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25 Things to Add to Your Summertime Bucket List

25 Things to Add to Your Summertime Bucket List

Get ready to ‘seas’ the day and give in to ‘pier’ pressure—there’s always something new to discover in the Golden State.


7 min read

June 28, 2021

Got that summertime sadness? Not anymore. We’re here to spice up your vacation with an awesome summertime bucket list packed with plenty of new adventures. California is the ultimate destination to cross off everything you have on your itinerary. Get ready to ‘seas’ the day and give in to ‘pier’ pressure—there’s always something new to discover in the Golden State.

Make a bucket list and fill it with dreams that have no boundaries. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

The California Bucket List Items to Check Off This Summer

Make your own itinerary or better yet, check out our bucket list of things to do in California for inspiration. Big cities and charming small towns; sandy beaches and pristine lakes; remote camping and luxurious hotels—your crazy summer bucket list can have it all when in California. Find us in the waves, because vacation mode is on, beaches!

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Southern California Bucket List

1. Find Hidden Swimming Holes

The best way to beat the summer heat? Plunging in a pool of cool blue waters of course. Don your California-made swimwear and go on an adventure finding SoCal’s hidden swimming holes. And spoiler alert—there are many. 

The San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research raises California condors, tigers, black rhinos, and 145 other endangered species.

2. Learn About Conservation at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is not only one of the best in California, but also in the U.S. Add this phenomenal spot to your summer to-do list and learn about the importance of conservation from those who do it best.

3. Go Stargazing in the Desert

Lying down under a sky full of stars on a clear night is a magical experience that deserves to be on top of every summer bucket list. Get a front-row ticket to see the skies in all their celestial splendor at one of California’s best stargazing spots.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf. Stay wild, ocean child and challenge the roaring Pacific to ride epic waves.

4. Take a Surfing Lesson at Surf City U.S.A.

Newsflash—California is a surfer’s paradise. If you haven’t tried your hand (and feet) at surfing yet, take the first step at Huntington Beach. This O.C. paradise has been given the nickname Surf City U.S.A. for good reason; it’s an awesome place to add to your bucket list of things to do in California.

5. Go on a Set Hunt of your Favorite Summer Movies Filmed in SoCal

California isn’t just home to your favorite movie star; it’s also where many of your favorite summer films were shot. Go on a road trip scouting the real-life sets of iconic films and have fun recreating a couple of scenes on the spot.

Not a daisy goes by that we don't think about the gorgeous wildflower fields in the Golden State.

6. Visit Scenic Wildflower Fields

The super bloom season usually lasts well into July. Grab your camera and get ready to be blown away by the fields on your next wildflower hike. This seasonal summer bucket list idea is one you truly can’t miss.

7. Check Out California’s Ghost Towns

Southern California is full of weird towns with interesting pasts and even more interesting current relics. Add a couple of them to your summertime bucket list and prepare for a unique adventure. Wondering where to start? The towns near Death Valley definitely won’t disappoint.

Not to derail the conversation, but look at the views of sunny Southern California! You're on the right track to somewhere great.

8. Go on a Train Trip through SoCal’s Coastal Towns

You should see Southern California on the Pacific Surfliner at least once in your life. This awesome trip will take you through San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Diego on an adventure of a lifetime.

9. Organize a Trip to Check Out Quirky Roadside Attractions

If you enjoy completing your Southern California bucket list from the comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle, then you should definitely check out California’s quirky roadside attractions. From Route 66 landmarks to weird desert art, SoCal has its fair share of curious attractions.

10. Attend a Long-overdue Music Festival—in Person 

Music festivals are back again on California’s entertainment scene—in person. Check out upcoming events and add a few to your summertime bucket list for a quintessential SoCal experience.

The best vacation is a staycation. Sometimes you just need to disconnect and enjoy your own company.

Los Angeles Bucket List

11. Book a Luxurious Staycation in L.A.

There’s no place like Los Angeles when it comes to staycations—and we’re talking the luxurious kind. Beaches, downtowns, mountain hikes, good food, and great vibes; everything you need for a perfect vacation can be found in the City of Angels.

