17 Things to Do on the First Day of Summer
The country has waited through snow, wind, cold, and rain, and as of June 20, summer will officially be here. Can you taste the cocktails with little umbrellas, smell the charcoal burning on the grill, and hear the sound of gentle ocean waves? Whatever your summer plans, don't let the first day go by without doing something to kick off the season.
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Summer is prime time to add more fruit to your diet. Some good ones to try include mango, passion fruit, and papaya, although more common blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries have tons of antioxidants. Feeling adventurous? Perhaps the local grocery store stocks something exotic such as dragon fruit, mangosteen, or carambola (commonly known as starfruit).
One way to get in some outdoor time while stocking up on fresh fruit is to pick it yourself. Strawberries are ripening now in many places, and the season lasts only a few weeks. Search for a nearby farm with U-pick or pick-your-own fruit.
An end to the cold and wet weather that much of the country suffers in the winter and spring brings a welcome return to the outdoors. The National Park Service has a state-by-state list of properties including historical sites, forests, islands, and other natural spaces to check out. Or, type a home address into an online map (such as Google Maps) and search for "parks" using the "Nearby" function.
Tired of the same boring terrain? After finding a new park to visit, see if it offers hiking trails. City dwellers are bound to find walking paths nearby, perhaps on reclaimed train tracks. Step outside your comfort zone and try a new trail or follow a favorite path in a new direction.
If you have a bike, map out an itinerary around the city, checking out beautiful summer sites. No bike? Don't worry -- in most cities it's possible to rent for a day for very little cash. There may be bike tours happening nearby or groups to join. Bigger cities are experimenting with municipal bike-rental programs that can make it easy to investigate without much investment.
To avoid turning on the oven and heating up the house, fire up the grill. Go beyond the traditional hamburger and try something new for the first day of summer, such as a side dish or a meat such as swordfish. Throw some summer-ripe peaches or other fruit on the grill for a sweet treat.
Related: 12 Cheap Rubs and Marinades for Summer Barbecues
If you've got a gang to play with, organize a game of flag football or softball. If it's just you and a buddy, throw a Frisbee or kick a soccer ball back and forth.
While young kids particularly enjoy seed spitting contests, the young at heart do too. Get a big watermelon, cut it into slices, and chow down in the backyard, spitting out the seeds as far as possible. Competitive spirits may want to use a tape measure for judging.
Find a wide, open space (to avoid getting hung up on a tree) and celebrate summer by flying a kite. Starter kites are relatively cheap; there may even be some at the dollar store. A dirt-cheap, impromptu version can be made with string and a plastic grocery bag. Just tie the string around both handles and let children run with the "kite" flying behind them. It might seem too easy and cheap to be true, but they will love it.
It's not too late to start growing something, even with limited space. Pick out a few plants that do well in the local climate and plant them in a container garden or patch of soil. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and a variety of herbs do especially well in the hot season.
Related: Edibles Anywhere: 15 Foods to Grow in a Container Garden
If there's no time or room to enjoy home-grown food, take advantage of someone else's. Hit up a local farmers market and delight in the fresh fruit and vegetable offerings. Local markets seem to happen on all days of the week during summer months, and good crops mean lower prices.
Related: 25 Dishes to Make the Most of Summer Produce
While it may be tempting to stay up late in the summer with more daylight time, it's important to keep a good sleep schedule. If bedtime has been creeping later, indulge in a nap on the first day of summer -- preferably by a pool or on a beach, or at least in a hammock in the backyard.
Eye protection from the sun is a must year-round, but especially in the summer months. Mark the first day of summer with a new pair of sunglasses. It's not necessary to spend a fortune on designer shades to accessorize with style and protect your eyes. A good pair of sunglasses can be had for less than $50. Just be sure they are labeled as having 100 percent UV protection, or UV400.