Here’s how to get back to the simple traditions, treats, and activities that scream summer fun, ready, set, head outdoors!
1. One walk barefoot on the beach
Whether you’re strolling hand in hand or hunting for seashells, walking on the beach is a win-win pleasure: It’s relaxing and you 11 give your feet, ankles, and legs a good workout. “Most people walk only on even surfaces, like pavement and flooring, which weaken your feet and ankles,” says Debbie Rosas, a fitness expert in Portland, OR. “When you walk on the beach, your feet sink into the sand, which strengthens the intrinsic muscles that help you balance.”
2. Chew on saltwater taffy
Once and for all, yes, there is salt water in the taffy. “But we don’t run out to the ocean to grab a cup–we use a mixture of sea salt and water,” says Lisa Whitley, marketing director for James’ and Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, made on the boardwalks of Atlantic City. The top flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (just like ice cream!). Go to seashoretaffy.com for a retro-style box of your favorite flavor ($7 for a box, $14 for a tin).
3. Sleep on sun-kissed sheets
Pick a spot in your yard that gets direct sunlight to spread your sheets out, on a clothesline. “Sun-dried sheets have a different feel than sheets you’ve put in the dryer, says Norma Keyes, director of fiber quality research at cotton Inc. “There s e special crispness and an outdoor-fresh scent that can only be achieved from drying them outdoors.” Note: Sunlight can fade colors, so enjoy this snuggly beat with white sheets.
4. Blow big, fat bubbles
Mini bubbles are a quaint way to send off a bride and groom, but monster bubbles are what you want for a fun activity with the family. Klutz’s bubble maker comes complete with a book of tips, recipes, and bubble tricks. All you need is a bucket filled with soapy water. To make your own bubble solution, add 1 cup of soap (Klutz recommends Ultra Dawn dish soap) to 12 cups of water.
5. Sip fresh lemonade
Whatever your warm-weather uniform-grub-in-the-garden dungarees or crisp white linen–a tall, cool glass of lemonade is the ultimate accessory. “The key us using fresh ingredients,” says Kamal Kouiri, beverage director at Molyvos restaurant in New York City. To sweeten, Kouiri prefers a mint-infused simple syrup to straight sugar: Make at home by combining equal parts water and sugar (2 pints of water and 2 pints of sugar for a batch of lemonade). Cook the mixture slowly over heat until the sugar has dissolved–about a pint will cook off. Let cool, then toss in a few mint leaves and remove after one or two minutes.
* 1 pint lemon juice (about 10-12 lemons)
* 1 pint orange juice
* 1 pint simple syrup
* 4 oz pineapple juice
* lemon and lime wedges
* Mint leaves, shredded
Combine first 4 ingredients in a pitcher with 4 pints of water. Add lemon and lime wedges and shredded mint to taste. Serve over ice. Garnish each glass with one slice each lemon and lime, plus a sprig of mint.
6. Follow the neighborhood ice-cream truck
Once you hear that familiar jingle, it’s hard to resist treating yourself to an ice-cream sandwich or a SnoKone. The first Mister Softee truck hit the road in March 1956. Now there are about 600 trucks bringing all kinds of sweat stuff to Your Street, USA. Mister Softee’s signature “fluffy” ice cream is actually a mix of cream and air. The most popular flavor? Vanilla beats chocolate three to one.
7. Breathe in the smell of fresh-cut grass
The sharp, earthy scent of grass is everywhere now (not just in your backyard!). Ergo’s Zoysia soy wax candle combines vetiver, lemongrass, and cedarwood for a zesty, inviting scent that’s great for an entryway. The Good Home Company’s Pure Grass line of cleaning products, including a surface cleaner, tub and tile cleanser, and vacuum beads, infuse your rooms with the smell of the outdoors. Demeter’s Pick-Me-Up Cologne Spray in grass will keep your mind on greener pastures. All thumbs in the garden? The Thymes Gardener deep-cleansing hand scrub and replenishing hand cream will make you feel like you’ve got green one anyway.
8. Capture all the splashy fun
Even if you’re miles from the ocean, summer’s all about getting wet. Record every soggy minute as your kids get prune-y at the local pool or sprint through the sprinkler. And keep a waterproof camera on hand to snap everything from underwater handstands to starfish. This Polaroid Splash II camera works up to a depth of 65 feet! Remove the plastic case and it’s a regular land camera.
Tonight, step outside, face north, and look up at the sky with someone you love. Constellations like Hercules, Pegasus, Sagittarius, and Scorpius are most visible in August, according to Lars Hernquist, chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University. Because of the earth’s rotation, the best time to see these constellations is just after the sun fully sets. The Night Sky pocket-size sky chart and a small flashlight will help you connect the celestial dots.
