The Ultimate Summer Bucket List for Families

May 18, 2022

The Ultimate Summer Bucket List for Families
By Carmen Carroquino & Rich Weidman

Summer Bucket List for Families

Looking for something original to do this summer that would make even Clark Griswold green with envy? Discover the ultimate bucket list for families as we explore the best and sometimes craziest vacation ideas for a getaway this summer! Check out the summer bucket list ideas for families below and make plans to take your vacation adventure today with some of the best vacation package deals around!

 Choose your summer adventure

Families Looking for Ultimate Summer Bucket List Ideas

Florida is full of free things to do in Orlando for families. Orlando is the perfect summer destination, but consider all of the other things you could do in states across the U.S. Many of those destinations also have a Westgate resort that you could stay at. Keep reading for tips and tricks to checking off things on your ultimate summer bucket list.

1 | Learn How to Surf in Cocoa Beach | Surfing legend John McCarthy once remarked, “Surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.” What better way to spend a beautiful summer day than hopping on a surfboard and searching for the perfect wave in world-famous Cocoa Beach, Florida, the “East Coast Surfing Capital!” Indeed, Cocoa Beach is the birthplace of surfing legend and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, so you are in perfect company as you brave the waters of this longstanding surfing mecca. With so many Cocoa Beach attractions to choose from, you’ll have no shortage of fun even when you're not riding those gnarly waves!

PRO TIP: Book a stay at Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort and visit the Cocoa Beach Pier for some fun in the sun and sand.


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2 | Go Wildlife Viewing in Gatlinburg | Wildlife, anyone? Bustling Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains” and lies adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the United States and the largest national park east of the Rocky Mountains. The park provides breathtaking scenery and some great opportunities to view wildlife, such as black bears, white-tailed deer, elk, coyotes, turkeys, raccoons and other animals in their natural habitat. The best time to view wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just after dawn or just before dusk. Don’t forget to bring your camera and a pair of binoculars!

PRO TIP: If you need a perfect jumping off point for your wilderness excursions, remember that Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park is ideally located for your outdoor adventures in this amazing destination!

3 | Visit a Haunted Cemetery near Myrtle Beach | A short drive south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, lies the charming town of Pawleys Island, one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast and home to the reportedly haunted All Saints Episcopal Church Cemetery, which dates to 1822. The cemetery serves as the final resting place of Alice Flagg, whose ghost can occasionally be seen in a white dress frantically searching for her lost engagement ring, according to legend. Look for the plain flat tombstone under an oak tree that simply reads, “ALICE,” and usually contains several rings, flowers and other gifts left by previous visitors to help ease the spirit’s troubled soul. Also buried at the cemetery is noted poet and novelist James Dickey, who wrote the 1970 novel, Deliverance, which was turned into a critically acclaimed 1972 film of the same name directed by John Boorman and starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox.

FUN FACT: By the way, another legendary Pawleys Island spirit, known simply as “The Grey Man,” allegedly appears on the beach to warn residents of impending hurricanes.

4 | Hit The High Line in New York City | No New York City bucket list is complete without a visit to The High Line, an elevated public park built on a former section of the New York Central Railroad. Offering spectacular views of the New York City skyline, the High Line runs between 10th and 12th avenues all the way from Gansevoort Street in the heart of the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street near the Javits Center for a total distance of 1.45 miles. So, lace up those walking shoes on a sunny summer afternoon and experience a real Big Apple treat with this “high point” of New York City.

PRO TIP: Done with a solid day's hiking on the urban trail? Check out Westgate New York Grand Central for great views of the city’s skyline. Stay for a while and have a drink at Tudor City Tavern.

5 | Ride the Alpine Coaster in Park City | So, you think that making harrowing descents down steep mountainsides is strictly for ski season? Think again! Park City Mountain Resort is home to Utah’s largest Alpine Coaster, which offers thrill-seekers during the summer the chance to wind their way for over a mile down an elevated track featuring twists, loops and hairpin turns at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. An added bonus is the spectacular mountain scenery on all sides as you race wildly down the mountain. Note that drivers must be at least 54 inches tall and passengers must be between 38 and 53 inches tall to experience the Alpine Coaster.

