Reflections of a Summer Solstice


As a little girl, my grandmother would always tell me that the first day of summer was her favorite day of the year. Coincidentally, it is also summer solstice. Summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches both the highest and northernmost parts of the sky; which means that this is the longest day of the year. During the summer solstice, we have the most daylight of any day of the year and the sun actually sets slower on this day!

Of course since its light outside later than other days in the year, kids naturally love this day. I remember being with her on the first day of summer one year, and can remember everything about that day. We went to a doctor’s appointment, went to lunch at Chick-Fil-A (maybe she started my obsession?) worked in the garden, watered the ferns, picked the ripe tomatoes off the vine behind the pool, I swam, and right around 9:30 as the sun was setting she took me to get ice cream.

These are the things you don’t forget when you grow up. These are the things I wish I could still do with her today. Unfortunately she passed away my senior year of college.

There are a flood of memories associated with this day. It amazes me how something that seemed so insignificant at the time is something that I’m reminded of every year on the first day of summer. My grandmother was a hard worker. She was passionate about everything she did. She loved to be outdoors (I clearly didn’t inherit those genes).  She had 4 children, one of whom was my precious momma.

Now that I have my own children, it’s time to make our own traditions for the first day of summer. If I asked my kids what they wanted to do they would probably say “eat cinnamon toast crunch, go swimming, go to Kennywood, eat ice cream and go to Chick-Fil-A”. While I haven’t decided how we officially celebrate the first day of summer, I made a promise to myself to make the day fun (even though I am sure someone will be crying) and thought I would share some inexpensive and fun ideas for your family!

* Chick-fil-A at the Beaver Valley Mall- this is one of our FAVORITE places! While they don’t specifically have anything going on for the first day of summer, they do have family nights several times a month. They also have story time and a craft every Wednesday at 10:30am, and then each child can get free ice cream for showing their craft.

*Leetsdale Splash Pad is open Thursday- Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. Hours are weather permitting, but this is great gem down at Henle Park. There are picnic tables and a playground so if you have some kiddos who don’t want to get wet, you can make everyone happy at the same place. Bonus, it’s free!!!

* The Big Sno is a only a year old but is Beaver County’s newest dessert destination. They specialize in Hawaiian shaved ice and it is absolutely delicious! They are located at 2249 3rd Avenue in New Brighton and are open every day from 12p-9p!

Pittsburgh Water Steps are right on the North Shore Riverfront Park and is a great spot to cool off on a hot day. Great view of the river and super fun place for the kids. Word to the wise, bring a change of clothes and maybe have a couple of towels in your car.

* Gus & Yiayia’s. If you haven’t had ice balls from Gus, you are missing out! Gus has been in business since 1934! He is the sweetest man, and his prices are extremely reasonable. Swing on over to 638 W Ohio St in Pittsburgh and grab a sweet treat! If sweets aren’t your thing, he also has peanuts and popcorn!

Have a favorite place to visit or one of your own traditions you would like to share? I would love to hear about it!