8 Nostalgic Summer Ideas That Will Instantly Bring You Back To Childhood

Summer was such a magical time back in childhood - somehow, the long months off from school seemed packed with possibility! These days, summertime probably looks different for you than it did when you were a kid, but that doesn’t mean that it has to lose its magic. 

Whether you’re looking for ideas to experience with children of your own, or simply searching to recapture the excitement of summers gone by, this is a perfect time to indulge in your nostalgia. There are plenty of ways to bring back the joy and wonder of childhood even today: here are eight nostalgic summer ideas to bring the past into the present in the best way!

1. Take Pool Floaties Into the Wild

Getting into the water is a key ingredient to any nostalgic summer! From hours in the pool to days at the beach, swimming can still evoke the kind of excitement and deep joy that it did when you were a kid. 

Take the joy to the next level by grabbing some pool floaties! Affordable and often silly, these are a quick way to tap into some childlike fun. If you’re lucky enough to live near a river, lake, or coastline, take your pool floaties on tour and bring them out into nature! To really go the extra mile, make sure each person with you has a pool floatie and do races and games on the water. There’s nothing like a beach ball to trigger all the playfulness of a nostalgic summer!

A group of girls float on a pool floatie together in a swimming pool

2. Find a Summer Sports League

Remember sticky summer days running to the side of the field for orange slices? Was there a sport you loved in high school, but haven’t carried on with today? Now could be the perfect time for a nostalgic summer of resurrecting the love you have for the sports you played as a teenager!

Find a sports league, or join a sports group that’s doing pick-up games through the summer months - it’s a great way to meet new people and have fun in the outdoors! You could even create your own league with friends and colleagues, and polish off the summer with a big barbecue or party with all your teammates.

3. Create a Nostalgic Summer Picnic

In the human brain, memory is strongly linked to taste and smell. We all know this from experience - have you ever been jolted back in time by the smell of a particular hand soap or the taste of a family recipe? Instead of waiting for it to happen naturally, you can deliberately bring up memories using nostalgic summer food and drink.

One of the best ways to bring you back to childhood is to taste a snack you used to love. Nothing says nostalgic summer like a popsicle! But why stop there? Picnics full of gorgeous charcuterie boards or healthy options are amazing - but try switching it up to create a nostalgic summer picnic packed with all your childhood favorites.

A couple sit on a picnic blanket and eat nostalgic snacks together.

4. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

The excitement and the problem-solving of a scavenger hunt is a great way to connect to your fun and lighthearted side. Create a scavenger hunt for your friends throughout your local area and watch them unravel it. Or, if you want to bottle the feeling of a scavenger hunt without having to do the work of designing one of your own, download the geocaching app and see if there are any geocaches to find near you. These little ‘caches’ are hidden all over the world, and you can find them with the help of the clues and coordinates on the app. 

5. Climb a Tree

This one speaks for itself! Getting into nature is one of the best ways to fully appreciate the summer time, and you are sure to have so many nostalgic summer memories resurface as you engage with the world around you with the playfulness you had as a kid.

6. Document a Day with a Lomography Instant Camera

There’s something so exciting about the surprise in waiting to see what a photograph will look like - in a culture of instant gratification, there’s an undeniable appeal in anticipation. Take a day this summer to capture everything on film without needing to worry about getting the perfect shot. Lomography instant cameras are the best for nostalgic summer memories - shaking the photo and watching it appear is such a classic throwback - but digital cameras will also do the job. Maybe the best thing about doing this is that you are actually setting your future self up for nostalgia by creating these physical photographs to look back on!

7. Relive Past Favorites

There will be days this summer where you can’t or simply don’t want to go outside - but summertime isn’t all about the outdoors. Take a dive into your past by using time this summer to reconnect with old favorites: reread the books you devoured during the school vacations as a kid, or put on the albums you used to be obsessed with and jam out. Revisiting old music, movies, or books is a surefire way to ignite nostalgic summer memories. Anything that connects you to what you love is a win, right?

An image of a boyfriend lifting his girlfriend up over his head while they are at a carnival together.

8. Dance in the Sprinklers

Wait for the perfect hot day and unleash the sprinklers! This nostalgic summer activity still probably works best with a group of kids to run around in the spray with you, but you don’t need any excuse to have a great time cooling down in the water. Crank a playlist and let the good times roll. Bonus points for a home-made slip-n-slide!

Creating a Nostalgic Summer

As you can see, you can take a few notes from your past self! There are so many nostalgic summer activities that you can reuse and reinvent this year to make the most of this beautiful time of year. The things that used to bring you joy probably still do - it’s just a matter of making time and space for that old excitement to come back!


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