2020 Summer Bucket List: 40 Ways to Make the Best of This Summer

Let’s be real: these are weird times. For many of us, they’re really hard times. But the simple joy of a beautiful afternoon in the gorgeous sunlight — or the shrieks of kids tossing buckets of water at each other — is a balm for weary souls. So let’s throw our arms wide to summer sunshine and use our Summer Bucket List for families and keep the fun going!

2020 Summer Bucket List

Fun Places to Go Summer 2020

  • Plan an outing to see a drive-in movie together.
  • Go fruit picking! Our 2020 strawberry picking guide is live, and you can keep an eye out for updates to our blueberry picking and apple picking guides once those seasons draw closer.
  • Hike at Waterfall Glen. It’s a beautiful place for a scenic hike or bike ride that is best taken days after a big rain, but is lovely any time of year.
  • Go wild on a drive-thru safari. Local options include Safari Lake Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (check out Katie’s review), Shalom Wildlife Zoo in West Bend, Wisconsin (check out guest contributor Rene Cozzi’s review), and Aikman Wildlife Adventure in Arcola, Illinois.
  • The Forge: Lemont Quarries still plans on opening this summer. This giant outdoor adventure park will feature ziplines, ropes courses, climbing walls, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, and more.
  • Mini golf is open! Check out our list of nearby mini golf courses, but be sure to check ahead because many are requiring reservations.
  • Play tennis (most courses are open for singles play) or golf with your kids.
  • Farmers Markets are encouraging one visitor per family, so have the rest of the family wait in the car while you pick up supplies for an impromptu picnic.
  • Skate parks are opening and there are great local skateboard shops to buy a board and learn from experts. We like Jerics in Crest Hill and First Gear in Berwyn.
  • Visit Lake Katherine for an easy day-trip of butterflies, hikes, and kayaking (rentals available by appointment).
  • Go hiking at Starved Rock, which is back open. You really cannot spend too much time in the great outdoors during the short summer months of Chicago!
  • Go camping together and share s’mores under the stars. Be sure to use our printable checklist of what to pack for camping to make sure you don’t forget anything!
  • Visit a local farm! As with everything this summer, be sure to check ahead about any COVID-19 changes.
  • The Morton Arboretum is opening to the public on June 15, 2020. Although the childrens garden and mazes will remain closed, they have wonderful paths and lush vegetation to enjoy.
  • Graue Mill and Museum in Oak Brook has a tentative reopening date of June 16, 2020.
  • We have been wanting to check out Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden in Geneva, which looks like it will be open in phase 4. Let’s hope we get to phase 4 this summer!
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Ideas for Summer Fun Close to Home

  • Make your own grilled pizzas! Depending on their ages, kids can help make the dough, cut up toppings, spread the sauce, or sprinkle the cheese.
  • Use a running app like Map My Run to create a route that draws a picture. (Charlotte’s kids love this!)
  • Make an outdoor fairy garden or a construction zone.
  • Go camping in the backyard! Be sure to do a fire and make s’mores or campfire banana boats.
  • Make a sun dial.
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Grow a new vegetable or herb in a pot or your yard and eat it.
  • Plant a native plant that supports bees or butterflies! Check out The Morton Arboretum’s guide to growing a butterfly garden.
  • Work on writing: cursive, calligraphy, or brush lettering! Local bookshops sell workbooks where you can practice right alongside the instructions.
  • Make a family journal or scrapbook about your experiences during the pandemic. 
  • Bigger kids can learn to mow the lawn!
  • Make a play and perform it for your loved ones over video chat.
  • Plan a family book and movie challenge: Read the book together, then have a special family movie night to watch the movie. Talk about the differences, similarities, and what the kids liked about
  • Create pointillism art with paint and q-tips.
  • Make a mosaic garden stone from broken dishes.
  • Run through the sprinklers — or have the kids build their own PVC sprinkler!
  • Teach the kids to wash the car.
  • Find a church offering stay-at-home Vacation Bible School options with all the supplies you’ll need to put on your own camp at home! This is a great way to add structure to the days.
  • Enjoy ice cream from a local shop.
  • Make homemade treats like mason jar ice cream or popsicles.
  • Hunt for treasure with geocaching!
  • Try a take-home kit from a local business. Many pottery shops, painting studios, and bakeries are offering kits.
  • Paint some kindness rocks together, then go on a walk and have fun planting them around your community.
  • Hike a trail together! Check out our list of the best hiking trails for kids. Go early to beat the crowds (and the heat).
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Summer Camps are still happening!

We have been working closely with local businesses and park districts to bring you up-to-date information about what summer camps are being offered both in-person and virtually! Click here to check out local summer camps.

Summer Bucket List Printable

Click on the image below to view and print the pdf. (It will be better quality than just printing the image.)


Don’t forget to share your adventures on Instagram with the hashtag #mykidlist! We love seeing all the family fun going on in our communities.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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