Summer Shenanigans

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We are about a month out from the *official* start of summer, beginning on the solstice in June, and I could not be any more psyched. If you're anything like me, summer just gets your blood pumpin' and body shakin'! I couldn't find it anymore fitting that I was born a Cancer, right smack in the middle of the season of sun and sand.  So if the thought of summer being right around the corner gets you as pumped as I am, keep reading.

1. Go to the Drive-In

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Nothing like the sweet sights and sounds of nostalgia to start this summer's bucket list. We are blessed in CT to have not just one, but three drive-in theaters in our little state! There's the Mansfield Drive-In Theatre and Marketplace (which has an awesome flea market for thrifting, by the way), Pleasant Valley Drive-In, and Southington Drive-In. You can check out their showtimes, events, and prices on their websites.

2. Fairs and Carnivals

Summertime is great for these kinds of outtings and they aren't just for kids! Not to mention most fairs happen for a good cause. The Oswegatchie Volunteer Fire Carnival is actually going on right now until May 20th! If you're in the area, go support these first responders who do so much for their community. Hebron and Woodstock also have incredible fairs every summer. And who could forget the Big E?! Where else would I get my maple cotton candy and that awesome turtle neck poncho I wore all last fall? 

3. See the Incredibles 2 movie

JUNE 15TH IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY! Step aside children, we have been waiting for this since 2004. That was when "Yeah!" by Usher was still BRAND NEW, okay? Which means it's been a decade and a half of waiting. You bet your bottom dollar I'll be in that theater. And in case you haven't seen it, this is the trailer. 

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4. Block Island

It isn't named the Bermuda of the North for nothin'! Hop on the first high speed ferry in the morning and don't plan on coming back until the last ferry of the night. A trip to the block can be packed into a day or spread out over a weekend. I recommend going on a day during the week so you don't have to deal with the crowds. Easier said than done for someone who has an ever changing schedule! Rent a moped to see the whole island, lay on the beach with a drink in your hand at Ballard's, get some frozen lemonade from Del's, grab a drink and lunch at the Oar, and (my favorite) walk the line of shops up and down the port. Whatever you do, the fun-loving atmosphere on Block Island is sure to please. 

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Can't make a whole day? The ferry now has a dinnertime cruise on Thursday nights for a reduced price too! Starting July 6th, they get you to the island to have dinner and back in time to get a good night's sleep. Or not. 

5. Rita's

Because it's the closest thing we have to Hawaiian Shave Ice! When we went to Oahu I was addicted to that stuff. It has a different density than most italian ices or anything like that. And the best was that they topped it off with condensed milk! Thankfully Jonah and my girlfriends on our trip put up with my shave ice addiction (pictured below).

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I think you get the point...

Once I got home it never occurred to me how the coconut flavor at Rita's was so reminiscent of shave ice. I fell in love all over again. Thankfully, they're open now and offering all the custard and Italian ice you can handle!

6. Kayaking

This is one of my all time favorite summer activities, even though my back and shoulders burn like no other the next day. Hey, that just means I snuck a work out in! I have always felt very attached to the water (hello, Moana) being that I've spent all my summers living on it. I think kayaking is the best way to connect us with the nature and life dwelling in the water. It's quiet, smooth, and most of all doesn't disturb the wildlife. Although a trip to the sandbar with your cooler isn't really in the cards when all you have room for is a lunch box! But we make do. 

7. Hike 

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Come out of the shell of winter and this chilly spring we have been having and get out there. There are so many incredible trails in CT that people don't even know about! Not to mention we are only a few hours away from Mt. Washington, which I've been wanting to conquer for the last two or three summers now. One of our favorite hikes in CT in Giuffrida Park in Meriden. The overlook in the middle is unreal and it isn't even that difficult of a hike. And you can bring your pup along with you! Anywhere that we can have our pup tag along is a place that I wanna go. Every time we have gone the trails have never been too busy either! If you look at the CT DEEP website there's even more hikes to be had all over the state. This is just our favorite one so far.

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8. Road Trip

I often think to myself of that quote from Harun Yahya; "I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on Earth. Then I ask myself the same question." It wasn't until Jonah and I hopped in my car one day and drove 20 hours to Missouri to see my brother graduate from Army Basic, that I realized there were roads that could take me anywhere I wanted to go and see what I wanted to see. We didn't need to spend thousands on a plane ticket or get anything fancy. We needed four wheels and the highway! Two roadtrips that have been pressing on me for a long time are Acadia National Park in Maine and Charleston, South Carolina. Oh and Nashville, Tennessee too, so I guess that's three. I just want to go everywhere!

Two summers ago Jonah and a group of our friends went on a road trip up to Maine to go white water rafting and while I was terrified from the rafting, just getting to see somewhere new was fun in and of itself. Nothing brings people closer together than being stuck in a car for eight plus hours!

