Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Ultimate 2017 Summer O' Fun Bucket List!

HERE WE GO! Yesterday was the last day of school for most people, so it's time to start The SUMMER O’ FUN! 

Wednesday a bunch of us sweated it out at Jack Carter Playground over goldfish, fruit snacks, and some lemonade. The heat and humidity certainly gave us the taste of summer but we still had the best time sharing our Summer O’ Fun list ideas! (BTW-I just heard Beth Moore say on a podcast that there’s ONE LETTER difference between HUMIDITY AND HUMILITY. For real. WHO’S HAIR can withstand humidity. NOBODY’S.)

If you’re new to the “Summer O’ Fun party”, allow me to recap.  Last year, after Bible Study, Mother’s Day Out, and other child-care activities ended, I sort of freaked out to be honest. Being a 24/7 Show Monkey for a toddler can be exhausting! So I changed my perspective and decided I’d use the opportunity to do the things we normally cannot (or DO NOT) because of our normal routine. I printed out a list and started writing down ideas! ALL THE IDEAS, y’all. I made a banner. Cuz everything is more official with a banner. And I got really excited! The list gave me something to look forward to and helped me celebrate our freedom from routine! (You can find our 2016 Summer O' Fun Bucket List here and read reviews/recaps for all 13 weeks by navigating on the right side of blog. If I included recaps in this post, it would be longer than Gone With The Wind.)

Several of my girlfriends started making their own lists for themselves! And so THIS year, I figured we’d all get together and share! So that's just with we did on Wednesday!

Everyone came ready with a variety of activities…ranging from big outings, to super simple home activities. Which inspired me to pen a few “Things To Remember” when making your Summer O’ Fun List.

        1)   MAKE IT YOUR OWN! Everyone is in a different season! You might have a brand new little bundle and getting out of the house without your pj’s on is totally out of the question. So…you hit up ALL THE best drive-through ice cream shops. No judging here. Despite what culture tells us, this is not a competition! The whole point is that you and your kids enjoy the summer!

        2)  Don’t overextend yourself or your kids. You know your limits. Repeat to yourself: EVERY DAY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MAGICAL. (And it WILL NOT, friends.) Most weeks, I would plan ONE big outing and ONE fun home/small local activity. My son is in a place where he asks to “Stay home” a lot…so I don’t need to plan an outing every day. (I also like to be home for nap time.) 

        3)  On the flip side, RELAX and stray from your normal schedule. Sometimes think I’m a little too protective of the nap time…so there are some days that I need to relax and he can nap on the way home!

        4)   Put stuff on the list that you already have planned! This creates anticipation about any plans/trips you already have on the calendar and includes the kids in the planning! (For example-we’re going to the beach, so we’ve been watching You Tube videos of the beach and sand castle-building)

        5)  Ask your KIDS! You never know what simple thing your kids think is a total adventure. My little mister had the BIGGEST TIME at FedEx the other day. So who knows, maybe we’ll go one day and just make copies of his hand.

Okay! So let’s get down to business! Print out your Summer O' Fun Bucket List here and get that pencil ready! 

The best way I know how to categorize things is into “activity type”: indoor, outdoor, free, family, etc. If I were super thorough, I’d categorize into geographic location, and timeframe…but AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. I’ll at least include general area and let you do the rest!

