Summer is officially here,and the weather isn’t the only thing heating up. Our summer hot list is the ultimate guide to months of food, fun and sun. Check out the awesome events happening across the state, and browse the must-see summer blockbusters of the season. Freshen up with recipes that add a twist to favorite foods, and then hearken back to some classic summertime toys that keep it cool. Read on to satisfy your summer cravings…
Serve It Up This Summer
Summer weather calls for foods that beat the heat. If you’re tired of the same seasonal eats, try these fresh takes on some old favorites.
Watermelon is a classic summer treat, but this year, free it from the fruit salad. This versatile melon makes the perfect main course addition, like in this Hawaiian wrap, a portable lunch for boating, picnics and outdoor fun.
Pineapple cream cheese
Sweet chili sauce w/ginger
Ingredients can be portioned according to taste. Wrap ‘em up and enjoy.
Summer by the Slice
Watermelon carving is no longer exclusive to the pros. The National Watermelon Promotion Board offers easy-to-follow directions on carving melons into flip-flops, mermaids and more. These fruity artworks are ideal for parties and cookouts and are probably the only centerpieces you can eat when the guests leave. Visit watermelon.org for carving instructions.
Fire Up The Grill
Summer is a great time to get outside and grill. Burgers and hot dogs are barbecue staples, but how about something a little different? These chicken and veggie packets are perfect for the great outdoors. They’re so easy they don’t even require plates!
Boneless chicken breasts
Assorted vegetables, like peppers, broccoli and mushrooms
Dice vegetables and chicken. Lay out sheets of heavy-duty foil, and drizzle with olive oil so nothing sticks. Load the foil sheets with the diced chicken and veggies, seasoning as desired. Add a few pats of butter and three ice cubes to each to lock in moisture during grilling. Wrap completely, leaving no openings. Grill for about 20 minutes, and serve.
Nothing refreshes quite like a glass of lemonade, but give it a twist this summer by adding some extra fruit. This recipe for strawberry lemonade is sure to cool down the family on a hot afternoon.
Strawberry Lemonade Yields 4-6 servings
1tbsp grated lemon peel
1cup lemon juice
1pint hulled strawberries
2cups sparkling water or club soda
In medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Add lemon peel and juice. Stir, and then remove from heat. Let cool completely, and strain into a pitcher. Purée strawberries in a blender, and mix into pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled. Add sparkling water, and stir well before serving over ice.
The base for this sundae might be plain ol’ vanilla, but it’s totally out of the ordinary. The key ingredients are caramelized pears and, believe it or not, maple bacon bits. This recipe makes an old-school summer treat new again.
Caramelized Pear & Bacon Sundae Yields 2 servings
4slices thick-cut bacon
2tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Vanilla ice cream
Cook bacon until crisp in pan over medium-low heat. Reserve 1-2 tbsp of drippings. While the bacon cooks, peel, core and chop pears into pieces. When the bacon is done, remove from pan and brush lightly with maple syrup. Place pears in the pan, and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Allow pears to caramelize, tossing occasionally. Remove from pan when browned and tender, pouring them over a scoop of vanilla ice cream immediately. Coarsely chop bacon, sprinkle on top, and enjoy.
Fun Faux Cones
Although ice cream is certainly a favorite summer sweet, it can be messy for the little ones. That’s where cupcake cones come in. Using any box cake mix, make the batter and fill a muffin tin. Next, gently press sugar cones into each cupcake and bake. Once they’re cool, they can be decorated for any occasion, but no matter the event, they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Toys to beat the heat
Summertime heat drives everyone to the water, but what if there isn’t a pool nearby? Without a personal pool, paying for access to a public one can be pricey. That’s the time to reach for the classics—classic summer toys, that is. Some of the most beloved summer staple toys are also the least expensive. There are plenty of ways to keep kids cool this summer that don’t require a swimming pool or a massive chunk of change.
Not everyone has a pool, but almost everybody has a water hose. And if not, the Crazy Daisy is a good reason to invest in one. Sprinkler attachments like the Crazy Daisy turn a garden tool into a miniature water park in the front yard. It’s perfect for younger kids to enjoy water safely, no pool required.
