Life & Lifestyle

Summer Fun Activities to Awaken Your Inner Child

As I looked through old family photos recently, memories of my summers as a kid in the Midwest came back in a big, happy way. School was out for the year, so we got to sleep in, play with our friends, and go on a family vacation, usually a road trip. What I remember most, however, was the carefree feeling that summer brings.

As adults, we need to rediscover that feeling and enjoy ourselves more. It can be challenging with our responsibilities and life demands. But if we can just once in a while let that inner kid in all of us take a bit of control, you’ll find it’s one of the best therapies around. Ride your bike to a quiet place and revel in the solitude, hike with a friend to a new place, or eat fresh popcorn at a movie. Make a promise to yourself to let your inner child shine. After all, summer is the best time to start.

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Relax and look skyward at the clouds.

Look for shapes in a cloud.

Put a blanket on the grass, lie on your back, and look at the unfolding majesty. Watch the fluffy clouds float across the bluebird skies and see what shapes you can identify. It’s a “kid thing”— embrace it.

Make a backyard hideaway.

Building a hideaway is incredibly fun—a cherished family tradition that even our children and grandchildren adore. When I was a kid, my sister and I would gather lawn chairs, sheets, and old blankets to drape over our yard fence and chairs, creating our unique cave or fort. This little sanctuary was where we could eat lunch, read books, and even nap. There’s nothing like making your own special place.

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Enjoy a day at the beach building sandcastles.

Build a sandcastle.

When was the last time you built a sandcastle at the beach? Big, small, or something in between? No one is ever too old or young to tap into their creativity and imagination. This relaxing, meditative activity not only allows us to relax and unwind, but it’s also a fun and lighthearted way to bond with family and friends.

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Catch a flick at the drive-in.

See a movie at a drive-in.

The COVID pandemic revived the popularity of outdoor movies. Drive-in theaters hold a special place in many of our hearts. Whether it’s the memory of seeing your first film from the back seat as a kid, the setting of an unforgettable first date, or weaving your way through cars to get to and from the snack bar during intermission, drive-ins evoke a profound sense of nostalgia. These experiences remind us of simpler times and the joy of shared moments of nostalgia under the stars.

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The joy of picking fresh strawberries.

Go strawberry picking.

Picking strawberries proclaimed the “official” start of my summer as a kid. Growing up in Ohio, early June was the ideal season for strawberries. My mother, grandmother, and I would go to a local strawberry farm to pick our own—lots of big, juicy strawberries to eat fresh and make jellies and jams. And, of course, you had to sample the merchandise while picking. Google local strawberry farms and spend a day picking these tasty natural treats.

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Create a backyard family campground.

Camp in your backyard.

There’s nothing more fun than camping in our backyard, a tradition we cherish every summer when our grandkids visit. The kids love playing inside the tent during the day, and in the evening, after we’ve made s’mores by the firepit, we settle in for the night—but not before sharing scary stories and lots of laughter. Nothing brings out the kid in us more than sleeping in a tent.

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Nothing can be finer than eating in a diner.

Eat at a throwback diner.

Let’s be honest here. Diners are the guilty pleasures we’re not supposed to love, but we do. Why? Because their Rockwell-esque charm still seduces us. They serve up a delectable slice of history that has been a part of American life for over 40 years. Whether you find one in your hometown or during your travels, make that stop and forget about your calories for the day. Order a loaded hot dog, double burger, chocolate shake, or ice cream sundae. It all tastes so much better in a booth accompanied by a tabletop jukebox.

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Create new memories at the county fair: ride the Ferris wheel, play games, and enjoy the food.

Go to a county fair.

Nothing embodies throwback charm quite like a county fair. These events hold a special place in the hearts of many, capturing the spirit of community, agriculture, tradition, and rural life.

The rides are always a big draw, and even today, my husband and I—who first went to our hometown county fair when we started dating—still love riding the Ferris wheel at sunset. The fair offers many activities, whether you choose thrilling rides or prefer to watch others scream excitedly. Who can resist the games where people eagerly spend their money to win a stuffed animal you can buy in a dollar store or the eccentric carnies and carnival barkers? And let’s not forget the food vendors who tempt us with funnel cakes, sausage sandwiches, and barbecue delights.

Perhaps the best advice comes from Laura E. Brusseau: “Unleash your inner child, be a little wild.” Think about doing more of that this summer.


Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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