PRO TIP: A similar alpine slide can be found at Utah Olympic Park, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Ready for the ultimate Park City resort experience? When you check in to Westgate Park City Resort & Spa, there's a lot to check out, including Serenity Spa for a relaxing stay.

6 | Take a Wine Tour in Williamsburg | Planning a visit to Historic Williamsburg? Be sure to build into your itinerary a break from the cobblestone streets and embark on a wine-tasting tour along the fabled Colonial Virginia Wine Trail. Each of the four acclaimed wineries along the trail – Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Saude Creek Vineyards in Lanexa, New Kent Winery in New Kent and James River Cellars in Richmond – lies within a one-hour drive of Williamsburg. The closest winery on the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail, Williamsburg Winery, is nestled on a historic 300-acre farm known as Wessex Hundred and lies adjacent to the immensely popular Gabriel Archer Tavern.

PRO TIP: Each of these wineries features picnic areas, as well as special events and concerts throughout the year. Any or all of these wineries make a splendid addition to your Williamsburg vacation getaway!

7 | Go Glamping in Florida | “Glamping” is two words put together: Glamorous camping. Who doesn’t want to stay in a luxury tent or teepee and have all the amenities found at home? Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo is the perfect place for glamping your heart out. From those luxe tents, there’s also amazing, fully equipped teepees and Conestoga wagons that you can stay in, plus the resort also offers amenities, like archery, horseback riding, airboat and swamp buggy rides. There’s also the all-new steakhouse, River Ranch Cattle Company Chophouse & Bar.

PRO TIP: Book your stay during a Saturday and experience a real-life rodeo at night. Watch as rodeo athletes compete weekly at the 1,200-seat rodeo arena in trick riding, barrel racing and bull riding.

8 | Watch the Sunrise in Arizona | Desert sunsets are unlike anything else. The colors splash across the sky and are a real treat to see. Plus, sunsets also give you a chance to stop and enjoy the simpler things in life, appreciating Mother Nature and everything our planet has to offer.

PRO TIP: The Westgate Painted Mountain Golf Resort is located in Mesa, Arizona, and features an 18-hole golf course for those looking to hit the links during their vacation.

9 | Play a Round of Mini Golf in Orlando | If full-fledge golf isn’t your thing, why not try mini golf? It’s fun for the whole family and isn’t as intense, or maybe it is if you have a competitive family. There are a lot of mini golf spots around Central Florida, but why not check out Westgate Vacation Villas Resort’s mini golf course?! It’s dinosaur-themed! Plus, if you’re staying on property, it’s just steps away from your room!

PRO TIP: There’s also a water park at the resort. It’s called Shipwreck Island Water Park.

10 | Go White Water Rafting in Tennessee | If you’re seeking a more intense summer activity, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a great place for some outdoor adventure. White water rafting can be intense as you battle the wild rapids and attempt to stay in your raft. No matter what, you’re going to get wet! One of the best parts is that there’s no experience necessary. There’s also different classes of rapids that go with different skill levels.

PRO TIP: Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park is located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s also located within minutes of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you can go rafting.

11 | Go Hiking in Las Vegas | Hiking is a great way to disconnect and recharge your soul. It gives you time to enjoy nature, reflect on life and get in a good workout. The workout part really comes into play when you’re hiking in 100-degree weather and the sun is blazing down on you. Las Vegas, Nevada, is home to the infamous Las Vegas Strip, but there are a lot of great hiking places not too far away. There’s the Valley of Fire State Park and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Both feature stunning rock formations and will have you feeling in awe of how far the gravel and mountains go into the distance.

PRO TIP: Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is located just off The Strip. It’s about 30 minutes away from the Red Rock Conservation area and about an hour away from the Valley of Fire State Park.

12 | Ride Horses in Lake Wales | Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo is a real-life Florida dude ranch. Its remote location overlooking 1,700 acres of the Kissimmee River offers guests a chance to disconnect and go back to a simpler time, but with all the comforts of home, plus a little luxury if you’re glamping in one of its luxe teepees and tents. One of the activities on property is horseback riding, so saddle up and put your cowboy hat on to shield you from the sun.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: You must be a minimum of 51 inches tall to ride and there’s a weight limit of 225 pounds.

