By Ansalee Morrison and Chelsea Kern
While the past few COVID months have changed life as we used to know it, a pandemic can’t stop summer from coming! (Just like the Grinch can’t steal Christmas …) Summer 2020 won’t be full of long lines at Seven Peaks or packed with crowded stadiums of fire, but this season will be memorable in its own mask + sanitizer way. Here are 31 bright ideas to make this summer as fun (and normal) as possible.
1. French Fry Hopping
Everyone thinks they know which restaurant sells the best fries in town, but who is truly the fry expert? You are! Grab some friends and test your hypotheses by French fry hopping. Step one: Create a list of qualities that make French fries divine such as saltiness, texture, freshness, temperature. Step two: Decide on a grading scale — i.e. five is perfection and one is not worth the calories. Step three: Drive to a fast food restaurant and order a small fry to share. Step four: Everyone individually rates the french fry on the rubric you created (see steps one and two). Step five: Repeat steps three and four at various dining rooms or drive-thrus, then tally up the ratings to see which fry is king.
2. Waterfall Wonder
Pack a lunch, take the kids (or a date!) and prepare to see an incredible waterfall during this 3.5-mile roundtrip hike. Stewart Falls is the perfect family-friendly activity that provides optimal shade, relatively flat stomping grounds and vivacious wildlife throughout its entirety. Plus, the trailhead requires a photogenic car ride through Provo Canyon.
3. Go For The Gold!
The 2020 Olympic Games may be postponed, but that doesn’t mean there’s no podium this summer. Host your own Olympics! After your Opening Ceremonies, try fencing with pool noodles or wrapping paper tubes. Play volleyball with a beach ball or water balloons — or get wet diving into a pool. Compete in synchronized running through sprinklers. You could also consider broom hockey or soccer. Then make a mini podium with chairs and bar stools. Don’t forget metals made out of aluminum foil!
What’s the use of storing a tent in the basement if you never use it? Zero. Put that bad boy to good use and pitch your tent in the backyard for the night. Bring out the sleeping bags and s’mores flavored candy for some pseudo-camping. Bonus points if you have a backyard fire pit. The best part? Indoor plumbing nearby.
5. The Highest Height
Take advice from Mary Poppins and go fly a kite. Pick a windy day for easy liftoff. Even if the kite ends up in a tree or a faraway cloud, you’ll get your money’s worth.
6. Everyone’s Special
Put those piano lessons and gymnastics meets to use by hosting a family talent show. Make it legit by giving everyone a heads up a couple days in advance so they can practice their five minutes of family fame. Everyone has to participate. That means you, Dad! Add a digital component by inviting extended family to join via Zoom.
7. Happy Holidays
365 days is much too long to wait for another Christmas. June 25th is the perfect day to turn your backyard into a winter wonderland, play Christmas carols, bake peppermint cookies and watch “Elf.” Who celebrates their half-birthday? Christmas. That’s who.
8. All Chalked Up!
Once a year, the parking lot of The Shops At Riverwoods transforms into a majestic art display created by local artists. For the three days of Chalk the Block for Charity Utah, artists chalk their masterpieces inspired by the theme “Let The Games Begin!” Community members come to observe and appreciate the designs. Local entertainers add good beats to the sweet art Friday and Saturday. Winners will be announced Saturday at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the event go to Spectrum Academy.
9. Going to Market
The Provo Farmers Market represents all that’s right with the world: Fresh food, creative hands and friendly neighbors. Stroll through a promenade of canopies to find local vendors. Starting June 6, the Provo Farmers market runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Halloween.
10. Roped In
To supplement the loss of girls camps and youth conferences, CLAS Ropes Course is offering two-day summer camps for ages 10-18 from June 1 to August 15. Activities include canoeing, Giant Swing, ziplining and more. Side effects may include increased confidence, adrenaline rushes and escaping the blah of the indoors. (No offense, COVID.)
11. Dinosaur Discovery
No time machine? This is the next best thing! Dinosaur bones, mammoth remains and a real-life paleontology lab are all found in Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life. After a few weeks of closure, they are back open! This experience answers many children’s (and adults’) biggest questions about the past and may even kindle some new ones.
12. Love Loopty Loops
Prepare to be dazzled with this 20-mile drive that swerves through American Fork Canyon, the Uinta National Forest and Provo Canyon. The Alpine Loop provides an Insta-glam worthy view of Utah’s beauty and includes panoramas of Mount Timpanogos, Cascade Springs and other favorite natural sites. The Alpine Loop is paved but swervy … so sorry to our friends with motion sickness.
13. Fore the Good of the Game
You don’t have to be a master of the sport to enjoy a day on the green. Here are some local spots to go golfing this season:
- Hobble Creek Golf Course, Springville
- Riverside Country Club, Provo
- Sleepy Ridge Golf Course, Orem
- Fox Hollow Golf Club, American Fork
- Thanksgiving Point, Lehi
14. Y Not?
Scale the most iconic college-town mountainside in zig-zag fashion to reach a beautiful lookout of Utah Valley. The Y Mountain trail is known for its steep calf-burning hillside. The intense two-mile round trip is essential when showing true blue Cougar spirit and the dirt path will land you directly on the white cement-painted Y. Bring water!
