Does your family create a summer bucket list of things to do and places to go in your area? It’s a really neat thing to do! We love making lists of our goals and places we want to go every summer. It’s a challenge to find new things to add to the summer bucket list every year!
I created this list with a national reader in mind, including things that can be done wherever you live. However, in the notes beside each idea, I included lists specific to Lancaster County, PA locations. I also organized them by category, because that’s how I like to plan things. 🙂
READING, MUSIC, MOVIES
- Start the Summer Library Reading Program — Local libraries and bookstores are kicking off their summer reading programs in early June to get kids excited about reading.
- Attend a Park Concert — We’ve been to some of the Ephrata Concerts in the Park series, but we are yet to check out a Long’s Park Amphitheater Summer Music Series Concert, so we are excited to do that this year!
- Visit a Science Museum — FREE First Fridays at the Lancaster Science Factory from 5-8pm.
- Visit a National Park on FREE entry day. — Did you know that National Parks have several FREE entry days throughout the year?
- See a Movie in a Theater — several theaters in the area offer FREE or cheap movies during the summer!
- Watch Trains — watch Thomas at our favorite location or visit National Toy Train Museum with a FREE library pass.
SPORTS & OUTDOORS
- Go on a hike.
- Have fun at a playground. — This Lancaster County Playground Map will keep us visiting a new playground every week. We’ve never been to the Amos Herr playground, so its the first one on our list!
- Go to a baseball game — Students in the Lancaster County Library Summer Reading Program earn a FREE ticket to a Lancaster Barnstormer’s in August.
- Go roller skating. — We will use our FREE roller skating passes!
- Go bowling. — We plan to use our FREE kids bowling passes, although this deal would allow a family of 4 to bowl for only $20!
- Go fishing. — I think we hit up most of the FREE fishing derbies this spring, but we may also enjoy a FREE fishing day this summer too!
- Visit an indoor play area — Sometimes I like to surprise the kids on rainy days and take them to a FREE indoor play area, even if its a bit of a drive.
- Take swim lessons — Do you know about the very affordable sports camps and swim lessons through the Ephrata Municipal program?
- Visit a cave. — We visited Indian Echo Caverns a few years ago and this year we have our eye on Crystal Cave. This won’t be free, but its something we really want to do in the area!
BEAT THE HEAT
- Watch the Fireworks. — Of all the Lancaster places to watch fireworks, our favorite is still to attend the family event at the Brethren church for the Ephrata fireworks. The bounce houses and pony rides are awesome!
- Check out a splash pad — We’ve yet to do this, so one hot day we are just going to pick a splash pad in Lancaster and go!
- Swim at the local pool. (Last year we tried out this pool in the Ephrata area, and saved a lot of money!)
- Play in a creek. — Boehringer’s, Pool Forge and Talmage Park are a few of our favorites.
- Play family water squirter tag in the backyard! — This year we got a small water squirter for each of us from the Dollar Tree! If you’re curious which was our favorite and which was not, we shared our thoughts here!
- Catch butterflies and other bugs, identifying them with our new Bug Dictionary and Discovering Nature books that we got at the JBF Consignment sale!
- Go on a bracelet nature-walk (using a secret tip so your kids won’t whine the whole time!)
- Attend a Lancaster County Parks & Recreation Seasonal Program — I’ve been learning more about these seasonal programs that are offered for FREE or very affordable rates and some are very interesting! We might do a summer new moon hike or learn about attracting hummingbirds to our yard. They even have a campfire building and sing-a-long.
Backyard or Camping
- Camp out in the back yard.
- Make s’mores.
- Roast marshmallows — either over the fire pit or the grill. Note: My husband found these marshmallow campfire sticks on Amazon a few years ago and they are wonderful to keep in your car or store in small places! And they are safe for kids since they are fully retractable.
- Go on a picnic. — Growing up our family went on a picnic to a local park like Long’s Park or Lititz Springs, and then fed the ducks afterwards with a loaf of bread. 🙂
- Make enormous bubbles.