POP! Water balloons are a necessity during the summer months. They’re a ridiculously budget-friendly way to stay cool, and an even better way to goof around with friends. Set up a makeshift battle ground with barriers, obstacles and buckets of balloons scattered throughout for ammo. Or, if there’s a lot of time to burn, ensnare a friend in a water balloon ambush a la The Parent Trap.
The Slip ‘N Slide was invented by Robert Carrier, an upholsterer, who watched his son hose down their slick concrete driveway and try to slide down on his belly. In order to discourage him from this, Carrier developed the first Slip ‘N Slide. Since its premier in 1961, over 30 million have been sold. Slides now come with all sorts of added features, but the original is the same as it was back in the day. This summer staple is an economical way to chill out and have fun.
Ready, Aim, Squirt
Super Soaker squirt guns are a summer favorite, and every kid should have one of these in his or her artillery. The Super Soaker Arctic Blast has a water chamber that can hold ice as well for an extra chilly spritz. Another Super Soaker model, the Switch Shot Blaster, features interchangeable spray patterns so it can soak people four different ways. The Hydro Pack vest can be filled with water and attached to Super Soaker squirt guns for unlimited liquid ammo and more drenching power.
Sun And Sand
When the summer heat rolls in, Step 2’s Fun & Sun Climber and Sandbox is a great way to keep toddlers and preschoolers active and cool while enjoying the outdoors. The sandbox can be used for building castles but could also be filled with water for splashing and playing. It provides entertainment for the little ones and allows them safe water time.
The Summer Fun GiveAway
If the Fun & Sun Climber and Sandbox or the Super Soakers sound like must-haves, keep an eye on the Ocala Style Facebook page during the month of July for your chance to win one of these heat-busting toys.
Don’t let the high temperatures scare you off—it’s summer and there is plenty of fun to be had. From amusement park rides to sports spectaculars, there is no shortage of activities to keep your season hot. Find out what the summer has in store with these events!
The Kennedy Space Center has been hard at work, and now the public can finally see the fruits of astronomical labor. So hightail it to the center to witness the brand-new, 90,000-square-foot Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, which features the remarkable spacecraft, multimedia presentations and much more. You’ll also get a glimpse of history as you learn about NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program. kennedyspacecenter.com or (866) 737-5235.
Rollercoaster-loving Florida residents are in for a treat. This summer, take advantage of the Summer Sizzler deal, which gives residents with a Florida ID unlimited admission to Busch Gardens as well as unlimited weekday admission to Adventure Island and Aquatica through Labor Day. Guess what? All of this access is just $99! buschgardens.com or 888-800-5447.
Test The Water
Head over to Legoland to experience all of the excitement that the Legoland Water Park has to offer. Those looking to cool down can take a dip in the wave pool and play at the Joker Soaker. The park also features the Build-a-Raft lazy river, which lets imaginative families build a Lego raft and float down 1,000 feet of water. florida.legoland.com or 877-350-5346.
Summer Nights at SeaWorld
If you’re at SeaWorld when the sun goes down, don’t miss out on Summer Nights. This spectacular collection of nighttime shows includes Shamu Rocks, Sea Lions Tonight and Reflections—a firework and animated fountain show sure to dazzle the little ones. seaworldparks.com.
Those who need a little guidance with their snorkeling are in luck. Rainbow Springs State Parkis hosting guided snorkeling trips, which is the only way visitors are allowed to snorkel outside of the swimming area, throughout the summer. Not only is this a great way to cool down, participants will also learn a thing or two about the ecology of the state’s fourth-largest spring. floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings or (352) 465-8555.
Put On Your Dancing Shoes
Although Saturdays at Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market are always fun (where else can you get unique art, eat local produce and see magicians under a bridge?), this summer’s events aren’t ones you want to miss. Take the celebration of National Dance Day for example. July 27 at the RAM will be filled with dance classes, dance supplies and flash mobs! riversideartsmarket.com.
