5 Quarantine-Friendly Summer Adventures

This photo shows how children propped cushions on a sofa and draped towels over them to make a tent in their living room.
Quanrantine-friendly summer adventure at home: a campout in your living room! Photo: Allison Winter

Summer in the time of coronavirus. Usually, at this point in the year, I am working on my epic bucket list of summer adventures around DC. But this summer is … special. Museums and pools are closed and we are trying to keep to ourselves to protect public health. But is it possible to make a quarantine summer truly special? With a little planning and effort, we can have some special quarantine-friendly summer adventures without leaving the four walls of our house. 

Get Creative With Indoor Camping

The backyard camping trip is almost a coronavirus classic. But what if you live in the city and don’t have a backyard? What if you do not want to get close to that special city “wildlife?” What if you don’t have a tent or a fire-pit? No fear. You can still have a sweet campout. Build a sofa fort in your house with blankets and couch cushions. Or make a tent by draping sheets over your dining room table. (I practically lived in one of these table tents one summer of my own childhood). Roast marshmallows over a candle. If you want to get crafty, you can make a no-flame campfire out of toilet paper tubes and tissue paper and sing campfire songs or tell stories.

Make the Most Magical Quarantine on Earth

In the deep doldrums of the lockdown, I hosted a “Disney night” for my family. It was the most fun we had for weeks and would make a great addition to your quarantine-friendly summer adventures. We built “Space Mountain” on our basement stairs by putting up a string of Christmas lights and letting the kids slide down the stairs on a cardboard box. I cut grilled cheese sandwiches into circles and arranged them like Mouse ears. Disney released a recipe for its famous Dole Whip dessert, which we all enjoyed. I added a splash of rum to the parents’ version. YouTube is full of first-person videos of Disney rides. We watched a few while my sons sat on my knees and let me joggle and dip them for a rollercoaster ride. We closed the night by watching a fireworks show from their beds.

Create a Corona Waterpark

Make a waterpark in your yard or on your sidewalk with a sprinkler, hose, watering cans, water guns, or buckets of water. Create a “bucket of doom” challenge: how long can your kids keep their feet in an ice-cold bucket of water? My sons and our neighbors have delighted in a few hose-fights this summer, standing on the sidewalk with garden hoses and spraying each other. They laughed so much, I almost did not miss the pool. (almost) And the water pressure of the hose was great at enforcing social distancing, without me saying anything.

Transform a Bedroom into an Art Museum

In a normal summer, I love to take my kids to the National Gallery of Art. So for a quarantine-friendly summer adventure, we enjoyed a virtual visit to the museum on our computer. Take a virtual tour of new exhibits. Or examine individual works of art by zooming in closely on a painting—so closely that you can see the artist’s brushstrokes.  Check out these lessons and activities and encourage your kids to make their own art and create a gallery at home.

Tell the Story of Tonight Together

Broadway is coming to Disney+ this weekend. Get your family ready for a night watching the hottest ticket on Broadway—Hamilton! The film was made on the Broadway stage with the original cast and was supposed to be released in movie theaters in October 2021. But we can get it in our homes starting July 3.

Make the showing a special event by issuing your kids “tickets” to the show, or setting up a concession booth for the intermission. Need dinner for those young, scrappy, and hungry kids? Order in New York-style pizza. Or make Hamilton-themed food like an A. Ham sandwich or Aaron Burr-gers. You can also drop some knowledge and make it into a whole week of learning. Lin-Manuel Miranda released his EduHam at Home curriculum during the nationwide lockdown, or you can check out these lesson plans from PBS. (Warning for young viewers: Hamilton has language throughout and one sexy scene in the second act.) 

*Look for more fun quarantine-friendly summer adventure ideas from Jane, who hosts a quarantine party on the daily with her ten children.


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Ali came to DC “for the summer” in 2000 and has been here ever since. She worked for more than a decade as an environment and energy reporter on Capitol Hill. After her second son was born, she took some time off to chase her children instead of lawmakers. She's now juggling both as a freelance reporter and mom of 2 active sons. Ali lives in NW DC with her husband, sons, and a rotating menagerie of foster animals from the Humane Rescue Alliance. She loves reveling in the awe and wonder of the ordinary with young children as a guide for a Montessori-inspired class at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Foggy Bottom. She also loves to explore DC on the family cargo bike. Likes: Long runs, pour-over coffee, theatre, nature, seasonable weather, and DC’s amazing array of free museums. Dislikes: Mosquitoes, mayonnaise, and change.