Indoor Fun:
  • Perot Museum: Dowtown Dallas-2016 Bucket List!
  • Children's Aquarium at Fair Park: Fair Park in Dallas-2016 Bucket List!
  • Sensory Fun From Day One-McKinney2016 Bucket List!
  • The Coop: indoor playground-Frisco-2016 Bucket List!
  • Coo Coos: indoor inflatables-Plano-2016 Bucket List!
  • Sealife Aquarium: Grapevine
  • ALL the Playstreets! (Mckinney, Frisco, Plano) -2016 Bucket List!
  • Dallas World Aquarium: Downtown Dallas-we had been there before last summer, but it’s always amazing!
  • Dallas Firefirefighters Museum2017 Bucket List!
  • EQ Play (like Playstreet)- 2017 Bucket List!
  • Studio Movie Grill: They have $1 tickets with their Children's Summer Series! -2017 Bucket List!
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema: They host Kids Camp with $1, $3, and $5 tickets!
  • Legoland – 2017 Bucket List! (I’m throwing in lunch at Rainforest Café because I have a coupon!) 
  • Palaestra: North Dallas-this is a gym that holds a lot of open play times-see calendar!
  • Plai Place: North Dallas-art and creative activities
  • Peek and Play (like Playstreet)- Grapevine-2017 Bucket List!
  • Polka Dot Party + Play (like Playstreet) - Allen
  • Camp Creativity: Michael’s Craft Stores-only $4 per child for a 2 hour craft! Different themes throughout the summer!
  • Home Depot Kid’s Workshops: This would be a super fun activity with Dad! See your local calendar-2017 Bucket List!
  • Trampoline Parks: There are SEVERAL in the area: Urban Air, Jump Street, Altitude, Cosmic Jump…I’ve been to Urban Air and Jump Street and they are both super fun! Some have certain times for toddlers only, so check their schedule. Jump Street in Plano has an enclosed area in the back that is solely for 6 and under.
  • Jungle Joes: Frisco- indoor playground with coffee and wi-fi
  • Safari Run:  Plano- indoor playground with coffee and wi-fi-Big, spacious, and a separate smaller play area for the tiny tots!
  • Sci-Tech Discovery Center: Frisco-This place is amazing and educational! They even have a Sci-Tech Preschool story time with different themes! 
  • Reunion Tower2017 Bucket List! The Geo-Deck hosts some super fun activities throughout the summer from Bingo, to animal encounters to "Tall Tales" story time. There is an entry fee ($16 for adults, $8 for youth, 3 and under FREE.) I personally cannot wait to do story time! In my FIVE YEARS of living in Dallas, I've never been up to Reunion Tower! 
Outdoor Fun:
  • The Gentle Zoo: Forney- 2017 Bucket List!
  • Ft. Worth Zoo and Miniature Train2017 Bucket List!
  • Sandy Lake Amusement Park: I know this place is a Dallas field trip tradition…but seems like they have updated it and it is completely adorable! Lots of rides for even little toddlers! 2017 Bucket List!
  • Dallas Zoo- SO. MANY. Summer events. Check out their calendar!
  • Dallas Arboretum: This is one of our favorite places in Dallas, especially the Children’s Adventure Garden! From Kids Camps to Father’s Day cookouts, they have a ton of fun summer activities! 2017 Bucket List!
  • Heritage Museums: Step back in time at Dallas HeritageVillage, Frisco Heritage Museum, Hertiage Farmstead Museum in Plano, or Nash Farms in Grapevine! They have some super fun events from shootouts to storytime to crafts and cowboy days! (You don't want to miss the Ice Cream Crank-Off at Chestnut Square in McKinney!) 
  • Museum of the American Railroad: Frisco-perfect for the train lover in your crew!
  • Rough Riders Game: This is the Minor League baseball team in Frisco. We’ve never done this, but I’ve heard great things! Apparently there is a lazy river and a pool within the park. I also see that there’s 2 playgrounds, so I’m ALL EARS for someone who’s done this and has more info! Sounds so fun! 2017 Bucket List!
  • Parks and Rec Centers: Our area is blessed with some incredible public rec centers. Most of these have admission fees, but it’s reasonable and they have enough indoor and outdoor water recreation for a full day of fun! We love Tom Muehlenbeck! I can’t wait to go to the newly renovated Jack Carter Pool! I’ve also heard that Frisco Aquatic Center, the Heights Family Aquatic Center in Richardson, and The REC in Grapevine are great! Just make sure to check them out in your area! 
Good Ole Fashioned Family Fun:

Do I sound like Clark Griswald yet? This is actually my FAVORITE part of the Summer O' Fun list! While the outings are great, I feel like the best memories are made when you come up with your own ideas! Summer is such a great time to hit up all the "treats"! A simple little outing like this is an adventure for kids! None of these are rocket science, but the point is to go places you normally don't! Here's some of the suggestions that my friends put together:

