The Ultimate Summer 2017 Bucket List

Enliven the season with one of these 50 ideas.



1. The sky is the limit at the 11th annual Chester County Balloon Festival. Running June 23-25, the spectacle draws visitors from Chester County and beyond to watch more than 20 hot-air balloons soar. Adventurers can take in the sights from above with tethered and untethered rides.

2. The Phillies may not be the best team in Major League Baseball, but it isn’t summer without a trip to Citizens Bank Park. See the Phils take on the Mets Aug. 10-13.

3. There’s something immensely soothing about water—even more so when it’s adorned with flowers and other flora. Learn how to beautify a space and take in the pretty ponds at Brandywine Valley Water Garden Day on June 3 in Coatesville.

4. Hershey, Pa., is known as “The Sweetest Place on Earth” for a reason, including Hersheypark. The roller coasters and bumper cars are fun at any age, and you can cool off at the Boardwalk and waterslides. Remember to check your child’s height on the candy chart for their personal riding category.

5. After a two-year renovation, Longwood Gardens’ five-acre Main Fountain Garden is open once more, featuring 1,700 jets and new allées, perfect for strolling or hide-and-seek. Take it all in during Summer of Spectacle May 27-Sept. 30.

6. Mastering the art of grilling is a summer essential. On June 23, you and your better half can get a crash course in “Grilling Global” at the Kitchen Workshop in Paoli.  

7. Since its founding in 1986, QVC has been a staple in American home shopping. The West Chester-based studio is undoubtedly one of the best known businesses in the region, but few area residents ever actually venture inside. This summer, take a peak inside the local giant with one of four studio tours. 

8. Escape the heat at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute during a showing of The Dream/Symphonic Variations/Marguerite and Armand on June 25. Made up of works by the Royal Ballet’s founding choreographer, Frederick Ashton, the mixed program celebrates the 70th anniversary of the company at London’s Royal Opera House. 

9. Meander the 28th annual Manayunk Arts Festival, the largest of its kind in the Tri-State area. Held June 24-25, the outdoor juried event includes almost 300 artists, plus an emerging-artist tent.

10. Be transported to another time during Brandywine Polo’s Twilight Polo matches. Taking place Fridays, June 2-Sept. 29, competitions begin before sunset and progress into the dusky night. Watch the stars ascend as players and horses cover the field.  

11. Hit the water for a day to remember. West Chester’s Northbrook Canoe Co. offers guided tours by canoe, kayak and tube on the Brandywine River.

12. Perfect for children and adults alike, Media’s Xscape the Room provides an hour of fun out of the heat. Using clues to solve puzzles and unlock hidden spots, the group works together to find “the key” and escape one of the themed rooms in under an hour—sounds like a good way to keep your thinking sharp, while having fun. 

13. For those who don’t have their own pool, consider an August membership at Havertown’s Hilltop Swim Club, which offers six lanes for swimming, a diving board, a waterslide and a baby pool. 

14. Channel your inner Tarzan or Jane with Spring Mountain’s Canopy Tours, featuring three experience levels. The wind will whip through your hair as you traverse a thrilling series of zip lines and rope bridges over the leafy wild. 

15. Walk in the footsteps of the Continental Army on one of Valley Forge National Historical Park's 28 miles of trails. The Mount Joy trail offers a little challenge over the hills, while Valley Creek is flatter and easier. 

16. Be a tourist in your own city.  Spend a day exploring whatever suits your fancy in Philadelphia. Do a historic loop, hitting the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, the Betsy Ross House and charming Elfreth’s Alley. Eat your way through Fishtown’s many hip restaurants. Or head to Penn’s Landing for outdoor activities and café dining. 

18. Don your deerstalker cap à la Sherlock Holmes at West Laurel Hill’s Murder Mystery Dinner on June 10. This year’s event takes visitors to a 1950s malt shop, where they must uncover who committed a heinous crime. 17.  Few venues have as summery a vibe as Camden’s BB&T Pavilion. Don’t miss Radio 104.5’s 10th Birthday Celebration on June 11, featuring the Killers, Kaleo, Andrew McMahon, Foster the People and Bleachers; Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper’s throwback show on July 12; and Incubus and Jimmy Eat World on July 20. 

19. For those with a yen for big engines, the Festival of Flight Air Show at New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon is a must. Taking place Aug. 19-20, the event features both planes and cars. 

20. The previously Villanova-based Philadelphia Freedoms have changed homes again. This year, catch them at the Hagan Arena at Saint Joseph’s University. The atypical format brings a light, fun vibe to the sport of tennis. The Freedoms play July 17-29, when fans can watch major stars like Andy Roddick and Venus Williams play. 

21. Indulge in a sweet treat at Handel’s in Berwyn, where homemade scoops are perfect on their own or in a milkshake. 

22. Get a dose of amazing local artwork at Woodmere Art Museum’s 76th Juried Exhibition, on display June 3-Sept. 4. This year’s theme focuses on politics and activism, ranging from civil liberties to political institutions. Harry Philbrick, founding director of Philadelphia Contemporary, is the juror, and all the artists live within 50 miles of Chestnut Hill. 

23. Take an Evening Garden Beer Stroll at Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College on June 9. The event highlights some of the month’s best blooms and plants, and it features both beer and wine. 

24. Chester County Sports Arena has a newly renovated mini-golf course. The only difficult thing is choosing who gets the red ball. 

