by Ashley Pugh -

12 Fun Family Traditions to Start This Summer

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Long days, warm temperatures and the free time of a summer without school is the perfect recipe for some quality family time. Whether your summer involves travel, camp, or anything else, family traditions bring the family together year after year.

Here are some great ideas for fun family traditions to start this summer.

Weekly Ice Cream Date

a huge ice cream is in front of a boys face

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Nothing says summer like ice cream, so make frozen treats a little bit special and bring the whole family on a trip to the local ice cream store. Your family will create their own unique traditions around the ice cream shop in no time—like making a competition to see who can make the craziest topping combinations, or trying a new place every week. Bonus points if there’s an ice cream store that’s walking distance, walking to get ice cream will make it more of an activity, and will also help prevent sugar crashes.

Go Camping

a family around a campfire

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Camping is a great way to spend some quality family time while getting the kids outdoors and active. Leave civilization, and wifi, behind and spend some time in nature. Camping is also great because it’s flexible, you can stay for a week, moving campsites, or you can go for a day and be back in time for bath time the next evening. Exploring the outdoors is a great way for kids to practice independence, so teach them the importance of wilderness safety, and then let them have a little freedom to adventure.

Seeing Movies at the Drive-In

There are a surprising number of drive-in movies still operating in small towns and big cities, and summer is the time to sit under the stars and watch classic movies. Most theaters will have a younger kids option, like an old Disney movie they may not have seen yet (remember 101 Dalmatians and The Rescuers?) For older kids, introduce them to classics they will love forever, like the original Top Gun and Jurassic Park. Bring lots of snacks, and some warm blankets, and spend some quality family time late into the night.

Have a Family Barbecue

sausages grill on a bbq and someone adds ketchup to their hot dog

Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash

A great way to kick off the summer is a classic summer family barbecue. Make it special for your family by letting each kid pick a dish, or make it a pot luck and invite all your friends or extended family. Think about building a fire so that friends and family can stay late into the night, roasting s’mores and telling ghost stories.

Renting a House by the Beach

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Many families have a tradition of returning to the same beach, or even the same rental house, every year for a family beach vacation. Going back to the same place every year creates special memories and traditions that your kids will likely continue when they have kids of their own. You could even do a beach family reunion, where aunts and uncles and grandparents can all spend time together getting to know cousins and nieces and nephews.

Going to the County Fair

high up image at night of a state fair

Photo by David deLeon on Unsplash

Many county fairs are in the summer, and they are the perfect place to take kids for a family fun day out. Not just animals and rides, county fairs have added bands and musicians, shows by local artisans and even food trucks to elevate the carnival food genre. County fairs are great because your kids will continue to love them as they grow. Start with petting zoos and face painting, then as they grow bring in the rides and pie-eating contests.

Start a Family Olympics

Get the kids’ energy out with Olympic-themed sports and games. This is great for families who appreciate a little healthy competition and want to make sports fun with some creative additions. Try combining some traditional sporting events like the 50 yard dash with some less traditional ones, like a water balloon relay or wheelbarrow races. Hold an “opening ceremony” complete with fake torch, and make fun medals or trophies for the winners to keep.

Watching Fireworks Displays

Fireworks are a nation-wide tradition in the summer, and seeing the fireworks your way is the perfect family tradition. Whether you find a unique spot to beat the crowds and get the best view, or if you bring along a specific firework snack, everyone will end up loving the way your family does fireworks every year. Customize this to your kids, so if they love fireworks, go early and get excited! If your kids are not fans of crowds or loud noises, watch from home or find a cozy spot out of the way to cuddle up with snacks.

Going to the Amusement Park

A crazy rollercoaster at an amusement park

Photo by Ian Romie Ona on Unsplash

Amusement parks are a great summer tradition that families will look forward to every year. Find an amusement park close by and make it yours, or make it a goal to visit a new one every year. Everyone in the family can find something fun to do, whether it’s rides, games, or snacks. You can also bring back a themed souvenir to remember your tradition all year long.

Go Mini Golfing

a close up of a mini golf hole

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Mini golfing is a fun summer activity, and you can make it a special family tradition by adding a unique twist. Try holding an ongoing competition with a special trophy for the winner to proudly display all year, or get the kids personalized golf clubs to make their game totally their style. Some families even DIY a mini golf course set up around their house for  a completely unique family activity. Get your friendly competition on and get ready for the ultimate family mini golf this year.

Family Walk or Bike Ride

You know how important it is to stay active as a family, but sometimes suggestions of physical activity can be met with groans or ‘maybe later’s. Making a family walk or bike ride into a tradition is a great way to build in the habit of getting and staying active. You could combine the walk with something fun—for example, a walk to the toy store, or the baseball park. As the kids get older, think about a bike ride or other fun twist to make your family activity time still feel special.

Family Water Balloon Fight

a water ballon explodes in someones hands

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

Kids love to cool off with water in the summer and water balloons are a staple of the warmer months. If your kids love water balloon fights, you might have a bunch left over at the end of the season from friends’ get togethers and parties. Get the whole family together at the end of the season, divvy up the leftover balloons and let the best water balloon thrower win! You won’t have to store water balloons for next season, and you’ll be able to spend some quality family time celebrating the end of summer.

Ashley Pugh Written by
Ashley Pugh

Ashley Pugh is one of the Co-Founders of and has been committed to writing family related content since 2008. There isn't much about family attractions that Ashley doesn't know, after visiting hundreds of them worldwide over the last 20 years.

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