How to Rule Summer (Like You’re a Kid!)

Young couple in a cabriolet

Close your eyes and think back to those lazy days of summer where you played and partied from sun up to sun down without a worry. We’re not going to pretend that you can turn back time; however, you can capture a moment or two from the past. Our list of 13 youthful enjoyments (and perhaps a few transgressions) will surely get you in the mood for summer fun!

1. Rent a convertible for the day.

Admit it: On your 16th birthday you were dreaming of a red convertible with a big bow across it. So indulge in a youthful dream and rent one for a day.

Photograph by Adam Rice

2. Slip and Slide

It’s been popular for more than 50 years, a testament to the power of plastic and a garden hose. But why should kids have all the fun? Slip and slide parties for adults are a popular summer activity in Raleigh, says Joel Rickards, Co-Owner of Interactive Playgrounds. You can rent a 30-foot inflatable slip and slide for $275; the price tag includes delivery and setup. For a more natural (and cheaper) alternative, consider driving to Sliding Rock, a natural mountain waterfall in Pisgah National Forest that flows across a sloping 60-foot boulder. The natural wonder draws crowds over the summer who slide across it and into a chilly pool (the water temperature is 50 to 60 degrees!). But kids don’t feel the cold, right? Cost is $2 per person, children under 7 are free.

3. Break the bank.

Take advantage of the kids being at camp and splurge! Visit any number of Raleigh’s fine dining restaurants and try the tasting menu without looking at the price: Provenance  offers indulgent three, five and eight course tastings with wine pairings. Snap Pea Underground presents creative dining experiences in secret pop-up locations. Tickets sell out fast (less than 10 minutes at times) so sign up to know the moment they go on sale. Those after a more luxurious experience should consider an overnight stay at The Umstead Hotel and Spa.  The Umstead Experience includes a one-night stay, two 50-minute spa treatments and a three-course dinner at Herons; packages start at $969.

4. Choose a can…that looks like summer. 

Red Hare Brewing Company SPF 50/50 India Pale Radler, $1.99; Bottle Rev 3 

Golden Road Ride On IPA, $1.99; Dailypint Craft Beer

Heavy Seas Smooth Sail Summer Ale, $1.99; Total Wine

Avery Brewing Co. Liliko’I Kepolo, $3.49; House of Hops

5. Buy a ticket… without planning ahead!

Nothing captures youth like spontaneity so show up at one of Raleigh’s 85 music venues and see whoever is playing. Here’s a lowdown on five you might check out.

Kings Raleigh
Features bands or music events almost every night with tickets generally costing between $5-$8 at the door.

Deep South the Bar
Spanning a wide breath of musical genres from vintage pop rock to American folk. Ticket prices start at $5.

The Pour House
You can catch a show any day of the week, with Thursdays featuring local bands and local beers. Tickets start at $5; most are $10 at the door.

The Maywood
Rock and metal fans will most likely be pumped when popping into this music venue. Concerts are usually Friday through Saturday with tickets $8 and up at the door.

The Lincoln
A mixture of smaller and more well known artists, you’ll find lots of tribute bands here: Better off Dead, Red Not Chili Peppers or Beatlesque. Tickets start at $8 with more popular bands kicking off at $20 and up.

6. Break a record.

As a child who hasn’t dreamed of breaking a record? Fastest 50-yard-dash may not be in your future, but there are plenty of other opportunities…and if not, you’ll have a lot of fun in the process. This summer city planners and members of the Dorothea Dix Conservancy hope to smash the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest picnic, currently at 22,232 people in Portugal; date is yet to be determined. Reclaim past glory on June 10th with  nOg Run Club‘s record busting flip flop 1K, kicking off from Bond Brothers Beer Company. But there are plenty of records you can attempt on your own (party games, anyone?) including most marshmallows caught with chopsticks by a team of two in one minute (current record 35)!

7. Watch a flick under the stars.

Watching a movie outdoors is nostalgic across the generations. Capture the 1950s at a drive-in theater where you can still catch a double feature. The Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is one of only six drive-ins left in North Carolina and where else can you catch two flicks for the bargain price of $7? Concessions, including burgers, onion rings and funnel cake, are sure to bring back childhood memories. For those preferring a picnic and a blanket, myriad options exist across the city where you can watch movies under the stars. The PNC Movie Series  presents ‘80s and ‘90s classics through the end of June for free. North Carolina Museum of Art’s Summer Films  offer both family-friendly features and more adult content; tickets are free for members and those under 18, $6 for everyone else. Want to throw your own outdoor flick party? You can rent a screen and projector for up to 50 guests for $225 from Bring the Big Screen.

