it through the summer. This helps keep the interest and curiosity going. And make sure that you mark things off as completed – whether that’s crossing it out, adding a checkmark, putting on stickers, or erasing it off the list.
  • Try to include something from everyone. No one wants to feel like their ideas weren’t good enough or worth trying, so make sure to include an idea from everyone!
  • Combine both simple and more complicated activities. If everything on the list is a massive project to set up and complete, it’s less likely to happen. Having easy activities to balance it out means that you will be able to have a successful summer of fun!
  • Be flexible and have fun. Sometimes the best of plans doesn’t work out – whether the weather didn’t cooperate or you couldn’t get the materials, someone gets sick, the activity doesn’t turn out as expected, or any other number of reasons. Learning to be flexible is an important life skill. Encourage your kids to enjoy the successful ones and not let the down days ruin a whole summer!

Screen-Free Activities to Add to Your Family Summer Bucket List

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with ideas, so here are 171 ideas that we’ve come up with that might help your family jump-start your own summer bucket list!

This section contains affiliate links.

Outdoor Adventures

  • go geocaching
  • go fishing
  • attempt to chase butterflies with a net
  • go bug hunting
  • stargaze – how many constellations can you find?
  • plant a garden
  • go camping
  • blow bubbles
  • have a picnic
  • build a sandcastle
  • wash the car
  • play tag
  • climb a tree
  • have a water balloon fight
  • drive a remote controlled device
  • fly a kite
  • roast marshmallows
  • bob for apples
  • birdwatch
  • do leaf rubbings
  • hold a backyard summer Olympics
  • roll down a hill
  • go orienteering
  • make and use a sling
  • run around a track
  • look for shapes in the clouds
  • track animals in the woods
  • discover your town’s history
  • pick wildflowers
  • search for and skip rocks
  • play in the mud
  • jump in puddles
  • feed some birds
  • watch a sunset
  • play capture the flag
  • have a whipped cream fight
  • have a marshmallow gun battle
  • play hide and seek
  • have a watermelon seed spitting contest (if you can find a watermelon with seeds!)
  • make duct tape weaponry and have a battle
  • make a pizza box solar oven

Field Trips

  • go to a playground – bonus if you discover a new one you’ve never been to before!
  • go to a zoo or animal centre
  • visit a farmer’s market
  • go to a splash pad
  • visit a museum or art gallery
  • go to a play
  • pick your own strawberries / blueberries / other produce at a farm
  • watch fireworks
  • tour a farm
  • go to the beach
  • go to a community event
  • window shop at a local store
  • go to a home depot workshop
  • drive a go kart
  • go down a waterslide
  • go for a boat ride
  • go bowling
  • watch a little league game
  • visit a historical re-enactment event
  • go to yard sales
  • go to the library
  • go on a spontaneous road trip
  • go to a fair
  • go to a concert in a park
  • go for a horse ride
  • ride on a train
  • get your pictures taken at a portrait studio or in a photo booth
  • get your face painted
  • go to a powwow
  • get ice cream from an ice cream truck or a freezie from the convenience store

Physical Activities

  • go swimming
  • jump through a sprinkler
  • play a game of soccer
  • play a game of baseball
  • jump on a trampoline
  • hit golf balls at a driving range
  • play a game of mini-putt
  • play frisbee
  • play hopscotch
  • do an obstacle course
  • go rollerskating
  • play a bean bag toss / corn hole game
  • go for a bike or scooter ride

Indoor Fun

  • make a road for toy cars with painter’s tape on the floor
  • build a fort
  • do a puzzle
  • have a pillow fight
  • have a PJ day
  • have a dance party
  • draw on the windows w/ window-safe markers
  • have a sock ball fight
  • stay up all night
  • have a backwards day

Creative Activities

Educational Ideas

Fun & Games

In the Kitchen


  • sell lemonade
  • have a garage sale
  • start a lawn mowing business

Family, Friends, and Community

  • Send out and follow the adventures of a Flat Stanley version of you
  • make superhero capes & help people
  • talk to a family elder about childhood memories and look at their old photos
  • do some Random Acts of Kindness
  • collect food for the food bank
  • have an un-birthday party for someone in your family
  • visit a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a long time

The most important thing is to have fun. Take lots of pictures and put them into a memory book or print them and make a summer fun scrapbook together.

Some Additional Summer Resources For You

Challenge your kids to add some reading to their summer with this free Reading Bingo printable. >> DOWNLOAD READING BINGO

At-Home Summer Camp

Summer Fun Challenge – A Sticker Badge Chart {Printable}

This post was originally posted in May 2014 but has been updated in June 2024 to fix broken links and add more information about making a family summer bucket list.

Lisa Marie Fletcher
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