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10 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice on the Road


The summer solstice has been observed around the world for thousands of years as a time to celebrate light and life. This year, put your own spin on the tradition with a summer solstice van life itinerary. Whether you’re drawn to starting the season with solitary reflection or social bonding, art or exercise, you’ll find the perfect way to mark the day in this list. 

What is the summer solstice? This holiday marks the longest day of the year and the official start of the summer season. In 2022, the summer solstice will take place on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. At the same time, the Southern Hemisphere will experience its winter solstice. Cultures around the world have historically marked the summer solstice with feasts and a variety of sun-centric activities. 

Road warriors are often more in touch with the changing seasons than most people. They are also in a unique position to celebrate the summer solstice. With a van, you can enjoy a mix of indoor and outdoor activities on the same day. You can also travel to your ideal holiday destination, whether that means meeting up with friends for a beach bonfire or hitting the mountains for a solo backpacking trip. 

We suggest choosing several of the options on this list to create a custom itinerary. A balance between indoor and outdoor as well as restful and active activities is always nice to keep in mind.

Photo By @StorytellerOverland

Catch Some Rays (Safely)

A summer solstice wouldn’t be complete without some good old appreciation of the sun. This is the day that the sun will shine for the longest period all year, so make use of the light from morning until night with outdoor activities. Whether you choose to bake on the beach, picnic in a meadow, or splash around in some of nature’s best swimming holes, just be sure to grab a hat, slather on the SPF, and reapply your sunscreen often. You don’t want to spend the next few days cursing the sun for a painful burn.

Make A Pancake Breakfast

Nothing makes a day feel more festive than starting it off with a special meal. Pancakes–especially the type with epic toppings–feel like a treat. They’re also surprisingly easy to whip up in a van kitchen. Check out “The Best Van Life Breakfast: Pancakes 8 Ways” for plenty of inspiration from decadent bananas foster pancakes to light and fluffy Japanese pancakes. Even health-conscious van dwellers can get in on the fun with nutritious protein pancakes. Your cast iron pan is calling!

Watch The Stonehenge Livestream

Enjoy a historical take on the summer solstice with a live video event at one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments, Stonehenge. Each year on the solstice, visitors flock to the giant ring of stones to watch the sun rise and beam straight into the center of the circle. We don’t know much about the creators of this ancient monument, but we do know that the stones are perfectly aligned to frame the movements of the sun—the neolithic people likely held feasts and ceremonies there to celebrate the solstices. Tune in from afar with the help of modern technology.

Go On A Hike Or Backpacking Trip

Summer is one of the best seasons to go trekking in nature. Many of our country’s most spectacular mountain landscapes have finally thawed out enough to explore. Whether you go on an hour-long hike before returning to the comfort of your van or embark on an ambitious backpacking trip, you’ll get to commune with nature and appreciate stunning scenery. Some ideas for summer backpacking routes include the John Muir Trail in California, the Pacific Northwest Trail in Washington and Montana, and the Continental Divide Loop in Colorado.  

Attend A Music Festival

Get your energy moving by dancing the day and night away at a summer music festival. There is a near-endless array of summer solstice-themed festivals and concerts happening around the country this year. Some events, like the three-day Sundown Solstice Festival, will pump up crowds with an impressive lineup of big-name performers. Others, like the East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, will appeal to more laidback travelers.

Photo By @StorytellerOverland 

Start A New Habit

Research shows that most people like to set goals on significant dates like New Year’s Day. However, you don’t need to wait until January 1st to make a resolution. Take advantage of the summer solstice’s reputation for renewal and think about what you’d like to bring into your life. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to code or you’re hoping to start practicing meditation daily, set your sights toward the future on June 21st. Write down your resolution in a journal or on a Post-it Note to prove to yourself that you plan to take it seriously. 

Go Berry Picking

We can’t think of a better way to appreciate the bounty of summer than savoring ripe, sun-warmed strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Skip the grocery store and harvest your own at a berry-picking farm. You’ll get to choose the best berries and spend time outside. The Pick Your Own website is an excellent directory for PYO farms across the U.S. with convenient calendars showing you what will be in season. For a double-whammy, use your harvest in the aforementioned festive pancake breakfast.

Make Cyanotypes

For those that don’t know, cyanotypes are a kind of print developed with the light of the sun. You can order pretreated sun art papers for a beginner-friendly project or mix your own chemicals to treat regular paper or fabric. Then gather leaves, flowers, and anything else that strikes your fancy. In a few minutes, you’ll have a design that captures the unique plants at your camping location as well as the power of the sun. Try turning your creations into summer solstice cards for friends and family.

Let Go Of The Old

In keeping with the solstice’s spirit of renewal, use this date as an opportunity to get rid of anything you no longer need. Whether it’s the clunky gear for an adventure sport you don’t do anymore or clothes you don’t like, consider donating your extra belongings. You’ll be left with a fresh start feeling and more space in your van; someone else will get to breathe new life into your discards. To donate unwanted outdoor gear to a great cause, check out Gear Forward and Outdoors Outreach.

Photo By @StorytellerOverland

Have A Bonfire

Ancient Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic people used bonfires to celebrate the summer solstice because they believed the flames would add to the strength of the sun and provide a bountiful harvest in autumn. Today, van lifers can enjoy a smaller fire for storytelling, chatting, playing music, and campfire cooking. Just be sure to follow campground guidelines and never build a fire if it is not permitted. Looking for summer solstice feast inspiration? Browse our “Get Cookin’ RV Style” series of recipes. To sweeten the deal, invite others to celebrate the start of a new season with you. For tips on creating a van life community, check out our post.

If your resolution for the summer season is to embark on a life-changing adventure, it might be time to join the Rec Van revolution. Visit Rec Van today to shop our wide selection of innovative camper vans.