As Phineas and Ferb famously sing:

There’s 104 days of summer vacation
And school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
is finding a good way to spend it…

And though we won’t be building a rocket or fighting a mummy, we have 80+ days to fill with fun. This is my second summer with two kids, and I’m anticipating it to be nonstop. With a toddler and grade-schooler in tow, I’m finding it to be a challenge to find activities that will stimulate both kids age-wise, while remaining budget-friendly. It’s a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. To help us focus on the fun, like so many others, we came up with a bucket list to serve as a reference for what we hope to accomplish this summer. We’ve added creative pursuits, practical aspirations, and several big dreams on our summer bucket list.


Living in the suburbs outside of NYC, we’re just a quick train ride away from one of the cultural and media meccas of the world. So, among our mostly wallet-friendly list, we’re aspiring to see a Broadway show, one that’s appropriate for my theater-loving 5-year-old. While we can’t tote the toddler to Broadway, we’ll look into local theater productions and off-Broadway shows that cater to the small set, such as Paper Mill Playhouse and TADA! Theater. Matinees and local theater groups usually have summer shows for kids and their caregivers, so if your crew is into theater, be sure to tap into those resources.

One of my most favorite ways to celebrate summer is being outdoors from morning to night. I grew up in a beach town, so I remember spending our days and nights on the beach and then the boardwalk. The kids and I hope to hit the beach, as well as our community lake, not to mention take in Governor’s Island in NYC and explore the city one playground at a time. And since we always plan a beach vacation to my hometown of Virginia Beach, our bucket list includes scouting out some of our favorite spots from when we were growing up and spending time with cousins.

While I vow not to park the kids in front of the TV all summer long, I’m sure we’ll get our fair share of screentime. I’m certain we’ll find ourselves discovering new apps to review, but more importantly, I’m hoping to cross off the “Learn to Read” and “Learn More Sign Language” items on our list by leveraging new educational apps such as Speakaboos and Baby Sign and Learn. And while we’re outdoors exploring New Jersey, per our bucket list, I will be referencing the Weird NJ app—because, you know, there’s always an app for that.

Our bucket list, itself, is a work of art in progress. We’ve already stocked up our supplies in our art cart for the summer, and I’ve added activities and ideas to a Pinterest board I created called “104 days of Summer”. Making a Hot Wheels car ramp, fireworks in a jar, and a cardboard box city are at the top of our must-create list for now. And for inspiration on rainy days, we’ll be sure to tackle our favorite museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, Liberty Science Center, and the Morris Museum.

With an always-evolving summer bucket list, it’s my mission to never hear “I’m bored.” Summer bucket lists don’t have to be filled with expensive outings, but rather fun and practical activities that can be done at your leisure, creating memories along the way. As we tackle our own bucket list items, I will be posting our adventures on Instagram in real time. To find out what’s on our list, be sure to follow my hashtag #jenrabbucketlist on Instagram and Twitter. If you’re on Instagram and have your own summer bucket list, tag your adventures with #summerbucketlist. Happy Bucket Listing!


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