10. Build a sand castle fit for a sea king
Leave the toys and Game Boys at home. All you need for a magical seaside afternoon are a few plastic buckets and willing hands. “The trick is to cut the bottoms out of buckets, so they slide off the sand easier,” says Ted Siebert, owner of the Sand Sculpture Company in Woodstock, IL. To start, put the wide end of the bucket on the ground, fill it with wet sand, and lightly tap the outside of the bucket before pulling it up.
11. Send postcards
Whether you’re visiting the Grand Canyon or the world’s largest ball of twine, take a few minutes to send a postcard with just the briefest note to a long-distance relative or a friend you don’t get to see much. (Don’t waste time waxing poetic, just mail it!) And while you’re at it, send yourself a postcard. It’s a sweet reminder of your getaway once you get home, and you can save it inside a scrapbook later.
12. Bring the indoors out
Outdoor activities don’t have to be so … active.
Take advantage of warm, lazy days to eat, read, and sleep in the great outdoors.
13. Camp out in your own backyard
The Aerodome Tent is roomy (5’x8’x8′) and a cinch to pitch. (We did it in less than 10 minutes!)
14. Chow down on a hot dog
How do you like your dog? Here’s how Americans from sea to shining sea dress ’em.
* KANSAS CITY dogs are served with sauerkraut and melted cheese on a sesame seed bun.
* CHICAGOANS like their dogs with yellow mustard, sweet relish, chopped raw onion, tomato slices, and topped with a dash of celery salt on a peppy seed bun.
* In the SOUTH, ask for a dog that’s “dragged through the garden” (which means it’s topped with coleslaw).
* Steamed onions and a pale yellow mustard sauce cover NEW YORK dogs.
These days, you’ve got more meats to choose from than just beef–there’s pork, chicken, turkey, even veggie dogs! West Coasters eat more poultry dogs than folks in any other region. Where’s the beef? East Coasters consume the most all-beef dogs.
15. Say si to sangria
“The original sangria is made with red wine, but the white-wine version has become a summer hit,” says Gibbie Whelehan, beverage director at Sea Blue at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “I like using Riesling for its sweetness and low alcohol content.” Serve sangria with toothpicks–once your guests drain their glasses, they can snack on the wine-drenched fruit.
* Honeydew melon, cut into chunks
* Cantaloupe, cut into chunks
* Peaches, cut into wedges
* Star fruit, cut into slices
* 2 bottles fruity white wine
(Whelehan’s pick: German Kabinett Riesling)
* Juice of two lemons
* 1 bottle sparkling water
In a large glass pitcher, combine the fruit and the lemon juice. Add the wine and stir well. Cover and chill for about
2 hours. Just before serving, stir in the sparkling water.
16. Yee-haw! come on down to the county fair
Talk about true, red-white-and-blue fun! August is the biggest month for fairs and carnivals, and for about the price of a movie ticket (the average fair admission is $7), you and the family can compete for goldfish, stuffed animals, and “world’s strongest” bragging rights. “Fairs are regional celebrations that are run by volunteers,” says Jim Tucker, president of the International Association of Fairs and Expos, in Springfield, MO. “So they give a real sense of community.” To find a fair near you, go to fairsandexpos.com or countyfairgrounds.net.
17. Scoop up tag-sale steals
One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, so check local newspapers on Thursdays and Fridays for weekend yard, garage, and stoop sales. “Hit tag sales at the end of the day, when the true ingenuity comes out and prices are reduced even further,” suggest Mary Ann Young and Kathleen Hackett, coauthors of The Salvage Sisters’ Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic. Let yourself get carried away by the vintage vibe.
18. Kick back in flip-flops
Padding around in these easy, breezy thongs is the next best thing to going barefoot. These Margaridas sandals by the Brazilian maker Havaiana form to your feet each time you wear them. But before you flaunt your dogs, treat any rough-around-the-edges skin with Burt’s Bees Pedicure Kit – it comes with coconut foot cream (which has a refreshing kick of peppermint) and a pumice stone for scrubbing heels.
19. Make out at the drive-in
Nothing says summer lovin’ like a night at a drive-in movie theater. The first drive-in theater opened in Camden, NJ, more than 70 years ago and moviegoers have been smitten ever since. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
20. Fill up on fresh seasonal fruit
It’s easy to get your three daily servings now, with so many types of fruit at their peak. Stock up on blackberries, sweat cherries, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, plums, and watermelons.
21. Hit the road
Feeling a little warm-weather wanderlust? Americans will take an estimated 328 million vacation trips at least 50 miles from home this summer, up 2.3 percent from last year, according to the Travel Industry Association of America–and most will travel by car. Bring along an appetite for adventure–dine at a roadhouse, stay at an off-the-beaten-track B&B. Just go where the road takes you.