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Summer has arrived, in all of its sunny, sandy, school-vacation glory. And while the kids may be excited for their freedom from the classroom, all that unscheduled time can also leave them a little restless. So keep them happy and make the most of these weeks by exploring some of the many family-friendly wonders the North Shore has to offer.

We’ve gathered 23 ideas to get you started, but we want to hear from you as well: How are you having fun this summer?

1. Make friends with a cow

Thursdays in July, Appleton Farms in Ipswich lets kids and their caretakers cuddle, brush, and generally chill with two of the working farm’s dairy cows Gray and Jasmine. Program size is kept small, so be sure to register ahead of time.

2. Set a swimming goal

Add a little spark to your summer swimming endeavors by creating a swimming goal. Challenge yourself to swim 50 times, or to get in the water at 10 different places, or to paddle the length of the pool and back for the first time.

DownRiver Ice Cream | Photograph by Brian Samuels

3. Try a new flavor of ice cream

The North Shore is a prime destination for homemade ice cream in flavors both classic and creative. So why not try something a little unexpected: Maybe wild blueberry pie at Holy Cow in Gloucester, Peabody, or Salem; cashew turtle at Cherry Farm in Danvers;, Monkey’s Uncle (banana with peanut butter cups) at DownRiver in Essex; or a choice from the rotating menu at Salem’s Melt (vegan guava or Fluffernutter, perhaps?).

4. Have a picnic on the beach

Beach days are a summer staple, but take advantage of being on the North Shore by popping down to your nearest stretch of sand for a quick lunch or dinner.

5. Eat from a food truck

Explore some of the casual street food options that can be found around the region, then grab a bench nearby and do some people watching while you snack. The Lobster Roller sells, well, lobster rolls and burgers on the Gloucester waterfront; the Whoo(pie) Wagon offers up creative whoopie pies at block parties, farmers markets, and craft fairs; and at The Lot in Middleton, your group can choose from tacos, Thai food, seafood, and BBQ.

The Cabot

6. Catch a movie

Summer is the perfect time to look beyond the mall multiplex. Check out The Cabot’s lineup of $1 movies on Wednesday evenings – this year’s features include Elemental, Mean Girls, The Sandlot, and more. And the state Department of Conservation and Recreation is sponsoring an outdoor movie series – including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Wonka, Barbie, and more – on Thursdays at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus and on Saturdays at Salisbury Beach Reservation.

7. Go berry-picking

What’s better than blueberry pie? Blueberry pie made with fresh, local fruit you picked yourself. Visit Russell Orchards in Ipswich to pluck your own blueberries, raspberries, currants, and blackberries, or try Brooksby Farm in Peabody for blueberries or raspberries. In North Andover, Smolak Farms has a range of berries as well as peaches and plums in later summer. Be sure to call first to find out what is fresh and ready-to-pick.

8. Enjoy a brass band concert

On August 7, the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport will be presenting a family-friendly and educational concert by entertaining quintet Alias Brass. Tickets are free, but must be reserved ahead of time.

9. Frozen at North Shore Music Theatre

For the first time in forever, North Shore families will have a chance to see a professional production of Frozen right in their own backyard. From July 9 to July 28, the North Shore Music Theatre will be staging performances of the beloved musical – and plenty of tickets are still available.

Salem Witch Museum

10. Get spooky in Salem

Skip the October crowds and explore some of the witchy wonders of Salem in the summer. There’s the Salem Witch Museum, of course; plenty of other experiences dedicated to witches, monsters, and other creepy things; the Ropes Mansion where part of the movie Hocus Pocus was filmed; and lots of shops selling witch paraphernalia, crystals, spell books, and all manner of magical materials. Swing in to The Good Witch and let your little one stir up their own magic at the make-you-own potion bar.

11. Go for a paddle

Canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are some of the great joys of summer. If you don’t have your own equipment, the region has plenty of rental options: Coast to Coast Paddle offers kayak and paddleboard rentals and lessons out of Beverly and Salem; Gloucester’s Cape Ann SUP and Surf has lessons, rentals, and a Kids Paddle and Surf Program for older kids; and North Shore Adventures and Outdoor Center offers rentals nd adventure tours from its spot in Rockport.

