Our Summer Family Traditions
Summer is finally here, and warm weather brings fond memories of family traditions. Below we’ve shared our favorite summer family traditions – including ones that are still going today.
For a good chunk of my elementary to high school years, we spent a few weeks every summer visiting my grandma and grandpa in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Both of them have passed away now, so the memories are even more dear to me. Growing up in small town Wyoming, those trips were instrumental in shaping who I became and what I wanted out of life – our travels helped show me how big of a world it is out there. We often spent part of the trip in Las Vegas (where I eventually went to college) or Disneyland (where I eventually did an internship and have become a lifelong fan); Lake Havasu was the first place I ever went to a Cold Stone Creamery (where I eventually worked in college); I was gifted my first car right before my 16th birthday that September in the driveway of my grandparent’s house; I learned how to make biscuits and gravy my family’s way and learned to make my family’s secret fudge frosting recipe there; and I even got a still-very-prominent scar on my leg there by running on the pool deck and falling in the hot tub.
Going down to the beach in Rocky Point, Mexico and enjoying fireworks, motorcycles, shell combing and bonfires on the beach with a huge group of friends and family.
I grew up on a large cattle ranch so my summers were largely spent outside. I have great memories of my sister and I strapping on our life jackets and walking down to the creek to fish, jumping in a swimming hole, trekking the long hike through the meadows while my dad was irrigating and logging many hours on the back of a horse, moving and sorting cattle. Evenings were spent sitting in the front lawn, undoubtably barbequing and acting as roping dummies for my dad as we’d sprint through the grass. For two summers when we were little my mom was working up in Bend and my dad, sister and I were at the ranch. My mom would drive the 3½ hours down and back every weekend. There would be a mad scramble before she arrived every Friday, most notably to hide the empty Chef Boyardee ravioli cans we’d accumulated throughout the week. Those were great days.
Every summer, my family travels from Memphis, Tennessee to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a week of playing in the ocean, grilling fresh seafood, watching movies and getting sunburned. I have many fond (and not-so-fond) memories from that trip – being stung by a jellyfish, watching turtles lay their eggs, playing endless hours of Phase 10 and learning how to scuba dive. This summer was one of the first years I wasn’t able to visit Fort Lauderdale with my family – hoping that next year works out!
One of my favorite summer family traditions growing up was camping, particularly at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island in the San Juans. It is a beautiful, peaceful place right on the water and there are tons of little wild bunnies to spot around the park. This year I get to return for my kids’ first time to keep the tradition going! I can’t wait to share the experience with them.
Each summer, my family goes to Detroit Lake for a week of camping, boating and wakeboarding. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are running around this place with my cousins. This trip is a big part of who we are as a family, and I’m proud that we are all so committed to keeping the tradition alive.
My favorite summer family tradition was visiting Santa Cruz in California. We would spend three nights at a hotel almost right on the beach and spend most of our days either sitting on the beach, going to the amusement park on the boardwalk, or eating these amazing tacos at a taqueria nearby.
I have many amazing summer family traditions, yet some of my fondest memories come from the Fourth of July HildeBLAST (yes, that’s a play on Hildebrandt – hat/tip to my dad on the branding 😊). Holidays are a big deal in my family, and Independence Day is no exception. Every year, we’d gather at my family’s beach house in Gearhart, Oregon for crab fests, parades, games, beach bonfires, hotdogs, laughs, and of course, illegal fireworks – the view from up and down the beach was truly spectacular.
My favorite summer family tradition is our yearly Fourth of July Deschutes rafting trip. There’s always lots of delicious food, fun people, plenty of beer and the perfect amount of thrill from the rapids. It’s truly one of the most refreshing weekends of my year. Also, since getting married I’ve really enjoyed taking part in my husband’s family’s tradition of escaping to Lincoln City for a weekend of beachy activities. Summer is the best!
My grandparents would pack a cooler full of boiled peanuts and Pepsi, hop in the car and drive the nine hours north to pick my sister and me up, then get right back in the car to drive us to their home in South Carolina. We had so many traditions there, but without fail my great-aunt Dot, who lived two houses over, would let us dig a hole deeper than we were tall in the middle of her backyard, and we’d happily spend hours there with cousins and other extended family.