8. Get take out for a week. 

How much time did you spend in the kitchen as a kid?

Ding Dong, Food’s Here! More and more companies are offering to pick up your food and deliver it, so you don’t have to leave home. Order Up serves mostly the downtown area; Grub Hub’s delivery fees range between $2 – $9 depending on the location; Eat Street, Eat 24 Hours and Doorstep Delivery offer varied options depending on your address.

9. Eat like a kid.

Guilty pleasure or comfort food? Indulge in the kind of eats your kids would love every day of the week. But if you’re going to partake in the calories make sure it’s worth it— we’re not talking about Kraft here! For delicious mac and cheese, try Poole’s Diner’s most popular dish or choose from six mac and cheese skillets at Relish Craft Kitchen. Hot dog lovers might wander over to The Cardinal  which offers upscale versions of the popular food with plenty of toppings; grab a gourmet grilled cheese at Royale. For chicken tenders try J. Alexander’s version, Mr. Jack’s Crispy Chicken Platter, elevating the classic food with sides of French fries and coleslaw. For dessert, go for local ice cream: Fresh Local Ice Cream, Chuck and Buck Cones ‘n Cups or Treat are a good place to start.

10. Be a Rebel

Ride a motorcycle, get a tattoo or piercing, or throw out your inhibitions at an open mic night. Do something out of character for just one day. Check out the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy at Ray Price Harley-Davidson for classes Thursday through Friday ($325) or you can try the Jumpstart Rider Experience and test drive a Harley Street 500 on a stationary stand for free. Been contemplating a tattoo and ready to get inked? Check out Warlock’s or Blue Flame Tattoo. But if you really want to be a daredevil, step on stage at an open mic night. Fancy yourself a comedian? Goodnights Comedy Club offers one every Thursday night. Singers have an array of open mic options—Mondays at Backstage Pub, Tuesdays at Ruckus and Saints and Scholars Irish Pub, Wednesdays at Gizmo Brew Works and Thursdays at Korner Pocket.

11. Fill your flask.

Unearth an old one or opt for a new model, and fill it with spirits from a local distillery or get creative with a mixed concoction.

Royale’s bartender offers this recipe:

Vieux Carre

1 oz. Cognac

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

1 oz. Rye Whiskey

0.5 oz. Benedictine & Brandy

2 dashes of bitters

Stir. Serve on the rocks.

12. Cool down with a popsicle

Orange-Strawberry Popsicles

•1 cup puréed strawberries

• 1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

• 2 Tbsp sugar

• Lime or lemon juice, to taste

1. Combine purée and concentrate in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 1/2 cup water and sugar together over medium heat, stirring just until sugar dissolves; add to bowl with strawberry-orange mixture. Stir in lime or lemon juice.

3. Fill ice-pop molds with fruit mixture, making sure to leave a bit of room at the top. Set the lids in place and insert the sticks through the holes.

4. Freeze until firmly set, 3 to 4 hours.

Recipe courtesy of Whole Foods

13. Stay out late.

Tap & Table  (until 2 a.m.)

Nothing answers the late night food craving like wings… Try the Rotisserie Nashville Hot Wings tossed in cayenne and brown sugar based sauce, pickles, white bread, with Alabama white sauce. And finish the night with a Trophy Wife.

Green Light at the Architect Bar (until 2 a.m.)

Look for the green light to be on outside the Architect Bar and then ask to go “behind the bookcase.” You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time to a true speakeasy.

Trali Irish Pub (until 2 a.m.)

A relaxed comfortable pub where you can drink the night away— and where you can get a Guinness Burger until closing.

Dram & Draught (until 2 a.m.)

Doesn’t matter if you like whiskey on the rocks, a creative cocktail or craft beer, it’s a perfect spot for your night cap. Need to eat before heading home? Char-Grill is across the street and Snoopy’s is only a block away.

Level7 at AC Hotel (until Midnight)

Raleigh’s newest rooftop bar gives you a great view of Midtown with signature cocktails and Spanish wines on tap. The great open air spot is perfect for watching the moon rise.

Alexandra Drosu
Alexandra Drosu

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