Summer fun list

22 June 2023

Yesterday was the official first day of summer! It’s been rainy and unseasonably cold here this week, but I’m not letting that dampen my seasonal enthusiasm. I thought it could be fun to share a few items on our summer fun list today (the last time I did this was in 2017!), as well as a few thoughts on how we’re handling summer break with our rising second grader (and two preschoolers!). First up, the summer bucket list.

Summer Fun List

— Go on at least one thrifting excursion
— Make popsicles
— Eat breakfast in the backyard
— Take neighborhood walks after dinner
— Enjoy a nostalgic date night while in Connecticut
— Splash at Fews Ford
— Play tennis once a week (ambitious!)
— Have pizza at the pool
— Have pizza at Dix Park
— Take the kids to the new splash pad at Pleasant Park
— Make our favorite peach-blackberry cobbler
— Road trip to the Betty Confetti craft club with June (join us!)
— Go to a Bulls game with the tickets the kids earn from their summer reading program
— Jump off the wharf at the Island (if it’s warm enough! Right now the forecast looks chilly!)
— Take our paddle boards somewhere new
— Use our Museum membership with friends
— Enjoy a stopover in DC on our road trip home from New England

Last year, I shared some thoughts at the end of the summer on how we handled June’s first summer break as two working parents. It was a popular post, so I’m planning to write this year’s version in a few months, but in the meantime, I thought I’d give a brief overview of what we have planned.

This year, as I suspected, we were able to back off formal programming a bit – she’s a year older, we have last year’s summer experience under our collective belt, and my work hours are reduced. It’s worked out that about every other week she has a camp or activity or family travel, alternating with weeks spent at home. These weeks at home are meant to be relaxed time to be a kid – to roam outside, to read, to play with neighborhood friends, to be bored and use her imagination – and, on my days off, to have fun together.

Over the last few weeks I did squirrel away a few inexpensive activities to “seed” her time at home; I’m planning to dole one out each week. Think: a pack of modeling clay, a paint-by-number kit (I got two – this one and this one – so we can do them together), a giant coloring poster, the BDP watercolor class, the drawing passport book, and a math workbook that actually sounds really fun and that I know she’ll love.

Two weeks in, things are going more smoothly than I had hoped. Here’s to two more months of sweet summer! I would, of course, love to hear a few items that are on your summer fun list :)

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June 22, 2023 8:50 am

We went to a storytime on the roof of the Durham hotel yesterday and loved it! They host it monthly through October with the Durham Public Library. Here’s a link to future dates if you/locals are interested:
We also want to pick blueberries somewhere! Do you have a favorite patch?

And if you and June need a pit stop on your way back from Betty Confetti camp, Mebane or Hillsborough would be perfect spots! Happy to provide a customized itinerary for either location if you’re interested ????

Dana Hove
June 22, 2023 9:22 am
Reply to  Pressley

As a fellow local mom, I’d love to know your Mebane and Hillsborough recommendations, Pressley!

