Ultimate Summer Bucket List
It's just a week and a half until the summer holidays here and I'm in that wonderful (if not somewhat delusional) place of genuinely looking forward to 6 whole weeks of entertaining 3 children. I'm relishing the idea of no hectic mornings, no lunch boxes to sort, no rushing out the door and a much more leisurely way of life. Days spent playing in the garden, and relaxing on the beach, summer evenings of bbqs and s'mores on the fire pit. It all just seems so possible and dream like.
I'm not however deluded enough to think this will actually be the reality. I'm pretty sure a few weeks (maybe even days) into the holiday I'll happily exchange a hectic school run for 5 minutes peace and quiet, and when the sun fails to show up I'll be too busy cursing the British "summertime" to even remember all those lovely beach days I'd been dreaming of. But every year there's always this wonderful thing in the run up to the school holidays, and that's hope. Hope that it might actually be the best summer yet.
A couple of years ago, when Youngest was just 7 months old we did in fact have one of these dreamlike perfect Summer holidays. There was actually quite a bit of sunshine, which I think was a big factor, but I think another big thing that contributed to this "perfection" was our summer bucket list. I had taken the time to sit down with the kids and we actually wrote out a big list of all the things we wanted to do that summer. We put it up in the dining room and each day used it for inspiration for what to do with our day. We even put little ticks next to each thing when we had done it. If I remember correctly the park and the beach amassed the biggest number of ticks. The park ticks representing a kiddy win and the beach ticks representing Mummy getting her way ;)
So as I sit in my house on an allegedly summers day where it's expected to reach a high of 17 degrees celsius (62 degrees F.) and the sky looks like it could burst any minute, it is filled with hope that I write this bucket list to try and inspire one of those magical perfect summers.
(Quite a few of these things are South Wales specific but hopefully it will inspire you to find similar things locally, or even inspire a South Wales holiday, I know you won't regret it!) Don't forget to enter the great COMPETITION too!
Visit the Beach. It's pretty much an essential part of summertime here in South Wales, and with too many beaches to count locally you really don't have any excuse. Not even bad weather, if you've never had a picnic on the beach in the rain then you might not really be British ;)
Swim in the sea. If you can't do it in August when can you? It's worth a try. Even if you need to wear a winter wetsuit to avoid hypothermia. No judgement here.
Go to the Park. Confession time, I hate the park. I think it's mostly because I can't remember a time in my 8 years of parenting that I've not had at least one child in need of constant watching and helping on all the climbing frames and swings etc. One day a trip to the park will mean I sit on a bench and watch my children play and it will no doubt be quite relaxing and maybe I'll learn to love it. But for now I'll try to avoid ticking this off the list too much and will be pointing the kids in the direction of the climbing frame in the garden instead.
Go on a scavenger hunt. I wrote a whole blog post dedicated to this a while back, you can read it here. This can be such an easy and fun way to get the kids outside and enjoying a nice walk. Get them to help make the list and draw pictures or write the words so they are more engaged and willing to join in.
Visit The National Botanic Garden of Wales A personal favourite of ours. The kids and myself always love a trip to the gardens. There is so much to see and do there, and plenty of indoor and outdoor options for those days when the weather can't make up its mind. The recently revamped park complete with zip wire, and the new butterfly house are my kids favourite things to do there at the moment, and Youngest always favours seeing the fish in the great glasshouse.
Visit the Lido. We really love going to Blackpill lido, but there are quite a few throughout South Wales; Victoria Park, Ponty Lido, Ammanford, Parc Howard, and probably some I've not head about yet! It's about as close to an outdoor water park as we'll probably ever get in South Wales ;)
Visit Llaneli Wetlands Centre. If you've not visited there before then this could be the summer to change that. As well as lots of different kinds of birds there is also lots more to see and do. You can read all about the different activities they've got on here, I'm most excited about the canoes!
Make an Obstacle Course. Works for both sunny days outside and rainy days indoors.
Build a Den.
Sleep in the Den. (Probably an easier option if your Den is indoors but feel free to sleep outdoors if you're feeling up to the task).
Go on a boat/ canoe/ kayak. I love kayaking and canoeing, I used to work in an outdoor pursuits centre so it was my job to take kids out on the water, so I'm hoping this will be the summer I get to pass on this love to my children.
Climb a tree. (Some days you just need an easy way to tick a box!)
Make S'mores. All you need is some digestives, marshmallows and a bit of chocolate.
Go for a bike ride. There are so many great cycle paths in Swansea and across South Wales, its not hard to find a safe space to take the kids out on their bikes.