13 | Do 1-Day Theme Park Challenge in Orlando | What might be the ultimate bucket list challenge is riding every single ride at a Disney theme park in just one day. There’s many different variations of the challenge, so get creative. Some do every water ride at a Disney theme park or at least one ride at every park. It doesn’t even have to be Disney, there’s always Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando – all located not too far away from each other. Come up with a challenge for you and your friends or family to complete. You’ll feel super accomplished when you do!

PRO TIP: Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa and Westgate Vacation Villas Resort are two properties located very close to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. Get a head start on your challenge by staying close by!

14 | Go Zip Lining in Branson | Take in the Ozark Mountains in Branson, Missouri, with some high-flying fun that the whole family can enjoy. Adventure Ziplines of Branson is just one company to get you flying at high speeds, offering seven exciting ziplines that could have you going up to 50 miles per hour.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: It’s always good to make reservations ahead of time. Plus, consider health effects and weight limits before booking any activity. Consider booking a stay at Westgate Branson Woods Resort and Westgate Branson Lakes Resort.

15 | Go Fishing in Daytona Beach | Daytona Beach has long been an iconic spring break beach spot, but the sun, sand and surf are there all year long. Just a short walk from Westgate’s Harbour Beach Resort in Daytona Beach, you’ll find the Daytona Beach Pier. Get your tackle and line and fish off the back of the pier. Consider throwing the fish back once caught. On the pier, you’ll find Joe’s Crab Shake and other shops and eateries on the boardwalk nearby.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starts June 1. Storms do hit the Daytona Beach area. Always stay weather alert when planning your trip.

16 | Splash Around at a Water Park | One way to beat the heat is visiting a water park. Central Florida is home to lots of them. Besides the ones you know, like Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay and Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, there’s also two water parks at Westgate properties.

PRO TIP: The water parks are Treasure Cover Water Park at Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa and Shipwreck Island Water Park at Westgate Vacation Villas Resort. They might just be less crowded than some of the other big-name ones.

17 | Ride in a Hot Air Balloon in Arizona | Conquer your fears and get sky-high! Try a hot air balloon ride for couples or for the whole family. You get amazing views and just think how quiet it will be up there when the driver of the balloon isn’t lighting up the fire to keep the balloon inflated. Consider taking a hot air balloon ride in the desert, like Arizona. Sunsets in the desert are always stunning. Also, early in the morning, you could start your day with a big adrenaline rush.

PRO TIP: If you’re staying in Mesa, Arizona, consider a stay at Westgate Resorts’ Painted Mountain Golf Resort.

18 | Visit a Natural Florida Spring | Take a dip in a natural Florida spring. Wekiwa State Park, located in Apopka, Florida, is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. Besides that one, there are other springs in Central Florida located about an hour or more away from the theme parks. In the winter, manatees often take refuge in Florida’s natural springs, like Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, which is near Daytona Beach.

FUN FACT: Florida springs occur thanks to the state’s underground natural aquifer that allows water to flow through limestone and spread across hundreds of natural springs in The Sunshine State.

19 | Visit a National Park in Your State | What’s more American than getting outdoors and visiting one of our nation’s national parks? Probably nothing. Of course, there’s the Grand Canyon in Arizona and loads more in Utah, including Zion National Park and Zion National Park. Take a road trip and visit these majestic places. It’s impossible to do all of them in a short amount of time, but consider it another bucket list goal over time.

PRO TIP: Consider buying an "America the Beautiful" national parks annual pass. The pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. The cost is $80 per pass.

20 | Play Tourist in Your Hometown | If you can’t get away, why not take a staycation? Visit the touristy area of where you live and venture to places you might have visited a bunch of times or never have stepped at. Grab your camera and take a lot of photos. International Drive is a big tourist spot in Orlando, with lots of shops, attractions and restaurants. It’s easy to kill some time there during your trip to Central Florida.

FUN FACT: International Drive features Icon Park, a complex full of restaurants, shopping and attractions like The Wheel, a large-than-life enclosed Ferris wheel, and a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and SEA Life Aquarium.