12. Step back in time at Salem Willows

For old-fashioned fun head to the Salem Willows, which has been offering up classic family entertainment for more than 100 years. Play new games and classic favorites in the arcade, ride the bumper cars or carousel, and have pizza or sample the unique chop suey sandwich.

Maritime Gloucester | Photograph by Elise Sinagra

13. Get up close with a sea creature

At Maritime Gloucester‘s newly renovated space, visitors of all ages can explore the nature and history of the harbor. Touch tanks let children (carefully) get their hands on snails and lobsters, a microscope lab offers zoomed-in viewing of the tiniest aquatic creatures, and the Sea-Pocket Aquarium showcases even more marine species. While you’re there, kids might want to play in the giant lobster trap on the pier, check out the craftsmen in the Dory Shop, or even take a sail on the Schooner Ardelle.

14. Cook with a new vegetable

The North Shore is rich with farmers markets and farmstands selling everything from old favorites like corn on the cob, to lesser-known produce like kohlrabi and tatsoi. So take advantage of the bounty of summer to hunt down new veggies and figure out how to prepare them (hint: almost everything tastes good roasted or stir-fried).

15. Explore indigenous history

Visit Gloucester’s Cape Ann Museum Green in July 20 to learn about and celebrate the history of the region’s indigenous people. Indigenous Heritage Day will feature interactive song, dance, and activities from the Nipmuc and Wampanoag Tribes, as well as hands-on crafts. Photographic exhibition 1st Peoples: Portraits of the First Light and Contemporary Art Wetu, a work of contemporary art hung within the museum’s wetu structure, will also be open to the public.

16. Rock out on the lawn at Castle Hill

Every Thursday (and one Sunday) in July and August, Castle Hill will host a performance by an area band, ranging from the Cuban-infused melodies of Los Sugar Kings to the reggae rhythms of the Soul Rebel Project. Buy dinner from an on-site vendor, spread out your blanket, and dance away the evening with amazing views.

Plat du Jour Bistro at Wenham Tea House | Photograph by Elise Sinagra

17. Throw a tea party

The North Shore offers several destinations for an afternoon of tea and tiny cakes that will let your little ones feel like royalty for an hour or two. The Plat du Jour Bistro at Wenham Tea House will happily make some kid-friendly tweaks to their standard tea service, the Jolie Tea Co. has special Children’s High Tea on Friday afternoons, and Heath’s Tea Room in Rockport has traditional afternoon tea packages as well as a la carte offerings. Whatever you choose, be sure to make a reservation.

18. Howl with the wolves

Though wild wolves no longer roam the North Shore, a visit to Wolf Hollow in Ipswich offers a chance to see these stunning creatures. The nonprofit organization is home to a pack of ambassador wolves that can be viewed at hourlong public presentations every weekend. Learn about gray wolves, watch the animals interact, and even howl along with the pack at the close of the experience.

Wenham Museum | Photograph by Anthony Tieuli

19. Visit a new museum

Sure, the Peabody Essex Museum and Boston’s Museum of Science are staples of summer museum trips, but the region has so many intriguing smaller museums to check out. Just a few of the options: Spend an afternoon visiting to toy collections at the Wenham Museum, learning about industrial history at the Saugus Iron Works, getting up close to historical ships at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, immersing in maritime history at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, or browsing a surprisingly impressive collection of art at the Addison Gallery in Andover.

20. Solve the missing cat mystery at the Crane Estate

Every weekend, families are invited to explore the luxurious mansion on the Crane Estate while helping track down a mischievous cat whose gone missing. Make sure to register online in advance.

Yankee Homecoming

21. Celebrate at Yankee Homecoming

For more than 75 years, Newburyport has held this annual festival celebrating its community. This year’s version, running from July 27 to August 4, will include lots of live music, a waiter/waitress race, craft show, cornhole tournament, food vendors, a parade and fireworks, and much, much more. A complete schedule is available online.

22. Walk into a whale

On August 17, Nile, a life-size, inflatable whale, will be appearing at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, offering a visitors a chance to gawk at the scale of these massive creatures and even climb inside to learn more about the animals and their ecosystems. The experience is include with admission.

23. Art in the great outdoors

Plein air painting is the practice of creating art out in the open, capturing what you see quickly, before it changes. On July 25, from 4 to 5 p.m., kids can try their hand at plein air art on Rocky Neck, Gloucester’s famed artists colony, and watch local artists creating beautiful pieces. The event is free, but registration is required.