10 Last-Minute Ideas to Squeeze in Summer Fun Before School Starts

Posted By Katie on Aug 7, 2015

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Poet Dylan Thomas’s memorable poem ends

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

While his poem focuses in living well before we die, for some reason I always think of this poem when I start seeing “Back to School” sales at Target. I want to rage against the dying of the light and squeeze every bit of relaxation and enjoyment out of summer before school and schedules take over our lives again.

If you have a few more days to enjoy some summer fun before school starts, here are 10 ideas you can pull off with very little planning to make fun summer memories.10 Last-Minute Ideas for Summer Fun to Squeeze in Before School Starts | tipsforfamilytrips.com

1. Find a local swimming hole

The best days of summer for my kids are when we go find a small river with a swimming hole and just play on the rocks and in the water. Besides word of mouth, what is the best way to find a swimming hole? Do a web search for “[your state] swimming holes” or check out Swimmingholes.org.

2. Visit a State Park

Millions of Americans go to National Parks each summer, but how often do we skip the state parks that are practically in our own backyard? August is a great time to check out a local state park. Look for actvities such as swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, or geocaching that would interest your children.

3. Go to an Amusement Park

Late August and Labor Day weekend are generally great times to visit amusement parks. Summer lines die down because most people are thinking about backpacks and school shopping instead of roller coasters. Have you checked out these new attractions at U.S. amusement parks for 2015?10 Ideas to Squeeze in Summer Fun Before School Starts | tipsforfamilytrips.com

4. Go Geocaching

Have you tried geocaching? Kids love searching for hidden treasure, and geocaching is a great family activity. You can download a geocaching app on a smartphone. For those who want a higher-end GPS, consider Rand McNally’s Foris™ 850 GPS device. It can help get you where you need to go while hiking, biking, geocaching, and more. The Foris™ comes loaded with trail and road maps and includes turn-by-turn directions with voice guidance.

5. Take a mini-road trip

For inspiration for your family getaway, Rand McNally’s Best of the Road® Atlas & Guide features 25 vacation and weekend U.S. getaways with ideas for places to stay and attractions to see. Ideas range from beach vacations to mountain adventures and everything in between in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

6. Hit the beach

We are a beach-loving family, and while we live 3.5 hours from the Atlantic Ocean, we love to kick off and close our summer with a trip to the beach. If you do not live close enough to make a quick trip to the ocean, look for a swimming beach at a nearby lake, such as the one at Deep Creek Lake State Park in Maryland.10 Ideas to Squeeze in Summer Fun Before School Starts | tipsforfamilytrips.com

7. Go to a water park

Celebrate the end of summer with a visit to a local water park. Big or small, these can be a great place for summer fun for the whole family.

8. Visit a historical site

I try to drag my kids to historical sites all summer. I love supporting what we learn at school with some hands-on history. Get ready for back to school with a fun historical site. My favorite types for kids involve being outdoors, such as a battlefield or fort to explore. Do you live near a Presidential library? Presidential libraries are excellent period museums as well.

9. Go camping

Sleeping in a tent is so exciting for children. Not sure if camping is for you? Check out these camping tips for first-timers to avoid rookie mistakes, and then dive in and make a great summer memory. Camping can be a lot of work for parents, but our best family stories often come from our camping trips.

10 Ideas to Squeeze in Summer Fun Before School Starts | tipsforfamilytrips.com

Beautiful Mathews Arm Campground in Shenandoah National Park.

10. Show your children around your college campus

Take a walk down memory lane as you show your children your college campus. I graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah. This summer I took the kids bowling in the student center on campus and got ice cream at the creamery, which was a favorite hang-out spot for us years ago. It was so fun to share my memories with them and talk about their hopes and dreams for college. If you aren’t close to your alma mater, a visit to a local university campus can still be a memorable outing.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, do not go gentle into that good night. Put a little effort in to enjoying the last days of summer before the kids go back to school. Do you have any other end-of-summer fun activities I should add to this list? Thanks for sharing in the comments!


Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.


  1. I’m with you on raging against the dying of the light! We had a really long, cold winter in Vermont last year, and I can feel the change in the air already. Your tips are great – we love swimmingholes.org. Mostly I have to thank you for the reminder that it’s still summer. I’m going to stop stacking firewood and make a camping reservation!

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