15. Treasure Hunter
You can decide whether you’re on a small or big treasure hunt. Spend the day tracking down geocaches. First step is to download the Geocaching app. Then follow the map and search for the geocache (usually a container of some fashion). Then put your John Hancock in the log book, return the geocache where you found it, and share on a social media post. #nofilter
16. Lifting Me Higher
During summer months, the Sundance ski lift transforms from the lag time between runs on powder days to a relaxing and scenic ride perfect for sunny days. After enjoying the stunning panorama of mountains and sky, guests can hike trails at the top of mountain, eat at the Bearclaw Cabin or simply experience the same ride going downhill.
17. Picnic Takeout
Takeout has always been convenient — but now it’s the norm. So with warmer weather, consider turning takeout night into a family picnic. Order dinner from a locally-run restaurant and settle into a shady spot at your favorite park or canyon pull-out. (Picnic blanket not included.)
18. Fort Right
It’s an oldie but a goodie. Gather all the pillows, blankets, and creativity you can muster to build the most epic indoor fort of the summer. Bonus points if you give your structure an awesome name! Double bonus points if you put it away when you’re done acting like pirates or pioneers.
19. Throwback Photos
Give those precious pictures from the ‘90s a modern family makeover. Step one: Get each family member to dress as closely to the original as possible. Step two: Position everyone similarly to the original. Step three: Say cheese! (Psst! Recreating old family pictures is a creative and effective way to get everyone in a shot together.)
20. Read All Over
We dare you to read — all day long. Having a readathon is a good way to blitz your summer reading list. Stock the house with everyone’s favorite snacks and create a cozy reading nook for each person.
21. Witnessing a Mural
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to take a picture in front of every mural in Downtown Provo. The county seat is home to more than 40 vibrant murals created by local artists standing as expressions of creativity and culture. (Keep track of your progress with the link below.) Don’t forget to post a mosaic of pictures when you’ve reached “mission accomplished!”
22. We All Scream
Plan a picnic, but start with dessert — and stay there. Ice cream tastes better in the sun anyway. Here are local parlors we recommend taste testing:
- BYU Creamery
- Ike’s Creamery
- Roll With It Creamery
- Rockwell Ice Cream Co.
- Purple Turtle
23. The Good Grubs
What’s better than a restaurant? A restaurant on wheels! These local food trucks are worth chasing:
- Waffle Love
- Jurassic Tacos
- Art City Donuts
- Fiore Pizza
- Good Grindz
24. Time for Timp
Adventurers, meet your biggest challenge yet! This 15-mile hike is rated as highly difficult and it’s not too hard to see why. Hikers scale up Mount Timpanogos and pass through Emerald Lake, snow fields and a saddle that overlooks the entire valley. Be sure to bring plenty of water to guzzle and some snacks — this beautiful hike takes all day.
25. Row, Row…
Through Provo Canyon flows a splash-tastic roller coaster of twists and rapids. (Psst, we’re talking about the Provo River.) Take a ride down this thrillseeker’s dream with High Country Adventure via raft, tube or kayak. For some dry activities, try the zipline, ropes course, or ATV riding.
26. Adventure’s Out There!
ZipLine Utah specifically beckons to all “Adventure Seekers” who want to experience the great outdoors at their finest! ZipLine Utah includes challenge and rope courses, as well as ziplining, to create personalized outdoor adventure packages that allow for any ability level. One of their six courses guides participants over a lake spanning 3,900 feet – the largest in the world – and is appropriately called the Screaming Falcon.
27. Pretty Unveiled
Biking, skating, jogging or walking are all acceptable on the paved trail that goes through the Provo Canyon and up to Bridal Veil Falls. While the 607-foot waterfall can be seen from the highway, it can get real tranquil real quick when face to face with the mountainside. The waterfall dribbles into a small pond at its bed, which creates a perfect stopping place for pictures, water breaks and toe-dipping.
28. Lake Day
The best time to befriend someone with a boat is yesterday. Then you can go boating today! Escape the urban life by setting sail on the largest freshwater lake in the state. Even if you can’t convince your bestie to take you out on Utah Lake, it’s still a wet and wild place for swimming, paddleboarding, or exploring on foot.
29. Hooked on the River
The Provo River and Sundance Mountain Resort create the picturesque setting for fly fishing year round, but especially during the summer when a trip up Provo Canyon creates an escape from a technology-infused lifestyle and afternoon heat. Through Sundance, prospective anglers can book a fishing trip or sign up for fly tying and fly casting clinics to improve any level of expertise.
30. Friendly Water Fight
Step one: Gather all the water guns, hoses and sponges you can get your hands on. Step two: Invite your friends, aunts, uncles, cousins or neighbors to join in a grand game of Capture the Flag. Step three: Separate into two teams, outline the boundaries, decide on rules for capturing the flag. Optional step four: Turn on the sprinklers when no one’s expecting it.
31. Tell It Again
Audiences gather at the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point to listen to world-renowned storytellers spin fantastical tales. The annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival started as a backyard venture by Karen Ashton to support the Orem Public Library and has grown into a tradition of 31 years. COVID, please don’t ruin this tradition!