- Lay on a blanket watching the clouds while reading, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. Just because it sounds like a fun memory. 😉
- Catch fireflies.
- Visit a petting zoo. — Here’s a list of FREE petting zoos in Lancaster County.
- Visit a zoo.
- Go to an aquarium.
- Visit a farm and watch cows being milked.
- Visit a pet store. (Ok, I realize this one may sound cheesy, but our kids love pet stores, whether its a small store at the local mall with only fish and maybe a few puppies or this 88,000 square foot pet store complete with turtles and sting rays!)
- Check out some dinosaurs. — We plan to check out 1 of these 5 dinosaur experiences in and around Lancaster County. I’d really like to combine it with a day trip to Washington D.C. to see the dinosaur museum down there!
- Go on a family bike ride — we loved our Rails to Trails family bicycle ride last year. Not sure if we’ll do that again or try a new one!
- Fly a kite — last year Grandma gave our six-year-old this HUGE eagle kite and it was a huge hit!
- Go mini-golfing. — You can save up to 50% on your mini golf outing at Water’s Edge Mini Golf
- Take a day-trip to a beach and build a sand-castle.
- Enjoy an unplugged evening together — We had so much fun this winter having an unplugged family evening that we want to do it again!
- Have a community outdoor movie night.
- Go on a road trip — I’m thinking it might be fun to head to Washington D.C. to visit a free museum and see the dinosaurs, but maybe we’ll do something else. Any suggestions?
- Do something unique for Father’s Day — Maybe we’ll check out a car show this year, since Dad loves cars!
- Attend a Vacation Bible School.
- Make a flower bouquet. — Kids 5 and older can sign up for the Royer’s Flowers Kids Club!
- Attend a Home Depot workshop.
- Attend a firehouse open house. — Our favorite is the Ephrata Fire Open House in June!
- Storytime at a bookstore.
- Take the kids on a one-on-one date. — I started off the summer sharing on instagram about my meaningful time with my oldest child, now I want to do it with the rest of them too!
- Take swim lessons. — Ephrata Boro residents ages 5+ can take FREE swim lessons as part of the Municipal Recreation program.
- Visit a Car Museum or Car Show — I found the Seiverling Pedal Car Museum last year when I was researching things to do for Father’s Day. We are eager to check out this FREE museum!
- Church Day Camp — This is the first year we have a child old enough to check out a church day camp!
- Get a FREE smoothie. — It has been our family tradition for 7 years now to get a FREE smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe on National Flip Flop Day every year. These are so yummy!
- Go out for breakfast.
- Try out a new ice cream place.
- Attend a Farmer’s Market. — We’ve been to several of these Lancaster County Farmer’s Markets, but I’d like to check out a new one this year just for fun!
- Cook with the kids in the kitchen—even if its just making simple energy bites!
- Eat out on a night when the kids eat FREE. — Tuesday is the most popular night for kids to eat FREE in Lancaster!
- Enjoy a Soft Pretzel — We’ll likely go to Dutch Country Soft Pretzels since we are addicted to buying their 50% off deals. Who wouldn’t want to get $20 worth of pretzels for just $10 or less?! 🙂
Pick Our Own Fruit
- Pick our own strawberries (and make some jam!) — Check out this Lancaster County map and pricing guide before you go—we got ours for less than $1.00/lb!
- Pick blueberries.
- Pick cherries. — We’ve never gone to a farm to do this because our family has their own cherry trees, but we are told Cherry Hill Orchard is highly recommended! Here’s a list of all the local cherry picking places.
- Pick peaches.
- Pick apples (and make some applesauce!) — I’ll be updating the Lancaster County map and pricing guide closer to apple picking time.
Well, that’s a pretty long list. Over 63 things to do, to be exact! But I think we can do them all. I’ll keep everyone on the email list updated with what we get done, so be sure to sign up for that below!
More Summertime Freebies . . .