25. Wyebrook Farm’s idyllic green pastures and stone barns make for the perfect setting to get in touch with nature. On June 4, micro-farmer Audra Matlack shares her tips on everything from gardening to canning in her Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam Making Class. 

26. There’s a reason the rest of the world is obsessed with soccer. Any onlooker can appreciate the talents of the Philadelphia Union. And if the game can’t keep your attention, the beautiful scenery of the Delaware River will.

27. Those who love The Wizard of Oz or simply enjoy great musicals won’t want to miss Broadway Philadelphia’s Wicked, the story of unexpected friendship between the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. It runs July 26-Aug. 27 at the Academy of Music.

28. Get out on the Brandywine for a little adventure and conservation. The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art’s Tip-a-Canoe and Barbecue, Too! takes place July 23.

29. Come out for Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo on select Saturdays, June 3-July 22. This year’s artists include Steve Forbert, David Wilcox, John Gorka and Dar Williams. 

30. Linvilla Orchards is a favorite for picking fresh fruit. Check out what’s in season at the Strawberry Festival (June 3), the Raspberry Celebration (June 24), the Blueberry Festival (July 8), the Sweet Corn and Blackberry Celebration (July 22), the Peach Festival (Aug. 12), and the Tomato Celebration (Aug. 26). 

31. Bask in a book by a local author, whether it’s Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino’s Pretty Little World (Lake Union Publishing, 320 pages) or one of Lisa Scottoline’s several 2017 releases. Her humorous seven-essay series, I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool (St. Martin’s Press, 320 pages), co-written with Francesca Serritella, is due out July 11.

32. Catch up with the creatures at Norristown’s Elmwood Park Zoo for a day of fun and education. See everything from a boa constrictor and box turtle to a gray wolf and red panda. 

33. Relive childhood memories—or help make new ones—with a ride on the West Chester Railroad. Running along Chester Creek Valley, the 90-minute trips are a perfect length for kids. The train stops at the architecturally stunning Glen Mills Station, where passengers can enjoy a picnic in the woods. 

34. Shop one of the local farmers’ markets, from Swarthmore to Bryn Mawr to Downingtown, for the freshest produce or something sweet.

35. Start a container garden. Strawberries, blackberries, watermelon and peaches are just a few of the fruits in season. The satisfaction of growing your own will make it all the more delicious.

36. Get a dose of Coachella without the long-distance trip and muddy grounds. Held June 10, the Wayne Music Festival features seven bands on two stages, plus food, drinks and plenty of vendors.

37. Dating back to the early  20th century, Chanticleer is a true Main Line gem. Open only part of the year, the property is on the National Register of Historic Places. Summer is the perfect time to see its lush foliage and beautiful blooms.

38. In 1958, a curious thing overtook  Downingtown in Irvin Yeaworth’s sci-fi horror flick, The Blob, starring Steve McQueen. To commemorate the iconic movie, Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre will host Blobfest on July 14-16, featuring a film screening, a reenactment of the theater-fleeing scene, and more. 

39. Get hoppy at the Chester County Homebrew Festival, taking place June 24 at West Chester’s American Helicopter Museum. The event brings together some of the county’s best home brewers, and attendees can vote for their favorites. 

40. Whether you call them fireflies or lightning bugs, the Lampyridae are pure summer magic. As they make an appearance early in the season, take to the deck at night to watch their gentle glow.

41. Celebrate the end of school and the start of summer fun during Riverbend Environmental Education Center’s Schools Out, Camp Out! Kids and parents alike will gather June 17-18 to build campfires and sleep under the stars. 

42. The Main Line area is steeped in history, from Washington’s encampment to the birth of our nation’s flag. Take a tour of our past at the Thomas Massey House (pictured above) in Broomall, the Chad House in Chadds Ford, and Nitre Hall at the Haverford Township Historical Society.

43. Inflated fun awaits on open-play days at Newtown Square’s Jumpers Family Fun Zone, where children enjoy moon bounces, slides and a three-tier soft-play unit. Bonus: The kids will definitely sleep well that night. 

44. There’s no better time to go wine tasting. Check the events calendars of Penns Woods Winery, Chaddsford Winery and Grace Winery for fun twists like painting and live music. 

45. Get the benefits of rock climbing without the bugs at the new Gravity Vault Indoor Rock Gym in Radnor. Opened in March, the facility offers over 100 rope stations, a rappel tower and more. 

46. The recently opened LEGOLAND Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall has all the makings of a theme park, but it’s more hands-on. With everything from building stations to a soft-play pirate ship and a 1.5-million-block mini city, kids and kids at heart will surely have hours of fun. 

47. Kick off summer with Shakespeare. His delightful comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, gets the Hedgerow Theatre treatment May 26-June 11. 

48.  For 35 years, the Turks Head Music Festival has been a West Chester favorite. Eleven regional bands perform on two stages on July 16. Seventy artisans will also set up shop, and a children’s play area will keep the little ones entertained. 

49. Stroll the Clover Market for great finds or just a fun afternoon. The roving open-air market has a rotating list of over 100 vendors, selling everything from art to jewelry to clothing. Hit Bryn Mawr on June 11 and Kennett Square on June 18.

50. The Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League dresses in authentic period clothing and plays the sport like it’s the 19th century. The Mohican BBC of Kennett Square, the Brandywine BBC of West Chester and the Athletic BBC of Philadelphia are just a few of the teams you can cheer on. 

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