Ideas for a 1980’s Summer

A few years ago, I decided to give my daughter a 1970’s summer.  The point was to take things back to a simpler time, to disconnect from devices for a while and to stop and smell the roses for a brief moment each day.  I want her to enjoy the modern conveniences she has growing up, but at the same time, I want her to experience the childhood I had.

Ideas for a 1980's Summer
Durango, Colorado 1980. Yes, my mom is blow drying my Dorothy Hamill hair in the middle of a camp site. That’s how we roll…

This summer, we’re moving into the 80’s.  The 80’s were about consumerism and materialism in which MTV, Pac Man, Madonna, Charles and Di, and John Hughes movies were born.  The Berlin Wall came down, ketchup was considered a vegetable in school lunches, and Reaganomics was put into motion.

I would argue the consumerism and materialism from the 80’s were nothing compared to present day.  All of this was brought on by the 60’s and 70’s, which were both troubled decades.  The Vietnam War, Watergate, and the horrible economy forced people to want change.  As a child in the 80’s, it was nothing short of magical.

Here are ideas for a 1980’s summer:

Activities {Outdoor or Otherwise}

  1. Bike Riding – We rode our bikes everywhere. Our parents never knew where we were.  While I’m not willing to let go of the leash completely, my daughter does enjoy getting out and riding her bike.  Where I can see her, of course.  Kidding…
  2. Camping – We don’t do much camping these days, but it was a huge part of my childhood and some of my greatest memories.
  3. Public Pool – No one had a pool, so the public pool was where it was at.  Good luck with this one!
  4. Star Gazing – My neighbor and I used to lay in our front lawn gazing at the stars and singing Go Go’s songs. I will recreate this with my daughter.
  5. Outside exploration – By bike, scooter or foot, there’s a lot to explore.
  6. Pac Man – Head to a local arcade and eat some ghosts.
  7. Barbies – Playing Barbies is still a big deal in our house just like it was in my house in the 80’s.
  8. Prank Calls – While I shouldn’t be condoning this, I am. In fact, she recently called me from her friend’s house to ask permission to make prank calls.  Come on, calling a bowling alley and asking if they have 10-pound balls?  What’s more fun than that?  For Ella, in 2018, calling State Farm and asking for Jake.
  9. Skate City – Ella has the white, boot skates with pink wheels.  She’s just missing the giant pom poms with the bell.  If you know where I can find some…
  10. The Mall – Apparently, cruising the mall is still a thing.
  11. Travel – Go somewhere you’ve never been, whether it’s an overnight car trip, or somewhere you need to travel by plane.  Get out and see the world!

Ideas for a 1980's Summer


TV in the 80’s was amazing.  There were only three networks and PBS, so your choices were limited, and you had to watch things in real time, no recording it for later.  While I watched a lot of things that were probably not age appropriate, like me being a 10-year-old obsessed with Dallas, there were some great shows that came out of the 80’s.

  1. Diff’rent Strokes
  2. Family Ties
  3. Growing Pains
  4. Happy Days
  5. Laverne & Shirley
  6. The Dukes of Hazzard
  7. The Facts of Life
  8. The Golden Girls
  9. The Love Boat
  10. The Wonder Years
  11. Three’s Company
  12. Who’s the Boss?


I grew up going to the movies every weekend.  One of the biggest fights I ever got into with my mom was over The Breakfast Club when I was in 7th grade.  She refused to take me to it because it was rated R.  The same woman who took my older sister and her friends to see The Amityville Horror on her 12th birthday.  She also let my neighbor’s mom take us to see Flashdance when we were in 5th grade.  Not sure about her rational, but here are some great 80’s movies to share with your kids this summer…

  1. Back to the Future
  2. Can’t Buy Me Love
  3. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
  4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  5. Popeye
  6. Pretty in Pink
  7. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  8. Return of the Jedi
  9. Sixteen Candles
  10. The Breakfast Club – it was rated R for language and is pretty mild for today’s standards
  11. The Empire Strikes Back
  12. The Goonies
  13. The Karate Kid
  14. Xanadu


We ate a lot of “bad” food in the 80’s and no one cared.  So, we’re going to eat a lot of bad food this summer and no one’s going to care.

  1. Original Coke in a bottle
  2. Pigs in a Blanket and Fritos
  3. Cheetos
  4. Cool Ranch Doritos
  5. Dilly Bars at Dairy Queen
  6. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
  7. Nachos – the kind with chips and runny cheese and canned jalapeno’s on them
  8. Otter Pops
  9. Pancakes at IHop for dinner (yes, IHop.  It was the 80’s.  IHob didn’t exist.)
  10. Pop Tarts and Pepsi for breakfast
  11. Snoopy Sno Cones

Ideas for a 1980's Summer

Games – Video or Board

  1. Centipede
  2. Connect Four
  3. Donkey Kong
  4. Life
  5. Mattel Football
  6. Monopoly
  7. Pac Man
  8. Sorry

If you want to read about why I originally gave my daughter a 1970’s summer, check out my post on the East Valley Moms Blog!  And see my full list of the Best 80’s Movies for Kids here.

Happy Summer!



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