12. Check Out Los Angeles’s Waterfall Hikes

Southern California’s waterfall hikes are definitely bucket list-worthy adventures, especially for those who like spending time outdoors. Trek to the cascading falls L.A. and prepare to be mesmerized—dare we say you’ll ‘fall’ in love? 

13. Visit the Coolest Art Galleries and Museums

Your summertime bucket list could definitely benefit from a few L.A. art galleries and museums. And get this—some of them are not only life-changing and famous worldwide, but also completely free to enter.

The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve consists of a three-mile stretch of beach, tidepool habitat, marsh, erosive bluffs, clifftop trail, and cypress forests.

Northern California Bucket List

14. Explore the Tide Pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Natural Reserve

Discover a whole new world exploring tide pools in Northern California. The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County will get you up close with all of Ariel's favorite friends (sans the mermaids).

15. Take a Scenic Drive through Napa

Napa does have amazing vineyards, but it’s so much more than just “Wine Country”. Enjoy the abundance of this beautiful NorCal locale on a scenic drive or two the next time you cross it off your Northern California bucket list.

16. Visit the National Park Most Compatible with your Zodiac Sign

Ever wondered which national parks best match your zodiac sign? Probably not, but now that we mention it, you kind of want to know. If national forests or beaches are more up your alley, we also have you covered.

Adventure is calling in the great outdoors. Pack your things and go off the grid; campers have s'more fun.

17. Try Off-Road Camping 

Whether you’re an avid adventurer or not, off-road camping is a summer to-do list experience you should try at least once. Go off the grid this season for an unparalleled encounter with NorCal’s rugged wilderness you’ll cherish forever.

18. Rent a Houseboat on Lake Shasta

Northern California houses many of the state’s hottest houseboat destinations, one of them being Lake Shasta. Gather your friends and spend a weekend on this beautiful NorCal lake and you’ll thank us later.

Camping is the answer. Who cares what the question is? Life is best when you’re in a tent.

19. Camp Beneath the Redwoods

Trust Redwood National Park to transport you to a fantastical world with its towering trees and whimsical feel. While you’re there, don’t forget to drive along the Avenue of Giants—another summer bucket list idea you can’t miss. 

20. Find a Local Volunteering Opportunity you Actually Enjoy

Whether it be virtual or outdoor, volunteering opportunities in California are many. Make it a mission this summer to find an organization you truly care about and you might establish a volunteering relationship with them that’ll be more than just a summer bucket list idea.

We're going to do so many things this summer: swim, hike, camp, surf. But first, let's take a selfie.

21. Up your Instagram Game by Taking Pics at the Coolest Spots

With influencers killing the social media game, it's no secret that the Golden State boasts super cool Instagrammable spots. It doesn’t matter whether you have a hundred or a thousand followers, these summertime bucket list destinations shouldn’t be skipped. Rumor has it that the Bay Area has the best photo ops

22. Take a Solo Trip and Connect with Nature

A solo trip teaches you lessons about yourself you might never learn in any other way. Pack your road trip essentials and cross off Big Sur, Tahoe, and Lassen Volcanic National Park from your summertime bucket list; it’s truly an experience you’ll cherish forever.

How did you go this long without glamping? This glamping life was clearly made for the 'Gram.

23. Gather your Friends for a Glamping Retreat

Give fancy camping a go this summer and embark on a retreat with your friends to one of NorCal’s coolest glamping sites. From airstreams to yurts, glamping is a concept that’s definitely not going anywhere anytime soon.

Bay Area Bucket List

24. Watch the Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge

We’re avid believers that cliches are cliches for a reason. So, next time you’re in San Francisco, don’t miss out on watching the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge—we like extra cheese in our cheesiness.

25. Visit a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

The Bay Area has a crazy concentration of a large number of Michelin-starred restaurants, and we want to try them all. If slurping on Michelin-starred ramen isn’t a Bay Area bucket list experience, we don’t know what is.

What’s on your summertime bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.

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