Transform Your Summer
One of the most exciting things to hit Central Florida is finally open to the public. That’s right, Transformers: The Ride-3D is officially up and running! Make your way to Universal Studios and experience what Optimus Prime and the rest of the transformers have in store. universalorlando.com or (407) 363-8000.
Cool Summer School
Does your child stare in the mirror, model new clothes and catwalk in the kitchen? Put all of that model behavior to good use and enroll them in the Maile School Fashion Summer Camp at Orlando’s Mall at Millenia from July 15-25. Students ages 6 to 11 will learn interviewing skills, take professional headshots and even participate in the mall’s Back to School Fashion Show on August 3. lisamaile.com or (407) 628-5989.
Arena Bowl XXVI
This year, the Arena Football League Board of Directors voted to host ArenaBowl XXVI in the great city of Orlando. What an awesome decision! This year’s championship bowl is sure to bring some summer fun and friendly competition to the Amway Center on August 17. amwaycenter.com or (407) 648-4444.
Sounds Like Summer
If you happen to be visiting the world’s most famous mouse at Disney, don’t leave just because the sun sets. Check out the annual Sounds Like Summer Concert Series through July 27 at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot, featuring a tribute to bands such as U2, The Police and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Best of all: Admission to these family-friendly concerts is already included in park tickets. disneyworld.disney.go.com or (407) 939-5277.
Get your autograph books ready as some of the most well-know reality stars hit Celebration for the Hearts of Reality Weekend on August 2-4. Join former contestants from popular shows like Survivor, Big Brother and The Amazing Race as they participate in a handful of events including a luau party. The weekend will benefit Give Kids the World. celebrationtowncenter.com or (407) 566-4007.
Be sure to sign your little Spielbergs and Scorses up for an experience that they won’t forget this summer. The Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention in Gainesville is offering Ready, Set, ACTION! Film Camp from July 22-26 for children ages 11 and up. In this hands-on class, professional cinematographer Michael Nassau will help students design, direct and produce a film in preparation for the end-of-the-course film festival. cademuseum.org or (352) 371-8001.
Music By The Sea
Enjoy live tunes and a sea breeze at the Music By The Sea Concert Series in St. Augustine this summer. Continuing each Wednesday through September 25, this series features a variety of local bands and local restaurant fare. Everyone is welcome, so gather your family, cooler and lawn chairs and enjoy great food and great music! oldcity.com.
March Of The Penguin
The largest expansion in the history of SeaWorld Orlando opened just in time to bring some frostiness to your summer. The new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin features a family ride through icy territory, a chance to witness nearly 250 penguins and other cool features. seaworldparks.com.
Work of Art
Make your way to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg to witness the first statewide Student Surrealist Art Exhibition featuring works from middle and high school students. You have until August 18 to view unique works that fit the theme Strangely Familiar, which challenged young artist to create unexpected art using things from everyday surroundings. Not only will guests get a chance to see amazing student work, the exhibit recognizes the important role and impact of art teachers. thedali.org or (727) 823-3767.
Summer on the Silver Screen
The summer is synonymous with blockbuster movies, so take a look at what Tinseltown has to offer this season.
The Lone Ranger
The Pirates of the Caribbean team of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp reunite for the action-packed adventures of Native American hero Tonto and man of law John Reid.
Grown Ups 2
Funnymen Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade are back for more grown-up fun in the sequel to their 2010 comedy about the reunion, and antics, of a group of childhood friends.
What happens when aliens attack Earth? Humans fight back with gigantic robots! Fortunately, this scenario only plays out on the big screen when Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim hits theaters.
The Smurfs 2
Kids will love watching the Smurfs come together in this sequel to rescue Smurfette from the evil sorcerer Gargamel.
Superstars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg act as a DEA agent and undercover Naval Intelligence officer who join forces after being set up by the mob.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Percy Jackson and his gang continue on their expedition to find the legendary Golden Fleece.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s—wait, it is a plane. Check out this animated film about Dusty, a plane who’s trying to overcome his fear of heights.