  • Fro-Yo Date: (Monster Yogurt in Richardson has a play area!)
  • Ice Cream Date: Henry's Ice Cream is the perfect special treat! Their cinnamon flavor is TO DIE FOR! They also have $1 hot dogs, so you really could make a whole "lunch date" of it!-2016 Bucket List!
  • Sno-Cone Date: (Bahama Bucks is great and I also heard about a pirate ship sno-cone stand in McKinney called Scallywags
  • Dairy Queen Date: Y'all, when the one near me opened last year, we were there on opening day! We've also gone through the drive-thru for a blizzard and then parked and I sat in the back with Greyson while we watched a movie on his DVD player! This was SO FUN and he LOVED IT! 2016 Bucket List!
  • Steel City PopsWe still haven't made it there and can't wait! 2017 Bucket List!
  • Wienerschnitzel in Allen-I've never been, but seriously, looks like all my fast food/ice cream dreams come true. 2017 Bucket List!
  • SONIC RUN!  2016 Bucket List! Hey-if you are in the season with a newborn...Sonic is your best friend! I can't tell you how many Sonic runs we made when G was a baby. I'd ride around and get him to fall asleep and then sit back and sip my Cherry Coke. We also did this last summer and I ate hamburgers in the backseat with G! He got the biggest kick out of it! (Free tip: If you do plan to do this, I recommend this car seat tray from Amazon! Lifesaver!
  • Take Daddy lunch or cookies at work
  • Picnic at The Star in Frisco: 2017 Bucket List!  If you haven't been to the Dallas Cowboys new headquarters yet,  you're missing out! They "courtyard" hosts a Cowboys replica mini-football field and the biggest TV you've ever seen! It's always open the public! So declare it "Dallas Cowboys Day"...put on your jerseys (Dak Prescott for me), and do a game and picnic on the field! Another great one for Dad! (P.S. They also offer VIP tours of the fun would that be for a teenage boy birthday party?!
At Home:

I underestimated the amount of fun we could have in our own backyard!  Or my friend's own backyard ; ) We don't have a pool, but we made the most of it and went with the ole trusty blue plastic one from Wal-Mart. We got a slide, sprinklers, misting machine, and lots of outdoor toys! And we had so many fun afternoons just playing! Ask a few friends over, slap a theme on it, and the kids will go wild! (EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH A THEME, Y'ALL.) DON'T THINK Pinterest here, people, think Dollar Tree. Here's a few suggestions we did last year or plan to do this year: 
  • Popsicle Party: 2016 Bucket List!
  • Banana Split Party: Sprouts has amazing candies and nuts that you can portion yourself, so I'm thinking of heading there for all the goodies and then lining them up on the counter! 2017 Bucket List!
  • Strawberry Shortcake Party: I did this in the backyard last year because.....whipped cream. I bought the pre-made and shortcakes and some strawberries! 2016 Bucket List!
  • Olympic Party: Work with the toys you have at home! Make them "events". Go to the Party Store and buy the 20 pack of Gold Medals. Tape a 1, 2, and 3 on your step stools and BAM. You have an Olympic party and a podium. 2016 Bucket List!
  • Movie Monday: Gather the troops and take them to...YES...THE DOLLAR TREE. Let them pick out any candy/treats they want. and a cute little divided tray...and BAM. MOVIE MONDAY. 2017 Bucket List!
  • LUAU: The Dollar Tree is KILLIN' it with their Luau decor!
  • Pancakes for Lunch/Dinner: 2017 Bucket List!
  • Make cupcakes/baking:  2016 Bucket List!  I had never really let G help me "bake" anything until last summer. After we stumbled upon this children's apron for $2.50 at Hobby Lobby, it was a total event. He loved putting on his apron and helping measure and pour! You could go crazy with all the options of flavors, icing, and sprinkles! (One of my favorite bloggers, Mix and Match Mama, has an adorable cookbook called Kids in the Kitchen that can get you started! Find it on Amazon here.)
  • Backyard Camp Out: Now, I'm not suggesting you actually SLEEP out there...but pitch the tent, make some s'mores, and tell stories! This is a great one to get Dad involved! 2017 Bucket List!
FREE/Non-admission Outings

Can we get an AMEN for the free activities!? 

