Hey, Dads: 36 Fun Ideas to Bond With Your Teen Son

Summer is a GREAT time to have fun and connect with your boy!

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Hey, Dads: 36 Fun Ideas to Bond With Your Teen Son

Co-Written By: Marybeth Bock & Nancy Reynolds

Ahh, summer… longer days, warm evenings, and a much-needed break from the crazy-packed schedules our teens (and us!) keep up with during the school year. What’s also great about summer is that it gives us more opportunities to spend quality one-on-one time with our kids.

So, dads… if you’re looking to bond with your son, there are so many fun things you can do to strengthen your connection with your boy!

Let’s be honest, though, when they have downtime, some (not all) teen boys are notorious for holing up in their rooms, playing video games for hours on end, and only emerging for snack breaks. But with a little planning and prodding, you really can lure your son away from his screen for some adventurous summertime fun! (We hand-picked these ideas for dads and sons, but honestly, girls might love a lot of these, too!) 

Hey, Dads: 36 Fun Ideas to Bond With Your Teen Son


Here are 36 fun ways to spend special time and bond with your teen son.

1. Go Camping

Nothing says summer like a weekend camping trip, complete with cool activities like building a campfire, making s’mores, and stargazing. It’s a great way to get away from it all and hang out with your son in the glory of nature. If you can’t get away to a campground or park, there’s still fun to be had in your own backyard.

2. Take a Road Trip

Head to the mountains or the beach or the nearest National Park. Whatever sparks your son’s interest! Add a few fun adventurous side outings like ziplining, hiking, white water rafting, or anything else he might like. Plus, those long car rides alone with your son are the perfect foundation for great conversation and connection. (Seriously… conversations in the car are the best!)

3. Go Fishing

Spend a day on a nearby lake, river, or out on the ocean and see what you can catch together! Whether you bring dinner home or not, fishing is a great way to get away from it all with your son and enjoy nature. 

4. Take Him Golfing

More and more teens are taking an interest in golf. Why? Because it’s one of those sports you can play your entire life AND it’s challenging! So, whether you take him out to hit a bucket of balls or hit the course early in the morning to play 18 holes, you’ll have TONS of time to hang out with your son, laugh (because there are always crazy shots to tease each other about) and gain a little skill in the game. 

5. Hit the Coolest Theme Park You Can Find

Is there a theme park (water or amusement) within driving distance that has the scariest roller coaster or the highest water slide? Hop in the car and check it out together! Get out there with your son and be a kid again, screaming on a roller coaster or getting drenched on a log ride.

6. Attend a Concert

Does your teen love country, RAP, or rock music? Why not step into his world and surprise him with tickets to one of his favorite bands? Since it’s summer, it might be even more fun to attend an outdoor concert and sit on the lawn. (For some of this year’s biggest music tours in North America, check out this list from Entertainment Weekly.)

7. Binge Watch a Few Documentaries or Movie Sequels

Take a break from the summer heat, whip up a big bowl of popcorn or a few summer snacks, and hunker down in front of the television. Does your son love mystery/murder or space or science documentaries? Is he a huge Marvel or Harry Potter fan? Or maybe you’d like to introduce him to a few of the old-time fave movies you watched as a kid? Either way, it’s a great way to chill with your son – even if you don’t talk a lot! 

8. Build Something Together

Think about what your son loves… is he into computers? Why not build a computer from scratch? Does he love trains or cars? Why not build an intricate train or car model? Is he in the robotics club at school? Why not spend the summer building a crazy cool robot?

(A friend of mine and his son spent one summer creating a high-altitude balloon that went into outer space and captured video footage… so cool!)

9. Go See a Summer Blockbuster

There’s something for everyone this year, so check out Time’s list of The Most Anticipated Summer 2024 Movies before you head to the theater – and save room for popcorn and candy!

10. Teach Him How to Drive (and Basic Car Repair/Maintenance)

With traffic typically much lighter, summer is a great time to teach your son how to drive. Plus, take time to teach him basic car maintenance like how to change a tire, how to check the fluid gauges, and even how to change the oil. Summer is a great time to teach basic life skills!

11. Hit the Kitchen and Start Cookin’

The way to a teen boy’s heart is through his stomach, so spend some quality time together planning, shopping, and preparing one of his favorite meals. You just might have a culinary chef in the making!

12. Hone in On His Sports Skills

Maybe your son is dying to make the varsity soccer or football team this year. Or, maybe he wants to get better at basketball.

‘Summer is a great time to map out a plan and help him improve his skills. Whether you work with him one-on-one or hire a summer coach and work beside him/her, not only will his skills improve, but his self-confidence will soar as he becomes more skilled at the sport. 

13. Work on a Tech Project Together

If your teen is into tech, try an activity like creating an app together or working on a coding project together. If you need some inspiration, try this “10 Fun High School Coding Projects” from the Create and Learn site. (Honestly, just gaming with your son can be a great way to bond!) 

14. Expose Him to the World of Photography

You don’t have to invest in the latest and greatest camera or photography equipment (although that would be cool!). Just grab your smartphones and head out to a local park, lake, pond, or some other scenic venue. There are awesome tips you can learn in this “2024’s Best iPhone Photo Tips YouTube.

15. Tap Into His Love of Reading

Is your teen a self-professed bookworm? Is he currently reading a book he loves? Has he been assigned summer reading (and maybe he’s dreading it)? Why not read the book together? Sometimes, the best way to connect with our kids is to step into their world.  For ideas on books to read check out this list of new books for teens from MacMillan Library. When you both finish the book, don’t forget to celebrate!

