Summer is my favorite season to make memories with my kids. This season has a magic to it, with long days of no school and lots of free play. My kids love to fill the hot days of July with summer activities like lemonade stands, jumping through the sprinkler, and fishing at the creek.
But don’t overlook summer nights for making memories with your kids. I love the freedom to stay up late and sleep in as well as the cooler temperatures. Along with fun in the sun, plan activities for the evening with these 10 things to do with kids on summer nights.
1. Pajama Run.
Give the kids their baths, have them put on their pj’s and then announce a surprise outing. Let them pile into the car with their pajamas (we bring shoes just in case!) and then take them for a favorite drive-thru treat. We love drive-thru milkshakes and slushies, or a non-caffeinated treat or a hot and fresh doughnut.
2. Pop up a tent.
Camping in the backyard is a no-fuss way to get kids away from screens for family time. Cook dinner on your grill and roast marshmallows for dessert. Spend the night telling stories around the firepit, singing favorite songs or playing one of these games. Backyard family camping will go down as a favorite family memory.
3. Night swimming.
Whether it’s a pool or slip-n-slide, water is just as fun on a summer night as a hot summer day. In fact, letting my kids stay up to swim at night feels like a huge treat to them and paints me as the good guy. It’s great exercise, clean fun and counts as a shower for the day.
4. Ding dong gift.
This is the good rendition of ding, dong ditch – that old prank from time immemorial where kids ring a neighbor’s doorbell and then run. We don’t allow that version. But in Ding Dong Gift, we put a basket of goodies (small water toys, summer movie treats or fresh flowers) on a neighbor’s doorstep for them to discover when they open the door. Help kids contribute some of their allowance, write a special note, and then enjoy as they surprise a neighbor.
5. Listen for nocturnal noise.
A whole new world wakes up as the sun goes down. Take a walk around the neighborhood at dusk or nightfall and listen for the music of the night. You may be able to identify the sounds of owls, crickets, cicadas, katydids, mockingbirds, frogs and more.
6. Watch for meteors!
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best annual meteor shows. They’re visible from July 17 to August 24 and peak between August 9-13. The best way to watch is to find a dark, open field away from city lights. After midnight and just before dawn makes for great viewing. Spread out your quilt and lay back on your pillows to catch a falling star.
7. Thank the night shift.
Talk to your kids about the nurses and doctors, firemen and policemen, store clerks and others who work through the night. Take a dozen doughnuts to your nearest fire station or emergency clinic and thank them for their service through the night.
8. Go mothing.
This is a fun and easy way to attract many varieties of moths. Hang a light-colored sheet up in your dark yard and shine a flashlight or electric lantern against the sheet. You’ll find moths almost immediately attracted and discover there are more than the common brown kind. One of my favorites is the giant, green Luna moth, which rivals the butterfly in beauty.
9. Zoo night.
Many zoos offer special night-time admission, especially during the summer. Cooler evenings make a summer zoo visit more manageable and animals are often more active during the night. Visiting the zoo at night under the stars with the sounds of night creates a wonderful family memory.
10. Catch some fireflies.
Also called lightning bugs or moon bugs, these tiny beetles lay eggs underground during the winter and come out in summer to mate. They light up to communicate and attract a mate, and for kids, they make an enchanted evening. Fireflies can be found all over the U.S. but are more likely to be found in woods adjacent to standing water.
Tell us! What is your favorite thing to do with your kids on summer nights?