Your One Wild and Precious Summer
Sometimes even summer—theoretically the rowdiest, most joyful, freedom-filled season of them all—can feel a little rote. We eat lukewarm coleslaw on our sister's patio; we book a shared weekend at the beach house where the towels are always inexplicably damp; we throw on the same style of sandals we've been sporting since Bill Clinton played his sax on The Arsenio Hall Show. But what if, instead, we opted to dive headlong into these three exquisite months with true gonzo, go-for-broke verve? You with us? Then the next few pages are for you: a guide to squeezing every last drop of bliss and awe out of this, our untamed summer—one we'll remember long after the mercury dips.
1. A Lighthouse Hideaway
If you need a quiet place to restore your soul but also yearn to be a windblown romantic heroine, get thee to a lighthouse. Yes, they are available for vacation rentals or lodging in at least 13 states, and no, you will not be responsible for keeping ships from crashing into the rocks, which would hardly be conducive to inner peace. Some have surprisingly luxe accommodations—multiple bedrooms, full baths, furnished kitchens—meaning all you have to provide is the handsome sea captain. Find a directory of properties at uslhs.org/fun/lighthouse-accommodations
Illustration: Penelope Dullaghan
2. Heads Up
The last time total-eclipse mania struck the U.S. mainland, roller disco was all the rage and "Y.M.C.A." was burning up the charts. Now, 38 years later, it's time to dust off the protective glasses: On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States. Those in its path, which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, can see it in full; everyone else still gets a partial view. Find the best places for viewing at greatamericaneclipse.com
3. Hop Stars
For lots of city girls, double Dutch is as essential a part of childhood as riding a ten-speed is in the burbs. In 2016, when Pennsylvanians Tanisha Rinehardt and Della Burns got nostalgic for their rope-skipping days—and wanted to shed a few pounds—they created a Facebook event called Philly Girls Jump. The duo crossed their fingers and hoped a handful of people would come; instead, thousands signed up. Now PGJ hosts weekly meet-ups at local parks and bigger monthly blowouts complete with food vendors. "We're uniting people with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, social views, and political opinions," says Rinehardt. "When you're jumping, the only thing that matters is fun."
Illustration: Penelope Dullughan
4. Cinematic Pandemonium
If Alamo Drafthouse
were a person, we would marry it. The movie theater chain has more than two dozen U.S. locations (with more on the way), where waiters ferry unexpectedly good food and extravagant milkshakes to each seat. But the major draw is the kooky programming: In addition to first-run flicks, Alamo shows long-forgotten gems (Rhinestone, The Legend of Billie Jean
), offers custom scratch-and-sniff cards (the ones at Elf
smelled of maple syrup and bubblegum), and hosts in-theater dance parties and quote-along screenings. At an Austin showing of Jaws
held on a lake, viewers floated on inner tubes; during particularly tense moments, scuba-diving staffers grabbed unsuspecting ankles. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies... (drafthouse.com
Illustration: Penelope Dullughan
5. A Trip Back in Time
It's one thing to learn that your great-great-grandmother owned a saloon in Sioux City, Iowa; it's quite another to stand on her former stomping grounds and imagine yourself sliding a pint of suds across the bar. The web will cough up the locations where your ancestors played, fought, and hung their pinafores—the road trip is up to you. (Check out cyndislist.com
, a bonanza of genealogical resources.)
6. Mermaid Metamorphosis
The life of a mermaid sounds pretty excellent: engaging in philosophical discussions with sea horses, punctuating jokes with a sassy tail flip, enjoying a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. If you, too, dream about being a highly glamorized manatee, the web offers a plethora of adult-size iridescent tails (peruse the2tails.com
, or swimtails.com
for options) and handmade "mermaid crowns"—tiaras adorned with seashells and gems. If you'd rather just dip a fin into this brave new world, try a mermaid swim class, where you'll learn how to master moving in a monofin. Visit (what else?) mermaidnews.net
to find out where to make a splash near you.
