How To Have The Ultimate Americana Summer

Sure, summer trips to France and Italy are fun and everything, but we all know it’s not a real summer without backyard barbecues, s’mores, and fireworks. Nothing kindles your childhood nostalgia quite like an Americana summer.

By Ella Carroll-Smith4 min read
Pexels/Alesia Kozik

Out: French girl summer and sipping on Aperol spritzes in Italy. In: bonfires and blue jeans.

Listen, I love a European vacation as much as the next girl, but when you think about everything that encapsulates the most nostalgic summers of your childhood, you realize it doesn’t get much better than the traditional Americana summer. An Americana summer is one that’s classically American, involving activities such as attending baseball games, eating hot dogs, making s’mores, watching fireworks on July 4th, camping, and spending a day at the lake.

You might pay the price for it with mosquito bites, but even that is all part of the Americana summer experience. If you’re looking to make the most of your summer this year, then here are a few ideas to help you create the Americana summer bucket list of your dreams. 

Attend a Bonfire

What better way to kick off summer than with a bonfire? Whether you’re at the beach or in someone’s backyard, everyone loves a bonfire. It’s the perfect way to start spending time outdoors with friends and family, which is what summer is all about. Bonfires are also a great opportunity to roast some hot dogs and make s’mores – two summertime essentials! 

Catch Fireflies

Depending on where you live (sorry, West Coasters), catching fireflies is probably one of the most nostalgic experiences of your childhood. The good news, however, is that you’re never too old to catch fireflies. In fact, I’m pretty sure nothing would make your inner child happier than doing a little firefly hunting in the backyard after sundown. Bonus points if you’re barefoot for the real Americana experience. 

Go to a Country Music Concert

Even if you don’t like country music, there’s something classically summery about country concerts. Try to find an outdoor concert in your area where you can pack a blanket, lie on the grass, and enjoy some good tunes. If you can’t make it to a concert, that’s okay – we still have Spotify. Here’s a playlist that will get you in the summer country mood!

Spend a Day at the Lake

Whether you’re going wakeboarding, boating, swimming, fishing, or simply sitting by the water soaking in the view, lake days are always a good time. Summer is all about taking opportunities to get in some water to cool off on those long, hot days. This summer, make a point to head to the lake so you can relax, disconnect, and recharge. 

Pick Fresh Berries

One of the best parts of summer is all of the fresh fruit and produce we get to enjoy. I’m not talking about the stuff you find in the grocery store produce section, I’m talking about the fresh, local stuff which is 10 times better. If you have a berry farm near you, consider this your sign to go and pick some berries of your own! It’s a fun outing to do with your friends and loved ones. If you can’t pick your own, then hit up a local farmer’s market to grab some that will be just as fresh and delicious. Plus, you’re supporting local farmers in the process!

Go Camping

Looking for a way to take a vacation this summer that won’t cost you an arm and a leg? Hello, family camping trip! Time to pack up the van, head somewhere woodsy, and set up camp for the weekend. Don’t forget to pack bug spray and s’mores supplies! If you don’t have the bandwidth to travel, then camping in your backyard is also a great option, and in some ways, is almost more fun because it’s less packing and feels extra special (and you still have access to indoor plumbing and wifi). 

Host a July 4th BBQ

July 4th always feels like summer’s main event. Grilling outside, sipping on cheap beer, watching fireworks, and spending quality time with friends and family. Hosting (or attending) a July 4th barbecue is just about the most classically Americana thing you can do. If you are hosting this year, here are a few items you’ll definitely want to include on your shopping list:

  • Hamburgers and hotdogs

  • Beer

  • Ice

  • Chips and dip

  • Watermelon

  • Popsicles

  • Corn on the cob

Whether you’re hosting or simply attending a barbecue this year, make sure you’ve got the right music queued up to create the perfect Fourth of July vibe. This Spotify playlist is a great place to start!

Wear Something Red, White, and Blue

If it’s the Fourth of July, then there are only three colors you should be wearing: red, white, and blue! Just because you’re wearing Old Glory’s colors doesn’t mean you need to look over-the-top or drape yourself in an American flag (but if that’s your vibe, feel free!). Wearing red, white, and blue to a Fourth of July barbecue might actually be the most Americana thing you’ll do all summer. 

Watch Fireworks

That July 4th barbecue is the perfect opportunity to turn your gaze skyward and watch some fireworks! Are fireworks slightly overrated? In my humble opinion, yes, but there are two exceptions: Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. So, live it up this July 4th and get your biannual dose of firework fun. 

Go Line Dancing

Even if you’re not that much of a dancer, line dancing is really more of an excuse to wear cute cowboy boots and a hat! Lots of bars and event spaces offer line dancing classes, and it’s a fun way to try something new with your man or your friends – and look good doing it! 

Attend a Baseball Game

As America’s favorite pastime, baseball needs to have a spot on your ultimate Americana bucket list. The season starts in the spring and lasts all summer long, which means there’s plenty of time for you to catch a game. So buy yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and root, root, root for the home team! Alternatively, you could opt for a real home game and simply play a pick-up game, catch, or wiffle ball in your yard. Either way, you’ll still get a classic summertime experience!

Eat an Ice Cream Cone

What’s one of the more delicious parts of the ultimate Americana summer? Ice cream! There’s something about eating ice cream during the summer that’s more special than any other time of year. Sure, it’s hot, so naturally ice cream sounds good, but it’s more about the ambiance. You’re strolling around town with your family after dinner before the sun sets and eating your ice cream cone quickly before it melts from the heat. This summer, go grab a cone because there is no way you’ll regret it. 

Hit Up a Carnival

Carnivals are one of those hometown staples. Every summer growing up, the carnival would come to my town and every person we knew would go. This is definitely one that feels a little more magical as a kid because, as an adult, all I can think about is whether or not the rides are actually safe. But regardless, so many summertime memories are made at carnivals, and you can always skip the rides and opt for funnel cake and cotton candy instead. 

Take a Hike (Literally)

Sure, hiking is technically an activity that you can do year-round, but summertime gives you longer days and scenery that’s in full bloom. This summer, grab your closest girlfriend or your family and hit up a trailhead near you. Hiking doesn’t need to be long and arduous either. Even short loops are a fun way to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air.

Have a Beach Day

Picture this: sunscreen on your shoulders, sand between your toes, and a cold drink in your hands. Make sure you pack a good beach read, a big umbrella, and some fresh fruit to snack on. On your to-do list should be things like building a sandcastle, taking a walk down the shoreline, and playing some beach volleyball. Bonus points if your beach has a boardwalk with games, rides, and snack stands!

Closing Thoughts

No matter what activities you choose to do this summer, the real point of any summertime experience is the same: to make amazing memories. As long as you’re spending time with the ones you love, it doesn’t matter if you’re on a boat or simply sitting around someone’s backyard – you’re bound to have a good time.

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