After nine months of cramped hands from writing notes, staring at empty pages on Google Docs, eyes blurring as you flip through flashcard after flashcard, and more than a few nights spent frantically finishing that English essay or studying for that math test, summer is finally around the corner. Two months of possibilities await us, but to quote a beloved childhood TV show, “the annual problem with our generation is finding a good way to spend it.”
Arguably the best way to spend it, however, is not alone. So here are 22 ideas of things to do with friends this summer, all within the Sacramento area!
- I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! As the summer heat settles over the valley, there is truly no better treat than delicious ice cream. Thankfully, Sacramento offers only the best. Get ice cream at Gunther’s or Vic’s in the downtown area, or if you’re craving something new, try the delicious Gelato pops at Popbar in DOCO. If you and your friends are feeling creative, try making your own! There’s plenty of tutorials out there, and with wonderful teammates and partners by your side, how hard can it be?
- Most of us barely have time to shop during the busy weeks of the school year, but in the summer, we have the freedom to shop until we drop. Going with friends only doubles the fun. Fun shopping activities with friends include everyone picking out an outfit for someone else to try on, racing to see who can find the best get-up for a hypothetical theme, or buying the cheapest and simplest items and having an upcycling competition.
- Guess what? Reading is kind of cool now, and this summer is the perfect chance to give it a go. You may be wondering: how can you do that with friends? Easy, start a book club! Whether it’s monthly, bimonthly, or biweekly, the best way to try and get into reading is when you have friends to hold you accountable… and to scream with once you all reach that big plot twist none of you saw coming.
- Take an art class together! Verge Center for the Arts offers biweekly clay labs where you and your friends can try out ceramics, or you can attend one of the many painting classes offered by Sacramento Arts Center. Don’t want to take a class? Then bust out some paints, a tarp, and a laptop and have a painting party with friends. Use videos from Bob Ross or any of the various artists posting free content on YouTube, or simply let your own imaginations run wild.
- Cooking competition! Split into teams or groups and see who can create the best meal with the available ingredients (the more limited, the better!) within a time allotment of an hour. Pick a theme like pizzas or pasta or, my personal favorite, dessert. The best part will undoubtedly be the taste test afterwards.
- A bit more expensive, but undeniably fun: go RAFTING with friends on the American River. You’ll spend two hours floating on the water and chatting with friends while also finding a good alternative for arm day. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, try white water rafting.
- Liking the idea of these outdoor activities? Go biking with friends on one of the many beautiful and entirely-free bike trails in the Sacramento area.
- If biking isn’t your thing, then simply take a walk! It sounds simple or pointless, but sometimes all you need to do is slow down a bit and enjoy your surroundings. Take a walk down River Walk Park along the Sacramento River or any other beautiful scenic route and talk with your friends about anything and everything you didn’t get to during the school year. Or take a walk through downtown and midtown and admire the many murals that were painted around the city for Wide Open Walls – many of them make great backgrounds for a city-wide photoshoot as well. Another fun option is the Second Saturday Art Walk in Midtown every month, in which you and your friends can visit any of the art galleries open in the city and admire some local art.
- Want to take advantage of free live music? Check out POPS IN THE PARK which is taking place on June 18th at McKinley Park or June 25th at East Portal Park. Or simply pop into Cesar Chavez Plaza every Friday through July 29th for the Concerts in the Park initiative, California’s biggest free live music festival.
- If you and your friends love vintage or handmade stuff, check out World’s Worst Expo every third Sunday of the month to find vintage streetwear, handmade goods, and more all while supporting local businesses and vendors.
- Another way to support local businesses and see what they have to offer is by visiting farmer’s markets! Sacramento has the Midtown Market which is open every Saturday all year as well as the Capitol Mall Market which is open every Wednesday as of this month!
- What’s more fun than singing until your throat goes sore? Try karaoke at the Punch Bowl Social in DOCO where you can also go bowling, or at Oishii Sushi and Heartbeat KTV Lounge where karaoke can accompany sushi. You can also just pull up a laptop and a projector and turn the lights off for your own free karaoke bar.
- Old Sac is always a fun place to visit, whether it be for mini golf at Sac Mini Golf or visiting any of the shops that look like they’ve been pulled straight from the Gold Rush, especially Evangeline’s Costume Mansion.
- This one may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: summer is the season of swimming! Whether it’s a backyard pool party or a day spent at Raging Waters, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the water.
- Have you ever been zip-lining? Did you know you can do it right here in Sacramento? Try out Tree Top Sac for a good introduction into a world of aerial adventures, and if you have a fun time at this relatively small park, then the next stop is Quarry Park Adventures in Rocklin.
- One of my personal favorite activities to do with friends is an escape room. Escape Sacramento is the perfect place to begin, offering many different rooms with varying levels of difficulty for a fun night of sleuthing and code cracking. You’ll find yourself getting immersed in the elaborate backstory and challenging puzzles as the clock begins to tick down…
- Reminiscent of another era but still carrying that air of nostalgia, drive-in movies will always be fun, especially for those of us who are actually able to drive in. West Wind Sacramento is a popular destination for watching the newest movies from the comfort of your own vehicle, but you can also mimic the feel of a drive-in with a projector in a bigger backyard. The car part might be more difficult but hey, not impossible!
- Also a bit of a cliche but still fun is a picnic in the park! Which park? Well, in Sacramento, there are dozens to choose from. All you need is some picnic blankets and of course, good food.
- I’m going to cheat a bit for this one because it’s one you may have to venture outside Sacramento for, and that is: camping! I just know some of you flinched reading that, but trust me, camping with friends is always fun. S’mores, scary stories, and being amongst nature… It is the perfect recipe for a summer night. If camping is just too out of your comfort zone, then pitch a tent in someone’s backyard and have an outdoor sleepover instead. Fire pit s’mores will still taste delicious. If s’mores are getting old, try making a banana boat. (I can confirm they’re amazing.)
- Movie Marathon! Need I say more? Whether it’s watching every single Harry Potter movie, rewatching every Thor movie in preparation for Love & Thunder, or watching as many classic rom-coms as possible before you die from the cringe, it will be more fun when you do it with friends. Add to the fun by dressing up in the theme of whatever movies you’re watching or trying to make some movie-theater-style treats. This one can also go hand-in-hand with the aforementioned DIY drive-in idea.
- After a two-year hiatus, the California State Fair is returning to Sacramento again from July 15th to the 31st. Go for the food, the rides, and a fun time with friends!
- Last, but certainly not least, game night! Board games may feel like a relic from the past sometimes, but they always make for a fun activity, especially if you’re naturally competitive like me. Hold a tournament and offer a prize for the person who wins, whether it be five dollars in the pot from every participant or homemade cookies. Make it a tradition that occurs every month or more frequently, and have fun switching it up – there’s countless games to choose from, after all. As some would say, the more bizarre or unconventional, the more fun!
Hopefully this list gave you some ideas of how to spend your summer, even if it’s just barely scratched the surface. The truth of the matter is that as long as you’re with friends, everything can be fun. I hope that you and your friends have the best, and most fun, summer possible.