free summer activities

Photo: Joyce Lee

1. Fine-Tune Your Cannonball

"If you don't know how to do one yet, you're about to learn from the best. First, make sure your runway—on the diving board or near the pool's deep end—isn't too slippery. Then start running, and once you reach the end of the board or deck, jump up and out. You're flying! When you're in midair, bring your knees to your chest with your arms tight around them, and tuck in your chin. Yell 'Cannonball!' Now comes the splash. Be ready, because it's a tidal wave. When you get back to the surface, swim to the edge to see how many people got wet." — 9-year-old Paige Dohan, diver since age 4

2. Kick Off Your Shoes

Get your pedi ready: A 2015 report in the Journal of Inflammation Research suggests that skin-to-earth contact might reduce inflammation throughout the body via increased exposure to antioxidants.

3. Give Old Denim New Life (Rainy Day-Approved!)

A crib sheet to cutoffs:

Choose the right pair: Don't cut skinny jeans—they're not going to stretch enough for a comfortable fit. Boyfriend jeans are better because they're a little baggy. Start long to keep from going too short on your first cut; extra length allows for cuffing. Cut from the outside in, keeping the back a smidge longer than the front for a more natural fit. Check your work: After cutting one leg, try on the jeans to assess length. Tweak if necessary. Cut other leg: Fold legs together and do the same cut to the other leg. Add a slit: When you're satisfied with your handiwork, cut a small slit along the outside seams, so your legs won't feel squished.
what to do in the summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

4. Borrow a Dog

Canine-commitment-phobes, rejoice: Even if you don't have the time (or the energy) to own a pet, you can still hang with a hound thanks to, the largest network of dog-sitters nationwide. Sign up to pet-sit in your area for as long (or as short) as you'd like.

5. Sit by the Fire

Pinterest star Angela Burgin Logan explains how to light up an evening outdoors:
Illustration: Kate Francis, Brown Bird Design

  • Gather supplies from your local hardware store: You'll need a slate plate, ten to 13 rocks, gravel, and a small Sterno.
  • Place the rocks around the outer rim of the slate plate and fill the middle with the gravel, leaving a hole for the Sterno.
  • Light the Sterno, and voilà! S'mores, s'merrier.

what to do this summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

6. Rewind

Want to travel back in time? Dig up a photo that captures a treasured summer memory and make the trek to the exact spot where it was taken. When you get there, snap a new photo of you holding the old picture. You can memorialize the moment by submitting your image to, an online album dedicated to precisely this kind of reminiscing.

7. Drive a Convertible...

and feel the exhilarating rush when you step on the gas. But don't just put the top down during daytime—a night drive can make you feel even closer to nature. (Test-drive one for free at a dealership, or splurge at the car rental counter on your vacation.)

8. Take Yourself Out to a Ball Game

A minor league game, that is. The crowds are smaller, which means no fighting to park and no 30-minute wait for a $7 hot dog. And you might just catch some major league action—Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and many more of the MLB's biggest names have done time in the minors while rehabbing an injury. Bonus: You can score seats behind home plate for as little as $10. Batter up!

what to do this summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

9. Win at the Cookout

No one does charred hot dogs and juicy hamburgers better than April Bloomfield, a James Beard Award–winning chef and co-owner of New York City's Salvation Burger. Here are her five tips for Grade A grilling.

10. Be a Cornhole Champion

Warning: While this surprisingly entertaining lawn game is pretty straightforward (you try to throw a bean bag through a hole), it can lead to intense backyard battles. Professional cornhole player Eric Hinerman, spokesman for the American Cornhole Organization (yes, it's a thing!), shares his secrets for winning:

Perfect your stroke. "Keep your elbow locked and your arm close to your body when you swing it forward," says Hinerman. "Release the bag at about eye level—most people make the mistake of shooting too low."

Don't chuck the bag. You want the bag to fly as flat as possible, so it lands—and stays—on the board instead of bouncing off.

Aim low. The rotation and momentum from your swing should be enough for the bag to slide the rest of the way and into the hole.

what to do this summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

11. Trick Out Your Wine

For a twist on classic sangria, award-winning chef José Andrés, owner of Jaleo (famous for its version of the Spanish drink), suggests cooking up an intensely rich syrup of fruit juices and spices that you can use with red or sparkling white wine. By extracting the flavors of the aromatic ingredients—spicy cinnamon and cloves—at a high temp, the drink will taste more complex and layered than if you soaked fruit in wine. Added perk: The syrup will keep for up to three months in your fridge. For the recipe go to

12. Be Happy as a Clam

Reinvent a beachfront clambake with this hot-and-sour, sweet-and-spicy one-pot dinner by Michael Chernow, owner of Seamore's in New York City.

13. Get Crabby

Illustration: Kate Francis, Brown Bird Design

Before you roll up your sleeves and make a mess of a barrel of crabs, we want to let you in on a little secret: It's not ideal to just whack them with a mallet (even if your favorite crab shack gives you one). Better to show a little care, says chef David Lentz, owner of the Los Angeles–based seafood mecca the Hungry Cat: "Mallets pulverize the meat, and you'll probably end up with a big hunk of shell mixed in with the good stuff. The only thing you really need is a table knife. To clean a crab properly, flip it over, peel back the 'apron,' and dislodge the top shell. Remove the innards and lungs. Crack the crab in half. Then you can either quarter the crab and go to work, or remove the legs first. Use the knife handle to crack open the legs and the sharp end to scrape out every last bit of juicy meat."

what to do this summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

14. Nice Ice, Baby

To add subtly fragrant notes to a cool glass of water or a champagne flute, freeze edible blooms—including violets, nasturtiums, calendulas, and roses—in an ice cube tray (preferably silicone, to avoid fractured florals). For the freshest flowers, go to your local farmers' market or your grocery store's produce section and avoid anything that's been sprayed with pesticides. Prefer a flora-free cocktail? A tray of chilly petals can beautify any ice bucket. Cheers!

15. Create Your Own Outdoor Movie Night

Illustration: Kate Francis, Brown Bird Design

Until drive-ins stage a comeback, make do with a simple DIY theater.

  • Pick a projector with at least 2,000 lumens to match the brilliance of an LCD screen, says Dan Nuxoll of New York's Rooftop Films, which runs an outdoor movie series.
  • Choose a neutral backdrop and skip surround sound. Dark colors and textures can distort your image, while speakers placed by the screen will enhance listening quality.
  • Provide proper seating. Floor pillows look charming, but your back will ache after the first hour. Home style expert Emily Henderson suggests beach chairs. Add some throws, and you're good to go.

16. Stargaze

Linger a little longer on a clear, warm night and look up. Jacqueline Faherty, astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, says the three easiest constellations to spot are Lyra, Aquila, and Cygnus. For mid-latitude observers, which means anyone in the contiguous U.S., they'll be straight overhead.

what to do this summer

Photo: Joyce Lee

17. Make Sorbet in a Bag

No freezer? No problem! This four-step DIY trick, from The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop, is totally chill.

18. Bottle Up Summer

Make the taste of summer last a little longer with a jar of preserved fruit. Get the recipe for pickled watermelon rinds here.