Remember when summer nights were all about the adventure you could find outdoors? Parents relaxed on the porch while kids hunted fireflies. No one cared that everything on TV was a repeat. The best entertainment was out in the yard. And maybe it still is?
Before everyone gears up for the new school year, get together for some fun family activities—from traditional past-sunset fare like stargazing to repurposed-for-evening activities like a game of ring toss. And if you're feeling retro and just have to catch those fireflies? Go for it!
Here are 9 reasons to stay up, and out, late.
Set Up a Build-Your-Own Hot Dog Bar
Nothing says summer like a hot dog right off the grill. Make it something truly special with a delicious spread of creative toppers—it’s the perfect DIY dinner for kids and adults. A variety of condiments, fresh veggies, cheese, and herbs means there’s something for everyone. You can also experiment with adding unexpected flavors and textures to your toppings bar. We loved the crunch and flavor that seasoned almonds added to our dogs. Kids (and adults!) will love an Italian dog topped with marinara, parmesan cheese, and bold garlic-flavored almonds. Slice and prep your ingredients ahead and you’ll be ready for easy al fresco dining in no time.
Make Yard Games
Don’t get stuck inside! Bring the fun of family game night outdoors. A selection of DIY yard games are sure to keep the kids and adults entertained. For a fun and nostalgic summer night, stick to classic favorites like ring toss, horseshoes, and yard dice. Make your own ring toss game with just a few simple (and inexpensive!) materials and some bright paint. Play your DIY yard games tournament-style for a little friendly competition.
Show an Outdoor Movie
Skip the cinema and set up your own outdoor silver screen—perfect for a backyard movie night! Creating a DIY movie screen is easier than you think and costs less than a night at the theater. Create a cozy viewing party by bringing the indoors out. Toss pillows, blankets, and chairs around the yard and let everyone select their perfect seat. Don’t forget to serve concession stand snacks such as popcorn and candy.
It’s too nice to be holed up inside! Gather your craft supplies and creativity and head outside. Set up an outdoor activity station complete with summer-approved outdoor projects like this fun pool paint art. Simply tape a large piece of white paper to the bottom of a plastic kiddie pool. Dip small balls in paint and get swirling! Have each little artist create their own and display them on the yard.
Try Star Gazing
"A lot of people think they can't see many stars unless they're deep in the country, away from the lights of cities and suburbs," says Andrew Fazekas, an astronomy educator in Montréal. "But actually, the fact that you can see fewer stars in most people's backyards makes stargazing easier for beginners." It's as though the background is edited, and you're left with easy-to-pick-out constellations and glowing planets. For navigation help, look online for free star maps. (And if you are able to find a dark spot, stay up late for the Perseid meteor shower, a breathtaking annual event that sends streaks of light across the entire night sky. It peaks around August 13.)
Gather Around the Fire Pit
If you have a fire pit or can otherwise build a safe campfire, chances are your kids are expert marshmallow roasters. Make the experience even sweeter by gathering round and starting a song or story, taking turns adding a line or two. If someone in the family can strum a guitar, all the better.
They're summer's quintessential dessert and for good reason! Gather around the campfire and indulge in layers of crisp graham crackers, melted chocolate, and gooey marshmallows. If the kids are old enough, let them roast their own marshmallows. And don't forget to set out some creative toppers! Try adding candy, sliced fruit, jam, or sprinkles to your finished s'mores, or make one of our tastiest s'more recipes.
Play Family Games
Create a new game night tradition by picking up a reinvented version of an old favorite. Oversize versions of games like tumbling blocks or four-in-a-row are a fun way to get the whole family involved! This extra-large four-in-a-row is available at Aldi for $29.99 all summer long.
Play Flashlight Tag
Arm any group of kids with flashlights, and you don't even have to suggest a game. Fun summer activities for kids don't have to be complicated—let imagination be your guide! Swap the classic game of touch tag with flashlights for a fun evening activity. Or update flashlight tag with colored bulbs or a piece of colored cellophane wrapped around the light and secured with a rubber band—it's like low-cost laser tag.