June 24, 2023 9:14 pm
Reply to  Dana Hove

Emily, so sorry for basically writing another blog post in your comments section, ha! Dana, I’m a Mebane native and now live in Hillsborough. Hope you find a few things for your family to enjoy!
Mebane Community Park has a great playground, walking trails, soccer fields and a splash pad!
Most of my recommendations are in “downtown” Mebane (basically just West Clay Street, between North 2nd Street and North 4th Street).
Filament is a cute coffee shop downtown. They make great drinks, and they also own Candor Market a few doors down. This would be a stop that would thrill the grownups more than the kids, but it’s worth it to pop in! Jewelry, candles, home goods — a well-curated selection in an expertly designed shop. (I went to high school with the owner, and she did theater set design — she has an excellent eye for putting things together in a beautiful way.) Solgarden is another downtown shop that is definitely more geared toward adults, but I think they also have a lot for kids now — old-fashioned candy, crazy socks, and toys, to name a few things!
Martinho’s is an old-school Italian sub shop and pizza place downtown. It’s weirdly not open on the weekends, but it’s packed every other day of the week. 
Bright Penny Brewing is on the edge of downtown and has delicious, creative pizzas and famous deviled eggs. If the weather is nice, sit out back on the patio. 
Two other spots that I can’t personally vouch for but have heard good things about: Crafted is a new taco place downtown that is supposed to be very good, and Wooden Nickel Pub (originally based in Hillsborough) is opening up next door later this year.
SO many parks, walking trails, green spaces to take advantage of! Two of my favorites are the Occoneechee Speedway Trail — a flat, easy trail on an old race track (with some old race cars and spectator stands along the trail) — and the Brumley Forest North Trail — this one has more hills, but it also has more options than Occoneechee. Neither are stroller friendly, but both would be fine for young kids, and both are also easy to walk while wearing a baby. 
A shop recommendation for grownups: Dwell is a new home goods shop in Hillsborough. The owner has four young kids and is super friendly. They have great cards, home decor, and books.
A few restaurants we like: Wooden Nickel Pub (burgers, sandwiches, elevated pub food); El Restaurante Ixtapa (Mexican restaurant that is always packed and for good reason); Nomad (Asian fusion food in an old theater — get the cauliflower appetizer); the hot bar/salad bar/bakery at Weaver Street Market; and Hillsborough Bakeshop (only open Thursday-Sunday, but unreal food — the owner is a James Beard nominee). 
The Hillsborough Arts Council also hosts Last Fridays on the last Friday of the month (March through November) downtown. Think a big art market + live music/dance performances + food trucks. A lot of restaurants and shops stay open late, too!

June 22, 2023 10:42 am

Since June 3 we’ve been going to an outdoor concert or music festival every weekend, which has been awesome. One weekend there was an Earth Wind and Fire cover band, so my daughter has been requesting the song “September” (also her birth month), multiple times a day LOL We hope to continue going every weekend that we are in town. We did our first visit to the splash pad. We still need to make a trip to the local water park. And I’d love to do more friend dates at some of the rooftop bars near us. Enjoy your stopover in DC (our neck of the woods)! There is so much to do in this area (nearby VA and MD included). Just the breadth of available activities can feel overwhelming, but it’s nice to have options! It’s very hard to be bored LOL My daughter’s favorite DC activity is playing soccer and just running wild on the Mall. :)

June 22, 2023 12:29 pm

Long time reader and DC-area native/resident here! Would be happy to give you suggestions on the DC stopover, as I have a rising second grader and many younger nieces/nephews. Email me :-)
Our bucket list is short and sweet: maximizing time at the local pool and as many college summer league baseball games as we can make it to.

June 23, 2023 8:02 am
Reply to  Em

I’m here when you’re ready! <3 For a quick hit, we love Natural History, the East Wing of the National Gallery, and the Portrait Gallery courtyard (though not on the mall). You need tickets for Air & Space since it’s under construction and the Capitol. Different museums have different stroller policies (some make you coat-check them) so check the websites. And BYO snacks/water. Many of the cafes/restaurants that were more kid-accessible and near the mall closed during pandemic, and better options require a bit of a walk (Teaism, Jaleo, Matchbox) or are only open on weekdays to cater to the professional crowd.

June 23, 2023 4:06 pm
Reply to  Leigh

Any recommendations for eating our with kids? Best playgrounds?

Cherith Roberson
June 25, 2023 7:27 am

I love this list. We haven’t been to Fews Ford and this reminded me that it’s been on my list for a long time. Our littles had so much fun fording the Eno River earlier this spring and we definitely want to go back now that it’s a bit warmer.

I also just ordered t-shirts from Target and a blue tie-dye set for cousin’s July 4th t-shirts next month. It’s going to be so entertaining to see them make their own designs.

I think I’m going to borrow your breakfast in the backyard one. :-)