As a kid, you tossed around a giant plastic beach ball. As an adult, you can climb into one. Meet Zorbing, the newest way to let your life flash before your eyes and have a blast doing it. Imagine a clear plastic blob tumbling down a hill while you ping around inside like a tennis ball in a dryer. Insane? Maybe. But definitely a way to get out of your comfort zone—way, way out.
8. Sparkle Party
Wow your Fourth of July party guests with ginormous 36-inch sparklers: They'll light up the night for three minutes—long enough to let you write and draw magnificently in the air. To capture the magic on film, download a slow-shutter app like Slow Shutter Cam. (Sparklers, $34 for pack of 40; SuperiorCelebrations.com)
Illustration: Penelope Dullughan
9. Going with the Flow
We can now plan our vacations right down to the breakfast sandwich (thanks, internet!), but the obsessive quest for the best can deprive us of travel's greatest reward: the thrill of discovery. Try going to a city where you've never been and flip a coin to decide which direction you'll take. Then be open to whatever happens next. If you forgo the well-researched list of "authentic experiences," you may find that surprise and serendipity are the most rewarding search results of all.
Photo: Emily Kate Roemer/Studio D
10. Meat-Free Feasts
Forget everything you know about veggie burgers—namely, that they look like something you'd find on the ground while hiking. The new plant-based patties on the block are tasty enough to charm even die-hard carnivores. Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger has the satisfying chew of beef but none of the cholesterol, thanks to pea protein (everywhere these days). And the inventors of the juicy Impossible Burger added heme, an iron-rich compound that makes these wonders bloody good. (beyondmeat.com
11. Paddleboard Yoga
If you're a lotus-pose veteran, here's a way to shake up your yoga practice. With SUP yoga, you can try out your moves while floating on a stand-up paddleboard; the lack of solid footing makes your core work twice as hard. And when you get sick of all that wobbling, you can abandon downward-facing dog for dog paddling. Consult bogaboards.com
for places to get on board.
Illustration: Penelope Dullughan
12. Tasting the Rainbow
Come Memorial Day, it seems like women are legally obligated to throw on pastel capri pants and bust out a bottle of rosé. Pedal pushers are between you and your god, but you can declare your freedom from tipple tyranny with a multicolored assortment of flavors. Try an orange wine, which gets its tint from the seeds and skins of white grapes; tart and fresh, it's a true beer lover's varietal (we like Tank Garage Winery's Lost at Last). A Portuguese "green," like the Casa do Capitão-Mor Alvarinho from winery Quinta de Paços, is as refreshing as lemonade but a little more rambunctious. And Madeline Puckette, sommelier and content director of WineFolly.com, says you shouldn't neglect reds: A Lambrusco or Zweigelt—served chilled—deserves a spot at your picnic.
Photo: Dean Fikar/Getty Images
13. Volunteering at a National Park
Thanks to proposed budget cuts and an increasingly unpredictable future, the National Park Service (NPS) needs our help. You were already planning to prune the azaleas, so why not work up an altruistic sweat while you're at it? Sign up to lend a hand at one of 417 areas nationwide and the NPS will happily put you to work weeding or spotting invasive plants. Visit Volunteer.gov
to find out where to wield your clippers.
14. Summer Camp for Grown-Ups!
Multiday getaways, minus the bug juice and lanyards.
Every summer in Gazelle, California, Belcampo Meat Co. hosts a ladies retreat where instead of making vision boards, participants learn how to trim pork loin and sear it on a volcanically hot grill. Get back to your cavewoman roots while receiving an education in butchery and open-flame cooking.
Broadway Fantasy Camp
You know every word Andrew Lloyd Webber ever wrote. You've attempted the choreo from West Side Story'
s "America" (obviously the show's best number) at least 35 times. Now indulge your inner drama geek with courses in tap, singing, costuming, and all that jazz.
Crow Canyon Archaeology RESEARCH Program
Some teenagers fantasized about getting with Indiana Jones; you fantasized about being him. At this week-long camp, you work alongside real-deal archaeologists excavating Ancestral Puebloan ruins in Cortez, Colorado. BYO fedora and whip.
