One of our favorite things to do at the start of each summer is make a bucket list of places we want to go, and things we want to do throughout the summer. There are so many different ways to put your bucket list together, so find something that’s fun and interactive to do with the kids! For example, put each item on a post-it and find a wall to keep all of your bucket list items. Each time one is completed, let the kids take it down and throw it away. Or, make a chalkboard wall to put your list on so you can cross things off each time something is completed.
One word of advice – put WAY more on your bucket list than you THINK you’ll be able to accomplish. On free days, this will give your kids many more options to choose from. Also, go back and repeat the things they LOVED! Next year will be a whole new age and maybe they won’t love that activity again the next year.
This list is by far not our entire bucket list. A lot of things on our list might be a little more general (go for a picnic, get ice cream at a new spot, make grilled pizzas, visit a new playground, etc.). But, this list does include lots of fun local things to do, along with some activities that might be a little of a drive and a whole daytrip.
Beaches – Local
- Jenness State Beach– Our favorite. I hear a lot of people criticize this beach because of the parking and how many people go here. With my daughter waking up at about 6:30 each morning, we head to the beach to have breakfast & coffee from the café inside Summer Sessions by 8:30. We spend our morning at the beach, then head home around lunchtime or just after to relax a little & take baths! The café, surf shop and bathrooms make this beach very convenient for anyone with little ones.
- Wallis Sands State Beach– We head here on days we get a little bit of a later start to the day. More parking available, and still has amenities like bathrooms and picnic tables. Head to Pirate’s Cove a little south of Wallis Sands for a quieter beach (note: no amenities here).
Beaches – Daytrip
- Kennebunkport Beaches (Maine) – Cute little beach with a playground right at the beach. Get here early as there’s not much parking, but it’s a smaller beach and isn’t usually too overcrowded.
- Crane Beach (MA) – Lots of parking, but getting here early is your best bet as the parking lot can fill up, especially on weekends. Usually has some really great tide pools for the kids to play in that stay nice and warm!
- Wingaersheek Beach (MA) – Another favorite with lots of rocks to walk through and explore around. Also usually has some great tide pools for the little ones!
- Boston Children’s Museum – We lived in Boston for about 5 years before heading up to NH, and for two of those years we had our daughter. We did lots of visits to this museum and I love how it can grow with the kids. We love this museum just as much now with a 4 year old as we did with a 1 year old.
- Portland Children’s Museum – Our second favorite of the three, lots of fun stuff here for kids of all ages. We especially like the grocery store and the pet hospital.
- Dover Children’s Museum – We love it here as well, but this one seems to be more geared toward toddlers through 5 to 6 year olds. Closest to us, so definitely the most convenient to go visit and take up a few hours of your day!
Day Trip Activities
- Davis Farmland – One of our favorite places to visit each summer! So many animals to walk around to see and learn about. Picnic areas, playgrounds, and lots of interactive things to do with the animals. There is also a splash pad for a hot day, so pack your suits!
- Beech Hill Farm – Great place to visit with farm animals, sand pile, and ice cream barn. Ask for 2 scoops in a 3 scoop bowl (more room for toppings),and do the build-your-own sundae!
- Charmingfare Farm – Great place to visit for a day and see lots of animals with it not being too overwhelming for little ones. Check out their schedule year-round as they always have family activities happening here, even through winter!
- Prescott Park – Keep this on your rotating list to check throughout the summer for all of the activities happening here. Early in the summer enjoy the play (Mary Poppins this year!) and check the Thursday night movie schedule for the rest of summer. Bring your chairs, blankets and snacks for a fun outside movie night.
- Fort Foster – Not your typical sandy beach if that’s what you’re looking for, but so much fun here for all ages. You can’t always go inside the fort, but climbing around and on top of it is always fun for the kids. A nice picnic area, public bathrooms, and a pier that offers great views of the ocean and photo opps.
- Kayak Pawtuckaway State Park – Head here and rent kayaks or a canoe for the day and explore the lake. The southern section is dotted with tiny islands and very picturesque.
- Marginal Way – Wonderful walk next to the ocean with beautiful views. A little over a mile between Perkins Cove and Shore Road with lots of shops and restaurants to enjoy.
- Pizza at Stratham Hill Park – Enjoy pizza night on Thursdays at Stratham Hill park for with live entertainment!
- Mt. Agamenticus (York, ME) – Fun hike to do with the kids! About 0.8 miles to the peak. My four year old made it to the top and back down without any trouble. Great views from the top, and so fun to see the kids feeling so accomplished when the reach the peak.
- Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves (North Woodstock, NH) – Boardwalk type path takes you about a mile through the gorge where you’ll find tons of different caves to break off and explore. You can stay along the path and just check out the scenery and waterfalls if you aren’t into climbing through the caves. However, the caves are so fun to explore, especially for the kids!
- Winnie-the-Pooh Trail (Barrington, NH) – Less than a mile in length, this was designed with the idea of getting more young children out into the woods. There is a stop every 20-50 feet where you’ll visit with different characters and scenes.