Go for a walk with the scooters. You won't be able to keep up with the kids but they'll have fun.
Ride the Land Train. Perfect if you're too full of ice cream to walk back along the Sea Front.
Spend a day at Dinefwr. There is so much to do at this local National Trust property but we hardly ever go for more than a few hours at a time. I'm determined to take a picnic there and get a whole day out of the place; castle, woods, Manor House, deer park, and maybe even a bit of pond dipping!
Dyffryn Gardens. I've been wanting to go back ever since our day trip a few months back. Hopefully we can get a whole day there this summer. Its well worth a visit if you've not been, very close to Ikea if that helps to sway you ;) You can read a bit more about the place here.
Day trip to Cardiif. (Aka the Lego shop) Cardiff city centre has a lot to offer, Swansea can't even begin to compare when it comes to shopping (sorry Swansea but you know I'm right). However, for my kids all they want to do when we go there is visit the lego shop and build themselves a lego figure. I usually end up going in the Disney store alone whilst my Husband takes them into the Lego Store. I think He won this round of parenting. I'll always love Disney though, even if that love dies with me ;)
Walk to Worms head. (Or as close as we can get with 3 small children) I'll settle for just getting to the coastguard hut and the binoculars (anyone else's kids obsessed with those binoculars?!). We'll get over to Worms head one day. Be sure to check tide times if you do want to go all the way over to Worm's head.
Have a picnic.
A walk around Clyne Gardens. Always a really pretty place to go for a wander with children, lots of bridges perfect for playing pooh sticks, and there's the lovely "Rapunzal" tower, and no visit is complete without telling stories at the Smiley tree.
Play Pooh Sticks.
Walk to the far away park. You know the park near your house that you always walk to? Why not mix it up a bit and walk to the next nearest park. A great way to get a bit more exercise out of the visit and the promise of a park is always a great motivator to get kids walking that little bit further.
Ride the Bus/ Train. What is it with kids and buses and trains? It's a small thing but they will love it.
Climb a hill. Some of our favourites include Cefn Bryn, Rhossili Downs, and Mumbles hill. But theres no shortage of hills in Wales so go find one.
And then roll down a hill.
Go to Folly Farm. A really great day out for all the family, so much more than a farm. There's Giraffes and penguins, so that's me sold. But if you need a little more convincing, there's a huge indoor play area, rides and go karts! A must for any South Wales Summer.
Go swimming. The LC2 is a firm favourite in our house.
Do some baking. Because as much as I'm in denial it will rain at some point. Sorry to have to break that to you.
Movie time. Incase it rains more than once. Popcorn is always a great snack choice but if you're looking to win at movie time, a great thing we discovered on pinterest, is to buy circular snack foods (hula hoops, onion rings, gummy rings etc) and thread them all onto string, wear them as necklaces and enjoy your snacks during the movie.
Outdoor "Cinema." If the weathers good you could take movie time outside if you've got a laptop, portable DVD player or a projector.
Make a mud pie.
Water fight. It might be warm enough, you never know.
Visit Singleton park and the botanic garden. We're lucky to have so many great parks and areas like this in South Wales. This is one we love to visit, but I'm guessing you can easily find so many more.
Go to singleton Boating lake. A ride on the Swan pedalo's is always a hit. There's a park, pub restaurant and mini golf too.
Walk to Arthur's stone. A great little walk to do on the Gower, the kids will love the story of the stone found in Arthur's shoe being kicked from Carmarthenshire and landing on the top of Cefn Bryn.
Have a Tea Party. Easy for sunny and rainy days.
Outdoor Art. Why not take some pens and paper outside and get the kids to draw the landscape. Or even use grass and other natural materials to decorate your picture. If you haven't tried doing Sunprints with light sensitive paper yet you can find out more about it here.
Summer games. Whether its just in your back garden or on the beach or in a field there are so many great games to be played outside this summer. Football, rugby, cricket, rounders (a personal favourite) tennis, badminton, and even croquet. The options are endless.
Go rock pooling.
Build a "Volcano". Host your own little science experiment with a bit of bicarb and vinegar. You could even build a sand volcano at the beach! More instructions here.
Visit the Egypt Centre. For all those budding Egyptologists. Plus it's free!
Geo-caching. Loads of information on where and how to do that here.
Fly a kite.
Visit the local Library. They always have lots of activities and events on so go check out your local library website.
Dylan Thomas Centre. Another great Free place to visit.
Dance in the Rain. Might as well embrace the fact it's probably going to rain a little bit.
