Maybe it was the summer solstice arriving on Saturday morning (June 21st) but I started thinking about my summer bucket list. I can't tell you how many times I've made a list of things I wanted to do over the summer only to find come fall, I haven't done a single thing on my list. Kids are back in school and the leaves are beginning to fall. I'm standing in the back yard with a rake in my hand thinking, where did summer go?
This summer I resolve to actually write a summer bucket list and turn it into a reality. Just a few things we can do as a family. And, the activities must be obtainable not wishful thinking. For example, building an inground pool… not just any pool...but one of those elaborate pools that look like natural landscape… with a lazy river encircling my front and back yard. That's not "summer bucket list" material. That goes on the "if I ever win the lottery list." My prerequisites for a summer bucket list: must be fun, affordable and outdoors.
Fortunately Cleveland Metroparks offers a boatload of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. The programs and activities are close to home, free or low cost and most importantly a lot of fun. Each month there are dozens and dozens of programs and activities already planned for you. A calendar listing of activities and programs can be found atclevelandmetroparks.com or in the monthly Emerald Necklace publication. I know how precious free time is for everyone. There's work, summer school, sports, family obligations, yard work, housework, etc. But let's all try to put at least three or four things on our summer bucket list and make them happen.
Two summer fun things that were on my bucket list last year but I never got around to doing them are Cleveland Metroparks Voyageur Canoe Paddles and the Family Campouts on select dates at select locations. How much fun would it be to paddle a 34' canoe AND sing songs and hear stories from a historical interpreter character of a Great Lakes fur trader? WOW - fun, educational and on the water. Awesome! Or how cool would it be to go camping overnight in Cleveland Metroparks. Just a quick and easy overnighter. No need to pack and drive for hours, but you'd probably have just as much fun as if you did.
Maybe I'll consider adding to my list some things we've never done before like stand up paddleboarding (SUP) or FootGolf. We don't golf, but if we did, moonlight golf sounds like a blast. Golfing with glow-in-the-dark balls, tees and greens! How much summer fun would that be?
Summer bucket list ideas are endless. Go fishing in the Ohio & Erie Canal behind CanalWay Center or at any of the other 22 fishing areas located throughout the Park District. Learn how to identify some Ohio birds or recognize bird calls. Take a ride on the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, no matter what your age. Pick your favorite animal and go for a spin. My favorite is one of two chariots you'll find on the carousel… a dung beetle rolling a piece of dung, of course! Choose from a zebra, clown fish, naked mole rat, cheetah or 60 other carved animals.
Listen to live music at Edgewater LIVE and Euclid Beach LIVE. Enjoy summer concerts at Garfield Park Nature Center, Look About Lodge in South Chagrin Reservation and at the Stinchcomb Memorial in Rocky River Reservation. Rent a kayak, stand up paddleboard or paddleboat at Wallace Lake. Enjoy a dive-in movie at Ledge Pool in Hinckley Reservation. Float in an inner tube while watching a movie outdoors on the big screen. It's like being at the drive-in movies, but you're in a pool.
Pack a picnic and spend time with friends and family at one of the shared-use pavilions. Take a walk in a reservation you've never visited. Walking Works is a great program to help you accomplish this goal. There are 13 designated Walking Works trails. Walk at least eight different trails and earn a Walking Works shield for your walking stick. Download a Walking Works brochure or pick one up at a nature center.
Watch the sunrise at Huntington Beach. Watch a sunset at Edgewater Beach. Go for a ride on the new Mountain Bike/Hike Trail in Bedford Reservation or Royalview Trail in Mill Stream Run Reservation. Check out the living roof at the Watershed Stewardship Center in West Creek Reservation. Attend a nature writing program at Look About Lodge. Bird watch from the porch of Rocky River Nature Center. Learn more about native wildlife and nature by attending an education program at a nature center.
A very, easy way to create your summer bucket list is to enroll your kids, ages 12 and under, in the Adventure Club. It’s a great way to get your kids connected with nature AND keep them occupied this summer. There are three levels of membership: Basic, Plus and Premium. Just register online and the fun begins. Each week you'll receive an e-newsletter with a calendar of exclusive Adventure Club events. Pick programs that fit your family's interests and schedule. Adventure Club programs range from fishing and golf to pond dipping and behind-the-scenes tours.
I’m putting the final touches on my summer bucket list, plus leaving a few blanks for a couple of last-minute add-ons. I'm determined to make this summer sizzle, not fizzle. What's on your summer bucket list?