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Summer is the best. The days are warmer, longer and just happier. In addition to beach days and family vacations, summer is also one of the best seasons for eating and drinking. There’s ample produce ripe for the picking (and cooking), and it’s prime patio season for restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries.
It can be hard to know where to even start with the summertime culinary fun, but don’t worry, we have your summer foodie bucket list of 50 fun and filling activities. Want a cute printable version to hang on the fridge? Click here.
Guacamole is a go-to party food any time of the year, but there’s something especially satisfying about this creamy, cold dip in the summertime. Learn the basics of making a great guac and then play around with the flavors. Mix in tomatoes or jalapenos, or get more creative with roasted garlic, bacon or beans in your avocado dip.
Salsa is the perfect summertime snack. It’s refreshing, it’s fresh, and it can be made entirely from fresh seasonal produce. Don’t believe us? Try these easy summer salsa and dip recipes.
Lobster rolls are one of the best sandwiches, period, and they’re a fitting beachy eat for the summer. Get some crustaceans, make your own lobster roll this summer and recreate the feeling of being at a seafood shack.
We love a good bratwurst as much as the next person, but take this summer to go to a local butcher or an international grocery store to try a new-to-you type of sausage to make on the grill. So whether you get a cherry-stuffed sausage, longaniza, chorizo, or even plant-based, think beyond brats and Italian sausage this summer.
Everyone loves ice cream! But did you know you can easily make this summertime dessert at home? You don’t need an ice cream maker to do it, either. You can keep it simple with a strawberry soft serve or a kid-friendly cake batter ice cream, or get creative with PB&J-inspired ice cream or a unique goat cheese ice cream.
You may associate picking your own fruit with apples in the fall, but you still can head to an orchard in the summer and get any number of berries straight off the vine. Of course, nothing is better than a sun-kissed strawberry or blueberry you picked yourself.
There’s a certain pleasure in shopping and cooking locally so talk to the vendors at your farmers market and buy some new-to-you seasonal ingredients. Then make your dinner completely from regional produce and proteins. You’ll be surprised how pronounced and fresh the flavors are.
If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, summer is the time to get your garden growing. Beans, cucumbers, peppers, gourds, pumpkins and tomatoes are all classic home-garden plants. Of course, planting herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill and mint can be total game-changers, adding a lot of freshness to your weeknight meals.
Summer is the best season for fruit, and refreshing, sweet and hydrating watermelon is the best kind of summer eat. But before you buy this big ol’ fruit, it’s important to know how to pick the perfect watermelon.
Few fruits compare to cherries in the summer. They’re tart, sweet and bite-sized, making for perfect summertime snacking. Prefer your fruit cooked? Luckily, cherries are the base for some delicious desserts.
When summer comes around, gardens and farmers markets are practically overflowing with vine-ripened tomatoes. Use them to their fullest by prepping a simple basil and tomato salad or a crisp tomato and cucumber salad. If you want tomatoes to shine as the main course, use them for that viral tomato and feta pasta recipe or in a homemade tomato sauce for pasta.
Whether or not you actually get around to camping this summer, find a friend with a firepit in their yard, grab some roasting sticks or a cast iron pie cooker and get to cooking. You can go old-school and roast some hot dogs over the fire or get fancy and make hand pies or mini pizzas in your cast iron.
Getting out on a boat in the summertime is all fine and good, but you can be productive while boating! Consider learning to fish this summer and heading out on the lake. Then you can turn your catch into a summertime seafood dinner.
Make this the summer of perfect s’mores by building a fire in your yard, sitting around with skewers and toasting your marshmallows to perfection. Then, build a classic treat with a milk chocolate bar and a graham cracker. If you don’t have a yard for a fire, don’t worry, you can make toasted marshmallow s’mores in your oven.
There’s a particular pleasure in drinking outside in the summertime. An ice-cold beer or freshly-made cocktail tastes better on a back deck. It’s even better if you’re drinking something frozen.
While you’re indulging in some summertime sips, make sure to add “learn how to make a marvelous margarita” to your summertime to-do list. After you master the basics, you can level up to flavored margaritas and spicy margaritas.
If you’re the kind of person who always drinks moscato or pinot noir, it’s time to expand your wine palate. Try a new-to-you wine this summer, like Zweigelt, Chianti or Gewurztraminer. You can even dip your toe into the world of sustainable wine for earth-friendly drinking.
There’s way more to beer than Bud Light and Guinness. Stroll down your grocery store aisles and pick up a six-pack of a local beer you haven’t tried before, like a shandy, IPA or red ale. You may just be surprised by all of the different kinds of beer available.
Sangria and summer are a perfect pair, and the best part of this wine-based cocktail is that it’s incredibly customizable. Grab your favorite wine (red or white will work fabulously!), some juice, some brandy and your favorite fruit and get to town mixing it up!
Not every drink needs to have alcohol in it, and you’d be surprised how creative you can get with zero-proof cocktails (also known as mocktails). Perfect for kids, pregnant women or those who prefer not to drink booze, mocktails are refreshing and fun for summer.
Everyone loves a dinner party, but few love preparing every last thing themselves. The solution: A good old-fashioned potluck. If you’re hosting, supply an entree and an impressive dessert. Let your friends bring the rest.
The only thing better than hosting a potluck is going to one. And the best part of going to a potluck is bringing the dish that everybody raves about. Just make sure you know the best dishes to bring to a party.
Oyster happy hours are a signature summer experience, but you don’t have to go to a restaurant for shellfish and a crisp bottle of white wine. Instead, have friends bring over the vino and prep oysters yourself at home for a real good time.
If you’re getting back into travel mode, it’s hard to beat a good theme park vacation. And sure, riding Space Mountain is fine and good, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve eaten your way around Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. If you find yourself on the West Coast, make sure you know the best restaurants at Disneyland Park, too. If you can’t make it to Disney, that’s OK; you can recreate their famous Dole Whip at home with just a few ingredients.
Sure, you’ve heard of hosting a dinner party, but hosting brunch is a category all its own — especially when you can get creative with our 50 best brunch recipes.
There’s a particular joy in brunch. It combines the best parts of breakfast and the best parts of lunch — and adds a whole bunch of booze. This summer, live it up with the best brunch in your area.
You don’t have to travel far to find an amazing new restaurant, nor do you have to spend a ton of money. Instead, explore your area, find a great new eatery with a giant patio, and enjoy a meal outdoors that you didn’t have to cook yourself.
Local county fairs and carnivals have lots of delights like ferris wheels and sideshow games but we’re partial to fair foods. You know the kinds: cotton candy, funnel cakes and lemon ices. Before you head out, make sure to brush up on how one deep-fries butter and the definition of a hot beef sundae.
There are many breweries to explore around the country, and you may just be surprised by how close one is to you. So grab some friends and grab a pint of something local and delicious.
If you didn’t have ice cream, did your summer even count? We didn’t think so. Whether you grab it from a truck or a local ice cream stand, make sure you cool down with something sweet this summer. And if you’re not sure what flavor to get — because that decision sure can be overwhelming — consider trying the most popular ice cream flavor in your state.
There’s something especially nostalgic about a drive-in restaurant. Milkshakes and burgers in paper wrappers delivered by teens running around a parking lot just taste better. Though drive-ins may feel like a relic of another era, there are plenty of old-school drive-ins you can still pull up to.
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