50 Summer Activities to Explore in Your Backyard, Around Town & the PNW

Posted on July 5, 2023 at 6:00 am

By Abra Cole

We are in the full swing of summer. And before you know it, we will be swinging back toward fall, crisp leaves, hot cocoa, and (dare I say it) snowy weather. But before that happens, we have summer fun awaiting us.

I’ve compiled a list of 50 summertime ideas for things to do around the Inland Northwest and even out across the whole Pacific Northwest (if you choose). Some activities are specific, others more general ideas, some include checking out something from the library, and others will help you feel like a tourist right where you live.

Feel free to use as many of these ideas to create your own summer activities list. Let’s make it a fabulous summer!

Library-Specific Things To Do

  1. Visit Spokane Valley Library, newly built at 22 N Herald Rd, at the corner of E Sprague Ave, across from Spokane Valley City Hall. We would love for you to come celebrate and explore the new library and experience cool summer activities while you are there.
  2. Read to enter the summer prize drawing. The whole family can sign up for the Online Summer Reading Challenge on Beanstack. As you track your reading minutes you’ll earn badges and virtual prize tickets for a chance to win one of our fabulous prizes!
  3. Attend one (or all!) of our programs featuring summer performers and other fun summer programs. See the full list in the news post All Together Now: A Summer of Friendship, Kindness & Unity.
  4. Borrow the Check Out WA: Discover Pass Backpack from the library to visit Washington State Parks for free.
  5. Borrow a Family Museum Pass to visit one of our region’s great museums: Mobius Discovery Center or the Northwest Museum of Arts Center.
  6. Paint rocks in colorful designs and hide them around your neighborhood for others to discover. Stop into the library for our program Painting: Kindness Rocks to get started.

Activities Paired with Books & Things

  1. Go camping and do a little spooky reading while you’re there with The United States of Cryptids: A Tour of American Myths and Monsters, by J. W. Ocker.
  2. Have a picnic. But first get inspired with the book: The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket, by Marnie Hanel.
  3. Spend some time stargazing with a telescope checked out from the Library of Things.
  4. Create and taste test a new recipe or two that are easy and delicious! This book has some recipes to try: Summer: A Cookbook: Inspired Recipes for Lazy Days and Magical Nights, by Marnie Hanel.
  5. Explore as much of nature as possible with the help of these books: The Kids’ Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up, by Stacy Tornio, and Get Outside Guide: All Things Adventure, Exploration, and Fun! by Nancy Honovich.
  6. Read an old favorite title (Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver, anyone?).
  7. Find a new favorite author using a digital resource from the library, such as NoveList Plus or SelectReads.
  8. Learn the names of at least three new trees. Get help from the book National Audubon Society Trees of North America.
  9. Build a sandcastle. For inspiration, check out Sandcastles Made Simple: Step-by-Step Instructions, Tips, and Tricks for Building Sensational Sand Creations, by Lucinda Wierenga.
  10. Roast marshmallows and eat s’mores. Discover new ways to create them withS’mores! Gooey, Melty, Crunchy Riffs on the Campfire Classic, by Dan Whalen.
  11. Take a road trip to see a new or favorite part of the state! To prepare, check out Washington Day Trips by Theme, by Ellie Kozlowski.

Activities Outdoors & Around the PNW

  1. Be a tourist in your hometown and start planning your excursions at Visit Spokane’s Trip Planning web page.
  2. Go hiking! Before the dreaded smoky season arrives, be sure to get outside to visit a fantastic natural area. Fellow blogger Caitlin shares some great hikes focused on different regions around Spokane County: eastern, western, northern, and southern.
  3. Swim in a local lake.
  4. Perform the most epic cannonball in a body of water.
  5. Visit a fire lookout (you can even rent one for a night).
  6. Visit a lavender farm. We have no less than three lavender farms in the greater Spokane area (perhaps more). On the west side of the state, the Annual Sequim Lavender Festival takes place the weekend of July 21–23, 2023.
  7. Visit one of the many excellent Green Bluff Farms to pick fruits and veggies to your heart’s content.
  8. Visit another Green Bluff Farm because there are more to visit than can be done in just one day!
  9. Jump into one of Spokane’s free public pools. Get your free SplashPass from Spokane City Parks and Recreation.
  10. Swim, hike, and read at Liberty Lake Regional Park. While there, stop by Parkside Books, our new seasonal lending location, to find great beach reads for all ages.
  11. Rent or borrow a canoe or kayak and get out onto the water.
  12. Bike or walk along the Centennial Trail. You can explore some or all 37 miles of the trail, from Coeur d’Alene to Nine Mile Falls with lovely spots in between.
  13. Learn to paddle board. You can rent one from REI Spokane.
  14. Watch the sunrise or sunset (or both!).
  15. Spend time in your garden, harvesting the fruits of your labors or simply relaxing.
  16. Visit a farmers’ market. You can find farmers’ markets across the region, on every day of the week.
  17. Load the family into the car and take a drive up to Colville to the Auto-Vue Drive-In Theatre. On Sundays, a carload of people is just $15!
  18. Dust off your old tennis racket and challenge a friend to a match or two.
  19. Relive your childhood by lacing up a pair of roller skates and taking a roll around the Numerica Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park.
  20. Wander through Manito Park to visit the Japanese Garden and get a bite to eat at the Park Bench Café.
  21. Take in a Spokane Indians Baseball game.
  22. Indulge in a little theatre with Shakespeare in the Park
  23. Set up a water balloon piñata in the backyard or have a water balloon battle.
  24. Create a pollinator house and garden.
  25. Design your own Wipeout-style obstacle course and invite neighbors over to try it out!
  26. Do a little cloud watching.
  27. Nap in a hammock.
  28. Run through the sprinklers on a hot day.
  29. Do random acts of kindness. They don’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Being kind to others boosts our own serotonin and dopamine levels.
  30. Run or walk a 5K that supports a cause you admire.
  31. Have an epic (but safe) bonfire.
  32. Pig Out in the Park is Aug 30–Sep 4. Enjoy local eats and wonderful live music.
  33. Head to the Spokane County Interstate Fair, Sep 8–17, to wrap up your summer activities list with a spin on your favorite carnival ride or by eating a giant elephant’s ear.

Whatever activities you plan to try this summer—even if your ideal activity is simply relaxing in the sunshine—I wish you a wonderfully memorable summer.  

Abra Cole

Abra Cole works as a Public Services Specialist for Spokane County Library District. She enjoys engaging with library customers, including hearing about their favorite books, hearing about how their gardens are growing, and helping them solve technology troubles with personal mobile devices and the library’s 3D printer. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, expanding her fiber-arts skills, and hanging out in the woods with her family.

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