16. Let Food Be Your Guide

Can we all agree teen boys (actually almost all teens) LOVE to eat? So… why not bond over food? Once a week, let your son choose a restaurant he’d like to go to and just hang out doing what he loves… eating! Maybe one week it’s a burger joint and the next it’s his favorite Mexican restaurant. It doesn’t matter where you go OR what you eat as long as you’re with your son. 

17. Learn to Play an Instrument Together or Have a Dual Jam Session

Learn to play a musical instrument together or have jam sessions if you’re both musically inclined. Look into renting instruments from a local music store if you don’t want to spring for the cost of new instruments. Take a class or check out YouTube videos for tips on how to play. 

18. Focus on Others

It might sound boring, but doing community service or volunteer projects together can be so rewarding and fun with your kids. Whether you’re helping the homeless, working with Habitat for Humanity, working with underprivileged kids or anything else that moves you, redirecting your son’s focus on others has a ton of hidden benefits.

19. Hit a Few Museums

Nearly every major city has a few cool museums and I’m guessing your son hasn’t seen the ones closest to your house. Spend a day or two exploring a museum or science center near you. Can’t find one your teen is interested in? Check out Google’s Arts and Cultures page for links to more than 1,200 museums and galleries for virtual visits right from your couch.

20. Get Grillin’

Slap a few brats or burgers on the grill and bond (once again) over food! Show your son a few grilling tips and tricks so he can do it himself one day. What better way to spend a summer evening?

21. Get Race Ready

A GREAT way to bond with your teen son and adopt a healthy habit is to train for a 5K race together.

Whether you decide to run or walk, the training time means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk and grow closer. If a 5K isn’t his thing, you can hit the gym and vow to get in shape together.

22. Bake Something

Think teen boys don’t enjoy baking? Think again! As long as there are chocolate chip cookies, cake, or cupcakes in the mix (no pun intended), he’s likely to be on board! Check out these easy desserts even your “clueless in the kitchen” teen can make

23. Do Something SUPER Adventurous

Spend the night in a cool treehouse, (check out Airbnb for the coolest treehouse rentals!), go skydiving, ziplining over the treetops, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, hang gliding, or anything else that sparks your adventurous spirit!

Get your son’s heart pumpin’ and their laughter flowing with an “out of the box” adventure they’ll always remember. 

24. Go Shopping Together

You might be thinking, “Why would a teen boy want to go shopping?” Well… you’d be surprised! A lot of teen boys really care how they look. Maybe he wants a new cool hoodie, a name-brand pair of athletic shoes, or a cool new pair of sunglasses. No one says dad and son time has to be extravagant… sometimes, just hanging out together in a low-stress way is the best way to bond. 

25.  Take a Karate, Tai Chi, or Kickboxing Class Together 

Not only will your son and you get in shape, but you’ll also both be learning something new and cool together.

26. Conduct a Cool Experiment

Conducting experiments is a great way to bond with your son! There are literally thousands of experiments to choose from so you’re sure to find something age-appropriate that interests him. Stumped for ideas? Check out this site for ideas!)

27. Check Out a Local Sporting Event

Whether your son is into baseball, football, hockey, soccer, or tennis, there are always cool sporting events you can attend – and they don’t have to be expensive professional sporting events. Keep your eye out for local high school or college sporting events that are less expensive and still tons of fun.)

28. Go On a Few College Visits

Is your son in high school? Maybe it’s time to get him excited for the next phase of his life by hitting a few colleges he’s interested in. And, if he doesn’t have any colleges on his list yet, it might be fun to show him your alma mater so you can share a few fun stories from your college days. 

29. Take a Local Factory Tour

Need ideas? Here’s a list of the Best Factory Tours.

30. Take Him to a Boat or Car Show

Spend an afternoon checking out cool expensive boats and cars you can never afford. It’s SUCH a fun thing to do! 

31. Take Him to a Car or Horse Race

Bring the earplugs if you’re heading to a car race (they’re SO loud). But get ready for a ton of fun because both car and horse races offer the perfect backdrop for some serious dad and son bonding time!

32. Rent a REALLY Nice Car for the Day or Weekend

Surprise the heck out of your son by renting a super cool car for the day. My friend rented a fancy convertible and took his son cruising for the day and he absolutely loved it.)

33. Hit the hiking trails.

Stay local or drive a bit to find a new hiking trail you’ve never been on before. Bring binoculars and look for wildlife and be sure to pack a good lunch or some delicious trail snacks and drinks.

34. Take Your Son to Your Hometown

How much does your son know about you, your upbringing, and your childhood memories? Why not drive (or fly) to the town you grew up in and show your son around?

Take him to your middle and high school, where you and your friends used to hang out on Friday nights, and where you played football or soccer, or basketball. Throw in a few childhood stories so your son really gets to know you. 

35. Hop on a Train to… Anywhere

It doesn’t matter how old your son is, pretty much all boys love trains. Whether you take it downtown, to a nearby town, or a state away, my guess is your son will flip over this little excursion. 

36. Grab Those Impromptu Moments When, Where, and For How Long You Can

Sneaking in quality bonding time with your boy doesn’t always have to be planned to the “T.” Sometimes, it’s a quick chat before he goes to bed or talking for half an hour while he’s eating breakfast. Just grab those moments when you can, Dad… they’re so precious and fleeting.


Marybeth Bock, MPH, is a Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed reading, “36 Fun Ideas to Bond with Your Teen Son,” check out these other posts you might like!

50 Father-Daughter Bonding Ideas Your Teen Girl Will Love

10 Fun & Unique Ways to Bond with Your Teen This Summer (That They Might Actually Like!)

Bond with Your Teenage Daughter: 50+ Ways to Connect

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