Jump in Muddy Puddles. A favourite pastime of Peppa's and a favourite of mine too ;)
Visit a Castle. You can't move for Castles in Wales! Go find one, or several in fact. Some of our favourites are Caerphilly Castle, Oxwich Castle, Weobley Castle and we have Llanstefan Castle at the top of our list for the next one to visit. (It's a castle overlooking the sea, what's not to love?!)
Explore some woods.
Go on a treasure hunt. You can even get the kid's to draw their own little map and you can hide a little treat at the X spot.
Walk through a meadow. (maybe even barefoot if you're feeling adventurous)
Day trip to Tenby. I'll confess this one is on here for me and my camera. But I think everyone can enjoy this trip ;)
Explore the Brecon Beacons. An amazing place that is right on our doorstep that I know I don't make the most of. Hoping to change that this summer. For guided tours go visit Real Wales Tours.
The dreaded Soft play. This one the kids insist is on the list. I'll be trying to avoid it at any cost as they're not my favourite places but some days you just have to take one for the team.
Do some Gardening.
Paint some rocks.
Swansea Community Farm. Entry by donation and a great community project worth supporting.
Wiggley's Fun Farm. Another great farm day out.
Margam Country Park. So much to see there and entry is free, you just pay for parking.
Pembrey Country Park Again lots to see and do, and you just pay for parking.
Go Ape. You can find these all over the country but in South wales they have one at Margam. Oldest is a huge fan of climbing so I think this will be a perfect day out for her.
Mini Golf. Both Singleton park and Mumbles have mini golf courses. They even have an indoor one in Cardiff.
Cardiff Ski and Snowboard centre. Incase you fancy a taste of winter.
Mini Bowling. If you haven't been upstairs in Mumbles arcade yet and had a game of mini bowling then you're doing life in Swansea all wrong! Great fun. (If you don't have a miniature version of the game available then regular bowling is always good too.)
Visit Mumbles Pier. (or your own local pier.)
The Big Pit. Have fun with underground tours in this coal museum.
Have a BBQ.
Mountain View Ranch. We've never actually been here, but a quick look around the website has me thinking it's a must visit this summer. The High Ropes course looks especially good!
Visit an aquarium. I still find it hard to believe that Swansea doesn't actually have one, but they do have them in Bristol, Rhyl and Anglesey.
Watch the Sunset. Or even the Sunrise if you're an early bird!
Go Fruit picking.
Techniquest. A great science and discovery centre in Cardiff.
National Museum Cardiff. They have dinosaurs. Enough said.
Trampoline park. Where were these indoor trampoline parks when I was a kid? They sound so awesome. We will definitely be finding one of these this summer.
Ice Skating. Another thing Swansea lacks, but Cardiff has a great ice rink and if nothing else it won't feel so cold outside when you leave ;)
Cardiff White Water centre. If you want a family friendly waterspouts fix then this is the place. So much to do, and great for families.
Get caught in the rain on purpose.
Go on a bug hunt.
Wash the car. Win for Parents and the Kids will love it.
Plane Spotting. We won't all be going abroad this year, but it doesn't mean you can't take a little trip to your local airport and do a bit of plane spotting. Even Swansea has a little airport complete with cafe.
Visit the Garden Centre. A nice outing where you don't have to spend any money. They usually have an area with fishes, a guaranteed hit with your little ones.
Environmental Events. Swansea council has compiled a great list of all the environmental events going on locally over the summer, including Seashore safaris, reptile rambles, walks and even sand sculpture events. Well worth a look, see the whole list here.
Pottery Painting. There's a list here of places you can go and do a bit of pottery and/or painting.
Outdoor Theatre. A few performances at Oystermouth castle for local folk, but there may well be things across the country. Worth a quick google.
Roath Park Cardiff. Lots to see and do at this lovely park in Cardiff.
The Wenalt Woods. A lovely wood in North Cardiff. Worth following the link to the Woodlands Trust website as there are lots more woods to visit and enjoy.
Amelia Trust Farm. A working farm in the Vale of Glamorgan. Entry is by donation.
St Fagan's Natural History Museum. Lots to see and do and free entry. Plus you can give yourself a pat on the back for doing something educational!
Cefn Mably Farm. Another fab farm option.
RSPB. Head over to their website and find out about local events you can get involved with.
The Wildlife Trusts. Another great website to take a look at and see what events and areas you can visit.
Last but not least, have fun! This is a very long list, we definitely won't be doing everything on it. I'd need a second mortgage to be able to afford that ;) But hopefully it will be a great source of inspiration for us all this summer as we try to fill those 6 long weeks, which hopefully will be sun filled and blissful.
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