1. Think Beyond the Blockbuster
The Way, Way Back
This feel-good indie dramedy stars up-and-comer Liam James as a teen who finds an unexpected father figure in his boss (Sam Rockwell) during his summer gig at a water park. July 5
Girl Most Likely
After a failed career, a tough breakup and a fake suicide attempt (a ploy to win back her ex), Kristen Wiig lands under the roof of her tawdry mom (Annette Bening); hilarious soul-searching ensues. July 19
Woody Allen's penetrating look at the life crisis a wealthy housewife (Cate Blanchett) faces after her husband's (Alec Baldwin) financial scandal and ruin. July 26
2. Bring the Farm to Your Table
Head to PickYourOwn.org
and click on your state to find nearby farms that allow visitors to pay for all the berries, peaches or tomatoes they can pick and carry.
3. Cook Up Some Southern Comfort
Proof that fried chicken is having a moment: There's now a whole day devoted to the Low Country staple (July 6). Prepare the crispy bird in your kitchen with a little help from Matt and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen
Stick to legs and thighs; they're juicier.
Season with a heavy hand, even if you use just salt and pepper.
Make sure the oil is hot. (It's worth using a fryer thermometer.) You want the chicken at room temperature before frying and your oil around 325 degrees.
4. Reread a Classic
These books get even better with time.
Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger
This sharply poignant novella follows two siblings questioning their spirituality, education and future.
The Beautiful and Damned
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Relive the decadent, Champagne-soaked days of a Jazz Age couple.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
A fierce heroine experiences all-consuming love and heartbreaking despair in a coming-of-age story we'll never forget.
5. Hunt for Treasures
'Tis the season of yard sales. "You can find lamps, art and mirrors in great condition. For furniture, wiggle legs, lift cushions, open drawers. If a piece has good bones, a coat of paint or new upholstery could give it a new lease on life." — Lara Spencer, Good Morning America
coanchor and author of I Brake for Yard Sales
6. Take a Nature Walk
As you hike up a mountain or stroll along a beach, collect souvenirs such as moss, twigs and stones. You'll not only really sink into your surroundings but also be set to make a terrarium.
7. Dance at a Music Festival
We've got these on the calendar.
Essence Festival, New Orleans, July 4
Why go? The soul: Jill Scott, Maxwell and Maya Azucena own the stage throughout the holiday weekend.
Pitchfork, Chicago, July 19
Why go? The all-genres, mostly indie lineup—including R. Kelly, M.I.A. and Belle & Sebastian—is the perfect amount of cool.
Outside Lands, San Francisco, August 9–11
Why go? Delicious eats, local brews and even a farm stand share equal spotlight with headliners Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
8. Eat Lobster Like a Pro
Kevin Sahakian of Cook's Lobster House
on Bailey Island, Maine, gives the lowdown.
Twist off claws; crack each with a nutcracker.
Separate tailpiece from the body; bend the back until it cracks.
Bend back the flippers to break them off the tailpiece, then push out the meat with a fork.
9. Snooze in a Hammock
Does it get any dreamier than rocking yourself to sleep? Research indeed shows you'll likely nod off faster and more deeply.
Feet work tirelessly during sandal season. Give them some R&R with this scrub from Ashley Rose, blogger of Sugar & Cloth
. Combine 1 cup sugar (half coarse, half fine), ½ cup coconut oil and 10 drops essential oil (like bergamot) in a jar. Massage damp feet with scrub for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse.
11. Go for a (Colorful!) Run
Get doused in neon powders along the route of "the Happiest 5K on the Planet," a.k.a. the Color Run. The untimed race asks only that participants wear white to ensure a rainbow sea of runners. Oh, and there's a dance party at the finish line. Find out when the event is coming to your city at TheColorRun.com
Next: The 10 smartest things you can do for your body this summer