  • Parks/Splash Pads: There are some INCREDIBLE parks WITH splash pads that could host a whole day of free fun! The most popular are, Klyde Warren (Dallas), Frisco Commons/Hope Park, Celebration Park (Allen). One of my personal favorites is Campbell-Green in Richardson because there's a shaded area of the splash pad with some smaller scale water features for the tiny tots! Our new favorite spot is Jack Carter Playground in Plano. It doesn't have a splash pad, but the play equipment is low and perfect for all-abilities! I'm also super excited to go to The Lakefront Little Elm! I just had a friend tell me about their "beach" and I knew nothing about it! Check out their link for some super fun events.
Aside from parks, DFW has A LOT to offer in the Free category!
  • Libraries: DFW has AMAZING libraries with ENDLESS programs, ranging from puppet shows to movie times to STEM Camps! Check out your locals online for schedules! These are some of our favorite activities! 
  • Dallas Museum of ArtGeneral Admission is FREE everyday! They have a space for 0-4 years called Atruro's Nest and a Young Learner's Gallery for 5-8 years.  (P.S Klyde Warren Park is right across the street for some food truck lunch!2017 Bucket List!
  • Lucky Duck Kid’s Club @ Watter's Creek: Watter's Creek in Allen is one of our favorite family spots! With great restaurants surrounding the green space and treehouse, everyone is happy! The Lucky Duck's Kid's Club meets every 3rd Thursday and has a craft, entertainment, and treats! Each month has a different theme!
  • Scottish Rite Playground: The Dallas location has an amazing SHADED playground! Katy Trail Ice House is less than a mile away, so afterwards, you could grab a bite and "refresh".
  • Church Indoor PlaygroundsPrestonwood KIDZ Indoor Playground, Watermark Tree Fort, The Woods Indoor Play Space at Highland Park Presbyterian Park are great spots! 
  • Children's Storytime at Interurban Railway MuseumPlano-This happens each Friday morning at 10:30 and IT’S ADORABLE! Followed by a tour of the old railcar!
  • Area Malls: Malls are not a thing of the 90's! The Mall game is strong here! It's not just for shopping anymore. Here's some super fun activities they have to offer:
    • Northpark-This famous Dallas mall is home to Bookmarks Public Library, which also hosts some great programs. Grab some lunch while you're there and let the kids watch the ducks and turtles in the fountain! I've also heard that La Duni restaurant in the mall has a patio that overlooks a green space where the kids can play!
    • The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano hosts "Summer Thursdays", a line up of live shows with different themes ranging from Magic to Comedy to Sci-Tech. I've heard these are great and they even have some vendors surrounding the area with coupons for food, movies, and more! You can sign up for emails at the concierge's desk for more free stuff throughout the summer. They also have a great indoor play area that we've frequented since G was a babe! We will certainly be there this year! 2017 Bucket List!
    • Stonebriar Mall in Frisco is the motherload of free fun! It also boasts a super cute play area. Barnes and Noble has the ever popular train table and free craft action at 11:00!  Pottery Barn kids has toys out and story time every Tuesday at 11:00. The Disney Store has coloring, movies, story time, trivia, and a "Magical Memories Parade". (Their events aren't listed on the website, so it says to call for details. Number is in link!2017 Bucket List!
    • The Galleria (Dallas): There's no better way to beat the heat than some ice skating in the Galleria! The American Girl Store also hosts a free craft every first Wednesday of the month @1:00! You might not LEAVE there for free..but hey, there's the craft. 
Serving Opportunities:

This could probably be an entirely new post. Summertime is a great opportunity to really focus on a particular project with your kids. This is really where you can make this your own. It could be as simple as taking breakfast to an elderly neighbor, picking up trash at the park, or writing a letter to someone in your circle that needs encouragement. Last year we FINALLY took cupcakes to the firefighters who saved our home 2 years ago! Lovepacs is an organization that helps feed children in need. And there is a local ministry called Hands and Feet that does some amazing activities for young children. You can find their Facebook group here or email them at to be added to their email list. 

Finally, I want to mention my favorite DFW resources, Dallas and Collin County Moms Blogs. I find a TON of stuff on their monthly calendars! (You can find those here and here.) They’ll be hosting some super fun playdates this summer; details are coming soon! (Their events go FAST! So keep up with registration times!) In addition, they have 6 local playgroups that you can plug into on Facebook, and they are constantly doing something! I find a plethora of “Local Guides” on their websites! Here’s few articles that I’ve “Bookmarked” for constant reference:

Ways to Get Wet: A Dallas Guide to Splashpads, Pools, and Waterparks 
7 Days of Indoor Play for Kids in Dallas
7 More Days of Indoor Play for Kids in Dallas

Whew!!! If all that doesn't get you in the Spirit of Summer, I don't know what will!

That's A LOT of information y'all!!! And here' the CRAZY PART...I'm SURE I missed something! SOOOO....I'd LOVE for you to share YOUR list on my Facebook Page! (It's super new, so please enter with forgiveness.) Snap a pic and tell us about any original ideas or places I missed! We can also share tips/tricks/wins/fails!

I hope your Summer is off to a GREAT START and I can't WAIT to see what you've got planned!

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