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9. Camping

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It costs next to nothing to rent a site or two with some friends and spend a few nights in the outdoors. Last summer, Jonah and I set out on a project to make an insert for the back of my Forester so that we could sleep on top and store our supplies in the bottom. All it took was some boards of wood, screws, and that cheap outdoor carpet on top. While we didn't go anywhere far for camping it was still fun to be outside sitting by the campfire with friends, laughing and sharing stories. You can check out places to camp on the DEEP website here.

10. CT _____ Festival 

Come to find out there's going to be a lot of specific festivals this year in our little state and I'm ecstatic to say the least.

CT Taco Festival- That's right. All the taco-ey goodness you can handle in one place! The fiesta is taking place on Saturday, June 30th, from noon to 6pm at the Harrybrooke Park in New Milford, CT. You can buy your tickets on EventBrite now for $15 or at the event for $20. Free for kids ages 12 and under! Taco 'bout an awesome time.

CT WINE FESTIVAL- Need I say more? It's taking place Saturday July 21st (two days after my birthday if anyone was wondering what I want to do) from noon to 7pm at the Goshen Fair Grounds in Goshen, CT. There will be 13 of Connecticut's top wineries along with specialty food vendors and live music. Also a free wine seminar and New England's Largest Grape Stomp the following day! Go to www.ctwine.com to sign up!

Wing Fest CT- For $15 a ticket ($20 if you get them at the door) you can experience a night of contests, food, music and vendors. Local restaurants are competing for best wings on June 9th from 5pm to 9pm at the Naugatuck Event Center. Come ready to devour all the wings!

3rd Annual CT Cornhole State Championship- You guessed it. Your favorite backyard game is now getting competitive at The Hops Company in Derby, CT! This open doubles tournament is a 64 team double elimination bracket. Whoever gets first place can win $1,000 cash and a VIP Brooklyn Brewery Tour with overnight stay and transportation included. Entry per team is $80 ($40 if you split it in half) and starts at 11am. Registration is at 10am!

11. East Lyme Day

I always had a love-hate relationship with EL Day growing up, because I always had to plan my birthday around when it would be! Being that I was a July baby, my friends could never stay long at my birthday parties since their parents were bringing them to East Lyme day. Now that we've gotten over the hump of the all important elementary school birthday party, I rather enjoy East Lyme Day. 

All of main street gets shut down and people can celebrate the local shops and artisans from the area and get some pretty darn good food while they're at it. Once all the commotion has gone underway, they top off the night with an amazing fire works display! It's a pretty big deal around these parts! And speaking of East Lyme...

12. Outdoor Bars

Are you even a local if you don't go to Sunsets? Otherwise known as Sunset Ribs, this two story outdoor restuarant and bar is where it's at in the summer time. Hop on the Flip Flop Express to give you a ride. The view in the evening is unbelievable as it looks over the river and Niantic Bay. Go a little ways farther up 95 and you'll find yourself at Paddy's Beach Club. Another fun place to enjoy the scenery and the refreshments. Might I mention, both places will be featuring your favorite guy behind the turn tables, DJ JSmith! Wondering when he'll be at which venue? Find a full list of dates here.

13. Sailfest

When I went to college and met people from other parts of the state, I could not BELIEVE they had never heard of Sailfest! What kind of Connectic-ite has never been to sailfest?! In New London every year is a huge carnival and fair where they too, shut down their main street for all the vendors you could possibly ask for! Except this is a whole weekend-long shin dig. On Saturday night (I think it is?), the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe puts on this incredible display of fireworks that -wait for it- is synced to music! It is incredible and enjoyed by so many every year. 

14. Concerts 

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This kind of goes without saying. Outdoor concerts are the pinnacle of adolescent times. It's what you wait all winter to get to! While I'm not sure if I can handle the lawn at Xfinity anymore, I definitely wouldn't mind splurging to see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at Mohegan Sun. Or Britney Spears July 15th! 

Regardless of your taste in music, there's a certain mood that arises when you're in a field with hundreds of people, all belting out the same lyrics as you are, to some famous singer you can barely see. 

15. New England Food Truck Festival

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Or any food truck festival for that matter. Taking place at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds in Westfield, Massachusetts from June 30th to July 1st, you can get your eat on in the best way possible: with every choice of food that can be produced within a truck. I don't know about you but food trucks are my favorite part of summer and a trend that I hope never goes away. Food truck fests are here, and they're here to stay! I actually just found the cutest food truck on Insta by chance and you should totally go check her out here.

Summer is a time of limitless fun and adventure, and while I hit on just a few of my big bucket list items, I'd love to hear some of yours. Feel free to leave some ideas in the comments below. And with that being said...

 Let the season of burni- I mean tanning, bonfires, beach days and sunsets commence!

Happy soon-to-be-summer,

Kels