15. Far-Out Sweet Treats
The rich, mind-bending flavors at Portland, Oregon, ice creamery Salt & Straw (Arbequina Olive Oil, anyone?) bring dessert fans close to tears of pleasure. Thankfully, its Pints Club ($195) lets you skip the shop's hour-plus lines: You'll receive five seasonal containers a month for three months. Pricey, yes, but your tongue will thank you. The 2017 offerings include offbeat goodies like Spent Brewer's Malts & Candied Bacon S'mores, Meyer Lemon Buttermilk with Blueberries, and Aquabeet, a beet sorbet infused with Scandinavian-style liquor. Chills meet thrills. (saltandstraw.com
16. Getting Your Kicks
Kickball is fun for all ages, suitable for even the profoundly uncoordinated, and healthier than eating hot dogs in the bleachers. The game's setup and rules are like baseball's. The field: home plate, pitcher's mound, three bases (placemats or garbage can lids will do). The team: pitcher, catcher, infielders, outfielders. Official World Adult Kickball Association rules: five innings; each team gets a turn to kick. Three strikes and you're out; three outs and it's the other team's turn. Every time you round home base, your team scores. And you can throw the ball to tag other players, but keep it below the shoulders. Afterward, bask in the glow of knowing you've earned that hot dog.
Illustration: Penelope Dullughan
If you've never downloaded a podcast, you're missing out on a whole vast audio universe. Though podcasts got their start as glorified talk shows, the offerings have expanded far beyond two dudes jawing in a garage. Our favorite genre is fiction, with casts full of big-league actors who bring complex stories to life. Since fresh episodes are typically released weekly, think of them as TV for your ears. Your coworkers may already be obsessing over the taut Homecoming
—produced by the blue-chip podcast network Gimlet Media—which unfolds through recordings of sessions between a therapist, played by Catherine Keener, and the soldiers she treats at a secretive government facility. Retro-minded listeners will nerd out over Bronzeville
, set in Chicago's South Side during the 1940s; Laurence Fishburne and Tika Sumpter provide the vocal stylings. And spooky Limetown
spins a supernatural tale about more than 300 folks who mysteriously vanished from a small town in Tennessee. You may find yourself getting lost, too.
18. O, Canada!
Journey abroad without crossing an ocean! A few incredible reasons to head north of the border:
The Magdalen Islands: A little piece of coastal France in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that French speakers call Îles de la Madeleine.
What you'll find: Quebecois who parle français in a unique Acadian dialect, red cliffs and white sand beaches, fishing villages, sea kayaking and kitesurfing, artisan galleries, French-influenced local music, and all the cheese you can eat.
Saskatchewan prairies: A wide-open breathing space known as Land of the Living Skies for its ever-changing cloud formations and surreal sunsets.
What you'll find: the Big Muddy Badlands, a roughly 68-square-mile expanse of buttes, cliffs, and caves, which made convenient hiding places for Wild West outlaws who'd crossed the nearby Montana border; the town of Moose Jaw, where you can explore the subterranean hideouts of Al Capone; and Mountie photo ops at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre.
Great Bear Rainforest: One of the world's largest unspoiled temperate rainforests, stretching along the Pacific coast in British Columbia.
What you'll find: wildlife galore, including the rare white Kermode bear (a.k.a. spirit bear); whale watching; and salmon snorkeling, an experience that will spawn cocktail party conversation for years to come.
Photo: Courtesy of earthcam.com
19. And If You Can't Get Away...
See the world from your couch with live-streaming webcam feeds: At earthcam.com
, you can hang out on an Anguilla beach or a Wyoming ranch, in a Las Vegas wedding chapel or a pizza joint in Goiânia, Brazil. Head to explore.org to spot wildlife from all over the planet, including orcas, penguins, donkeys, bioluminescent jellyfish...and the ever-fascinating house cat.
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