30 Summer Bucket List Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

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summer bucket list ideas

Looking to make this summer your most memorable yet? Why not take a departure from your typical summer vacation to do so, while also getting the most bang for your buck(et)?

Merriam-Webster defines ‘bucket list’ as ‘a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying’. While that might be on the morbid side, it’s a good kick in the pants to get out of your comfort zone this summer and embark on an adventure with our list of 30 summer bucket list ideas for 2024 that won’t break the bank. Dive in to discover our top ways to make the most of this sun-soaked season with rich experiences that will fill your spirits without draining your pockets.

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What is a summer bucket list?

A summer bucket list, also known as a summer to-do list, is a collection of experiences, adventures, and activities that one aims to accomplish during the summer season. It’s a creative way to make the most of warm-weather opportunities while infusing a sense of purpose and excitement into your summer plans. 

Whether your goals include travel adventures, mastering new skills, or simply enjoying more time outdoors, a summer bucket list provides a roadmap for fun. The list doesn’t have to be long or extravagant. 

Ultimately, it’s about curating meaningful experiences that will leave you with cherished memories and a sense of fulfillment. And in many cases, doing so on a limited budget.

30 budget-friendly ideas for your summer bucket list

Here’s some inspiration to draw from when creating your summer bucket list. 

1. Go hiking on a new trail and pack a picnic lunch

Embark on a new trail for a refreshing hiking adventure, enjoying the serenity of nature along the way. Pack a picnic lunch to savor mid-journey and refuel while taking in breathtaking views. It’s a simple yet rewarding way to embrace the great outdoors and create a memorable outing.

2. Try your hand at rock climbing (indoor or outdoor)

Challenge yourself by tackling a climbing wall or an outdoor crag, honing your strength and agility. Climbing offers both physical and mental challenges, giving you a rush of accomplishment once you reach the top. It’s perfect for adventurous spirits seeking a new and exhilarating way to stay active.

3. Camp under the stars and make some s’mores

Set up camp in a national park (or anywhere else) under a starry sky and relax in nature’s embrace. Build a cozy campfire to toast marshmallows and craft the perfect s’mores. The warm glow of the fire and the twinkling stars overhead create a magical setting for storytelling, music, and memorable conversations.

4. Go whitewater rafting 

Gather your friends and brave the rapids for a thrilling whitewater rafting experience. As you navigate the turbulent waters, teamwork and coordination are essential for a successful run. Hire an experienced guide to lead you. Feel the rush of adrenaline while paddling through waves and eddies, creating a shared adventure you won’t forget.

5. Rent a canoe or paddleboat and spend a day on a lake

Take to the water by renting a canoe or paddleboat for a leisurely day on the lake. Glide across calm waters, bask in the sunshine, and explore hidden coves. Bring a camera and snacks to make the most of this tranquil, nature-filled escape.

6. Plan a road trip to a nearby national park

Hit the open road and explore a nearby national park to witness nature’s stunning beauty. From majestic mountains to serene valleys, each park offers unique scenery and wildlife. Plan your route, pack essentials, and be ready for a rejuvenating journey into nature.

7. Have a backyard campout and stargaze with friends

Turn your backyard into a campsite, complete with tents, string lights, and a fire pit. Gather friends for a night of stargazing, storytelling, and toasting marshmallows. It’s a simple yet special way to bond over shared moments under a blanket of stars.

8. Try your luck at fishing from a local pier or lake

Cast your line into the water and see what you can reel in from a pier or lake. Fishing is a relaxing pastime that requires patience, skill, and a little luck. It’s an excellent way to unwind while enjoying some peaceful time by the water.

9. Rent kayaks and go down a river

Grab a kayak and paddle your way down a nearby river, surrounded by lush greenery. As you glide over the water, you’ll encounter gentle currents and wildlife along the banks. It’s a tranquil way to connect with nature while enjoying a low-impact workout.

10. Take an outdoor yoga class in a park or botanical garden

Stretch, breathe, and find your inner calm by joining an outdoor yoga class in a scenic park or botanical garden. The fresh air and natural surroundings enhance the relaxing practice, helping you leave stress behind and center yourself.

11. Go fruit picking at a local farm 

Visit a local farm and fill a basket with sun-ripened berries, apples, or peaches. Fruit picking is a delightful way to support local agriculture while savoring nature’s seasonal flavors. Enjoy the fruits of your labor fresh or take them home for a delicious homemade dessert.

12. Attend an outdoor concert 

Catch a live performance at an outdoor venue and let the music fill the summer night air. Whether it’s an intimate local gig or a lively festival, outdoor concerts offer a chance to unwind and dance under the stars.

13. Rent bikes and explore a new trail or path

Pedal your way through a new bike trail, taking in the scenery as you go. Biking is an ideal way to cover more ground while still staying active. Bring along water, snacks, and a map for an easy, adventurous exploration.

14. Try standup paddleboarding on a lake or calm river

Balance and paddle your way across the water with standup paddleboarding. This fun, full-body workout lets you glide over serene lakes or rivers at your own pace. As you find your rhythm, you’ll also enjoy a unique view of the natural surroundings.