21 | Take a Road Trip Where You Live | It can be far or near, take a day or a few, just hit the road and let its twists and turns take you away. Of course, high gas prices could put a dent in your wallet, but try to budget for that. If you’re in Orlando, you could visit St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, which is about two hours away from Orlando. Taking a road trip is a great way to spend summer with friends.

FUN FACT: St. Augustine is known for its Spanish architecture and the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet. The city was founded in September 1565.

22 | Visit an Aquarium in Gatlinburg | Aquariums and museums are always fun to visit during the summer, especially if it’s raining or you want to beat the heat. Gatlinburg is home to Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies. It’s just minutes away from Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park. Ripley’s is, of course, known for its oddities, but the aquarium has real-life marine animals that you can watch for hours. Wherever you’re traveling to this summer, try searching for an aquarium or museum to visit if rain or lots of heat are in the forecast.

FUN FACT: Ripley’s has 29 museums around the world and three aquariums in North America.

23 | Visit a U-Pick Farm in Florida | If you love fruit and flowers and are looking for a laid-back day on your vacation, try visiting a U-pick farm in Central Florida. Southern Hill Farms is located in Clermont, less than half an hour away from Walt Disney World. Summer at the farm means blueberries, peaches and sunflowers are in season. Head over to the farm and get picking!

PRO TIP: If you’re visiting in the fall, you can pick your own pumpkins for Halloween! That season starts in September.

24 | Spend a Night Gazing at Stars Out West | Whether you’re in Utah or Nevada, drive out of the city and away from the lights to just look up and see the stars above. Pair it up with camping and/or making smores by a campfire. If you have the right equipment, bring a tripod and take some time-lapse footage of the beautiful night sky. It’s a great opportunity to work on your constellations, too.

PRO TIP: Westgate Resorts has resorts in Nevada, Arizona and Utah – all great places for stargazing.

25 | Watch Fireworks on the Fourth of July | All of the theme parks in Florida usually have a Fourth of July fireworks show. Of course, you can always buy some of your own, but that’s at your own risk. What’s more patriotic and says summer than fireworks? It’s a must-do for the season!

PRO TIP: Try to find free fireworks. You can visit the Disney resorts for free and catch fireworks happening inside the parks. Also, there are tons of free events happening in the Orlando area for the Fourth of July, like the fireworks celebration at Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando, which is about 20 minutes away from the Universal Orlando area.

Final Thoughts on Summer Bucket List Ideas

Who’s ready for summer?! The summer break is upon us. There’s so many things to do over the summer and so little time. Fall will be here before you know it. But, make sure you take full advantage of the sun and freedom! Enjoy it! Invite your friends for a water balloon fight, an outdoor movie, a scavenger hunt or obstacle course, whatever you do, you’ll hopefully look back on the summer with fond memories. For more travel tips and summer bucket list ideas, visit the Westgate Resorts Travel Blog.

Frequently Asked Questions About Summer Bucket List Travel

Q: What should I do for my summer bucket list?

A: There are tons of things you can do, like go to a theme park, attend an outdoor concert, go to the beach, have a picnic, take a road trip, etc.

Q: What should I put on my 2022 bucket list?

A: Travel abroad, do something you’ve never done before, lose weight, start exercising, go back to school, save money, accomplish my goals, be happy, get a new job, make more money, etc.

Q: What are some crazy things to do with friends?

A: Take a road trip together, travel abroad, come up with the ultimate best friend handshake, give each other a makeover, go to theme parks, go shopping, go on a scavenger hunt, etc.

Q: What is the craziest thing on your bucket list?

A: Extreme bucket list ideas include climbing a mountain, go cliff diving, running a marathon, go skydiving, learn how to free dive, climbing a glacier, seeing a volcanic eruption, go sand surfing in the desert, etc.

Q: How do I make a bucket list?

A: Think about the things you want to see, do, be a part of and/or accomplish. Write it down and check off the items as you experience them. A bucket list and be whatever you want it to be.

Q: Why you should make a bucket list?

A: If there are things you want to accomplish and want to keep track of them, you should make a list and mark each item off as you go. That way, you can look back and see what you experienced and accomplished.


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At Westgate Resorts, when you Check-In, there’s a LOT to Check-Out! Your vacation awaits! Start planning your next vacation today or talk with a vacation planner at 888-852-2959 or 407-355-2690.

* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.

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