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.  A simple childhood based on experiences, bad TV and junk food.

Ideas for a 1980's Summer
Durango, Colorado 1980. My mom blow drying my Dorothy Hamill hair in the middle of a camp site. 

This summer, we’re moving into the 1980’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 the present day where we crave the next best electronic device, trade out our cars every few years, move from home to home, and work not only for the weekend, but for the Louboutin’s.

This shift in the 80’s 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.  People wanted more.  They wanted bigger and better.  As a child in the 80’s, I can tell you, it was nothing short of magical.

Ideas for a 1980’s summer:

Activities {Outdoor or Otherwise}

  1. Barbies – Playing Barbies is still a big deal in our house just like it was in my house in the 80’s.  For real nostalgia, and creativity, we make houses for them out of cardboard boxes.
  2. 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…
  3. Camping – Personally, we don’t do much camping these days, but it was a huge part of my childhood and produced some of my greatest memories.
  4. Outside exploration – By bike, scooter or foot, there’s a lot to explore and now more than ever, connecting your kids to nature is important.
  5. Pac Man – For the real 1980’s experience, head to a local arcade.  There are even arcade bars.  Denver has 1Up, but I’m sure your city has one, too.  Or you can play for free on Google!  Modern technology and nostalgic fun collide…
  6. 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 supplied enough laughter for the summer.  For Ella, in 2018, prank calls are calling State Farm and asking for Jake.
  7. Public Pool – No one had their own pool back then, so the public pool was where it was at.
  8. Skate City – Head to your local skating rink!  You’d be surprised how many kids still hang out here.  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…
  9. Star Gazing – My neighbor and I used to lay in our front lawn gazing at the stars and singing Go Go’s songs. Now we gaze at the stars for a while, then use the SkyView Lite app to double check what we’re looking at.
  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.  If you really wanted to see something, you had to schedule time to watch it so you didn’t miss it.

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 1980’s.  You can catch these online, or go to your local library and check out the discs {very 1980’s meets 1990’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.  Now, we tend to take convenience over the experience of going to the movie theatre.  There really is nothing like seeing a movie on the big screen.  Get out and see some current films.  Make it a big deal.  And for convenience, stay home and watch these 80’s classics:

  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

Junk Food

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. Lots of candy – Twizzlers, Mike & Ike’s, Hot Tamales, Laffy Taffy, Reese’s Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, bubble gum
  2. Cheetos
  3. Cool Ranch Doritos
  4. Original Coke in a bottle
  5. Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen
  6. Hostess anything
  7. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
  8. McDonald’s
  9. Nachos – the kind with chips and runny cheese and canned jalapeno’s on them
  10. Otter Pops
  11. Pancakes at IHop for dinner
  12. Pigs in a Blanket and Fritos
  13. Pop Tarts and Pepsi for breakfast
  14. 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. Mousetrap
  8. Pac Man
  9. Pay Day
  10. Pitfall
  11. Puzzles
  12. Spirograph
  13. Sorry
  14. Trouble

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!



Get the Latest

Talk Amongst Yourselves

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright © 2022 Popsiculture · Theme by 17th Avenue

Copyright © 2022 · Peony on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in