15. Sign up for an outdoor cooking class and learn open-fire techniques

Master new open-fire techniques in an outdoor cooking class, where you’ll learn to whip up delicious meals over a campfire. From grilling to Dutch oven cooking, you’ll gain skills that make outdoor dining a tasty and rewarding experience.

16. Visit a nearby waterfall or natural swimming hole

Cool off by visiting a waterfall or natural swimming hole nearby. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the clear, crisp water or simply relax on the rocks while soaking up the sights and sounds of the cascading falls.

17. Go on a wildflower hike when they are in peak bloom

Plan a hike during the wildflower season and witness the hills bursting with colorful blossoms. Bring a camera and pause to admire the vibrant floral display. It’s a refreshing way to connect with nature’s beauty while stretching your legs.

18. Try your hand at slacklining

Challenge your balance and focus by setting up a slackline between two trees. Walking across this suspended line requires concentration and control, offering a fun yet challenging workout. With a bit of practice, you’ll find yourself striding confidently.

19. Host a backyard movie night with an outdoor projector

Turn your backyard into a cozy cinema with an outdoor projector, string lights, and blankets. Pick a favorite film and invite friends to share popcorn, laughter, and memorable moments beneath the night sky.

20. Take a sunrise hike to watch the morning light

Rise early and start your day with a sunrise hike, reaching a scenic vantage point just as the sun peeks over the horizon. Watching the morning light spread across the landscape is a magical, rejuvenating experience that sets a positive tone for the day.

21. Plan a beach day and try surfing, boogie boarding, or beach volleyball

Spend a day at the beach trying out new activities like surfing, boogie boarding, or a friendly game of beach volleyball. Feel the thrill of catching waves or simply relax by the shore with good friends, sunblock, and a picnic.

22. Go zip lining or on a ropes course adventure

Fly through the air on a zip line or test your agility on a ropes course. Both activities offer adrenaline-pumping fun while pushing you out of your comfort zone. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the exhilaration of soaring high above the ground.

23. Take an outdoor archery class

Channel your inner archer by signing up for an outdoor archery class. Learn how to aim, draw, and shoot arrows at various targets. Archery is a unique skill that improves focus and patience, leaving you with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

24. Try out axe throwing 

Give axe throwing a shot and release some tension by aiming for the bullseye. With guidance from instructors, you’ll learn how to wield an axe safely and accurately. It’s a thrilling activity that combines precision and power in a fun, friendly competition.

25. Rent jet skis, boats or water skis on a lake

Feel the wind in your hair as you speed across the lake on jet skis or water skis. Renting a boat gives you the freedom to explore the water at your own pace. Bring sunscreen and a sense of adventure for a high-energy day on the water.

26. Go horseback riding on trails or a ranch

Saddle up for a horseback ride and enjoy a scenic journey through trails or a ranch. Guided by experienced wranglers, you’ll gain a new perspective of the landscape from the saddle. Horses provide a calm and rewarding way to explore the great outdoors.

27. Take a scenic hot-air balloon ride

Soar above the landscape in a hot-air balloon and marvel at the stunning views below. The peaceful ascent and panoramic sights create a breathtaking experience like no other. With a gentle breeze guiding the way, this high-altitude adventure is worth adding to your list.

28. Go off-roading in a jeep or ATV

Get your adrenaline pumping by off-roading in a Jeep or ATV. Tackle rugged terrain, steep hills, and muddy trails for a day of high-energy exploration. Make sure to follow safety guidelines and enjoy the freedom of the untamed landscape.

29. Sign up for an outdoor adventure race or obstacle course

Test your endurance and strength by joining an outdoor adventure race or obstacle course. Climb, crawl, and dash your way through a series of challenges designed to push your limits. Whether it’s for fun or competition, you’ll feel proud crossing the finish line.

30. Get your friends together for paintballing or laser tag

Gather your friends for a friendly battle of paintball or laser tag. Work in teams to outmaneuver your opponents and strategize your way to victory. It’s a lively and competitive activity that keeps everyone engaged and laughing together.

Create your summer plans today for a fun tomorrow

This summer to-do list is more than enough to keep you busy, but you’re sure to come across new ideas as the days turn to weeks. Embrace them! Remember that you don’t need money hacks to partake in most of these activities as many of them are free.

As long as you keep an open mind, you’ll have an enjoyable summer that you remember forever.


How can I have more fun in summer?

Embrace the season by exploring new outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, or attending outdoor concerts. Mix things up with impromptu road trips, backyard gatherings, and bucket list adventures for a summer that’s packed with memorable moments.

How to create a bucket list for summer?

Start by brainstorming activities you’ve always wanted to try and prioritize those that align with your interests, from adventurous to relaxing. Write them down, set a timeframe, and keep the list handy to check off items as you accomplish them.

Why should I make a summer bucket list?

Creating a summer bucket list adds structure to your seasonal plans, helping you make the most of your free time. It encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, try new activities, and create lasting memories with family and friends.

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